My Pre-Pregnancy Diet: 9 Months Before Trying (Plant Based — Protein, Folate, Iron)

We’re planning to create a honeymoon baby on the 5th of July, 2020, on our wedding night. At the point of writing this, there’s 9 months left.

A bit over a month ago I turned to a plant based diet for the purpose of well-being, and that’s going fine, so I’m obviously going to stick with it — before, during and after pregnancy.

So, I did some research about important nutrients and such, and I think that I’m in the clear.

What I’ve learned about pre-pregnancy nutrition:

  • Protein is important (40-70 g).
  • Folic acid/Folate is important (400 mcg).
  • Iron is important (18 mcg — 27 while pregnant).
  • Eating lots of vegetables and fruits is important (5 servings).
  • Not good to eat too much of vitamin A (less than 3000 mcg).

Protein and iron is especially important to think about for a woman on a plant based diet, because those things are usually found in meat. However, it’s not hard to get them from plant foods.

Where I get my Protein

I eat lots of lentils and beans. Twice a day, actually.

My lentil mix, with some spinach.

While these have a lot of protein, they don’t have all of the essential amino acids, so I complement that with the chia seeds and nut flour in my mandatory brownies.

I also found this nice guide that shows how to protein complement.

And you can read here about how much protein you need while pregnant.

Why is protein complementation important?

Before I did this, I got really tired and weak. And so thirsty, for some reason. That’s when I found out about protein complementation and tried it out, with great results.

So I eat two servings (ish) of beans and lentils, with some vegetables like broccoli mixed in, and those are my main meals. In between, whenever I feel like it, I snack on brownies made of dates, chia seeds, almond flour and cacao powder (and water).

That’s my meal routine every single day at the moment. Sometimes I add in a twist — like today, I added mushrooms into the lentil mix, and in my last batch of brownies I tried mixing in soy milk.

I don’t know how much protein I get, because I don’t measure, but I’m sure it’s a lot, because lentils contain 9 g of protein per 100 g, and beans contain about the same amount. Chia seeds contain 17 g of protein per 100 g (didn’t know it was that much, to be honest).

So that’s my protein intake. Next is folate.

Where do I get my folate/folic acid?

For the most part, the same as above. Lentils and beans contain a lot of folate, which is the natural form if the nutrient (folic acid is the form that appears in supplements).

While I don’t take any dedicated folic acid supplement, I do take a B-complex most days (I skip some, for no reason). They contain 300 mcg, which almost reaches the recommended amount to take before getting pregnant (and I’m tiny (148.5 cm), so maybe it’s enough for me).

The reason I take B-complex supplements is mainly because of B 12, since I don’t eat animal products, but also because a lot of B vitamins are important for energy and stuff like that.

Next is iron.

Where do I get my Iron?

Same, same. Lentils and beans. Plus a supplement of 13 mg (which I skip most of the time — don’t ask why, there is no reason other than laziness).

There isn’t really more to say about iron, so I’ll just list what supplements I take.

All of the Supplements I Take

  • Iron (13 mg).
  • B-complex.
  • Collagen (mainly for stretching, but it’s also good for skin, hair and nails — maintaining a young look, supposedly).
  • D-vitamin (I almost always skip this one. And I think I need to find a powder version, because last time I tried swallowing a D-vitamin pill, it went up my nose — sorry for the gross TMI).

A year ago I had iron deficiency, and that’s why I started taking iron pills. A doctor recommended me to, after I had been taking prescribed supplements of 100 mg per pill.

Why think about all this Before Pregnancy?

Because if you are deficient before pregnancy, it will only make everything harder.

When you get pregnant, you already have all kinds of symptoms that make life harder — why add more?

A deficiency would not only add more struggles for you personally, but it could also harm the baby, especially if you don’t eat enough folate or supplement with folic acid.

Being healthy before pregnancy allows you to (probably) have an easier pregnancy and a healthier baby. I’m not an expert, but eating healthy is usually good for most people (there are exceptions, but I’m not qualified to comment on that — always consult with your doctor if you have concerns).

Other Benefits of These Foods

Lentils are amazing. They’re one of my favourite foods, and that’s because they’re super easy to make — you just boil them and that’s it — and they taste good. They have lots of fiber and slow carbs, which means that they help with blood sugar control (which is good for everyone, not just diabetics).

A lot of the time when I’m down, I find that it’s because of imbalances in blood sugar, which usually happens when you eat a lot of refined carbs, but some people are extra sensitive.

This is beneficial in pregnancy as well, as some women develop something called gestational diabetes when pregnant. You can read about that here.

Lentils are also great for losing weight. Since I started eating them daily, I’ve been eating A LOT of them, and still lost weight without even trying or intending to.

Beans have the same benefits.

Chia seeds have a type of omega 3, which I don’t know much about at this point, but one of my dreams told me that it’s important, so I’ll go with that.

Dates are another one of my favourite things to eat, but I always mix them with something like cacao powder or turn them into brownies (it’s more of a souffle actually), because of the high sugar content. I find that it helps to add something fatty or proteiny to balance it out.

Dates are good because they contain a lot of potassium, which is an electrolyte. It’s good for hydration and muscle recovery. I always find that when I’m sore or achy after working out, something with dates in it always helps me feel better immediately.

They also give me a lot of energy to write. I don’t know why, but there’s something special about dates that other foods don’t have.

When it comes to pregnancy, I’ve read that eating dates during the last few weeks of it can help you deliver the baby faster by helping the cervix dilate more. There is a study about it that you can read here.

For the same reason, it is said that dates can cause miscarriage in early pregnancy, so I’m not quite sure how work that out yet. I love my dates, but if I find that to be true, I can replace them with something else. I will for sure do more research when it’s time. I think that my body is so used to the dates though, that it won’t have any negative effect, but best to be safe.

All in all, there are many benefits of these foods.

Summary

  • I eat lots of lentils and beans for protein, iron and folate.
  • I eat dates for energy, productivity and happy muscles.
  • I supplement with 300 mcg of folic acid and 13 mg or iron.
  • I eat chia seeds for protein complementation.
  • I eat these foods every single day, and it works out fine.

What do/did you eat to prepare for pregnancy? Tell me and other readers in the comments!

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