How to have a balanced diet for vegan and vegetarian mums-to-be!

Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and Registered Nutritionist

 

Have a happy and healthy pregnancy with The Infant & Toddler Forum’s top tips for vegan and vegetarian mums-to-be!

Over the past few years it definitely seems that there’s been a growing trend for vegetarianism and veganism! Supermarkets are stocked with great alternatives and vegan and vegetarian cooking is all the rage. And the numbers back it up – in the ten years from 2006, the number of British vegans rose by more than 360 per cent according to The Vegan Society!

It follows that there must be growing numbers of vegan and vegetarian mums-to-be, however the advice for pregnant women often ignores this. Here to help, we have compiled our advice for vegetarian and vegan expecting mothers, to help all pregnant women maintain a balanced diet!

Top Tips for Vegetarian Expectant Mothers

  • Make sure you eat three servings a day of both:
    • milk, cheese or yogurt
    • eggs, nuts and pulses
  • It’s important to eat a food high in vitamin C at the same meal as eggs, nuts and pulses to make sure the iron in them is absorbed. High vitamin C foods include:
    • citrus fruit
    • kiwi fruit
    • tomatoes
    • pepper
    • potato
    • strawberries
    • mango
    • blackcurrants
  • If you don’t eat fish, a supplement suitable for pregnancy containing both omega 3 fats and iodine should be taken in addition to:
  • Take the Vitamin D and folic acid supplements recommended for all pregnancies

Top Tips for Vegan Expectant Mothers

Vegan diets are very low in some nutrients needed for your baby’s optimal growth and development. To help with a balanced diet, in addition to the Vitamin D and folic acid supplements which are recommended for all pregnant women, also take:

  • Iodine – take an over the counter supplement suitable for pregnancy providing 140-150mg per day (not kelp or seaweed supplements). This is really important for your baby’s developing brain
  • Vitamin B12 – this is only found in small amounts in fortified yeast extracts, fortified soya milk, fortified textured soya protein and fortified cereals. So you will need a B12 supplement as well
  • Calcium – having 3 drinks of fortified soya milk each day will provide you with a reasonable level of calcium, and alternatively, take a calcium supplement of 800mg/day
  • Iron supplements – if your midwife advises you. Iron is found in nuts, pulses and fortified breakfast cereals. Eat these three times a day and at the same time as a starchy food and a food high in vitamin C (see the top tips for Vegetarian Expectant Mothers for suggestions!)
  • Omega 3 fats – walnuts and walnut or rapeseed oil are a good source of omega 3 fats on a daily basis but take a supplement of DHA and EPA as well

If you’ve found this blog informative, why not share with your vegetarian and vegan expecting friends!

Posted in BlogTagged , ,

Further Reading

  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   As social distancing policies are put in place, and schools and nurseries shut their doors indefinitely, keeping your toddlers entertained and active for hours on end during COVID-19 may seem daunting and at times virtually impossible! Parents and carers have been thrown into a cozy and chaotic ‘new normal’ and may wonder how they can meet the recommended three hours a day of physical activity for under-fives who are walking. But do not panic, the Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help make sure you have plenty of ideas to keep your toddler happy and entertained whilst encouraging physical activity.
  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist   In today's digital age, it is no surprise that the amount of screen time suitable for children is a highly debated topic, with the subject regularly dominating media headlines. Children are spending more time than ever before immersed in screens from a very young age; this includes time spent watching television, playing a video game, or using an electronic device with a screen (such as a smartphone or tablet). While evidence is still limited as to the effects, it is thought that screen time affects sleep, interactive play and obesity - but it is not yet clear which type of screen time and when screen time might have the most impact. In our latest blog post, we examine the evidence and aim to provide clarity on how much is too much when it comes to screen time.
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   The start of a new year is a good time to consider establishing healthy feeding habits for the year ahead. Toddlers' nutritional requirements differ greatly from those of older children and adults. Rapidly growing and with small stomachs, toddlers require more nutrients in each mouthful of food.