Easy, Nutrient-Rich Postpartum Snack Tips from Postnatal Dietitian for Vegetarian Moms

It’s summer. It’s hot. And you’re hungry. Healing after having a baby requires a nutrition plan to ensure vegetarian and vegan moms get the nutrients they need.

Postpartum vegetarians and vegans have similar nutrient needs as their non-vegetarian counterparts, but they may need to pay closer attention to certain nutrients that are more commonly found in animal-based foods. Some of the key nutrient needs for postpartum vegetarians and vegans include:

  1. Protein: Adequate protein intake is essential for postpartum recovery and breastfeeding, as protein is needed for tissue repair and growth. Good vegetarian sources of protein include beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds.
  2. Iron: Iron is important for preventing anemia, which is common postpartum. Vegetarian sources of iron include dark leafy greens, beans, lentils, tofu, fortified cereals, and nuts and seeds.
  3. Calcium: Calcium is important for bone health, and breastfeeding mothers have increased calcium needs. Good vegetarian sources of calcium include leafy greens, fortified plant milks, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and calcium-fortified juices.
  4. Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, so it is important for vegetarians and vegans to supplement or consume fortified foods to meet their needs. Vitamin B12 is essential for nerve function and red blood cell production.
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health, and breastfeeding mothers have increased needs. Vegetarian sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and omega-3-fortified eggs and dairy alternatives.
  6. Zinc: Zinc is important for immune function and wound healing, and vegetarian sources of zinc include legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

These summer snacks are great for vegetarians going through postnatal healing, and they all support breastfeeding. (**Great options for vegan moms.)

  1. Hummus and veggies: Hummus is a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats, while raw veggies like carrot sticks, bell peppers, and cucumber provide vitamins, minerals, and hydration. Dip your veggies in hummus for a nutritious and satisfying snack. **
  2. Berry and yogurt parfait: Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein, which are important for postnatal healing and breastfeeding. Layer Greek yogurt with fresh berries and granola for a tasty and filling snack.
  3. Peanut butter, whole wheat toast, and banana slices: Peanut butter is rich in protein and healthy fats, while bananas are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Spread peanut butter on whole wheat toast to make it a complete pre-biotic/pro-biotic combo for gut health, top with sliced bananas for a sweet and satisfying snack. **
  4. Quinoa salad with roasted veggies: Quinoa is a complete protein and a good source of fiber, while roasted veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, and sweet potatoes provide vitamins and minerals. Toss quinoa with roasted veggies and a simple vinaigrette for a delicious and nutrient-dense snack. **
  5. Chickpea salad with pita chips: Chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, while pita chips provide carbs and crunch. Mix chickpeas with chopped veggies like tomatoes, cucumber, and onion, and toss with a simple vinaigrette. Serve with pita chips for a tasty and filling snack. **

It is recommended that postpartum vegetarians and vegans work with a registered dietitian to ensure they are meeting their nutrient needs and optimizing their recovery and breastfeeding success.