How to get protein when you have meat aversions

How do you get enough protein when you don’t eat meat?

This is a question our vegetarian and vegan friends get asked all the damn time, and I don’t know a single plant-based person who isn’t sick to death of explaining quinoa and lentils to curious carnivores deprived of access to common sense or Google.

When you’re pregnant and not eating meat—whether by choice or because of extreme aversions to flesh in all forms— it’s the same story, only with a few fun twists.

First, everyone and their unqualified coworker cares about what you put in your mouth, like all of a sudden when you became a vessel for new life you became public property to be fondled and judged indiscriminately for all of your choices.

Second, there are professionals asking you how you’re doing, diet-wise, on a near weekly basis, and in my experience most of them have extremely high standards for the amount of protein they want you consuming. I’ve heard quotas between 80-100 grams of protein per day while pregnant. As a point of reference, that’s:

  • 13-16 eggs (6g per egg)
  • 6-8 cups of black beans (12g per cup)
  • 10-12 cups of quinoa (8g per cup)
  • 4-5 scoops of protein powder (20g per scoop)

In other words, A LOT OF FOOD.

Third, if you have meat aversions or are experiencing pregnancy nausea, you probably also hate quinoa and eggs and black beans and other typical, healthy, non-meat sources of protein.

What’s a well-meaning, potato-chip craving pregnant woman to do? (Besides, of course, posting pictures of beautiful salads you’ll never eat to Instagram to prove what a #fitpregnancy you’re having. All’s fair when you’re cooking a human, folks).

I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to crack this code, mostly so I could get back to my potato chips without further interruptions. Here are my four ninja ways to get protein into the kinds of foods you’re likely willing to eat, especially during nausea-time.

Sorry, plant-based friends, these involve sneaky animal products; you’re on your own for getting up to that 80-100g threshold.

This seems like a good time to insert my eternal disclaimer: I am not qualified to tell you how to be healthy, during pregnancy or not during pregnancy. Ask someone who is. 

Add collagen to your beverages

Whatever it is you’re drinking, add collagen. I find it works really well in lemonade and limeade (two drinks I could reliably stomach during first trimester). There’s no flavor change, and you turn your empty-calorie drink into 11 grams of protein.

how to get more protein when you have pregnancy meat aversions

Now that I’m able to drink coffee again, I have been adding collagen into my coffee, and that is similarly tasteless and effortless and also makes my hair ah-mazing.

how to get protein when you have pregnancy meat aversions

If you’re getting most of your hydration from non-water sources (I certainly was during first trimester, when water was right up there with raw chicken) you could easily hit your 80-100g goal on just boosted beverages alone.

Progress toward your goal: 10% for each drink.

Cook your rice in bone broth

There was a period of time when steamed white rice and soy sauce was all I could muster, and it drove my husband crazy that our baby’s earliest development was fueled by nutritionally vacant calories and sodium.

I called it survival.

We compromised: he made me rice in bone broth, and as long as I didn’t witness it, I could douse that rice in enough soy sauce that I never knew the difference. Based on my casual googling, I *think* a cup of rice cooked in bone broth has ~9g of protein. That’s about twice what you’ll get from rice cooked in water.

Progress toward your goal: 9%

Whip some collagen into your cream cheese or potato soup or other white semi-solid food

My first pregnancy, bagels and cream cheese were my jam. During the first few weeks of my second pregnancy, I only ate potato soup. Specifically, this potato soup:

how to get protein during pregnancy meat aversions

Needless to say both foods are on my no-fly list now, but they are both excellent vehicles for a dose of collagen. Just stir or mix a scoop, or a handy travel pack, into whatever soup or spread you’re able to stomach, and boost the protein by 11g.

It also works great in yogurt, if you’re into that.

Progress toward your goal: 10% for each boosted white food

Make homemade gummies, or get someone to make you some

Photo: Fitful Focus

Sour or gummy candy was surprisingly helpful for me with managing nausea, especially on the go; even just a quick sugar boost or something to suck on would get me through some rough moments. There are tons of easy, DIY home-made gummy candy recipes out there on the internet; this one from Nicole looks especially delicious. And because they include gelatin, they have protein in them!

Progress toward your goal: 5% for ~15 gummies (not much, but hey, candy)

 

And there you have it. If you strategically combine these tactics over the course of the day, you can get away with eating whatever you can keep down, and also supplying your baby with the amount of protein your caregivers recommend. Plus, of course, all of the other health benefits of collagen, gelatin, and bone broth: healthier and stronger skin and nails, healthier and more flexible joints, and improved athletic performance. Those are all major side benefits to the very basic goal of getting enough protein, especially during a time in your life when your rapidly changing body seems to serve up fresh surprises and betrayals with every new day.

I will say, too, that my sudden reliance on collagen for protein has my skin and hair looking radiant. Especially for winter.

If you’re ready to hop on the collagen wagon, you can save 20% at Great Lakes Gelatin with the code GLGLife20, valid until 3/15/18.

This post is sponsored by Great Lakes Gelatin in partnership with Fit Approach and the #SweatPink community. All opinions are my own. I so appreciate your support of the brands who partner with my first baby, Fit Approach. Thank you. <3 

More first trimester travel!

I just got back from the Fitbloggin’ conference in Denver, where every year we get to connect in person with our sweat pink community, speak, and lead a workout for attendees. It’s always a blast and usually full of some crazy, sleep-less antics.

Things sometimes get weird.
Things sometimes get weird.

I was really nervous about the trip this year, since it fell solidly in my first trimester and going to conferences is exhausting even when I’m in top form. I usually come home sick and in need of about a week’s worth of sleep.

