Vegetarian diet in the first years of life

The first years of human life are characterized by rapid physical changes in the body, which requires a special approach to nutrition. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, infancy, childhood and adolescence, our needs for many nutrients are greater than at any other time in life.

In adulthood, the main goal is the prevention of chronic diseases. In other words, the diet should contain less fat and more fiber, and in the early years of life, more attention should be paid to the growth and development of the body, that is, to concentrated sources of energy and nutrients. Given these fundamental differences in the dietary needs of your body, you can fully realize the positive effect of a vegetarian diet on your health.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding

The question may arise – is your vegetarian diet sufficient to support this tiny man who shares food with you? Take it easy. With a little common sense, you can get all the essential nutrients you and your baby need. There are several benefits to vegetarian women during pregnancy and breastfeeding, including a reduced risk of obesity and hypertension. In addition, a vegetarian diet is typically rich in a variety of nutrients in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and is very low in highly processed fatty foods.

For lacto-ovo-vegetarians, the risk of insufficient intake of nutrients in the body is no higher than for “omnivorous” people. When planning your diet for the period of pregnancy, you should pay special attention to iron, zinc and, possibly, protein. Compared to a pregnant non-vegetarian woman, a lacto-ovo vegetarian will have fewer problems providing the body with folic acid and calcium.

Vegan women who carefully plan their diet are also able to satisfy all the needs of their body without any problems. In addition to zinc, iron and protein, which can be difficult for both lacto-ovo vegetarians and vegans, you should also take care of those nutrients that are usually supplied to the body through dairy products – in particular, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.

Meal Planning Tips for Vegetarian and Vegan Pregnant Women

1. Set yourself the task of gaining 11-16 kg during pregnancy.

Weight gain of 11-16 kg leads to the most healthy development of both mother and child. Women of large sizes should focus on the upper limit (16 kg), and miniature women on the lower limit (11 kg). With a lack of weight, it is recommended to gain 13-18 kg, and for expectant mothers who are overweight, who do not need to accumulate “fat reserves” for the formation of breast milk, an increase in weight of 7-11 kg is usually sufficient. It should be noted that most people who believe that they have problems with being overweight are mistaken, and their weight is quite within a healthy framework. Before trying to limit weight gain during pregnancy, be sure to consult a dietitian. You may be unnecessarily depriving yourself and your unborn child of essential nutrients. Never try to lose weight during pregnancy – it’s too risky!

To gain weight, add 100 extra calories per day to your diet for the first three months of pregnancy and 300 extra calories per day for the remaining six months. One hundred calories is a little more than three fresh figs or a dozen almonds a day, and 300 calories can be obtained from a single peanut butter sandwich with a banana. If you are underweight or not gaining weight fast enough, you need to increase your daily calorie intake.

If during the first three months of pregnancy you feel sick in the morning, there is no appetite, be sure to try to add complex carbohydrates and proteins to your diet. Do not get carried away with sweets and fatty foods, eat a little several times a day and drink as much water as possible.

2. Eat a variety of nutritious vegetarian foods.

During pregnancy, your nutrient requirements increase dramatically, although your caloric needs will increase only slightly. This means that you will have to give up many “useless” foods with no nutritional value. Better to focus on whole foods.

3. Make yourself a bean dish every day.

During pregnancy, you should regularly turn to legumes that help increase the body’s protein, iron and zinc, which are necessary for a normal and healthy pregnancy. These nutrients are essential for uterine growth and blood volume, as well as for fetal development.

4. Eat more food from milk and dairy products.

Increasing your calcium intake during pregnancy helps ensure the proper formation of bones and teeth, and has a beneficial effect on your baby’s nervous system, muscles, and blood. Calcium is also important for your own body.

For better absorption and assimilation of calcium during pregnancy, you will need a sufficient amount of vitamin D, the daily norm of which can be obtained while in the sun – people with fair skin are recommended 20 minutes, those with dark skin – 1 hour a day. Vitamin D can also be obtained from fortified cow’s milk or fortified milk replacer and margarine (read labels carefully). People with limited access to sunlight and people living in northern latitudes are advised to take vitamin D tablets (no more than 400 IU per day).

5. Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids to at least 1% of your total calories.

During pregnancy and lactation, you will need more essential fatty acids to ensure the normal development of the brain and eyes of the fetus. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acids to a level of at least 1% of total calories. Foods containing enough omega-3 fatty acids for a person taking 2400 kcal. in a day:

• 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil • 1 tablespoon canola oil and 1 cup boiled soybeans • 1,5 cups boiled broccoli, 4 tablespoons walnuts and 100g hard soy tofu

6. Include a reliable source of vitamin B12 in your daily diet.

The body’s need for vitamin B12 increases during pregnancy and lactation, as it is required to support the increasing blood volume, growth and development of the infant. For lacto-ovo vegetarians, 3 cups of cow’s milk or 1 egg and XNUMX cups of milk will suffice.

7. Vegetarians and vegans who are at risk of malnutrition, malnutrition, or who cannot maintain a regular diet are advised to take special prenatal vitamin-mineral supplements. A folate supplement as well as iron is recommended for all pregnant women.

Vitamin Supplements

You are unable to eat as much food as recommended due to nausea, loss of appetite, or some other reason. Take prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements.

Remember that nutritional supplements cannot compensate for an inadequate diet, so if you take them, try to build your diet so that it is as complete and healthy as possible. Do not take larger doses of vitamins and minerals than indicated on the label (unless your doctor tells you to).

Single mineral and vitamin supplements other than iron, folate, calcium, and vitamin B12 can be toxic to a child’s body and should therefore not be taken unless directed by your doctor.

Additional Tips for Breastfeeding and Diet During Pregnancy

While breastfeeding, your nutrient requirements are still higher than normal and similar to those in the last six months of pregnancy. Normal weight women will need an additional 400-500 calories per day. This amount can be obtained from 1 bowl of lentil soup, various cereal breads, and a glass of orange juice. If you are underweight, you should consume an additional 800-1000 calories, adding about 200 calories per meal (for example, a glass of orange juice or soy milk with calcium and a slice of tahini bread) and arranging an additional daily afternoon snack of porridge. Remember that with insufficient nutrition, breast milk suffers first of all!

During the breastfeeding period, you will need additional fluids. Try to drink a large glass of water every time you feed your baby.

You should still limit your caffeine intake. Alcohol is quickly absorbed into breast milk and therefore should not be abused. Some infants are sensitive to garlic, onions, and hot spices and will therefore need to be limited. If your child has colic, eczema, or a chronic runny nose, the cause of these disorders may be hidden in your diet. If your family has had allergies, it is necessary to trace the reaction to foods that may cause allergies and try to limit or completely stop using them.

Women suffering from a lack of certain nutrients sometimes need to take nutritional supplements. Make sure the supplements you take contain vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, and zinc. Vegan women should pay special attention to getting enough vitamin B12 during the lactation period. Some mothers will also need calcium supplements.

“Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism” by K. Kant

Leave a Reply