Menu

Plant-based Proteins for Pregnancy

Four "low-steaks" ways to up your protein intake.

Plant-based Proteins for Pregnancy

We all know that eating adequate protein is important--not only for us but also for the growing baby. In recent years, there has been a shift towards incorporating dietary plant protein consumption versus animal protein due to the nature of our food supply and food quality.

Interestingly enough, many of us develop aversions to the more common sources of animal protein such as chicken, eggs, red meat or even low-fat dairy options such as yogurt and cheese. Also, only recently has the AAP officially advised to include 2 servings per week of (low mercury) fatty fish.

One of the biggest reasons health professionals are advocating plant protein during pregnancy and also why concepts such as #meatlessmonday are gaining popularity is due to the fact that animal protein has to be cooked and thus denatured (food safety protocol) before consumption--therefore you're not getting the total protein from the original piece of meat. Because food safety is especially important during pregnancy, it is important to cook thoroughly before consumption. In addition, it's harder on the body to digest animal protein, which could cause discomfort during pregnancy since our GI system slows down as the pregnancy progresses. Therefore, increasing plant protein during pregnancy is encouraged!

FEATURED VIDEO

Believe it or not, plant protein sources are abundant. The most common ones are legumes, nuts and seeds. So If you've been following a vegetarian or vegan diet, have no fear! You could continue the dietary pattern healthfully during your pregnancy and here's how:

  1. Incorporate legumes into your soups or baked dishes. Consider chickpeas instead of lean ground beef or turkey for a burger patty. Use black beans as a base for your brownies. Add kidney beans or white cannelloni beans to your soups and stews. Whip up some hummus for a snack. Incorporating legumes into a variety of dishes will keep you full and provide adequate dietary protein.
  2. Consider soy based meat alternatives. This is especially beneficial when making vegetable stir-fry or substituting for chicken, pork or salmon. Adding tofu - either grilled or baked - is a healthy way to increase your protein. Snacking on edamame or adding it to an Asian-style salad will also enhance intake.
  3. Go nuts! Adding nuts to your repertoire is an excellent way to obtain protein as well as other vitamins (almonds contain Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant!). Drink nut milk instead of dairy milk on occasion. You can crush 1/4 cup nuts and sprinkle on your morning oats or yogurt bowl. Add a serving of cashews or sliced almonds to a stir-fry or salad. Whip up some nut butters to pair with a fruit, whole grain toast or celery. Brands like Justins or Nuttzo also offer protein packed combinations that include a combination of nuts and seeds.
  4. Get seedy. Toss some chia or hemp seeds to your salad, yogurt bowl, or even smoothie drink or bowl and you'll certainly feel satiated from the wholesome protein. Not only are they a good source of dietary protein but chia seeds are also a good source of healthy fat.

Photo by Eat2Shred.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It’s science: Vacations make your kids happy long after they’re over

Whether you're planning a quick trip to the lake or flying the fam to a resort, the results are the same: A happier, more connected family.

Whether you're looking for hotels or a rental home for a safe family getaway, or just punching in your credit card number to reserve a spot in a campground a couple of states over, the cost of vacation plans can make a mom wince. And while price is definitely something to consider when planning a family vacation, science suggests we should consider these trips—and their benefits—priceless.

Research indicates that family vacations are essential. They make our, kids (and us) happier and build bonds and memories.

Keep reading Show less
News
Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

FEATURED VIDEO

"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

Keep reading Show less
News