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home>>family>>diet during pregnancy>>Vegetarian and Pregnant

Vegetarian and Pregnant

by: Bill Nadraszky

The newfound popularity of veganism and vegetarianism has made it easier than ever to eat a healthy diet while you're pregnant without compromising your scruples. Most foods have a vegan or vegetarian substitute. Since you can still have fruits calcium fortified juices (many of which have as much calcium as regular milk), rice milk and soy milk make great staples to your diet instead of milk, and beans and nuts are excellent sources of protein and iron.

When you first go in for a pre-natal checkup you should tell your doctor you're a vegan. They will probably want to go over your current diet with you to make sure that you are taking in enough nutrients and prescribe a supplement if they feel it's necessary. In most instances you will only need to add some foods to your diet to compensate for the added nutritional requirements of pregnancy. There are a few vital nutrients that aren't usually found in the vegan diet, however, that you are going to want to pay special attention to know that you're pregnant.

You may run into some trouble with your Vitamin B12 if you are a vegan and do not eat or drink dairy products, so it is vitally important that your doctor be made aware of your diet at your first pre-natal checkup. They may prescribe a supplement for you or recommend that you attempt to purchase tofu, soy milk, yeasts and other foods that are specially made for vegans and are fortified with B12. Most fortified cereals also contain some B12, so the next time you're at the store pick up your favorite brand of Lucky Charms and check the B12 content. You'll probably be pleasantly surprised!

Vitamin D is another vitamin that usually isn't found in the vegan diet but can be compensated for by getting 20 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight a day. If your schedule keeps you inside during the day your doctor may prescribe a supplement; however, these should only be taken if prescribed. Too many vitamins can be just as harmful as too few.

There are a number of great books out right now on the topic of the vegan diet and pregnancy, and most of these contain some awesome recipes. Take the time to browse through the diet and/or pregnancy section of your local library and bookstore the next time you have an hour or two to spare and pick one up to help you put together a diet that's going to work for both you and your baby.

Dislikes

If you are a picky eater you may run into trouble when you're pregnant as well, since you're probably going to get very tired, very quickly of eating the same foods or groups of foods over and over and over again for the next nine months. Most of the time you will be able to find an acceptable substitute for the foods you don't like that will provide you with the nutrition you need for a healthy pregnancy.

The best thing you could do is go through the list of naturally found dietary sources and pick out two or three foods from each group that you can stand to eat. If you don't find anything on the list that works for you go online and do a little snooping around. You're bound to find three foods somewhere out there that you can stand!

Once you have your list work on ways to spice things up! If you don't like red meat and pork you'll probably get tired of chicken after a while. Try frying it up with some lo-mein, putting it in a whole wheat pita with some raw spinach or chopping it up into a Caesar salad. Serve it with salsa, cheese or sour cream. Mix it in with your favorite pasta. The possibilities are endless.

This would be a great time to invest in a cookbook. You'll probably be able to find one online or in your local bookstore or library that centers around your favorite sources of protein. Since these are usually the main dish in a meal they will have a number of options for ways to cook them, ingredients to mix in with them and side dishes to serve along with them. If you find a large enough cookbook you can probably find ten or twelve recipes you like, then rotate them through your weekly meal plan.

If you don't want to spend the money to buy a cookbook you can find recipes for almost anything online-and it won't cost you a thing. You can even print them out to put together your own cookbook. You'll probably still want to eat these dishes after you're pregnant, and if you find one you really like it's going to drive you nuts if you don't print it out and you have to go back and try to find it again.

This is also a great chance to try adding some foreign foods to your diet, since most countries use the same core ingredients in very different ways. Latin, Chinese, Italian and French foods are fairly easy to emulate no matter what country you happen to live in, since the foods you are going to need are universal and available almost anywhere. This gives you a great chance to expand your culinary skills and wow your friends, family and co-workers, and the next time someone wants to go out to dinner to a restaurant that doesn't have a hamburger in site you'll be able to order with confidence.

Be careful when you're cooking foods from countries that tend to be heavy on the spices, since many of these may upset your stomach and/or aggravate heartburn. It is usually wise to cut the portions of those ingredients that are only used for seasonings by 1/3 to while your stomach is more sensitive. You can always add them back in later, and it's a lot better than sitting up in the middle of the night because you don't feel well. You'll do enough of that when the baby actually gets here!

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About The Author
For more information on picking a diet and workout plan for yourself you can visit my fitness tips blog or my list of important pregnancy nutrition to consider.
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