Continuing with their plant-based diet during pregnancy is a source of concern for many mothers. On hearing many suggestions from various corners about eating animal foods during pregnancy, they naturally worry about their diet choice. From what is known from various studies, these worries are baseless because you can be plant-based and still remain healthy during pregnancy. All you have to do is make sure you get all the necessary nutrients.
In this article, we discuss five steps to a balanced plant-based pregnancy diet.
Find Ways To Fulfill Your Increased Energy Needs
Pregnancy brings a series of changes to a woman’s body. Energy needs definitely increase but not to a large extent. A widespread misconception about pregnancy is that you have to eat for two while being pregnant. Believing this, many women double their portion sizes, a move which is really unnecessary.
During the first trimester, the calorie needs of pregnant women are not that different from that of non-pregnant women. But during the second and third trimester, a pregnant woman has to consume about 350-450 calories more than what they took during their pre-pregnancy days. It may seem like a big number but it is quite easy to reach this daily calorie target. You may just add a nutritious smoothie or a serving of trail mix to your meals. If you are quite active physically during pregnancy, you will need to consume even more calories.
Find Excellent Sources Of Plant Protein
Protein has a positive impact on the development of the baby, especially its brain. In addition, protein is important to prepare the mother’s body to accommodate the growing fetus and it also plays a role in improving blood supply. Pregnant women have to consume 25 grams more protein when compared to their pre-pregnancy period.
The normal protein levels required will vary from person to person depending on their body weight and activity level. To find out how much protein you require, multiply your body weight in kilograms by 0.8. For example, assume that your body weight is 50 kg. Then 50*0.8=40. This number is the daily protein (in grams) you require. If you are very active, you may have to multiply your body weight with 1 or 1.2 depending on the intensity of your activity level.
Eating various plant varieties is important to meet your daily protein requirements. Beans, lentils, nuts, soy and almond milk are some rich protein sources.
Meet Your Calcium And Vitamin D Requirements
Vitamin D and calcium are very important for the development of the baby’s bones and teeth. They are especially important during the third trimester. The daily calcium requirement does not increase during pregnancy but there is a chance that women following a plant-based diet may have some deficiency.
It is important to ensure that you include calcium-rich plant foods in your meals every day. Dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, beans, broccoli, cereals, and tofu are some known plant sources of calcium. If needed, you may consider taking a calcium supplement.
You can naturally obtain vitamin D from the sunlight but in case you live in an area that does not get much sunlight or if you do not go out often, you will have to consider taking a Vitamin D supplement. There is no change in the levels of vitamin D required during pregnancy and before pregnancy but it has been found that plant-based diets are generally lower in vitamin D content.
Ensure You Get Enough Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is important for the healthy development of the baby. It is not usually found in adequate amounts in non-fortified plant foods. Hence there is a possibility for people on a plant-based diet to be deficient. According to a recent review, about 17-39% of pregnant women who followed a vegetarian diet were deficient in vitamin B12. You may need to take supplements, especially during pregnancy.
Understand Prenatal Vitamins
A plant-based diet with a rich variety of plant foods efficiently delivers various vitamins except vitamin B12. But it is possible that you may fall short of some important nutrients while following a plant-based diet.
It is very important that pregnant women get prenatal vitamins in the right levels. Prenatal vitamins are designed to include folic acid and iron. Folic acid should not be confused with folate although the terms are used interchangeably. Folate is a B vitamin that is naturally present in some foods and folic acid is the form that is being used in dietary supplements and fortified foods. Folic acid is particularly important during the early stages of pregnancy in order to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus.
If you put in some effort to plan your diet appropriately, ensuring it doesn’t lack any nutrients, you need not think of shifting to a meat based diet during pregnancy. There are plenty of plant foods that can supply all the nutrients you will need during pregnancy. In some cases, you may also need to take supplements.