Pregnant and Vegetarian or Vegan? Check Out These Healthy Eating Tips

Adorable Alicia Silverstone is pregnant -- and vegan. Props for the super-mindful eating, but wow! Coping with crazy cravings and annoying food aversions can be tough enough without any dietary restrictions. So we checked in with nutritionist Barbie Broschart Cervoni, MS, CD/N, RD, co-founder of CredibleNutrition.com and dietitian at Cohen Children's Medical Center in Pediatric Endocrinology, and got her advice for eating right for two on a plant-based diet. (Omnivore mamas, there’s tasty guidance here for you, too!)

Green is the new calcium. Calcium is super important for mom and baby during pregnancy. Vegan eaters can get the nutrient from green leafy veggies like kale, mustard greens and broccoli. Edamame, almonds, and fortified soy and rice milk are good calcium sources, too. And encourage calcium absorption with Vitamin D. For winter months and if you live in a locale with low sunlight, take a 600 IU supplement daily. (But always get the okay first from your OB before taking any supplement.)

Pump up the iron. Meat is an obvious source for this nutrient, which helps prevent anemia, so vegan and vegetarian eaters need to load up on healthy alternatives like soybeans, lentils, pumpkin seeds and dark green leafy vegetables. Tip: Consuming vitamin C at the same time will increase your body’s absorption of the iron.

Power up on protein. Good for baby’s developing body, the placenta, amniotic fluid and mom’s increased blood volume, protein can be found in beans, nuts, nut butters and high-protein grains like quinoa.

Build baby’s brain. Flax seed and walnuts are good sources of the Omega-3 fatty acids critical to brain development.
 
Protect baby's central nervous system. Good sources of folic acid include beans, greens and fortified cereals.
 
Give your grocery list a mini-makeover. All-around good eats include nuts, seeds, whole grains fortified with folic acid, quinoa, barley, brown rice, avocado, fruits, veggies, flaxseed and chia seeds.

A final caution for vegan and vegetarian eaters: Broschart Cervoni emphasizes that iron deficiency is a big nutritional pitfall when eating a plant-based diet. Pay careful attention to iron-rich foods and take a daily multivitamin to help you avoid anemia so you can feel your best during -- and after -- pregnancy.

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