Is it safe to be a vegetarian while you are pregnant? This is a question asked by many mothers-to-be. This is because many mothers worry about the effects it might have on the development of their unborn baby.
Most mothers think that by choosing to be vegetarians while pregnant, they will be missing on most of the essential nutrients during this crucial period when the body’s demand for nutrients is high since you will be eating for two. When you are pregnant, your body will need sufficient proteins, calories, vitamins, and minerals so that you and your baby are healthy.
According to dietitians, mothers can still get sufficient and proper nutrients that they require from vegetarian diets. Actually, there are a lot of benefits in choosing the vegetarian diet.
4 Types of Vegetarians
I know you think that being a vegetarian involves eating lots and lots of vegetables, like a rabbit. Well, that’s not the case. There are four types of vegetarians which include:
- Vegans: These are people who strictly eat fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. All animal products which include eggs, milk, cheese and beef are excluded.
- Lacto-vegetarians: These are people who eat strictly vegetables, fruits in addition to dairy products.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: For lacto-ovo-vegetarians, their diet is almost the same as that of the lactovegetarians only that eggs are added to their diet.
- Pescatarians: These are vegetarians who apart from eating dairy products and eggs together with vegetables also include on their diet omega-3 rich foods like fish. Meat and poultry are not included.
Therefore, if you are a vegetarian, you now know which group you belong. If you are pregnant and planning to embark on a vegetarian diet, then you can choose which type of vegetarian you want to be depending on what suits you.
Benefits of a Vegetarian Pregnancy
Since you need to take care of your health more than ever during this period when there is a life growing inside you, choosing to be a vegetarian is a great choice that will come with a lot of health benefits to you and your baby. Below are 7 benefits of being a vegetarian while you are pregnant.
Lower Rates of Maternal Obesity
Obesity is one of the problems that pregnant women have to deal with. During pregnancy, your body will crave almost anything that can be chewed. If you give in to your cravings, you will find your weight getting out of control putting both your life and that of the baby at risk.
A healthy diet like choosing to be a vegetarian at this time will ensure that you eliminate consumption of too much fat that comes from meat. This will make sure that your weight does not get out of hand hence protecting you and the baby from the health risks that come with obesity.
Research shows that vegetarians are at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular problems since their levels of blood pressure is reasonably lower. Apart from that, cholesterol levels, blood lipid levels, and the body mass index is also low.
During pregnancy, your cardiovascular health and that of the baby should be taken seriously. Fruits and vegetables also contain fibre and antioxidants will ensure that your heart is in a perfect condition so that you are not at risk of developing heart disorders at this period of time.
Reduced Risk of Gestational Diabetes
A vegetarian diet consists mostly of natural carbohydrates and foods that are low in fat. These are one of the factors that usually contribute to diabetes during pregnancy. Even for diabetic patients, choosing a vegetarian diet would be better for you and the baby since your blood sugar, and that of your baby will be kept at a healthy level.
If you don’t watch what you eat during your pregnancy, by eating a lot of junk food, you and your baby will be at a risk of developing diabetes since your blood sugar level will shoot through the roof. Eating a vegetarian diet will thus ensure that your body’s sugar is supplied from natural carbohydrates.
Low levels of Homocysteine
If the levels of homocysteine in the body reach high concentrations, you will be at a risk of cardiac and blood vessels disorders. According to research, mothers who are on a vegetarian diet have lower homocysteine levels in the body.
For your baby to develop healthy bones, essential nutrients like vitamin K, magnesium and potassium are required. A vegetarian diet contains all these nutrients in sufficient quantities. Fruits and vegetables are one of the richest sources of potassium and magnesium.
Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is one of the neurodegenerative diseases. Research shows that consuming a lot of meat based diets which are always packed with a lot of cholesterol and fat increases the risks of you and your baby developing Parkinson’s disease. A vegetarian diet will provide a protective effect against such diseases.
Improved General Health
During pregnancy, your body should always feel healthy and relaxed. Vegetarian diets will improve the ability of your body to manage stress which in turn will enhance your general health and will keep you looking good and feeling good.
Should you choose to be a vegetarian while you are pregnant, ensure that you are extra vigilant in the amount of vital nutrients you take for the sake of your health and your baby’s healthy growth. Ensure that your diet has adequate calcium and vitamin D.
Your diet should contain a lot of vegetable proteins and energy-rich foods so that the energy density of your diet is high. The diet should have a broader spectrum of foods so that all the nutritional needs for you and the baby are met.
If you want to try out a vegetarian diet, I suggest you start with some vegetable servings. You should try out a serving of baby carrots and see how fantastic it will taste. You will surely enjoy it. To know more about how many baby carrots should be in a serving, click here.
My name is Kristi and I’m the mother of 3 beautiful angels, founder of Intelligentmother.com. This blog was created in order to share experiences baby care, health care for pregnant women. You can find many interesting insights. Problems – Solved!