Bringing a new life into this world is an exciting experience which requires a close look at your inputs from the nutritional front. Contrary to the old adage “eating for two,” pregnancy doesn’t mean eating twice as much.
Whether you’re completely refuse certain foods or constantly crave others, the choices you make play a vital role in having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Plus, studies show what you eat during pregnancy will influence what your child likes to eat when he or she older.
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You don’t need to go on a special diet, but it’s important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients.
This topic can be highly deceiving since in this interestingly important phase it is not possible to rate one healthy food over the other since all are more or less equally healthy varying in their health benefits. Hence, only a few have been discussed below.
GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES
- Different types of greens as palak, Malabar spinach, Fenugreek leaves, drumstick leaves, Mint, curry leaves, coriander, amaranth leaves, beet leaves, celery, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower.
- Can be used in form of chutney (that is prepared by sautéing greens with onion, chillies, salt, tamarind etc. and then blenderising it), soups, desserts, as a spread for Indian bread (Chapathis) and on pieces of bread, as gravies with other vegetables, as dressing mixed with Cheese etc.
- Recent studies have shown that Vitamin K plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis, arthritis, and diabetes: Green Leafy Vegetables being a good source of Vitamin K.
- calcium; magnesium; molybdenum; vitamin K; Riboflavin (B2); Folate; most B vitamins except B12; vitamin A; vitamin C. Phytochemical that is vital to your baby’s skin, bones, eyes, and cell growth.
- Rich in fibre, negligible fat and carbohydrates -prevents constipation, improves digestion.
- Dark green leafy vegetables and cabbage family provide important nutrients that increase breast milk output
- Eat at least one serving /day.
The benefits of accommodating 2 to 3 servings of vegetables include
- Healthy weight gains
- Controlled blood pressure
- Reduced risks of anaemia. Requirements for vitamins, minerals, and vital nutrients increase due to the demands associated with fetal growth. Vegetables, especially when eaten raw, are packed with nutritional benefits for you and your growing baby. Can have beetroot, cucumber, lettuce, spring onion, carrot, cabbage, sprouts, pudina, coriander leaves etc in well prepared with curd or plain as a salad for roti, rice, bread, snacks, starter.
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Derived from the Turkish word yogourt, it is a fermented milk product made by the bacterial fermentation of milk.
- Fresh –set Curds is the Indian version of Yoghurt and is a potential source of one of the baby-friendly bone-building nutrient: Calcium.
- Factually, Curd is a better source of Calcium in comparison to Cow’s milk.
- “Probiotics” has been researched extensively and lots of benefits have been attributed to the inclusion of Probiotics in the diet. Even home-set curds can be considered as Probiotic product.
- Even to those who prefer a meal plan without milk, in pregnancy, Curd is a safer, better bet. Maintenance of gut integrity is one of the attributes of Curd.
- Food items such as Cottage Cheese made by curdling milk with fresh Curd. Whey water, preparations made with Sour curd called as “Khadi” in Hindi or even Sooji Idly are ways of including Curd in the diet.
A vegetable that became popular in Roman times, it was used to treat fever, constipation, wounds and skin problems. A storehouse of essential minerals such as Potassium, Magnesium, Iron and Vitamins such as Vitamin A, Folic Acid, Vitamin B6, antioxidants etc beetroot is widely available in the Indian markets.
- Nitrates in Beetroot help in lowering of Blood pressure
- A natural liver cleanser, detoxifier
- Anti-depressant (since it aids in the synthesis of Serotonin)’
- Eradication of constipation
- Regulation of acids on the liver
- Immune booster
- Contrary to popular belief that it increases blood sugar, it actually helps in controlling sugars when taken in regulated quantities
Beetroot can find its way into the cuisine in many ways – in the form of salad or gratings mixed into dough for making Indian pieces of bread, as a part of mixed vegetable green salads or even semi-cooked vegetables as salad,as juice or smoothie, as a dessert by pureeing and mixing with other fruits. Since their direct caloric count is high, it cannot be overused too.
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DRY FRUITS AND NUTS
- Abundant in vitamins and minerals, rich in fibre which helps to prevent constipation
- Good source of iron and protein helps to prevent anaemia. Citrus fruits – orange or lime juice (Vit C) along with nuts helps to absorb iron
- Supply magnesium, a mineral that helps your baby’s bones and nerves form and function normally, also supplies potassium that aids in muscle control and can help prevent the development of high blood pressure.
- Good source of vitamin A, which helps your baby’s bones and teeth form properly.
- One pod of the date/ day during and after pregnancy will help strengthen the uterine muscles and prevent anaemia. It is rich in potassium, glycine and threonine that activates Prolactin, the milk hormone.
- 2 figs in a day help to improve haemoglobin and prevent gestational diabetes and constipation
- A fistful of assorted Nuts such as almonds, apricot, pistachio nuts, walnut, raisins, peanut, cashew nut etc. provides protein, healthy fat, Iron, fibre etc., Can have it in plain/soaked/sweets/desserts/salads/smoothies or can add to any food.
Different fruits provide different vitamins and prevent many pregnancy-associated discomforts such as leg cramps, morning sickness, etc.,
- They have essential vitamins and minerals and a rich source of antioxidants
- The milk and yogurt in smoothies give energy and protein and adds fibre to your diet
Magic Fives are
- Apples – High in fibre = no constipation and no bloating.
- Bananas – a great source of potassium essential for maintaining blood pressure
- Melons – high in antioxidants for protecting you and your baby from harmful toxins
- Citrus –Containing the highest source of vitamin C essential for skin and eye health, strengthening of the immune system of the foetus and pregnant woman and overall heart health.
- Lemons/lime will cure ailments, help to keep away influenza, a common problem during pregnancy. Folic acid is a compound that is easily absorbed by the baby in the womb. Lime and avocado contain a lot of folic acids. And are known for battling nausea, morning sickness in pregnancy
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- Berries are rich in antioxidants, Berries can be eaten plain or made into smoothies.
GOOSEBERRY OR AMLA
- Boosts your energy and rejuvenate the cells in your body, preventing fatigue and tiredness during pregnancy.
- It is rich in fibre and acts as a mild laxative regulating the bowel action
- Rich in vitamin C that helping to dilate the blood vessels and maintain normal blood pressure
- Maintain the lipid profile, prevents gestational diabetes, reduces heartburn and acidity, flushes out toxins and free radicals, and helps to prevent swelling
- Vitamin C in the fruit helps to absorb dietary iron and maintain haemoglobin level.
- The potent calcium level in the fruit offers enough strength to your bones and aids in quicker, stronger bone and teeth formation of your baby; promotes lactation after delivery.
- Regular intake of amla can prevent swelling of your feet and hands.
Aim to drink at least eight glasses to ten glasses of water a day. This will keep you hydrated, maintain energy levels and help prevent constipation.
Should water get disinteresting, bring in other fluids such as fresh fruit juices, lassi, buttermilk, smoothies, tender coconut water, soups, porridges, lentil water, concoctions made with cumin or fennel in water and then diluted for aiding in better digestion etc
SUPERFOODS are a blessing to the pregnant women since they aid in providing the required support to the body’s metabolism for sculpting favourable outcomes in the mother and baby in and out of pregnancy!
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Varied hues are one way of ensuring varied nutrients. Be wise when you shop – be it for looking good or for your food!!!