Are you a vegetarian? A well-balanced vegetarian diet during pregnancy can give your baby the best possible start. A sample of a well balanced vegetarian diet would include:
• Whole Grains Bread and Cereals – 9 servings
o Serving = 1 slice of bread, 1 mandazi, 1/2 cup cooked rice, or pasta
• Vegetables 4 or more servings
o Serving = 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables. Ensure that you choose at least one dark green vegetable daily.
• Fruits 4 or more servings
o Serving = 1 piece of fruit, 1 Banana
• Legumes, Soy Products, Nondairy Milks 5–6 servings
o Serving = 1/2 cup cooked beans, tofu, or 100ml fortified soymilk or other nondairy milk
• Nuts, Seeds, Wheat Germ 1–2 servings
o Serving = 2 tablespoons nuts or seeds, 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Important considerations for the Vegetarian mum
- For most vegetarians, it can be difficult to meet your iron needs in pregnancy. Vegetarian sources of iron include wholegrain bread and cereals, legumes and nuts, green leafy vegetables and eggs. Eating or drinking a vitamin C rich food e.g. orange fruit or juice at the same meal will help the absorption of iron from these foods.
- A strict vegan diet can be low in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is important for the normal development of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system of your baby. You should take a B12 supplement, or consider including some milk, egg, or fish in your diet during this time.
- Ensure that you are getting enough energy from your food to meet the extra demands of pregnancy by maintaining a steady rate of weight gain.
- Consider consulting a nutritionist to ensure that you are on the right path with your current diet.