People always talk to me about my diet once they find out that I am a vegetarian, but I have had so many more questions about it since I’ve been pregnant. Some of these questions include:
- “Are you still a vegetarian?”
- “Do you have to start eating meat now that you’re pregnant?”
- “What are you craving? Do you crave meat now?”
- “Do you plan to raise your child as a vegetarian too?”
- “Are you sure you’re getting enough protein?”
I know that the people asking these questions are just curious and genuinely care about me and the baby’s well being. But I’m not going to lie – they do get old. I get tired of explaining and defending myself and my dietary choices. Especially when the questioners are insinuating that I’m doing my baby harm by not eating meat and/or not getting enough protein. I literally had someone comment to someone (not me) that my belly wasn’t big enough because my diet lacked protein. Yes, I’m serious! Are you kidding me? This offends me because I try very hard to make sure I eat a well-balanced diet and I have been making an extra effort to eat more protein during my pregnancy.
Anyway, we will get to all of that in a minute. Before I talk about my current eating habits, I want to start with the first trimester, because what I ate during that time was TOTALLY different than what I’m eating now due to constant nausea and lack of energy. However, my doctor said the first trimester is about getting calories and getting them to stay inside you, so I wasn’t too worried about it. Here’s a little glimpse of some of my favorite food choices during this rough time. As you can see it was heavy on the carbs and not so much on the veggies!
Once I hit the second trimester and my aversion to almost all vegetables went away, I started eating more normally. Some things remained – like my love of salty food, carbs, and eggs. However, I did pay more attention to certain aspects of my diet – especially protein. I started eating more beans, nuts, whole grains (rather than the white bagels, pretzels, and chips I lived off of in the 1st tri), two eggs a day as recommended by the Bradley Method, and even some dairy despite my lactose issues. Here’s what my diet looks like now.
Most days I have oatmeal made with banana and almond milk, with either fresh raspberries or blueberries and nut butter (almond or peanut) stirred into it. I had this all throughout the first trimester too. I used to put raisins in it before pregnancy, but I developed a really strong aversion to them in the first trimester and now they still make me gag. So fresh fruit it is!
I also drink a little bit of coffee. This is nothing compared to what I used to drink in the morning. It is the smallest cup of coffee you can make with the Keurig. It was hard to get used to at first, but I know it’s important to stay under 200 mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy.
On the weekends, I sometimes have my “special” breakfast, which is one of my favorite things ever – a bagel with 2 eggs and hot sauce. This one also had avocado on it. I seriously LOVE eggs during this pregnancy.
Lunch & Snacks
A typical lunch that I pack for myself looks like this.
Some type of salad, usually spinach, carrots, onion, bell pepper, jalapenos (love my spicy food lately!), avocado, other assorted veggies, and some kind of protein like beans or a hard boiled egg. I eat the salad with a hummus sandwich and some type of dressing. Earlier I loved honey mustard dressing and now I am loving Annie’s Goddess dressing. In addition to my salad and sandwich I pack lots of snacks, like nuts (I especially love pistachios and cashews), fruit, hard boiled eggs, a larabar, and a piece of fruit or two. I don’t necessarily bring all of this every day. On days that I run in the morning I bring more and if I don’t I bring less. But I usually do end up eating everything I bring over the course of the day.
Here are some of my other lunchtime salad creations.
Dinner is where we get creative. Since I still love my carbs (and Kevin does too), they have remained pretty heavy on the rice, pasta, bread, chips, etc., but I still think we get in a decent amount of veggies and protein as well. As you will see we have a very deep love for all kinds of Mexican food and try to make it at home often!
I don’t have a picture of these for some reason, but we also eat a lot of lentils and quinoa for dinner which are both great sources of protein!
Since I’m hungry for dinner when we get home for work around 5, I am usually hungry again before bed. I haven’t really wanted many sweet foods, so my “dessert” (or dinner #2) have been things like cereal or a fruit smoothie made with almond milk and protein powder. These foods keep me full throughout the night so I don’t wake up hungry but they aren’t so heavy that they give me heartburn or indigestion.
As far as the question about if we are going to raise our child as a vegetarian – Kevin and I have talked about this a lot. We both feel strongly about our children eating a vegetarian diet when they are young. That is the way we currently eat in our home. We have no meat in our house, even though Kevin isn’t 100% vegetarian and occasionally eats meat when we go out. We have both felt the benefits of a vegetarian diet and we know how good it is for our health, and we couldn’t imagine any other way to raise our babies. With that being said, once our children are old enough to make decisions about their food choices and if they become curious about meat, we would be fine with letting them try whatever they want. We don’t want them to feel that certain food is “off-limits” or “bad.” We want them to have a good relationship with food, and ultimately develop their own ideas about what they want to eat and do not want to eat. However, until they are old enough to decide those things, we feel that it’s our job as parents to set a good example for our children with what we eat in our home, and provide them with the nutritious and healthy food that they need to grow.
My doctors and my Bradley Method teacher have both told me that my diet is excellent, and that they wish they had more of their patients/students eat the way that I do. I have to keep a log of my protein for my Bradley classes and I always exceed the 80 grams a day requirement. Some of the non-vegetarians in class aren’t even able to do that! My plant-based diet keeps me full and gives me energy to continue to exercise and get through my busy days. It is also fueling me for labor and delivery and helping me nourish a healthy baby. I feel good about the way that I eat and I don’t see myself changing my eating habits anytime soon. In fact, I am definitely going to continue to eat an increased amount of protein after I have the baby because I have seen how good it makes me feel. My diet isn’t perfect, and of course we also have nights where I eat cake and ice cream and we go out to dinner and overindulge. But I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked to stay healthy for this baby and I am going to continue to do the best I can for the remainder of my pregnancy and beyond.