To eat or not to eat at Kozhikodes Paragon restaurant had hit the headlines last year when Rahul Gandhi visited the place to taste its famous food. Following in his footsteps,his mother and AICC president Sonia Gandhi,too,reportedly ensured that her lunch came from the restaurant during her visit to the city for an election rally last week.
I have been regularly coming to this Kerala city since November 2004 and have always considered a visit to Paragon as mandatory. For,nowhere else do you find such delicious tiger prawn,crab,squid and other sea food preparations — all without costing you a fortune. But I have to go without teasing my taste buds with these delicacies this time round. On a visit to the restaurant last week,I had to content with a plate of ghee rice and fish moley.
Its not only the food in Paragon,but also the to-die-for mussels fry cooked by my mother-in-law,which is out of bounds for me. With a very heavy heart,I looked away from the mouthwatering masala crab laid on the dining table the other day. With no specific guidelines in place regarding consumption of the right and wrong foods during pregnancy,confusion is very high on the menu when it comes to eating stuff in deviation from the routine rice-dal-chapati-curry cycle.
My doctor has highly recommended fish and has not banned seafood as such,but as far as crustacean food is concerned,I have decided to practice restraint. Though certain studies suggest a balanced diet of fish and shellfish,eating crustacean can be tricky. According to experts,you cannot say when and how your body will react to these. Old timers say it is better to avoid them because you dont know if you have developed allergy to seafood since the last time you had them.
Mercury levels in the fish are,however,something you need to check. Methylmercury found in the water,resulted from industrial pollution and consumed by the fish,is considered harmful. I read this piece of information on several pregnancy-related websites,which advise not to take the same fish both sea and fresh water for days together.
Five years ago,I had rashes all over my body after I had shrimps bought from a Delhi market. Crustaceans did not go down well with my stomach later too. I had even mistaken a few of the early symptoms of pregnancy before it was confirmed for reactions to prawns. All this gives me a good enough reason to stay away from shellfish,at least as long as I am pregnant.
Apart from fish and shellfish,there are several other food items that carry the dont-eat-during pregnancy caution. Topping the list are the good old papaya and pineapple. Many say its a myth that these can be harmful — my doctor has given me a go-ahead — but you will find many others who will produce documented proof that papaya can cause miscarriage. I had asked a columnist writing on diet and nutrition about pineapple and was told I could have it in moderation. But since there is no point taking any risk,these two fruits,too,are off the menu for me.
As I am almost half-way through my pregnancy,what I have realised till now is the more you read and try to arm yourself with knowledge on the dos and donts,the more you get confused. A few published write-ups even warn you against potatoes,onions,ginger,garlic and certain leafy vegetables. Some people had also told me not to eat chicken because they are given hormone injections,and eggs because they unnecessarily heat up the body,besides stuff made with sesame seed (dont ask why because I did not bother to find out).
Wondering what to eat to stay alive after all,I decided to forget the risks involved with the kinds of food I cannot do without — chicken,fish,eggs,potatoes,onions et al — and wait for the right time for the other things.