Knowing that this year would be extra challenging, I did my best to prepare: I packed my blandest rice cakes and ziplocs of dry cereal in my carry-on (already practicing for motherhood, woot!), brought along a stash of pregnancy tea, and forewarned Jamie and Liz that I might be, well, kind of pathetic.

fitbloggin15

And I was kind of pathetic. I skipped the first early morning bootcamp with Erin—who always teaches a super high energy, fun, butt-kicking class—well, truth be told, I skipped all workouts. I did a total of one down dog and one jump squat, and both attempts quickly bitch slapped me back into my hunched over comfort place. In addition to sitting out each of the workouts, I took a few rest breaks in between sessions. I just needed some horizontal time, even if I wasn’t able to nap.

Special K, one of the sponsors, had some amazing salty chips there. I think I singlehandedly cleaned out their booth.

2015-06-27 10.51.01-2

Overall, though, I had a pretty incredible weekend. It was a bright spot in the first trimester, both in terms of professional development and fun, but also in how I was feeling. I was nauseous and tired, but not debilitatingly so, and I was mostly able to function like a normal person. It helped so much that I was public about the pregnancy—no one questioned my lack of energy or bizarre food habits.

The only moment where I thought I might not make it happened toward the end of our presentation. I started getting super queasy, feeling like I might vomit all over the projector and the audience if I didn’t sit down. Luckily Jamie stepped in and did most of the talking and I just stood there and faked it til I made it.

I’m so lucky that my work wifey and I know each other so well that we sense when the other one needs a rescue. She just knew when to step in and lead the show. (Not to mention, she’s a WAY better presenter than I am, so everyone won!).

Things that are funny about going to a fitness conference while pregnant:

  • You don’t do any of the workouts
  • It’s odd covering your plate with white foods when you’re surrounded by over a hundred rainbow colored, extra healthy plates.
  • Not having a glass of wine at the end of the day or at the networking events is a total bummer.

I’m so grateful that our conference will happen, officially, during my second trimester. I’ll be 14 weeks at BlogFest and I had better be feeling good. There’s NO OTHER OPTION.

The BEST part of the weekend, though, was getting to visit my three adorable godchildren. How cute are they?!

meira turner zev

My friend, who started her own law firm to help people start families—whether through surrogacy, adoption, egg donation, IVF, etc—sponsored an event dedicated to raising awareness about fertility, and it was so cool to see her firm represented. (I’m so proud!!)

2015-06-28 11.18.06

 

I am beyond proud of her and loved getting to see her in action. If you’re in Denver and thinking about starting a family, CALL HER.

Nausea is the new normal

When the first tri queasies started making their presence known, I attacked them with vigor. It feels like a combination of a flu and a hangover, so I figured I had some tried and true strategies for dealing with a mushy brain, low energy, and that icky feeling in my stomach.

Hangovers, especially, I’ve had some practice with, and those are pretty reliable. You know they end before too long, as long as you can ply them with enough greasy carbs, hydration, iced coffee, and plain old time. So I attacked my queasies with vigor. Potato chips, pasta, toast, boxed mac’n’cheese. Bland carbs, generously salted, heaped upon bland carbs, and washed down with as much juice and water as I could stomach. I stayed away from caffeine and gatorade because even the smell of coffee makes me want to ralph, and gatorade is full of all sorts of weird shit, but otherwise, I stuck to my hangover game plan and eagerly waited for results.

I’ve eaten a criminal amount of pasta and potato chips over the last couple weeks, and the results haven’t come yet. The thing is, it doesn’t get better. Eating that bagel might distract you from how you feel for a few moments, but you go right back to feeling the same way afterward. The sight of hash browns might not make you run for the bathroom the way that chicken or tomatoes might, but eating them doesn’t soak up the nausea. It doesn’t even really mask the nausea, because you can only take a few bites before you get out of breath from lifting fork to mouth. Also, it’s nap time again.

At this point, I’m trying to convince myself to just proceed as normal. To accept that the way I feel is my normal right now, and nothing I do is going to make it better. Sure, I can avoid the sight and smell of animal flesh as much as possible, and do my best to not gag on the foods I ate yesterday, which are now associated with nausea, but that’s it. I have to adjust my standards, or I’m going to spend the next 6 weeks feeling increasingly ragey about how I’m not doing the things I love to.

So this is my normal. This lethargic, nap-prone, fuzzy brained, always-about-to-puke state of being is just how it’s going to be until (fingers crossed) second trimester. I’ve got to accept that walking my dog two blocks to the park is my exercise for now, and that taking a nap at 9:30am is just how I roll.

Here we go. Second trimester, please don’t let me down.

It feels so good…

To be out of the closet now. Keeping secrets is hard.

skirt sports jumping
This photo is obviously from a pre-nausea era. Jumping is so out of my wheelhouse right now it kind of makes me sick to even think about. Wearing: Skirt Sports Jette Skirt, #sweatpink tank

 

Begrudgingly ordering decaf at 8am on Monday or a mocktail at 6pm on a Friday is hard.

Dodging social invitations because I can’t lift my head up off the pillow is hard.

Posting workout shots on Instagram and pretending they’re current makes me feel like a shifty, no-count liar.

Nodding and smiling when someone diagnoses my malaise as “maybe the flu” or “could be allergies!” and offers some remedies feels disingenuous and weird.

Now that alien is public, I’m just telling everyone, indiscriminately. I told the barista today after ordering my herbal tea (yawn, herbal tea. You are so not interesting) and got a high five. I told a Meetup friend via text that’s why I’ve been (un)conveniently unavailable for her happy hour invitations and got a “how can I help?”

It’s so nice to come out of hiding, and flaunt my nausea without shame.

Bring it, world.*

 

* Just kidding. I’d actually really like this to be over. I’m willing to negotiate. Whatever it takes.