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5 Sneaky Ways to Eat More Protein During Pregnancy If Meat Makes You Feel Sick

Guest Post
By Ali Macy, Director of Marketing & WAG Coach
Working Against Gravity

Meat is one of the most common food aversions during pregnancy. Unfortunately, meat is also one of the best protein sources—and protein is an essential nutrient for growing a healthy baby. The five tips below will help you eat more protein if you can’t stomach meat during your pregnancy.

Why Do Food Aversions Happen During Pregnancy?

Food aversions are common during pregnancy, and there are many theories about why—from psychological factors to hormonal changes and changing nutrient needs. According to Lily Nichols’ Real Food for Pregnancy, “…the first trimester is when most food aversion appears (alongside nausea), and this coincides with the time when your baby is most vulnerable to outside toxins” [1]. 

In other words, aversions to foods like meat and veggies may occur because of their higher likelihood of carrying pathogens, infections, and foodborne illness—especially before modern refrigeration and packaging methods were invented. So, aversions to these foods “are practically etched into our DNA from thousands of years ago” [1]. Learn more about pregnancy-safe foods here!

Food aversions could also be due to changes in smell sensitivity and other hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy [2].

If meat just isn’t your thing right now, here are a few ways to sneak more protein into your meals.

Glycine—an important amino acid during pregnancy—is primarily found in collagen and gelatin. Collagen and gelatin are primarily found in animals’ connective tissues, bones, and skin. So, supplementing is important if you’re not eating animal foods.

Add collagen to warm drinks, soups, smoothies, or yogurt to bump up the protein content. Gelatin causes liquids to solidify as it cools (ex, Jello!), so if you choose to supplement with gelatin, opt for unsweetened options and try making your own jellies or gummies!

Always consult with your OBGYN or primary care physician before adding supplements to your routine. Also, remember that sourcing is important, especially during pregnancy. Stick to gelatin or collagen from grass-fed or pasture-raised animals. 

2. Boil Grains in Bone Broth 

Bone broth (or bone broth powder) is a great source of protein and can be used to rehydrate pasta, rice, and quinoa to give these grains a protein punch! It also provides a richer flavor.

Eggs (with the yolk!) are a pregnancy superfood because of their high protein and nutrient content. Eggs are rich in choline, DHA, folate, B vitamins, Vitamin A, and antioxidants for brain development, placental function, other general growth needs, and preventing neural tube defects. Add eggs to oatmeal, baking, egg muffins, burritos, fried rice, or in veggie hash.

Veggies, grains, and legumes contain some protein—some more than others! Although they shouldn’t be considered primary protein sources, opting for carbohydrates with more tag-along protein can add up and help contribute to a higher overall daily protein intake. This list of high-protein veggies, grains, and legumes is a great place to start.

Yogurt and cottage cheese are high in protein and great options when you’re not into meat. Top with fruit, higher-protein grains, nuts, or seeds, and enjoy!

Grab more healthy recipes from the WAG Blog or check out WAG and The MINT Project’s Movement and Nutrition During Pregnancy Quick Start Guide, where we share need-to-know nutrition basics for pregnancy. 

If you want even more specialized guidance throughout your pregnancy, consider hiring a 1-on-1 nutrition coach. Your coach will personalize their feedback and suggestions based on your trimester, food preferences, and aversions. They can also help you put any nutrition recommendations from your OBGYN  into practice. Use the code MINT at checkout to grab $50 off your first month with a WAG coach. 

This article includes affiliate links. WAG only recommends products and resources we’ve tried and loved!

Resources: 

  1. Nichols, L. (2018). Real food for pregnancy. (n.p): Lily Nichols.
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15201206/

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