A Qualitative Exploration of Pregnancy Experience With a Nutrient-Dense, Plant-Rich Dietary Pattern: A Pilot Study

Allison P. McNelly, Emery R. Eaves, Julia Christine Gardner, Wendy S. Wetzel, Jay T. Sutliffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: A nutrient-dense, plant-rich diet may be promising as a nutrition intervention for pregnant women for a number of factors. Factors include the possibility of a decreased risk for gestational diabetes, excess weight gain, and preeclampsia. Little is known about the experience of following this type of dietary pattern while pregnant and what barriers are present that should be addressed in a large-scale intervention. Methods: Qualitative interviews were used to understand the personal experience of women who aimed to eat a nutrient-dense plant-rich diet while pregnant. Semi-structured interviews were conducted from June to August 2020. Results: Three main themes regarding a nutrient-dense plant-rich diet emerged. First, family and social influence played an important role. Second, women who had a previous pregnancy felt they had fewer pregnancy symptoms on this diet. Last, the participants may have experienced a reduced milk supply on this dietary plan. Conclusion: Future research should consider family context as a factor in adherence to a nutrient-dense plant-rich dietary pattern, investigate the possible associations between nutrient-dense plant-rich dietary patterns and reduced nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, and determine whether nutrient-dense, plant-rich dietary patterns contribute to a reduction in milk production for women who experience over-engorgement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-398
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022


  • nutrient-dense
  • nutritarian
  • plant-based
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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