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Monday, March 01, 2021

A nutritional guide for a healthy pregnancy

Among other things, mix all vegetables together and consume as a mixed vegetable curry, if desired

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi |
January 27, 2021 4:25:33 pm
pregnancy, pregnancy dos and don'ts, foods to eat during pregnancy, foods to avoid during pregnancy, healthy pregnancy, parenting, indian express newsGreen leafy vegetables like palak, methi, spinach, etc., are a rich source of iron, folate, and fibre along with a lot of additional vitamins and minerals. (Representational image/Pixabay)

By Nina Maria Saldanha

The moment you see the second line appear on a home pregnancy test or even the positive result from your lab reports, you are filled with a sense of joy, which can often turn to panic, with unease on what to do. When your family finds out you are pregnant, they instantly pull out a long list of dos and don’ts for you to follow.

When you are pregnant there are a few things you will need to take care of with regard to your diet.

  • Liquids: Include 3-4 litres of liquids in your diet every day. This can be taken as 2 litres of water, and the rest can be taken in the form of fresh fruit juices, soups, milk, tender coconut water, buttermilk, lassi, etc.

  • Cereals: Cereals are a rich source of energy. Having a good balance of cereals containing both simple and complex carbohydrates, will help meet your fibre requirements. Avoid consuming any instant cereals; Include varieties of rice, wheat, oats, and millets like ragi, jowar, bajra, etc.

  • Pulses: Pulses are a rich source of protein which will help meet some of your protein requirements. These include dhals, chole, rajma, etc. Sprouts are a great way of including pulses in your diet.

  • Milk and milk products: Milk is a good source of protein and calcium. Toned and pasteurised milk is the best form of milk to consume. It can be consumed either as milk or milk products. The recommendation is that you consume a minimum of 500ml of milk every day. Organic milks are a good source of pesticide free, healthy milk.

  • Fruits: Fruits are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibre and are storehouse of vitamins and minerals. The best way to choose what fruits to eat, is to choose locally and seasonally available ones. Fruits may also be consumed alone or as salad. There is no contraindication to taking any particular fruit during pregnancy, so long as you are not allergic to it.

  • Vegetables: Vegetables like fruits are a rich power house of vitamins and minerals, along with soluble and insoluble fibre. It is recommended that you take at least 3 types of vegetables in a day.

  • Greens: Green leafy vegetables like palak, methi, spinach, etc. are a rich source of iron, folate, and fibre along with a lot of additional vitamins and minerals. These can help prevent neural tube defects, and boost your iron/hemoglobin levels, along with preventing constipation.

  • Watery vegetables: These include vegetables like pumpkin, ash gourd, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, cucumber, etc, as these are great storehouses of water, and act as invisible sources of water in your diet.

  • Other vegetables: This group includes all the other vegetables that have not been covered in the other two groups.

pregnancy, pregnancy dos and don'ts, foods to eat during pregnancy, foods to avoid during pregnancy, healthy pregnancy, parenting, indian express news All fried foods and ‘junk’ foods, should be avoided during pregnancy. (Photo: Pixabay)

All the vegetables can be mixed together and consumed as a mixed vegetable curry if desired. Like fruits, it is best to choose locally and seasonally available vegetables. There is no contraindication to taking any particular vegetable during pregnancy, so long as you are not allergic to it.

  • Sugars and sweeteners: Sugars and sweeteners are added to the diet to enhance the taste of food. During pregnancy there is an absolute contraindication to taking any form of artificial sweeteners. Use good quality jaggery or honey as a sweetener, instead of white sugar as they have a higher iron content, while white sugar provides you with hollow and empty calories, with no nutritional benefit at all.

  • Fats and oils: Use a mixture of oils and ghee, it is important to keep track of your oil/ghee consumption, excess of these will enhance weight gain for both mother and baby and can make labour and delivery much harder. The recommendation for oil/fat consumption is not more than ½ litre/500ml per adult per month of a combination of oil, butter and ghee. Keep changing your oils to help add variety to your diet.

  • Non-vegetarian foods: These are a good source of protein in your diet. One whole egg (completely cooked through) can be safely consumed every day. Lean meats like skinless chicken and smaller fish can be consumed 3-4 times a week. Red meats like mutton/beef/pork should be avoided or limited to being consumed once in 2-3 months, because these contain unhealthy cholesterol.

  • Dried fruits and nuts: A fistful of assorted dried fruits and nuts can be safely consumed every day in any form. Please avoid consuming dried fruits soaked in ghee. This is completely unnecessary.

  • Herbs and spices: The diet of a pregnant and nursing mother should be rich in spices, but at the same time, it should not be spicy. These are great sources of fibre and micronutrients. They are also known to promote digestion and prevent constipation. A diet that is very spicy has been known to trigger digestive issues like gastritis and acidity, etc.

  • Miscellaneous foods: These include all the “tasty” foods that we love to add to our diet, since most of them are crispy, crunchy and make good snacks. These foods are known as “junk foods”, as the contents of these are not healthy for consumption most of the time. They are not advisable in the diet of a pregnant mother.

Some of the guidelines surrounding these foods include:

* Avoid consuming alcohol and smoking. Items like paan, ghutka, tobacco, supari, etc., also should be avoided.

* All carbonated beverages and packed juices/soups need to be avoided.

* All fried foods and ‘junk’ foods, should be avoided.

It is important that all the tips mentioned above are for a normal pregnancy only, and since pregnancy is not a one size fits all deal, it is important that you meet a nutritionist, so that she can help you get the right fit when it comes to your diet.

(The writer is Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru, Whitefield)

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