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I found out I'm pregnant recently and have been vegan for almost a year. I've indulged a bit too much in the vegan goodies over the past year and I'm worried it will affect my pregnancy. Is it safe to lose weight while pregnant (without actively dieting of course), and what do you suggest I eat to keep healthy and hopefully lose some excess fat (again, without dieting)? Would love to hear back from you soon!
Editor's Note: Carli also submitted a very similar question, so I am combining it here:
During my first pregnancy I was eating a pretty standard diet and I gained a massive amount of weight taking me from a reasonably healthy BMI to an obese BMI. Since then I have been eating a plant based diet - partly due to the fact that I have chronic pain and wanted to try and control my pain levels more effectively. Despite being plant based for over a year the weight was coming off very slowly due to a lack of movement / exercise.
As a result I started running in Jan 2015 and my plan was to get fit strong and lean before getting pregnant again BUT it hasn't worked out because here I am pregnant again and still 30lb over weight before I add any baby weight!
How do I continue to get in shape whilst pregnant - how do I get my body to burn up its large fat reserves rather than piling on more weight / fat. Also, I have been looking at the 71g / day protein requirement and wondering how I'll eat so much! I have noticed my heart rate has increased since getting pregnant and I am scared about putting too much more weight on and adding extra strain!
Vegan Momma's response:
Thank you both for sending in questions about weight gain and pregnancy.
I am a very firm believer in the concept that when you are eating a balanced plant-based diet, getting exercise, and managing any psychological issues with weight, your body will regulate to the
weight that's healthiest for you. Exercise jump starts your metabolism and allows your body to burn the calories it needs to, and eating regularly also increases your metabolism.
Veganism has come such a long way in recent years that now we have access to just about every type of processed junk food that we used to eat before being vegan. We can subsist on burgers, hot dogs, chips, cookies, and soda that is entirely vegan. But is it healthy? I think we all know the answer to that. A very obese person would probably lose weight if they switched one-for-one from animal-based junk food to vegan junk food, but it isn't helping your physical body.
So, I really recommend a fully plant-based diet, meaning everything looks very similar to how it did when it was growing on the plant. Focusing on whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and unrefined vegetable oils is the perfect diet. Drinking plenty of water is crucial to help process the extra fiber.
Also, I do mention the psychological aspect above because often weight gain and loss can be tied into emotional issues, so if you think this could be the case for you I recommend talking to a therapist to help manager your emotions. Otherwise any diet change will always be thwarted by the underlying emotions.
Now, this all being said, during pregnancy you might find it more difficult to eat perfectly. For me, it's always been a balancing act. I am carrying a child and feeding her what I eat, so I constantly try to eat the very best food I can. But I also sometimes want to eat chips at night or a dessert when it looks beautiful and calls to me. That's all okay, as long as the vast majority of what you eat is plant food.
As far as weight loss during pregnancy, I am not a proponent of dieting in general. If you eat the right foods, your body should find its rightful weight in time. If that happens when you're pregnant, that is completely fine. I have friends who dealt with gestational diabetes and when they regulated how much processed food and refined sugar they ate, they lost weight while pregnant and felt amazing. Of course, you should do all this under the care of a medical professional so they can monitor your baby and make sure you're not affecting the baby.
In short, if you are eating enough food and it's plant-based, you should be totally fine to lose weight when pregnant. Always get medical approval and supervision if you're changing your diet. And, make sure to get daily exercise, manage your stress and emotional issues, and drink plenty of water.
I hope that helps!
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