Pregnancy can set the stage for well-thought-out meals and careful choices. When it comes to choosing healthy, it can be hard to decide which foods are best for your health and your baby. In this guide, we give you the low-down.
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When you Google ‘pregnancy meal plan’, you’re likely bombarded with a slew of articles detailing everything you’d ever need to know about pregnancy nutrition, but sometimes making choices can be tough. Consider this, right here, the ultimate Indian pregnancy menu.
This is your time to embrace dairy. Stock up on whole or toned milk, curd, cheese, chena/ paneer and buttermilk. And also try flavoured yogurts smoothies and shakes. Dairy products brim with protein, calcium and vitamin B12, all essential for your growing baby.
Pulses are excellent protein sources that help build crucial organs in your babies, such as the heart, brain and lungs. Include generous servings of dals, cooked sprouts, all nuts, whole grains, millets and pulses in your daily diet, to give your body a protein boost.
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Fruits and veggies are precious storehouses of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and it’s recommended that you plan at least five servings per day. Satiate your taste buds with delicious, yet wholesome home recipes. Like fruit cups laced with date syrup or honey, fresh fruit smoothies and veggie sticks with homemade hummus, or steamed veggies with hung curd dip as snacks, unsweetened nut butter on whole-grain toasts etc.
If you are a non-vegetarian, eggs, chicken and fish pack a great protein punch. Include them in your diet every day as they are rich sources of concentrated proteins. Avoid fish rich in mercury such as Shark, Tuna, Basa, Mackerel, Swordfish etc. Make better choices such as Salmon, Sardines, Anchovies, also river fish such as Rohu, Catla etc.
It is important that you stay optimally hydrated throughout your pregnancy. Make it a habit to drink water and natural alternatives like fresh coconut water frequently. Conjure fruit infusions and homemade juices for a little extra flavour. Stay away from ready-made drinks and packaged juices, as these contain a very high sugar concentration and could be devoid of nutritional value.
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Fats don’t have to equal fat – if you’re careful with your quantities. Fats are valuable sources of energy for your body and promote your baby’s growth. Choose healthy, unsaturated fats like cold-pressed vegetable oils. Ghee is also excellent, although, saturated fat, you should limit it to measured amounts only -up to 2 teaspoons a day only max.
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Your pregnancy diet doesn’t need to be far different from your pre-pregnancy one. If you were already eating healthy, adding a few nutrient-rich calories to your plate are perhaps all you need. Speak to your nutritionist to know what nutrients you should be getting and how to structure your meals well.
Here’s presenting an example of an Indian pregnancy menu.
Get in a light snack within a few moments of waking up. Dry fruits, homemade juice, a milkshake or just a plain glass of milk are perfect and light enough on your tummy after a long night of slumber.
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In India, we’re spoilt for choice with the number of local, nutritious breakfast options available. Kickstart your first solid meal with veggie-rich sevai, upma or poha, oatmeal, multigrain toast with egg, parathas or chillas stuffed with veggies, or any other healthy option you’re used to having. Tuck into a hearty portion of fruit to complement your morning meal.
Keep your belly busy between breakfast and lunch with a light and wholesome appetiser. Whip up a veggie or chicken soup, a fruity smoothie, a serving of buttermilk, or something equally appetising and nutritious.
When it comes to lunch, go with what you’re used to eating, but remember to balance your meal with various food groups. A roti- or rice-based meal can give you a healthy filling of carbs, while dal, fish or chicken can give you protein. Serve yourself a generous portion of veggies to seek those essential vitamins and minerals, and a cooling bowl of curd to round off your meal.
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Silence your rumbling tummy at teatime with a little somethin’. Mirror your breakfast options with idli, halwa, sevai or poha. Or opt for something a little more snacky, such as a steamed sprout-peanut chaat, a soup or a grilled veggie sandwich. Or, if you can’t down a solid mini-meal at this hour, go for something a little lighter, like fresh coconut water, a homemade juice, a milkshake or a smoothie.
Make dinner a lighter version of lunch, with the same food groups and meal options. A heavy belly just before bed can cause discomfort, and it’s wise to scale down on your portions as you progress through the day. Like lunch, have carbs in the form of rice, roti or paratha, and include dal or meat to add some protein. Cool down with a salad and curd (or buttermilk) and of course do not forget the veggies on the side.
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Your pregnancy menu should be an extension of your existing diet, so if you’re a true-blue South Indian, get your serving of veggie sambar and rice (vitamins, protein and carbs, check). If you’re from the North, embrace your parathas, curd and unsalted butter (hello carbs, calcium, protein and fats). Maharashtrians, rejoice with koshimbir and masala bhat (yes to vitamins and carbs) and Gujaratis, with dhokla, khandvi and kadhi (yay, fibre and protein).
Wherever you’re from, find ways to honour your roots and celebrate your traditions, while treating your tongue to indulgent flavour and your body to wholesome nutrition.
The above is just an overview: You will need individualized plans based on your weight, blood reports, trimester you are in etc, so please do come in for a Consultation with our Nutritionist to find out more about what works best for you.