Pregnancy: Your Guide to Eating Right (cont.)

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Vegan and vegetarian diets

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Pregnant women can absolutely follow vegan or vegetarian diets during pregnancy. In fact, doing so may help them avoid some of the added hormones that are common in non-organic animal products. However, there are some nutrients that are commonly deficient in vegetarian diets. Pregnant women who are vegan or vegetarian should be extra careful to ensure they are getting enough calcium, iron, and B-12. Protein intake needs to be monitored too. Vegetarian protein sources include:

  • beans,
  • lentils,
  • nuts and nut butters,
  • seeds,
  • quinoa,
  • peas, hemp/almond/soy milk,
  • yogurt,
  • cheese, and
  • eggs.

B-12 is needed for proper DNA expression in the growing embryo and fetus. Deficiencies cause anemia and are associated with low birth weight, pre-term delivery, preeclampsia, and neural tube defects8. Pregnant women need 30mcg a day and the sources are all animal-based; vegan women may want to ensure they get enough by taking a methylcobalamin supplement.

Low carb diets

Low carbohydrate diets can be healthy during pregnancy, as they are for any life phase, but the devil is in the details, as they say. More precisely, a low glycemic load diet is beneficial during pregnancy (and throughout life). Glycemic load is a term that measures how quickly a carbohydrate is digested and turned into blood sugar. Carbohydrates with lots of fiber, or combined with fat or protein have lower glycemic loads and raise blood sugar slowly, providing steady energy and preventing a spike in blood sugar and the subsequent low blood sugar drop. How do you follow a low glycemic load diet? Stay away from processed carbs such as:

  • flour,
  • sugar,
  • breads,
  • pastas,
  • soda, and
  • pastries.

Instead, choose foods in their unrefined form:

  • fruits,
  • vegetables,
  • brown rice, or
  • quinoa.

An easy way to do this is to stay away from "white" foods:

  • White sugar
  • White flour
  • White rice
  • White bread
  • White potato, etc.

White foods are also low in micronutrients.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/28/2015

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Healthy Diet During Pregnancy - Goal Setting Question: Please share your experience for goal setting for a healthy diet during pregnancy.
Healthy Diet During Pregnancy - Vegan/Vegetarian Diet Question: Please share your experience and any helpful information in regard to a vegan or vegetarian diet during pregnancy.
Healthy Diet During Pregnancy - Morning Sickness, Hearturn Question: What foods helped relieve morning sickness, heartburn, or other trouble physical symptoms during pregnancy?