The moment you see the second line appear on a home pregnancy test or even the positive result from your lab reports, especially when you have been trying to conceive for some time, you are filled with a sense of overwhelming joy, which can very often and soon turn to panic, with unease on what to do. The first and most important thing to do when you either suspect that you are pregnant, or are confirmed to be pregnant, is to visit your obstetrician, and a nutritionist as soon as possible, to ensure that you are as healthy as possible, for yourself and the new little life that is now growing inside you.
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When you are pregnant there are a few things that you will need to take care of with regards to your diet, during pregnancy. Some of them include:
Include 3-4 Litres of liquids in your diet every day. This can be taken as 2 Litres of water, and the other 2 Litres of liquids can be taken in the form of fresh fruit juices, home-made soups, milk, tender coconut water, buttermilk, lassi, etc.
Cereals give you a boost of energy that you require. During the initial days of your pregnancy, you may feel extremely tired. Having a good balance of cereals containing both simple and complex carbohydrates, tend to help you overcome the overwhelming feeling of tiredness. However it is important that you avoid consuming any instant cereals (those which tell you to add hot water/ milk and consume, e.g.: cornflakes, muesli, instant oats/instant poha, etc.); Rather than that include varieties of rice, wheat, dahlia, oats, and millets like ragi, jowar, bajra, etc.
Pulses are a rich source of protein which will help meet some of your protein requirements and those of your growing and developing baby. Pulses and legumes can be included in various forms, such as dhal, chole, rajma, etc. Sprouts are a great way of including pulses in your diet. Sprouting makes the pulses easier to digest, and can be consumed raw or cooked depending on your preference.
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Milk is a good source of protein and calcium; Toned and pasteurized milk is the best form of milk to consume. It can be consumed either as Milk or Milk products, such as plain boiled milk, curd/dahi, buttermilk/chaas, lassi, or even in cooked dishes such as porridges. The recommendation is that you consume a minimum of 500ml of milk every day. There is no need to change the type of milk that you are consuming, and start consuming full fat milk, or other animal milks unnecessarily. Please note that it is better that you avoid consuming tea/coffee, as they have a high content of tannins and caffeine, which could have a detrimental effect on your developing baby, as caffeine tends to leach the calcium from your bones, and those of your developing baby.
Fruits are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibre and a vast store-house of vitamins and minerals. A generally accepted practice is that you consume two whole fruits every day. Try and make sure that you include at least 1 Vitamin C rich fruit (such as orange, mousambi, guava, kiwi, strawberry, amla, etc.) and one of any other fruits. This can also be consumed as a fruit salad. There is no contraindication to taking any particular fruit during pregnancy, so long as you are not allergic to it.
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.
or Green Leafy Vegetables like palak, methi, amaranth, drumstick leaves, 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.
These include vegetables like pumpkin, ash gourd, squash, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, snake gourd, cucumber, as these are great storehouses of water, and can act as invisible sources of water in your diet, to ensure that you are well hydrated.
This group includes all the other vegetables that have not been covered in the other 2 groups. All the vegetables van be mixed together and consumed as a mixed vegetable curry if desired. There is no contraindication to taking any particular vegetable during pregnancy, so long as you are not allergic to it.
Sugars and sweeteners are generally added to the diet to enhance the taste of your food. During pregnancy there is an absolute contraindication to taking any form of artificial sweeteners like sugar-free, equal, natura, lowkal, sweetnlo, etc., and these items need to be strictly avoided. Use good quality jaggery or honey as a sweetener, instead of white sugar as they have a higher iron content, and white sugar provides you with hollow and empty calories, with no nutritional benefit at all.
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Use a mixture of oils and ghee, however it is important to keep a track of how much of oil/ghee you are consuming, as consuming excess of these food items will enhance weight gain for both you and your baby and make your 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 as these will help add variety to your diet.
These are a good source of protein in your diet. 1 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, as a curry/stew/soup. Red meats like mutton/beef/pork should be avoided or maximum limited to be consumed once in 2-3 weeks as a curry/stew/soup, because these contain large stores of unhealthy cholesterol which are not good for you.
A fistful of assorted dried fruits and nuts can be safely consumed every day in any form; however please avoid consuming dried fruits soaked in ghee. This is completely unnecessary.
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It is important that all the tips mentioned above are for a regular/normal pregnancy only, and since pregnancy is not a one size fits all deal, it is important that you meet your nutritionist, so that she can help you get the right fit for you when it comes to your diet.
Nina Maria Saldanha ,