A flexitarian approach to pregnancy nutrition
When you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever that your diet is the best
it can be. Though there’s no problem in having the odd treat, you should try
to ensure that you get a good a mix of vitamins and minerals, as well as sufficient carbs to keep you going, plus protein to help your baby grow.
But if you are thinking of changing to a lower carbon diet, or perhaps replacing animal products at times, how can you do so safely and with confidence that you’re getting all you need? We show you how to be a flexitarian.
A flexitarian diet; all you need to know
A Flexitarian diet is one where you choose a more plant-based diet but still
allow yourself the option of choosing to eat animal products at times. It’s more flexible, and easier to keep to, than going fully vegetarian or vegan but it helps you think more about what you’re eating.
The diet suggests that you eat mostly legumes, whole grains, fruit and vegetables and that you choose plant- based protein. It allows you to be flexible and add small amounts of meat and dairy. However, you’re also encouraged to eat less processed food and stick to natural foods.
It also suggests you limit refined sugar and sweets. It’s hard to find a definitive study to show if the diet is better for you than others, though almost all studies say that eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains has good benefits for your health, as they’re high in fibre and antioxidants. This can prevent high cholesterol and heart disease.
Where do I get my…?
Protein: Surprisingly, plants pack a punch as far as protein goes and you don’t need to search too far to find great-tasting protein alternatives.
We all know that lentils, nuts and beans are protein- rich, so use them as meat alternatives in Shepherd’s Pie, Chilli, Lasagne and Spaghetti sauces or create delicious nut rissoles or Sunday roasts.
Look for tofu, soya and seitan sausages and burgers and use tofu, a great protein source, in stir fries, curries, stews and more. It doesn’t have a flavour of its own but you can make it taste like lots of ‘normal’ foods!
Other surprising sources are quinoa, nut butters, spinach, peas, broccoli and chia seeds.
Iron and B Vitamins: Many foods are fortified with these nutrients, including bread and cereals. You can also get them from dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, chickpeas and beans, dried fruit, Brewer’s yeast and wholegrains including brown rice and oatmeal.
Calcium: Green veg, bread, tofu, soya beans and nuts. Also in some fortified plant milks and thought to be easier to absorb like this than cow’s milk.
Vitamin C: Oranges, peppers, strawberries and blackcurrants, green vegetables and potatoes.
Vitamin D: Difficult to get through food sources alone, so choose a good supplement.
Vitamin E: Plant oils, seeds, some nuts and wheatgerm found in some cereals.
Why go organic?
Organic fruit and vegetables not only taste better and are generally higher in nutrients, it also means you are eating produce that has not been treated with artificial fertilisers nor sprayed with chemical pesticides which can increase your overall cancer risk. Who needs those GMO nasties inside them?
Don’t forget to hydrate
Don’t forget that during pregnancy you actually have more blood in your body to support your growing baby, so it’s more important than ever to hydrate. Keep a bottle or glass of water to hand and sip regularly, especially when exercising.
How to consume meat and animal products with a conscience
Although cows are prime offenders when it comes to global warming, you can still eat it if you make sustainable choices. If you choose British beef, the animal has usually been fed on grassland and lived in a herd for at least one to two years. Try to avoid beef that has been imported, as transport is stressful for the animal. Look for: RSPCA Assured, Pasture For Life.
Pork and Lamb
If you want to eat these meats, the most ethical way is to buy direct from a farm to reassure yourself that animals are treated well and raised ethically. Pigs should be living outdoors, not have their tails docked and it’s worth noting that Rare Breeds are high welfare. Sheep should spend most of their lives in the field.
Look for: Pasture for Life, RSPCA, Organic, CIWF Good Pig
Chicken and eggs
Many avoid red meat in favour of chicken but this can be one of the worst treated animals. Most chickens and eggs labelled ‘barn- raised’ means that animals are kept packed in massive sheds. Look for free range AND organic on the label, as this means the birds have access to the outdoors and are kept in smaller flocks.
Look for: RSPCA, Free Range, Organic.
And once baby comes along, why not try vegan weaning?
Plant Based Baby is a helpful and practical book offering a wealth of advice for those who are vegan or vegetarian and have chosen to raise their baby this way.
It’s full of great information to ensure new parents feel confident in raising their little ones on a delicious and nutritious plant-based diet, packed with all the right vitamins, minerals and protein needed for growth and development.
- How will I know when my baby is ready for weaning?
- Ensure your baby is getting the right vitamins and minerals for healthy development.
- What about the protein?
- How to reassure friends and family that it’s healthy to bring up your baby on a plant-based diet
- Spoon fed or baby-led? Which method of weaning is best?
Plus a vivid resource of delicious recipes with stunning photographs and step-by-step guides to make for your baby, from those first tastes to eating together as a family.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and treats – your baby will love these nutritious vegan recipes and you’ll soon be eating together as a family on a fantastic plant-based diet.