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?
You are doing awesome!! Those meals look and sound amazing! What a fortunate little kiddo to have momma feeding her so well!! Keep up the good work, it’s so worth it!! Ps LOVE that you are doing a bradly birthing class! I was so uneducated my first pregnancy but the second time I did a hypnobirthing class and man o man did it help! Such a better birth experience the second time! So happy for you to be going in prepared 🙂
Thanks Heather! Glad to hear you liked Hypnobirthing too- I definitely think preparation is key!
I’m not pregnant but I eat a mostly vegetarian diet but include fish with the occasional meat/chicken dish when I’m out- loved your lentil ideas, I’m always looking for a new way to eat them! As an RD I think it’s great how aware you are of possible nutrient deficiencies and it’s great your tracking it without making yourself too crazy (hopefully). Glad you are having such a healthy and happy pregnancy!
Thanks Jess! Sounds like we have very similar ways of looking at nutrition too. the lentil spinach cashew curry recipe is a staple in our house – i usually double it and it makes several meals!
Sheena @ Paws and Pavement
Great meal ideas and lots of protein! I keep meaning to add lentils to my meal plans so thanks for some inspiration.
You’re welcome! I love lentils – so yummy, nutritious and cheap!
I’m not vegetarian or vegan, but this was a good reminder to think more about what I am eating and what my growing baby really needs from me! I haven’t kept track of my intake of protein, but after reading your post I’m curious!!
You’re probably fine but it could be good to track it for a day or two to make sure ! It’s pretty interesting too