Eating for two — A vegetarian pregnancy

Food is one of my favorite topics, and it’s been a bit neglected around here lately, but not for lack of eating, just lack of documentation 😉

Despite the first trimester nausea, I managed to eat fairly healthfully in the beginning of the pregnancy.  Not having to scramble to make dietary changes when I found out I was pregnant was one nice aspect of having a well-established healthy diet, though I was a little worried for the few weeks where pasta and rice noodles made up the bulk of my diet.

I haven’t had any specific food cravings, just a general craving for salt (and diminished interest in sweets).  I’m usually a bit of a salt-o-phobe, but the body needs more salt (to make more blood) during pregnancy, so I didn’t spend too much time worrying over my increasing affinity for salty foods and the salt shaker.  (I am curious about how long it will take to reset my taste buds and adjust to less salt post-pregnancy, though.  Will things that taste good now all-of-the-sudden taste way too salty, or will I have to scale back slowly to readjust???)

During the second trimester, I was pretty much ravenous all the time — packing enough food in the morning for a 9 1/2 hour work day presented a bit of a challenge.  Snacks included extra of a previous day’s leftovers, peanut butter and toast, or cheese and crackers.  Sometimes I just snacked on well-cooked beans with a bit of salt and olive oil.  In general, I picked fairly healthy snacks and tried to balance them with my other eating throughout the day (e.g., if my lunch was fairly cheesy, I would probably not have cheese and crackers as a snack that day).

In addition to needing more salt, the pregnant body also uses more protein.  Depending on weight, activity level, sex, etc., most adults need somewhere in the range of 40-50 grams of protein a day (many people, especially non-vegetarians, regularly eat WAY more than this, which is not necessarily a good thing).  When pregnant, that recommendation increases to 70-80 grams a day (some places recommend up to 100 grams a day, which is excessive).

I was fairly confident my protein consumption was adequate, but my midwives requested I keep track of what I ate on an average day and calculate the protein.  Being somewhat of a nutrition nerd, I complied happily.  Based on the one-day food record, I came in a bit above 70g of protein — right on target, no meat required 🙂

While I have continued to consume a more-or-less regular diet, I have kept an eye on the protein, making sure we’re eating legumes regularly, and perhaps eating a bit more eggs and dairy than usual (less green, I know, but we do our best).

Now that I’m into the third trimester, I notice the decrease in my stomach capacity.  Small, frequent meals/snacks is the name of the game now, which tends to be my preferred style of eating anyway.

By the end of April, I longed for the fresh produce that we’re getting from the garden and farmers’ markets now: lettuce, arugula, Swiss chard, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries — nom, nom, nom!  I’m looking forward to more of spring’s bounty in the coming weeks, as I nourish myself and the ever-growing little one (who is putting on about 1/2 pound a week now!).

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4 Responses to Eating for two — A vegetarian pregnancy

  1. Pingback: 2011 Year End Review — The First Half | Her Green Life

  2. Hi Hergreenlife,
    Speaking of which, If you are a woman who is a stark vegetarian, getting pregnant is not a reason for you to let go of your vegetarian ways and start consuming meat again, just so you can provide complete nutrition for your baby. Fortunately, a proper vegetarian pregnancy diet would still provide you with vitamins, minerals, and other much-needed nutrients from dairy, fruit and vegetable sources, so you would not have to sacrifice your abstinence from meat. The good thing about being a vegetarian in the first place is that you are already so used to eating in a healthy and natural manner, shifting to a vegetarian pregnancy diet should not be difficult for you. The vegetarian pregnancy diet would give you and your baby balanced nutrition for long-term health.
    Cheerio

  3. Dear Hergreenlife,
    I just stumbled across this and, Throughout the next nine months, one of the biggest challenges you face will not be about eating during pregnancy. Instead, what you drink will often become your Number One concern.
    Nice One!

  4. Hi Hergreenlife,
    This might be off topic, however, Eating during pregnancy means more than just limiting your caffeine intake and swearing off alcohol. Each trimester offers its own particular set of challenges to overcome, as well as specific nutritional needs that should be met. In this article, we’ll focus on second trimester nutrition.
    I look forward to your next post

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