Five helpful tips for vegetarian moms-to-be

by Rita Watkins

Five helpful tips for vegetarian moms-to-be

If you made a choice to become a vegetarian years ago, you might have to consider tweaking your diet once you're eating for two. The foods that vegetarians eat (and avoid, for that matter) can impact their unborn children.

You already know how to get protein and various nutrients through foods that aren't meat, but are these substantial enough for your baby? Here are a few tips on how to ensure your diet isn't negatively affecting baby development while you uphold your vegetarian meal choices.

1. Talk to your doctor.
As soon as you learn you're pregnant, you're likely going to be scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician. Take this opportunity to go over your current diet and new restrictions you might have to consider once you're eating for two. In the end, you might discover that you don't need to make many changes at all - you may simply need to alter your sources of certain nutrients. For example, you may want to steer clear of certain types of fish for your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which are typically not recommended for for pregnant women.

"It may take more work and effective meal planning to follow a vegetarian diet that is healthy during pregnancy," Martha Grodrian, a nutrition therapist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, told Everyday Health. "In general, the more foods a vegetarian omits from the diet, the more difficult it is to meet nutrient needs."

2. Familiarize yourself with crucial nutrients.
Certain nutrients and vitamins are necessary for your baby's development such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and folate. While it can be tricky to find rich sources of omega-3 other than fish, it's possible to consume the others in foods such as flaxseed, canola oil, squash and leafy greens.

Whether you don't eat seafood very often or you simply want to avoid it while pregnant, it's worth looking into omega-3 pills to fulfill your daily need. Talk to your doctor about which supplements are best for you and your baby.

3. Keep up with your protein intake.
Protein is not only necessary for baby development, but for your body as well. You might already be familiar with some sources of protein other than meat, but it doesn't hurt to try new foods to help you maintain your strength during pregnancy. Beans and soy products,  such as tofu, can all keep you healthy and strong? These sources are also easier on the kidneys, according to Everyday Health.

4. Try to incorporate whole grains into every meal.
Whole grains include numerous  complex B vitamins, fiber and protein, according to VegKitchen, a blog written by Nava Atlas, a vegan and vegetarian cooking writer . For this reason, it's in your best interest to try and incorporate them into your diet while during pregnancy. Doing so can potentially reduce your reliance on supplements and best of all, whole grains are a great way to keep you feeling full for longer.

5. Munch on nuts and seeds.
Even those who aren't vegetarians tend to snack on nuts and seeds, and for good reason. These foods can be a great way to curb cravings in between large meals, and they're full of fiber and essential fatty acids. Adding them to your diet while expecting can help you satisfy cravings for something sweet or savory, depending on which nut or seed you choose. Try to stay away from heavily seasoned varieties to avoid taking on unnecessary calories.

Have you considered going on a vegetarian diet? Do you have experience in being pregnant while living meat-free? Share your input in the comments section!