While my diet was certainly not my idea of perfect throughout my entire pregnancy, overall I was happy with how I felt and my experience living and eating as a Vegan.
I gauged my success based on a few things. Not only was my blood and urine work normal, except for one time being low on protein, I was able to work on board a boat, exercise and have a descent amount of energy for most of my pregnancy. I also felt happy and balanced most days which, for me, is always a measure of how well I’m taking care of myself.
I believe I didn’t have trouble staying a healthy Vegan during my pregnancy because I’ve eaten a mostly whole food Vegan diet (apart from honey) since 2012. Because of the time I’ve put into my health, I’ve learned a lot about what makes me feel balanced and full of energy. Knowing this in advance helped me a lot during my pregnancy.
I also believe I was successful in eating healthy because I focused on eating intuitively as much as possible. This meant that I would eat what I craved but I would also notice how it made me feel physically and emotionally afterwards. For example, if I was craving something sweet and ate a cookie but it made me feel sick or low in energy, I would modify which sweet food I ate the next time.
I also used my blood sugar as a measure for eating what I needed. If was feeling very low in blood sugar, not long after I ate, I would take note and make sure I would modify for the next time.
What I Ate
In my first trimester I felt pretty nauseous so I modified my diet based on what I could stomach. I ate a lot of avocado toast, tangerines, apples and sprouted pumpkin seeds while eating smaller amounts of salad with veggies and potatoes. I was exhausted during that time and it wasn’t an ideal situation. However, I still worked every day and went for walks when I could.
In my second trimester I started seeing a midwife who told me I needed to make sure I was eating at least 80g of protein per day. While it sounded like a lot, I actually found that most days getting close to the amount was possible with some effort.
At that time my appetite returned which made incorporating different foods a lot easier. I started eating more organic, non-GMO Tofu in my meals as well as a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes.
Typical food I was eating in my 2nd trimester:
Breakfast: Oats with homemade almond or hemp milk or a green smoothie
Snacks: Tangerines, papaya, bananas, Lara Bars, toast with avocado, nuts, pumpkin seeds, hummus with Mary’s Gone Crackers, banana ice cream
Meals: Veg red curry with tofu, baked tofu with veg fried rice, falafel wraps, soups, roasted potatoes with veggies, salads with beans and veggies etc.
In my 3rd trimester savory foods started to become a bit more difficult for me. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy them, it’s just that very often nothing sounded good once I got past what I ate in the morning. I also needed to eat something filling and small almost every two hours.
What I ate didn’t change much from the 2nd trimester, however, I was more focused on making sure I got some protein almost every time I ate to ensure I was getting enough.
Some ways I made sure I ate protein at almost every meal was to:
- Add 20g of Hemp, Pea & Pumpkin Protein to my smoothies or homemade banana ice cream
- Eat almond butter on toast, instead of avocado
- Ensure there were beans, lentils, tofu or temphe in any one of my main meals
- Switch between eating oats for a few days with eating quinoa for a few days (quinoa is very high in protein)
- Use more kale and spinach in my meals. For example, if I was eating Potato Leek Soup, I would add Spinach or Kale as a green higher in protein
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables which in addition to being high in nutrients do have some protein
While, I found it a challenge to eat more protein that I was used to, I was glad it was possible on my Vegan diet with some effort. As you can see from my Cronometer.com report, I was hitting my nutrient and protein requirements for pregnancy in a typical day.
In addition to my diet I was taking the Baby & Me 2 whole food vegan pre and post natal supplement from before I was pregnant all the way throughout my pregnancy.
I’m not quite sure how much weight I gained at each stage of pregnancy, however, I do know that from week 1-38 I gained 35 pounds. I went from 115 pounds to 150 pounds which is normal for someone with a normal BMI before pregnancy.
In an ideal world I would have incorporated more vegetables and greens in my diet on a daily basis. It was strange how many vegetables I usually loved that sounded awful to me while pregnant. I would have also been a better planner at cooking at home. I found I was quite lazy and ate out at my local Thai, Chipotle or Vegan restaurant more than I would have liked.
Finally, I would have liked to be able to exercise more than I did. Maybe I didn’t push myself but I found that when I did, it caused more anxiety than I was comfortable with.
Either way, overall, I’m very pleased with how my Vegan lifestyle unfolded while pregnant and I would do it all again very similarly given the chance.