Friday, May 11, 2012

Pregnancy and Vegetarianism

Update: I found this great article on eating vegan through pregnancy with tons of great tips and nutritional advice.

I've started to realize that I'm definitely not getting enough protein in my pregnancy diet, which isn't good for me or our developing baby. As a vegetarian with a sensitive stomach, it was already hard enough to get in enough grains, beans, soy, and other hard-to-digest foods to equal the recommended daily value of 50 grams. And now being pregnant—needing to get in 75 grams of protein—I'm struggling to keep up.

I've mentioned before that I am trying to diversify my protein sources, and really don't want to only be eating high-fat nuts/nut butters and dairy products. These are both great in moderation, but I don't see it wise to be taking in too much fat and have a strong health aversion to a diet too rich in animal-based proteins (think Forks Over Knives). Although I will say that I have increased my dairy intake already by leaps and bounds since becoming pregnant.

22g of protein per serving of fat free greek yogurt—winner!

Because of my Gastroparesis, it's really tough for me to digest certain foods. Some of the highest offenders include: quinoa, brown rice, beans, soybeans, cabbage and various other high-fat and/or high-fiber foods. Unfortunately, these are also foods that are packed full of plant-based protein. Since I contracted this permanent stomach disorder about seven or eight years ago, I have tended to gravitate toward food with a softer or mushy texture since those empty out of my stomach quicker. Sorry for all this digestion talk, but I'm sure you can begin to see why nutrition is so important to me and such a big part of my daily life, especially now that I'm nourishing a growing baby.

On the flip side, I have found some great vegetarian protein sources that seem to be working well for my pregnancy diet. My favorites right now are greek yogurt (which generally has twice the amount of protein than regular), low-fat cottage cheese, string cheese and other cheeses, hemp protein powder, peas, and almonds. For breakfast this week I've been enjoying yogurt with a drizzle of honey, some bananas or frozen berries and a pile of Joe's Oh's on top. For snacks, I've been noshing on cottage cheese, cheese sticks or nuts, and for dinner, a salad with fresh peas and cubes of cheese. All healthy, well-rounded, and delicious meals.

New obsession—sooooo good! We're both addicted.

It's not enough though. I'm not reaching 75 grams—maybe 50 if I'm lucky. So Papa K and I have decided to kick it up a notch, and I'm going to set some goals.

Protein goals
• At least 15g protein at breakfast
• At least 20g at lunch
• At least 20g at dinner
• 2–3 snacks with at least 8g

Protein-rich foods
• Begin incorporating a moderate amount of pregnancy-safe fish a couple times per month
• Homemade seitan
• Lentils, beans and homemade hummus
• Nuts and nut butters
• Cottage cheese and yogurt
• Pasteurized cheeses
• Eggs (hardboiled and scrambled)
• Whole wheat bread and bagels
• Peas, Avocado, Broccoli, Spinach
• Tofu and soy products (although tofu is a huge food aversion for me right now)

Hopefully this will keep me accountable and give me something to stay encouraged by. I will check in with protein-rich recipes along the way. Please comment with any foods ideas I might have missed!

Need to catch up?

Pregnancy Posts:

Weekly Updates:

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