I’ve been vegetarian for a good couple of years now and I was brought up eating a lot of vegetarian meals as my mum was vegetarian. I’ve dabbled in veganism too and I do hope to go vegan again at some point. I was vegan at the beginning of the year and please don’t hate me but I started eating eggs prior to becoming pregnant as I felt they were a good source of protein and I missed eating them. During my first trimester, I really struggled to find things that I wanted to eat due to nausea and extreme food aversions. Unless you’ve been pregnant, its hard to fathom how much your taste buds and food preferences change. I greatly admire those who can continue to be vegan during pregnancy!
I couldn’t bear to eat a single vegetable! All the things that I used to eat for protein were completely off the table, things like peanut butter, houmous, chickpeas and any sort of legume. For a good few weeks, I could only tolerate carbs, cold fruit, ginger beer and very plain foods such as Linda McCartney sausage rolls. The only source of protein I could eat was cheese so I made the decision to start eating some cheese again to provide me and the baby with some protein and calcium. My diet for the first trimester basically consisted of toast and Marmite, spaghetti on toast, crumpets and cheese and Wotsits!
My nausea continued into the second trimester but I did gradually manage to introduce more healthier foods such as soup, plain cooked veg and lentils and thankfully as I approached around 16 weeks, my nausea was more manageable and my diet has been able to return to normal which I’m so glad about!
I think that during the weeks of sickness and nausea you just have to do what you can to survive! Eat little and often just to keep your energy up. Make sure you take a pregnancy multivitamin to ensure that you get everything you need. My tip would be – don’t take your vitamin on an empty stomach and take it at a time of day when you feel less sick, for me, that was in the evening before bed.
I thought I’d share the sort of things that I eat in a day as someone who eats a vegetarian diet. I’m by no means a health and fitness guru or the healthiest eater on the world but I do try and eat plenty of home cooked meals and I’m also just a normal person who is partial to chocolate and cake too!
I eat breakfast every morning as I start to feel dizzy and sick if I don’t eat first thing. Breakfast is a good time to include some fruit and protein. My usual is egg, either poached, boiled or scrambled with some wholemeal toast and tomatoes or else I’ll have toast with peanut butter and either tomatoes or banana. Both of these types of breakfast are a good combo of carbs, protein and vitamins.
Seeded toast with peanut butter and banana and a cup of tea with soya milk.
My lunch today was some soup which was actually made with leftover vegetable casserole with some hot water added – the casserole had veggies such as carrots, onion and celery plus some butterbeans for protein. I had the soup along with a cheese and pickle roll. Other good vegetarian lunch ideas are beans on toast, omelette, sandwiches with salad and humous, lentil soup, in fact any leftovers that you might have from dinner the previous day can be heated up and used again.
Vegetable and butter bean soup with a cheese and pickle roll
Dinner is a great time for getting lots of veggies into your diet but I know that when you are pregnant, its so hard to cook at this time of day. Especially if you’ve been out at work all day, the last thing you want to do is stand in the kitchen chopping veg. I’ve started batch cooking so I only need to cook every other day. If you’ve got lots of freezer space, you could spend a couple of hours at the weekend batch cooking and then freeze it for the rest of the week so that you just need to warm it up.
Now that we are heading into winter, its a great time for one pot dishes which I always prefer to make. My go to meals are veggie chilli, lentil bolognese, casseroles and soups. This week on my meal plan were Quorn sausage, butter bean and veg casserole, chickpea curry and lentil shepherds pie. I serve these meals with things like potatoes, rice and pasta.
Sweet potato and chickpea curry
Ha, now we come into dangerous territory! Pregnancy cravings run riot and I know I’ve got a sweet tooth this time round! If I really want chocolate, I’ll try and go for one of the small thin Dairy Milk or Milky Way bars that are lower calorie. A good snack to satisfy sweet cravings is homemade banana loaf. I love this one by Jack Monroe, Bootstrap Cook:
Its honestly so easy to make and goes well on its own or with some peanut butter or natural yoghurt.
Great healthy snacks for pregnancy are things like oatcakes with houmous, fruit, carrot sticks, smoothies, nuts and seeds, fruit muffins and plain yoghurt.
I mainly drink plain old water. In my first trimester, I could barely even tolerate water so I added some sugar free squash into it to make it tolerable. I don’t really drink fizzy juice, if I’m out for a meal I’ll have a ginger beer or diet coke as a treat but its not something I drink often. I limit my caffeine intake so I only have one cup of tea with soya milk each day, I do miss coffee so badly though! Other good drinks are herbal teas (make sure that you check they are suitable for pregnancy), hot water with lemon and plant milks. For a treat I buy a carton of chocolate Oatly milk, so good!
QUICK MEAL IDEAS
For days when you have hardly any energy or not much time to cook, good things to have are:
wholemeal pasta with pesto and peas
beans on toast
fresh soup in cartons from the supermarket as these usually count towards your 5 a day
salad with cheese or houmous and seeds
ready made stir fry with tofu
cheese and tomato toasties
pitta bread pizza – top pitta bread with tomato puree, cheese, tomato slices and mixed herbs and pop under the grill
It is recommended to take a supplement containing folic acid during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. I have continued to take a multivitamin to ensure that I am getting everything I need and to boost my immune system over the winter months. This is obviously personal choice. It’s also helpful to make sure you have an intake of Omega 3 which is easy if you eat oily fish but not so easy if you are vegetarian or vegan. At the moment I’m taking pregnancy omega 3 which is where I fail at being vegetarian:
However, after a bit of research, I have discovered that there are omega 3 supplements made from algae oil so after I’ve finished these vitamins I’m going to buy these ones: https://www.nothingfishy.co/
I hope that this post is useful, especially if you are also pregnant and vegetarian. I know its hard to eat healthy and I always recommend having healthy snacks in the house and things in the freezer that are easy to make for nights when you are too tired. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to order a pizza or cave in to eating a family size bag of crisps – I’ve been there! Good over all nutrition, rest and relaxation is best for you and baby and tomorrow is always another day.
I’d love to hear from you if you have any meal recommendations or tips to stay healthy as I’m always looking to try new recipes and ideas.