Todays Blog post comes from Karina, a certified holistic nutritionist, chef, and manager of our Yaletown location. Karina is also preparing to welcome a baby into the world!
Before we get into maintaining a plant-based diet while pregnant, I'll start with my personal journey with a plant-based diet.
I started eating mostly plants nine years ago after moving to Canada. On top of environmental and animal welfare reasons, it has turned out to be the right choice for my body. With noticeably less heartburn, sluggishness and bloating after meals, I feel energized - and my skin glows!
Now, with just ten weeks until my baby arrives - I feel very lucky to have made diet & nutrition a priority all this time. I have enjoyed every minute of my pregnancy and I believe that my healthy lifestyle choices before and during had a positive impact on my body & pregnancy experience.
Aside from the need for afternoon naps and serious carb cravings, I have not experienced negative symptoms. I occasionally have a hard getting in my greens, and try to balance with nutrient dense foods like Eggs, Avocado, Nut butters, plenty of Fruit, Plant-based Protein in smoothies, and Açai bowls.
Now, let's talk about more specifically about how to eat well during pregnancy
Vital Nutrients for Pregnancy
Protein, Calcium, Iron, Folate and Vitamin B12 are some of the most important nutrients for your baby's development. The truth is, getting suﬃcient amounts of these nutrients on a plant-based diet is possible but requires careful planning.
We recommend speaking to a Registered Nutritionist or dietician to make sure you are taking the right supplements and eating a balanced diet during your pregnancy.
Below are some plant-based sources for these nutrients that we recommend.
This macronutrient is essential for the growth and repair of tissues (organ tissues, muscles, hair, skin, nails, etc)
Sprout Living Pro Collagen is a multi-source protein complemented by powerful vitamins, minerals and mushrooms that help boost collagen production that benefits tissue health.
Other favorites of mine are: Chickpeas, Lentils, Tofu, Tempeh, Beans and Quinoa.
Adequate calcium intake will ensure the infant properly develops bones and teeth as well as proper muscle and nerve function.
To add calcium into your diet look no further than Green Leafy Vegetables (think kale, collard greens, and spinach). Other calcium sources include Hemp seeds/milk and sesame seeds.
During pregnancy, iron needs are greater due to the increased formation of red blood cells for the mother and baby.
Green leafy vegetables, like spinach, are a great source of iron. Increasing your intake of Vitamin C and organic fruit acids can enhance iron absorption
Other sources of iron include: Sesame Seeds, Dark Chocolate, Seaweed and Pumpkin Seeds.
There are several foods that decrease the amount of iron our body is actually able to absorb and use, these are: caffeine, polyphenols and foods high in fibre.
Vital for cell growth - Beneficial in the prevention birth defects and anemia.
Folate-rich food suggestions: Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and chard. Additionally Asparagus, Avocado and Brussels Sprouts.
Vitamin B12 partners with folic acid to help with proper fetal brain development.
Get your fix with fortified cereals, fortified nutritional yeast and fortified plant-based milk.
Although, there are plant-based sources of vitamin B12 and plenty of B12 fortified foods, it is recommended to take a B12 supplement to ensure adequate intake.
Other Diet Information
A properly balanced plant-based diet provides all the essential nutrients that women require for a healthy pregnancy. It is important that during this time you supplement adequately, eat smaller, more frequent meals and lastly, listen to your body!
The above is educational and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Stay Healthy! :)