Dieting during pregnancy? All you need to know about vegetarian, pescatarian, and gluten-free diet

Dieting during pregnancy? All you need to know about vegetarian, pescatarian, and gluten-free diet

Can you go on a diet while pregnant? Is a vegan diet or a gluten-free diet safe? Here's what mums-to-be need to know.

Is dieting during pregnancy okay and what diet should you follow? 

Eating right during pregnancy is essential for both your own and your developing baby’s health. It is essential to eat a varied and balanced diet while pregnant to ensure adequate nutrition for both you and your baby’s development and growth.

title=" Iron">
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B12 
  • Vitamin D
  • Dieting during pregnancy: Is Vegan Diet good for pregnancy?
  • Pescatarian Diet
  • Gluten-Free Diet
  • Dieting during pregnancy: Can I go on a diet while pregnant?
  • Dieting during pregnancy: Vegetarian during pregnancy

    You can be a vegetarian while pregnant and still get enough protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Plant foods should be prioritized to ensure an ample supply of every essential vitamin and mineral required to fuel you and your growing baby.

    If you are pregnant and a vegetarian or vegan, you must ensure that you get enough iron, vitamin B12 (found primarily in meat and fish), and vitamin D.

    Dieting during pregnancy? All you need to know about vegetarian, pescatarian, and gluten-free diet

    Dieting during pregnancy| Vegan lunch table | Image from iStock.

    Dairy products can help you get more protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Dairy foods also contain vitamin B12, which can only be obtained from animals or fortified foods. To be safe, you should also take a prenatal vitamin that contains 100 percent vitamin B12.

    Furthermore, your pregnancy diet does not need to be overly complicated; simply consume a variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

    Here’s how to get the vitamins and minerals you need while eating a vegetarian diet:


    • Split or green peas 
    • Chickpeas 
    • Black, navy, kidney or pinto beans 
    • Quinoa 
    • Bulgar, buckwheat and whole-wheat couscous 
    • Oatmeal 
    • Whole-wheat pasta 
    • Whole-grain cereals and bread
    • Nut butters 
    • Walnuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts and pine nuts 
    • Soy milk
    • Tofu 
    • Tempeh 
    • Lentils
    • Hemp seeds
    • Edamame
    • Miso


    • pulses
    • dark green leafy vegetables
    • whole wheat bread
    • eggs (for vegetarians who include them in their diet)
    • breakfast cereals fortified (with added iron)
    • dried fruit like apricots
    • Beans
    • Edamame

      Dieting during pregnancy? All you need to know about vegetarian, pescatarian, and gluten-free diet

      Dieting during pregnancy: Soy Products. | Image from iStock.

    • Soy products
    • Oat bran
    • Barley
    • Quinoa
    • Bulgur
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Spinach, collard greens or kale
    • Hemp seeds
    • Chickpeas
    • Green peas
    • Cocoa powder
    • Seaweed


    • leafy dark green vegetables
    • pulses
    • unsweetened fortified soya, rice, and oat drinks
    • Yogurt
    • Milk
    • cheese
    • white and brown bread
    • Calcium-fortified orange juice
    • Tofu with calcium set
    • tahini and sesame seeds
    • dry fruit

    Vitamin B12 

    • Vitamin B12-fortified plant milks
    • Fortified cereals
    • Fortified meat substitutes
    • Nutritional yeast

    Vitamin D

    • egg white
    • vitamin D-fortified foods, such as some breakfast cereals and most fat spreads
    • nutritional supplements

    Because vitamin D is only found in a few foods, it may be difficult to get enough from naturally occurring vitamin D and fortified foods alone. All adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms.

    Dieting during pregnancy: Is Vegan Diet good for pregnancy?

    Expect to encounter well-meaning critics; there are still many misconceptions about vegetarian and vegan diets during pregnancy. In reality, vegetarians and vegans can have healthy pregnancies and babies.

    Why is there any cause for concern? Some of the most important nutrients for babies are more easily found in meats and other animal-based products. However, getting them elsewhere is still a breeze.

    Pescatarian Diet

    Dieting during pregnancy.

    Pescatarians and vegetarians have a lot in common. A vegetarian diet that includes fish or other aquatic animals is known as a pescatarian diet.

    Pescatarians can get protein from seafood, plant-based sources like legumes, and, on rare occasions, eggs and dairy products. They eat fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, eggs, and dairy, and avoid meat and poultry. Pescatarians, as opposed to vegetarians, consume fish and other seafood.

    Dieting during pregnancy? All you need to know about vegetarian, pescatarian, and gluten-free diet

    Dieting during pregnancy: Pescatarian menu concept. | Image from iStock.

    If you are pregnant, you should avoid eating raw fish (such as sushi and sashimi) and keep an eye out for mercury levels in the fish you eat.

    You should also be concerned about mercury if you are breastfeeding or have small children who eat a pescatarian diet. Mercury-rich fish include swordfish, shark, mackerel, marlin, and tuna.

    What to Eat

    • Seafood

    Freshwater fish like trout or perch, saltwater fish like salmon or tuna, and shellfish like shrimp, oysters, clams, and more can all be found on a pescatarian diet.

    • Dairy products and eggs

    Most pescatarians consume eggs and dairy products, though some do not. A pescatarian who consumes eggs and dairy is known as a lacto-ovo-pescatarian.

