Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pregnant Veggie

I have intentionally shied away from directly addressing this topic because I (a) don't want to attract the trolls, and (b) don't really have it all figured out. But Becky asked in her comment the other day and I figure maybe I should do a post about it.

First, getting some chips off my shoulder, it really pisses me off when someone IRL, a meat eater, asks me about my diet, because it's always in a way that insinuates that it must be inadequate for growing a baby. To them I say, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Anyone that has been a vegetarian for very long knows that most people think you need more protein than you actually do. This is a hard concept for people used to eating a meat main dish at 2+ meals per day.

I would also say to these people that in at least one way I think my diet is superior (than the average meat eater) because I think about intake of protein all day long. Meaning that hopefully my baby is getting what it needs throughout the day instead of a big portion at dinner.

I also believe that plant protein is really important in any diet and that as a vegetarian I probably do a much better job of incorporating it than most meat eaters do.

And I'd say it's working. My baby consistently measures ahead (usually by 2 weeks) and mostly in the legs. I have read that measuring shorter in the legs can be a sign of poor nutrition and that definitely isn't happening here.

For those that have been reading for a while, you probably recall that I discussed this topic with my nutritional counselor and she wasn't concerned one bit. Her reasoning was that I have been doing this for a long time (since I was 8) and I'm tall and (mostly) healthy. If I hadn't been eating an adequate diet, I probably would be shorter and possibly show other signs of malnutrition.

And on the tall thing, I am about 2" taller than my mother and nearly as tall as my father. My brothers are both taller than me (as expected) but I am about 4" taller than my meat eating half-sister. (Since she is my half sister obviously the genetics are a bit different, but my half brother, her full brother, is the tallest of us kids and is ~6'4" so it's not like they are both shorter).

I also have to acknowledge that dairy has been my friend during this pregnancy. Dairy is a really easy way for me to get complete protein and calcium and I eat a lot of it. I would have to completely rethink my diet without it.

So I don't have a magic number of grams of protein I shoot for everyday. Mostly I try to just make sure I get a certain amount with each meal and have several good snacks. I know if I'm going to be light on the protein for lunch that I should plan better for dinner or vice versa or an extra snack.

On the dairy thing, it's handy to remember that a single cup of milk has 8g of protein. If I'm feeling like I didn't do so well one day an extra glass of milk or two can really add on.

For breakfast I have switched to the dreaded microwave oatmeal! Yes, my dirty little secret. I found I couldn't eat as much oatmeal as I cooked on the stove and switched to the bags. I eat the Quaker Weight Control oatmeal which has 7g of protein. Mix that with nearly a cup of milk and some flax and I'm at ~15g.

Every day I have a snacks of cheese, nuts, and/or fruit. The cheese and nuts obviously help add in some protein.

For lunch I like to make a sandwich, normally with hummus and some cheese slices and veggies. I usually bring veggies for a side too and dip in extra hummus. And the (whole wheat) sandwich bread has some protein too. I probably average ~20g of protein for lunch.

Dinner could be anything as long as I feel that I'm getting sufficient protein. If we eat pasta, I use the Barilla Plus because it's got a lot of protein. We eat a lot of beans which provide decent protein. Vegetarian chili is a favorite this time of year. I got this cookbook and I really like it. The recipes are easy and good and have definitely helped us incorporate some new meals.

Then I have a big glass of milk to swallow my pills every night and stir in a packet of Carnation Breakfast Essential (no sugar added) chocolate flavoring which adds an extra 5g of protein to the milk.

I don't eat tofu. I'm not against tofu, but I'm not a big fan either and all the recipes I like are loaded with sodium (I'm already a little puffy, I don't need more) and the phytoestrogens freak me out a little. I am a former avid consumer of soy products and will probably go back after pregnancy, but I avoided soy during my follicular phase while TTC and just felt like I don't need it in my diet the way things are. I think the occasional soy is fine, but I try to keep it to a minimum and prefer minimally processed forms. I can't really explain myself fully on the topic and I don't necessarily think there is anything thing wrong with it, but it's just something I keep to a minimum right now.

I figure on an average day I'm getting around 80g of protein, and on some days I'm probably closer to 100g.

I discussed this topic with my new OB and she had my urine checked for protein. If you are defiecient in protein your body will start metabolizing itself, and I guess the kidneys are a preferred source of protein and it would show up in my urine if that was the case (this happens with preeclampsia too). I've not had an issue so I guess there is some more proof that things are going alright.

But I continue to be diligent.

If their are any vegetarians (or vegans) reading this that have tricks for getting more protein into their diets please leave a comment, I'd love to hear them.


missing_one said...

I'm not a vegetarian, but would call myself a flexitarian and an ecotarian. I've been a mostly vegetarian since childhood since I never liked meat growing up but was forced to eat it (I actually would cut things up into smaller and smaller piece until it looked like I ate it. Anyways, when I was pregnant with my son, I started craving meat (ribs, steak) it was weird, but I gave in. Now, being married to meat eater and having a meat eater son, I do cook meat, but don't always eat it maybe once a week. The way we get most of our protein is from beans. I make a lot of mexican food but also have learned to make a lot of Indian food because my husband can say he feels full without the meat. So yes, we do a lot of beans and lentils, chick peas etcs. (legumes)

Celia said...

I miss being a vegetarian. It was very hard for me to go back to meat. But I did it, and I have to say that I am much healthier. But that is not because anything is wrong with a vegetarian diet, my hypoglycemia just made it too difficult. Once we are done baby making I am going back to veggie land. Sometimes my husband just stares at me eating meat because it is so strange to him. I really REALLY hate the creepy texture of meat.

Nichole said...

Dang girl! I wish I put as much thought into what I ate/didn't eat as you do! Granted I do really focus on carbs...but that is where it stops.

I think you are doing great, I am a meat eater, but I think your diet is great if it works for you (it obviously isn't hurting the baby) and if your Dr.'s were concerned, they would have said something!

You go girl!

Michelle said...

It sounds like you are doing really great and know exactly how much of what you need and are getting. And your baby is growing wonderfully! People need to butt out.

Kate said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I am a vegetarian and am TTC. When we get pregnant, I will look back at this post, as it is sure to give me some ideas.

Sophie said...

I'm not vegetarian, but my husband and I try to eat more veggies and other forms of protein than meat on our plate. One way I try to get protein is... beans :P. I've been craving a lot of refried beans. Beans kind of make themselves, I just put a cup of pinto beans in a pot full of water with some salt, garlic and onion. Then when they're nice and soft, I drain them. Sometimes we'll eat them like that, other times I'll refry them in canola or olive oil. I'll eat that in a taco with cheese. Plus, they have a ton of folic acid. I've had a hard time taking vitamins, and though I can now tolerate the folic acid, initially I was just making sure to eat beans with almost every meal. I also like lentil soup! Sounds like you have a really healthy diet.

Kristin said...

Sounds like you're doing an excellent job... and, tho I'm not a vegetarian (mostly due to hypoglycemia issues...), you are totally motivating me to put more thought into what I'm eating. And I'm also really glad to see that you're only receiving positive comments here! :)

The Lynchs said...

Sounds like you've got the pregnancy diet completely figured out! I'm not a vegetarian, but I think as long as your physician is fine with your diet, then no one else should have a problem with it either! :-)