Are you thinking about doing the Daniel Fast while pregnant? That makes sense because being well-nourished is crucial during pregnancy and lactation.
During the Daniel Fast, you follow a whole food, plant-based vegan diet and you avoid all animal products. This article provides some of the benefits and considerations for eating plant-based while pregnant, as well as during lactation.
Nutritionists declare vegan diets healthful for pregnancy
“…appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence…”
Extra benefits of doing the Daniel Fast while pregnant
In addition to the spiritual benefits of the Daniel Fast, eating a diet rich in whole plant foods during pregnancy may lower the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (hypertension disorder).[1, 2] Check out How the Daniel Fast can help lower blood pressure.
Here’s a bonus: the Daniel Fast also excludes alcohol and caffeine, which will benefit mother and child during pregnancy and lactation.
Below are things to consider about the Daniel Fast while pregnant and lactating. Of course, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting the Daniel Fast to make sure it’s right for you and your baby.
Getting enough calories
Eating whole plant foods often helps most people to shed unwanted pounds. That’s because these foods are high in fiber and water—making you feel fuller though you’re eating fewer calories. But if you’re pregnant or nursing, you’ll want to go the other way a little bit. Make extra efforts to ensure you’re getting enough food (and calories) for both you and your baby. Calorie-dense foods such as nuts, seeds, and avocado can help you add more calories to your diet.
Keeping an eye on vitamins and minerals
Don’t forget that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position statement above includes the words “appropriately planned.” Your food choices can determine whether you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need. However, many physicians will recommend a prenatal multivitamin regardless of your dietary pattern. Folate, which is vital for fetal health from conception through the first few weeks, comes in many Daniel Fast foods like dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peanuts, fruit, and whole grains. Other nutrients that may be of concern during pregnancy include iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and Omega 3 EPA/DHA.
Foods to emphasize while pregnant on the Daniel Fast
Make a conscious effort to eat a variety of Daniel Fast foods. Coupled with your doctor-recommended supplementation, a plant-based diet can set you and your baby up for success. Foods to consider including while doing the Daniel Fast:
- Dark leafy and cruciferous greens such as kale, bok choy, mustard greens, collard greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, Romaine lettuce, watercress, and salad greens
- Other vegetables, alliums, and aromatics like butternut and other winter squash, bell peppers, carrots, tomato, cucumbers, potatoes, summer squash, celery, beets, onions, garlic, cilantro, parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, and basil
- Fruits such as berries, oranges, kiwi, mango, apples, pears, pineapple, pomegranate, melons, and avocado
- Legumes including beans, peas, lentils, and tofu
- Whole grains such as whole wheat pasta, quinoa, oats/oat groats, millet, and barley
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, and peanuts
- Nori seaweed
- Mushrooms such as white button, shiitake, oyster, cremini, and portobello
- Fortified orange juice and unsweetened plant-based milks, which often provide calcium, Vitamin D, and/or Vitamin B12.
Great for you and your baby
There are many more whole plant food options than what’s included above. Hopefully, this gives you a few ideas for meals and snacks. Check out Daniel’s Plate for specific recipes.
Want to dig deeper into understanding plant-based nutrition while pregnant and lactating? I recommend checking out a book called Nourish: The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families by Dr. Reshma Shah, MD and Brenda Davis, RD for more details.