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Mommy Diet

October 18, 2013
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About a year ago, I began experimenting with a vegetarian lifestyle. I got pregnant shortly afterwards and all the veggie dishes flew out the window (or more accurately, were thrown into the garbage) as I developed an aversion to cooked veggies and avocados (that I typically love). I, or more accurately, the baby was craving red meat, which is completely justifiable since my iron levels were low during pregnancy.

After delivery, it was like a switch was turned off, and my regular food tastes returned instantly. Even during the recovery stay at the hospital, I requested a vegetarian meal option which must have been an abnormality in Texas as I had a kitchen staff member come to my room each day to custom plan my meals. 

After tweaking my diet over the last four months, I believe I found a combination that works well for me – 70% vegan, 20% vegetarian%, 5% pescetarian, 5% carnivore. (I just made up these ratios, but they help get the point across that I mostly try to eat vegan/vegetarian meals). So what exactly do I eat?

Firstly, let me preface that I am a volume eater. Because I need large volume of food to feel full, I had to find low calorie dishes that I can eat large portions of. At the same time, I like to indulge on calorie-dense foods like chocolate, cheese, nuts, and wine. So the balance I found is that, as long as I eat low calorie big sized main dishes, I can splurge and feel satisfied with smaller portions of my favorite high calorie snacks.

Another constraint is breastfeeding, so I have to be careful with the amounts and types of foods I choose (despite most of pediatricians saying that you can eat whatever you want while breastfeeding without impacting your milk). Noah is definitely more sensitive to certain foods. We found out the hard way during the cherry season, where mom would snack on a large bowl of cherries right before the evening feed which would conclude with a screaming, crying fit for about half an hour. So now I refrain from gas inducing, hard to digest items like grapes, cherries, chocolate until Noah is settled for the night. As an FYI, some of the most common infant allergies are to dairy, eggs, wheat, and peanuts.

Breakfast

Here are my typical breakfast options. I rotate through them regularly during the week based on my activity levels.

  • Toast with nut butter and banana slices if I am going for a run. Sometimes I wrap my banana in a low carb wrap. I call it runner’s cannoli Smile
  • Kashi GoLean cereal with berries and unsweetened Almond milk.
  • Oatmeal with raisins, dried cranberries and walnuts. I prefer cereal when it’s warm and oatmeal on cooler mornings.
  • Occasionally, on the weekend Eric will make Kodiak pancakes.

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Morning Snack

Green Juice makes for a great post-workout fuel. If I am still hungry, I’ll grab a handful of almonds.

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Lunch

I always have a salad for lunch. It’s a habit I got into years ago, which has been reinforced now as I need  my energy for the afternoon when Noah is most alert. I experiment with various toppings to keep things interesting, but they are always served on a giant bed of mixed greens or spinach:

  • Hard boiled egg and avocado
  • Hummus and veggies
  • Greek
  • Caprese (tomato with mozzarella and basil, drizzled with vinegar and olive oil)
  • Beats, carrots, goat cheese and walnuts

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Afternoon Snack

Most of my snacking takes place after 2pm. I try some calcium- and protein-rich options like yogurt with berries or cottage cheese with peaches.

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Lately, I’ve been cutting down on dairy and experimenting with coconut yogurt and homemade vegan popcorn. I use a Nordic Ware popcorn popper, Earth Balance margarine, and Snappy white kernels. It only took a few bowls of burnt popcorn to find the right cooking time Winking smile

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As the weather gets cooler, I often reach for some hot tea with a biscotti or a granola bar (my favorites are Pure and Kit’s bars. They are raw, gluten, dairy-free and very satisfying).

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If I am craving filling carbs, I choose an Ezekiel cinnamon raisin English muffin spread with Laughing Cow cheese.

I also eat a LOT of fruit, whatever is in season. We just finished the Texan watermelon season and it’s time for pears and Honeycrisp apples.

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Honeycrisps are gigantic and just as the name says crispy and sweet apples. Eric and I usually split one. I pack his half for work in a ziplock bag with a sprinkle of lemon to prevent browning.

Dinner

This is the time I like to try new recipes and creative ideas.

  • Tofu veggie stir-fry in peanut sauce over brown rice
  • Corn on the cob with BBQ beans and tomatoes
  • Lentils and sweet potato over brown rice
  • Butternut squash ravioli with sundried tomatoes and onions
  • Veggie burger and coleslaw
  • Roasted vegetarian lasagna

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Dessert

I conclude the evening with my favorite liquid dessert option Smile (And yes, breastfeeding moms can enjoy alcohol in moderation as long as they wait 2-3 hours afterwards to breastfeed according to my lactation consultant. Alcohol might even help with milk letdown.) If a real sweet tooth strikes, I go with Trader Joe’s Coconut ice-cream (it’s out-of-this-world good, unlike coconut yogurt) or a Soy frozen sandwich.

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The other day at the gym, I happened to overhear two moms discussing their weight loss struggles. One was complaining to the other that she’s been eating 1400 calories a day but she’s plateaued. Oh, how I can relate! I have been there (numerous times), counting points, calories, and carbs:fat:protein ratios. None of it seems to work long term. All those methods end up too restrictive and frustrating at the end. So, embracing my new friendly Texan ways, I decided to butt in offer my piece of advice about going vegetarian to the hungry-and-frustrated mom to which she replied “I’d rather cut out veggies than meat!” Well, that was the end of our conversation.

My approach is not for everyone, but I am happy that I finally found a way to eat healthy, feel energized and not deprived (while helping minimize animal cruelty and the negative ecological impact of the meat industry). I was surprised to find out how easy it was to give up meat. I don’t miss it and on a very rare occasion when I do, Eric and I head to a local steakhouse where halfway through my meal I realize that it’s fresh-baked bread and a baked potato that I was really after. Smile

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2013 2:58 pm

    Another great post Jane! I love it when people spread messages about being volume eaters! Such a positive message for women! I know your mostly veggie diet works for you, but a lot of principals you talk about would work for your texan gym mates too. They don’t need to give up their meat but rather their processed carbs…if you do ever feel like reaching out again, you’d probably find them more readily open to given up those than their meat.

    Congrats on getting the baby weight off yourself though! I’d kill for one of your salads right now….veggies are hard to come by living out of a car in New Zealand! 🙂

  2. Kristin permalink
    October 24, 2013 9:19 pm

    You seem to have the nutrition thing nailed so well right now & you are glowing. I am working on getting the weight off from Max & it has been such a struggle. I like this whole volume approach with veggies & ground based foods. I fell into a processed carbs trap & just haven’t been able to shake it.

    This is really helpful to see how you are managing a little one & the nutrition.

    Thanks!

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