Vegetarian Guide: What to Eat During Pregnancy to Get the Right Nutrients?
Pregnancy is a time when the expecting mother needs additional nutritional requirements. It’s crucial that she eats a balanced diet that is high in the macro and micro nutrients. If you are a vegetarian, you might be worried whether you are eating enough to cover all nutritional needs of a healthy pregnancy. Well then, you are at the right place. In this article, we list down foods that you can consume with a vegetarian diet to get all the essential nutrients that you and your baby require. Read on to know more!
What to eat?
- High-Carb Foods: Whole grains like wheat, ragi, and barley are excellent sources of carbohydrates. This is a macronutrient that helps provide glucose, a molecule that supplies energy to your body. The growing fetus in your womb puts added pressure on you to meet its needs, and this purpose will not be served if you do not consume a healthy dose of carbs.
- Plant-based Protein Foods: Insufficient consumption of protein can have a drastic impact on your baby, inhibiting the optimum growth of various organs and interfering with body functions. Some great sources of plant-based protein include beans, lentils, nuts, and quinoa.
- Fat-Rich Foods: Whole milk, nuts like peanuts and cashews are some of the best sources of fats for a vegetarian. Your body needs healthy fat as much as it needs any other nutrients. Fat act as an important form of energy storage and help keep the body warm.
- High-Fiber Foods: Vegetables like broccoli, peas, and fruits like pears, apples are excellent ways of introducing fiber into your diet. Several expecting mothers complain of constipation during preganacy, and this condition can be easily prevented and relieved by adequate consumption of fiber.
- Calcium-Rich Foods: The best sources of calcium include milk, cheese, paneer, and green leafy veggies like cabbage and broccoli. An important mineral required for the development of strong bones and teeth of the fetus, Calcium also regulates several cell activities in the mother’s body. Adequate levels help keep hypertension at bay.
- Iron-Rich Foods: The excellent, unmatched source of iron is red meat, but with a vegetarian diet the optimum levels can be achieved by consuming beans and lentils (like moong and masoor dal) and dark green leafy veggies like spinach. Iron is essential to supply the extra blood to the baby and transport oxygen, this mineral must not be compromised at any cost, especially when you are pregnant.
- Vitamin B12-Rich Foods: This vitamin is found naturally in animal foods, but not in plant foods. Thus, it is important to talk to your health care provider/dietician, regarding a supplement if you are vegetarian. This vitamin is crucial for pregnancy and should not be neglected.
Extra tips for healthy eating through a vegetarian diet during pregnancy
- Eat a variety of foods. This is, especially important if you opt for an all-plant diet. For example, while consuming an egg alone can replenish your body with several amino acids and meet a considerable level of protein requirement. However, in a vegetarian diet, you will have to eat a combination of several lentils to achieve that mark.
- Opt for healthy and nutritious choices. For instance, cakes and soda may pump up carbs in your body, but whole grains like wheat or jowar used in parathas and khichdi contain a healthier version of carbs that will also provide the much-needed fiber.
- Make sure you step out in the sun for a few minutes every day to soak in Vitamin D, an essential nutrient that aids in the absorption of calcium.
- Eat a range of foods rich in iron, as a plant-based diet provides the ‘nonheme’ form of iron, which is absorbed a little slowly when compared to its heme counterpart obtained from animal sources.
- Munch on a handful of nuts every day, as they are energy boosters and contain an array of essential nutrients.
A strict pregnancy vegetarian diet can also be made wholesome and complete with judicious eating choices. So ask your dietitian or gynecologist to chalk out your pregnancy diet today!
Author Bio: Prapti Chauhan is a former health expert with 20 years of industry experience. Her passion for the field encourages her to share her knowledge through blogs & articles which provides instructive insights on stem cell banking, cord cell preservation and umbilical cord blood banking.