Vegan diets have been steadily gaining in popularity for quite some time now. Some choose to eat a plant-based diet for ethical reasons, while others do so for the health benefits. When it comes to pregnant women, there's a lot of conflicting information out there. Can a diet that cuts out animal products altogether provide both mother and baby with all the essential nutrients? Is it healthy to go continue with a plant-based approach, or should vegans consider taking a break during pregnancy?
According to researchers, vegan women can get everything they need from their diet, as long as it's meticulously planned. If you're vegan and on your way to being a mama, then you might want to keep these four key points in mind, as they were developed by scientists.
Eat a large variety of plant foods to meet your calorie targets. Vegan diets usually consist of whole foods, as well as large quantities of seeds, vegetables, grains and legumes. While these are great for you in some aspects, they tend to be quite low in calories. It's important for expectant moms to make sure they're getting enough calories throughout the day. Fibre is also important, but make sure you don't overindulge in high-fibre foods, as you'll feel full without getting what you need.
Don't be afraid of healthy fats, especially omega-3. To bulk up your usual meals, consider including food items like chia seeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts and olive oil. These fats are better for you than omega-6 varieties like sunflower oil and margarine. They're a great way of inputting those precious extra calories into your diet.
Ensure you're getting enough B12. B12 is super important to make red blood cells. Not only does it help your body out, but it can help your mind from succumbing to the dreaded baby brain. Fortified foods like faux meat products and dairy-free milk are a great way to boost your intake of b12, as are vitamin b12 supplements. Just check with your doctor first if you'd like to go down the latter route.
Keep an eye on your calcium and vitamin D intake. There's an old misconception that cow's milk is the only way to get high levels of calcium in your body. In fact, green leafy vegetables also have high levels of the mineral. It's especially important for pregnant women to make sure they're getting enough calcium. Tofu, nuts, and seeds are all great sources of calcium. Vitamin D should also be on your radar, which is usually boosted by supplements.
If you're concerned about how your diet will affect your pregnancy, consult with your doctor. After all, both your and your baby's health is important to keep as strong as possible.