Once the nausea of the first trimester was over, I took a hard look at my diet and have been more conscientious about getting in enough protein. I was very diligent at first and fell off a bit until last Sunday when we attend our first Bradley Method birthing class. The topics for the first class were pre-natal exercises to prepare for birth (more on that later!) and nutrition for baby. My key take-away nutrition wise that it’s very important to get at least 80 g of protein a day in the 2nd trimester and over 100g per day in the 3rd trimester. Since I’m very active and also tall, I’d guess I probably need a bit more than these recommended amounts.
It’s been almost 3 years now since I switched to a “flexitarian diet” which started as more vegan and has morphed into a “mostly vegetarian” diet. What that means is I cook vegan and vegetarian meals and on occasion I eat meat, usually while out or at an event/party.On occasion used to mean about 1-2x/month but since pregnancy I have been eating meat/fish about 1-2x/week, depending on the week. I tend to choose beef and fish when eating animal products, and try to get the highest quality I can find, when possible.
However, most my days as a pregnant woman are on a vegetarian diet with little dairy and obviously it’s a little harder for me to get my daily protein requirement fulfilled than someone who eats meat at lunch and dinner. I started to use MyFitnessPal some days to track my protein intake to make sure I’m getting enough (because I don’t eat a lot of dairy, I also use it to track calcium and take a calcium supplement on days when I don’t think I got enough. I also track Iron here but found that I’m usually getting plenty especially paired with my pre-natal). I realized quickly that there were some days when I was WAY under this requirement, especially in the first trimester when a lot of my favorite vegetarian protein sources made me want to vomit and I was sticking to easy to digest white carbs, fruit and smoothies (luckily the protein intake is most important in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters).
Here are two examples of days where I was able to get in the required 80-100 grams of protein with a vegetarian diet:
Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet Day 1:
- 3 scrambled medium organic eggs with 1 slice of whole-wheat toast with 1/4 of an avocado smashed on top
- 24g protein
- 1 cup organic grapes
- 0g protein
- 2 cups Black Bean Yam Chili (Tony Horton’s recipe, get it here)
- Spinach arugula salad with 1/4 avocado, veggies, hummus and sprinkling of pumpkin seeds with olive oil based vinaigrette dressing
- 22 g protein
- 1/4 cup salted cashews
- 1/2 cup diced strawberries and a kiwi
- 1 banana
- 1 slice colby jack cheese (grabbed this randomly after my workout as I made dinner)
- 16g protein
- Tempeh & Veggie burrito: 1 organic whole wheat wrap (from Trader Joe’s), 1/3 package organic 3 grain tempeh, kale, organic corn, diced onion and red bell pepper (made with olive oli), 1/3 avocado (made into guacamole), salsa
- Green beans sauteed in olive oil
- 24 g protein
- 5 Hersey kisses
- 0 g protein
Total Protein: 87 grams
Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet Day 2:
- Good portion Quaker oatmeal (whole oats, cooked on the stove, not the packets) with almond milk, cinnamon, a little brown sugar, 1/2 a banana and a few sliced strawberries.
- 8 g protein (add nuts, chia seeds, or vegan protein powder to oatmeal to give it more protein)
- Vanilla Protein Shake with almond milk and mango
- 1/4 cup cashews
- 26 g protein
- Cold lentil and falafel (2 frozen Trader Joes Falafels heated up and put on top) salad made with spinach, arugula, hummus, cucumber, tomato, onion, red bell peppers and balsamic vinaigrette.
- 1 Orange
- Russel Stover Marshmallow Rabbit (I’ve got a sweet tooth! This was from around Easter time)
- 19 g protein
- Carrots and sliced red bell pepper w/ hummus
- 2 scrambled eggs (I ate the eggs after getting home from a 50 minute run and wanted something to eat before I made dinner)
- 17 g protein
- Homemade lentil spinach cashew curry served over brown rice with broccoli (recipe here)
- 25 g protein
Total protein: 95 grams
Hopefully this will help any other pregnant vegetarian women realize that they can get all their needs without resorting to lots of meat and dairy! And maybe I gave you some fun meal ideas, even if you’re not vegetarian!
What is your favorite high protein vegetarian meal or snack?