By Sarah Jio, Glamour magazine
She's vegan. And pregnant. But hold the judgment, gals. Today we hear from the lovely healthy-living and vegan-eating guru Corinne Bowen who makes the case for smart, educated vegan diets during pregnancy.
Yes, many mainstream health experts have warned against vegan diets during pregnancy out of malnutrition concerns, but my friend, writer Corinne Bowen, longtime contributor to Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Life Web site, wants to set the record straight. Approached with care and diligence, a vegan pregnancy can be just has healthy as any other, she says. Here's what she has to say:
When I found out I was pregnant, one of the first things I thought about was my vegan diet. I was already taking a vegan prenatal vitamin and a plant-based DHA supplement in preparation for pregnancy, but suddenly the food on my plate was under scrutiny. And not just by me. Many people had concerns about my diet, including friends, family and my health care provider. I admit it. I was on the defensive before anyone had said a word. For my own sanity and health, I needed to do my homework so that I felt prepared for the inevitable questions coming my way.
Today, I'm almost full term and balanced nutrition is still a daily priority. It would take an entire book to list the variety of nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy and their food sources, so I'll just list a few personal must-haves for now. Bottom line: A conscientious vegan mama-to-be equals a healthy nine months for her and her baby. For an extensive review of a well-balanced vegan pregnancy diet, check out the Vegetarian Resource Group's website!
Protein: If you're already tired of hearing the question, "Where do you get your protein?" Get ready to hear it ten times more. You'll need more protein in your diet now that you've got a house guest, so pack your pantry with protein-rich foods you love. I adore quinoa, almond butter, Field Roast sausage, tempeh, lentils, and split peas. Soups are super for packing a protein punch.
Calcium: Oi. This is a biggie. Most Americans think that the only place you'll find calcium is in dairy products. Not true! Broccoli, collards, fortified tofu and nut milks, kale, tahini and almonds are easy foods to integrate into your everyday meals (and this list just scratches the surface!). I love pumping up my smoothies with almond milk and throwing broccoli into my stir-fry. Kale salad, anyone? Massage some kale with lemon juice, olive oil, tomato and avocado and you've got a calcium-rich dream meal.
Iron: This might not be something you weren't too concerned about pre-pregnancy, but your body is pumping a lot more blood these days and anemia is not uncommon. No fear! Bulk up your salads with spinach, dip that carrot in some hummus, cook up some millet, or put a pot of lentil stew on the stove. The list goes on, so get creative!
These tips are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Vegan Pregnancy 101, but anyone can become a savvy mama with the help of Google. Make sure you're eating a variety of whole foods and that you've kicked junk food and processed foods to the curb. It's also important to research what might be keeping your body from absorbing essential nutrients. For example, try not to reach for that piece of dark chocolate if you are eating an iron-rich food, since caffeine blocks absorption.
Most importantly, relax! As long as you feel great and all is well at your prenatal check-ups, you're on the right track. It's always helpful to keep a food journal to track your diet for a few weeks. It'll put your mind at ease and help you figure out where your meals could use a boost. Bon appétit!
What do you think? Would you ever attempt a vegan pregnancy?
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Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio