To eat or not to eat.
I get A LOT of questions about what to eat (and not to eat) during pregnancy. As an ND who works with a lot of fertility patients, I work with quite a few pregnant patients. For those of you who don’t know, I also used to be a birth doula for 6 years!
Most food and nutrition guidelines come from looking at populations with high risk of pregnancy complications and comparing them to low risk ones.
Aaand, as you can imagine, most of this data does not account for cultural and traditional practices of eating, so keep this in mind as you’re reading this or anything online.
There are trends associated with a significant reduction in gestational diabetes, small babies, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure and other high risk pregnancy complications as reported in a recent study (Assaf-Balut, 2018). The same study found that if women limited consumption of refined flours, red and processed meat, juices/sweetened drinks, pastries, and biscuits, that they had healthier pregnancies and babies.
The list below is not a fully plant-based/vegan one. As someone who is vegan, I do support a lot of plant-based patients in my practice (and omnivorous ones too!), so I’m well-versed in that if you’re looking for guidance.
The following minimums are a good place to start for a healthy pregnancy as per the 2018 study mentioned above:
· Vegetables: 12 servings per week minimum. That’s less than 2 servings per day! I’d recommend going higher here.
· Fruits: 12 servings per week minimum.
· Nuts: 3 servings per week minimum.You can incorporate nuts and seeds daily
· Extra virgin olive oil: olive oil included most days of the week, and upwards of 30+ ml (2 tbsp) of olive oil daily.
· Oily fish: 3 servings per week minimum OR an omega-3 (algae-based if you’re vegan) works well!
· Mainly whole grain cereals/carb sources, while having less than 2 servings per week of white rice, pasta or white breads
· Legumes like beans and chickpeas
· Skimmed dairy products: 1 serving per day. The study used regular dairy, but an alternative works for dairy-free folks. Calcium intake is important!
· Home made sauces in place of conventional processed sauces
· Limit red meat consumption