    • Fruits and vegetables 
    • Grains

    What not to eat

    Whether or not you consume certain animal products such as yogurt or cheese, a pescatarian diet excludes meat and meat products. That means you’ll avoid not only red meat like beef or bison, but also poultry, lamb, pork, and game-like venison.

    Pros and Cons of the Pescatarian Diet During Pregnancy


    • More protein options than a vegetarian diet
    • Seafood has health benefits.
    • Beneficial effect on cardiovascular health
    • Strong and healthy bones
    • Strong lungs
    • Has the potential to be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
    • A good source of vitamins and minerals
    • Enhances mental ability
    • High levels of antioxidants
    • Improved immune system
    • Improved blood circulation
    • May provide environmental advantages


    • Can be costly
    • Mercury levels present
    • It is not always possible to catch or farm in a sustainable manner.

    Gluten-Free Diet

    Dieting during pregnancy.

    Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. While gluten can be found in obvious places, such as wheat bread and pasta, it can also be found in less obvious places, such as candies, dressings, sauces, soups, malt products, and chips.

    Gluten-free products are typically made with four major starches and flours: white rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch, and potato starch. These four gluten-free alternatives typically have lower iron, B vitamins, and folic acid levels.

    Dieting during pregnancy? All you need to know about vegetarian, pescatarian, and gluten-free diet

    Gluten free bread ingredients. | Image from iStock.

    Gluten-Free Diet and Celiac Disease

    When people with celiac disease consume gluten, their intestines are damaged, making it difficult for their bodies to absorb the nutrients they require. For pregnant women who have already been diagnosed with celiac disease, maintaining a gluten-free diet and adhering to the advice of your health care providers is critical to a healthy pregnancy.

    Those who have decided to go gluten-free but have not been diagnosed with celiac disease should consult a dietitian to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they require.

    Pros and Cons


    • A gluten-free diet may aid in the prevention of gestational diabetes.
    • During pregnancy, a gluten-free diet can help you avoid constipation and heartburn.
    • Your baby will get enough folic acid.
    • Gluten-free foods contain the most iron.
    • To reap the most prenatal benefits, choose natural, unprocessed gluten-free foods.
    • Avoiding gluten while pregnant may reduce the risk of having a baby with certain heart or urinary birth defects.
    • People with celiac disease who adhere to a gluten-free diet are also less likely to develop health issues such as anaemia or osteoporosis or struggle with infertility compared to those who continue to consume gluten.


    Gluten-free diets can make it more difficult to obtain certain nutrients that are essential for pregnant women and their growing children. Carbohydrates found in gluten-containing foods are a good source of energy. Whole grain and gluten-enriched foods (such as whole-wheat bread or cereal) also provide fiber, folic acid, iron, and B vitamins.

    So, while a gluten-free diet is necessary for medical reasons, you should think twice about eating gluten-free for other reasons. And, whether you need to avoid gluten or prefer to, collaborate with your doctor or midwife and a registered dietician to ensure you and your baby are getting the nutrition you both require.

    What can you eat while pregnant on a gluten-free diet?

    Eliminating grains from your diet means removing a significant source of B vitamins (including folate), fibre, and important minerals (such as iron and zinc), all of which occur naturally or are added during processing.

    Fortunately, many gluten-free foods contain these and other nutrients, so don’t worry about stuffing your plate with foods you can’t eat. Furthermore, a standard prenatal vitamin is your insurance policy, ensuring that you get everything you need and more.

    Still, it’s worth making an extra-special effort during pregnancy to get plenty of the following nutrients from gluten-free sources:


    • Spinach
    • White rice
    • Asparagus
    • Avocado
    • Kidney beans


    • Red meat or dark meat poultry
    • Legumes like chickpeas, black beans or kidney beans
    • Spinach

    These foods also provide approximately 0.9 to 7 mg of zinc to help you meet your requirement of 11 mg per day.


    • Legumes
    • Brown rice
    • Nuts
    • Fruits and vegetables


    • Plain low-fat yoghurt
    • Milk or fortified soy milk
    • Part-skim mozzarella cheese
    • Sardines canned in oil with bones
    • Fortified orange juice
    • Low-fat cottage cheese


    • Lean beef or dark meat poultry
    • Pork
    • Low-fat yoghurt
    • Baked beans
    • Nuts and seeds

    Vitamin D

    • Fatty fish
    • Fortified dairy or nondairy milk
    • Eggs

    Dieting during pregnancy: Can I go on a diet while pregnant?

    Most doctors do not recommend going on a weight loss diet during pregnancy unless you are extremely overweight. As your pregnancy progresses, your doctor will monitor your weight and tell you if you are gaining too fast or if you need to gain more. 

    Suppose you have complications such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. In that case, your doctor may tell you to monitor your blood sugar, which involves managing your sugar intake and avoiding certain food. 

    Unless your health practitioner has specific instructions, what you can do is watch your calorie intake and exercise during pregnancy to maintain a healthy weight and BMI.

    Remember that a healthy diet is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle at any age, but it is especially important if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Healthy eating keeps you feeling good and provides your baby with the nutrients he or she requires in the womb.

    pregnancy heart health

    Image source: iStock


    Republished with permission from theAsianparent Singapore

    Here at theAsianparent Philippines, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Philippines is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.

    Got a parenting concern? Read articles or ask away and get instant answers on our app. Download theAsianparent Community on iOS or Android now!