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Pregnancy is a crucial time for both the mother and the growing baby. Eating a healthy and balanced diet is vital to ensure that both receive the essential nutrients required for optimal growth and development. In India, traditional dietary practices are often followed during pregnancy to provide the necessary nutrients. However, with changing times and lifestyles, it is essential to understand which foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy to ensure a healthy pregnancy. In this article, we will discuss the Indian diet during pregnancy, including the foods that pregnant women should eat and avoid to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Food to eat during pregnancy

It is recommended to consume foods that are high in iron, calcium, and protein.

Iron

  • Green leafy vegetables are a good source of iron. It is a good idea to keep pudina or dhania (mint or coriander) chutney handy. Prepare the chutney, every 3rd or 4th day in small amounts and keep it stored in a covered bottle in the refrigerator. Consuming two teaspoons of chutney per day can help fulfill a significant portion of your daily iron needs.
  • Kishmish or raisins are also rich in iron.
  • Gur or jaggery and powdered brown sugar, which are distinct from caramelized white sugar, also contain iron.
  • Dried fish is especially rich in both iron and calcium. So are yeast tablets, radish leaves, knol-khol or ganth gobhi leaves, kerae or leafy greens, cauliflower leaves, etc.
  • While spinach is a great source of iron, it is not easily absorbed by the body. Fortunately, consuming foods high in vitamin C can help enhance iron absorption.
  • For a plant-based source of iron and calcium, you can try soyabean, kabuli channa or whole bengal gram, kala channa or horse gram, rajma or kidney beans, and sabut moong or green gram.
  • Cooking food in an iron pan can add iron into your meals, it can also leave your food looking less appetizing due to the blackening effect. To prevent this, apply a thin layer of oil and heat the pan before cooking any food.
  • By skipping the step of sieving atta or flour before making chapattis, you can benefit from the iron and Vitamin B present in the unprocessed wheat. To do this, start by cleaning, washing, and drying the wheat before sending it to the flour mill.

Calcium

  • Milk and milk products are not only delicious, but also great sources of calcium. You must drink about 3 glasses of milk in a day.
  • Calcium is also present in green leafy vegetables. But it’s important to be mindful of how much you eat, especially if you experience uncomfortable symptoms like gas, flatulence, heartburn, or sour burps.
  • Eggs and lemons are both rich sources of calcium. If you don’t get enough calcium over an extended period, you may experience weakness, severe backaches, cramps, and irritability due to nerve twitches. To prevent these symptoms, consider adding a warm cup of milk to your nighttime routine, providing your body with the calcium it needs to maintain healthy muscles and bones.

Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient that serves as the building material for the human body. It is necessary not only for the growth and development of a baby’s body but also for the maintenance and repair of mother’s body

  • Simple egg a day and some pulses or dals in your meals can provide you with enough proteins for your body. But if you’re a pure vegetarian and don’t consume eggs, it’s essential to make sure your diet contains adequate protein. While dals are a decent source of protein for vegetarians, they are not necessarily the best. Combination of dal and wheat is the perfect complement to each other, as together, they provide all the essential amino acids your body needs. Additionally, a mixture of dal and rice is also a good source of protein. This combination is a staple in many cultures and provides a complete protein meal when consumed together.
  • Milk and milk products, such as paneer and curd, are excellent sources of protein. Nuts, such as peanuts, almonds, and cashews, are also a great source of protein, making them an good option. While almonds are often considered to be the most nutritious nut, but nutritionally, all nuts provide a similar amount of protein. However, it’s worth noting that nuts are also high in fat, so it’s essential to consume them in moderation.
  • Chickpeas Also known as Channa too is a very good source of protein. Whether you’re eating channa dal, besan, or the roasted channa sold by street vendors, you’re getting a healthy dose of protein that can keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals. Instead of reaching for unhealthy snacks like biscuits or fried namkeens, consider keeping channa handy for a nutritious and filling snack option. You can even mix channa with small pieces of jaggery and store it in a jar.
  • Another good source of protein is soyabean and soyabean products. You can easily get soybean products in local market. Simply soak the soy nuggets or granules in warm salt water, then prepare favorite masala using onions, capsicum, tomatoes, or any other vegetables you like. Squeeze the nuggets or granules thoroughly and add them to the masala when it’s done. This makes for a nutritious and tasty dish that’s easy to prepare. You could also add the nuggets or granules to whichever vegetable is made, to increase its quantity and nutrition. Or else you could buy soyabean in 1 kilogram packets, soak them overnight like kidney beans or rajma, and cook them in a similar way, in a gravy, the next morning.

Wholesome Foods

  • A cereal, pulse and vegetable mixture makes a very wholesome meal. For example, dosa or idli with sambhar and coconut chutney.
  • A similar combination may be achieved with parathas. A healthful meal may be made by combining half besan or chickpea flour and half wheat flour and adding chopped radish, mooli, or green cabbage leaves to the dough. A paratha consisting with wheat flour, horse gramme or kala channa flour, and barley or jawar flour with chopped radish or cabbage leaves is also tasty. These parathas are a meal in itself and may be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or supper with curd.
  • Pickles can be a tasty addition to meals, it’s important that they have high salt content. If you’re experiencing swelling in your hands and feet, it may be best to avoid pickles and other salty foods to help reduce fluid retention. Butter should be avoided if you are overweight.
  • Sprouted whole green gram or moong dal is a nutritious food that is best eaten raw as cooking reduces its food value. It is a good source of protein, as well as Vitamins B and C. To sprout the dal, you need to clean, wash, and soak it for at least 4-5 hours in summer and 8-10 hours in winter, or even soak it overnight. Then drain the water and place it in a large jar, covering the mouth of the jar with a cloth. Pour water into the jar and drain it out, repeating twice more during the day. In a day or two, it should sprout. Sprouted dal can be added to chopped salad, cucumber cubes, or grated radish. It can also be sprinkled on vegetables or added to sandwich fillings. Additionally, you can make a savoury dish by adding lemon juice, chopped onions, coriander, green chillies, and salt. You can sprout any dried beans or pulses in a similar fashion, such as horse gram or kala channa, Egyptian lentil, or sabut kala masoor dal, etc.
  • Potato is a vegetable that is often misunderstood. Despite having carbohydrates, potatoes are 99.9% fat-free and 100% cholesterol-free, and they contain vitamins B and C, as well as some proteins. Boiled potatoes are a cheap and healthy source of nutrition. Potatoes only become unhealthy when they are fried. For a healthy tea time snack, one can enjoy boiled potatoes with salt, chopped onions, lemon juice, and chopped mint or coriander leaves added to them. Potatoes have more moisture than cereals, which means they contain fewer calories than cereals. If you keep boiled potatoes in the fridge, they can be a convenient snack when you need a quick bite but don’t have time to cook. It’s best to boil potatoes with their skin on, and not peel or cut them beforehand, as this helps retain their nutrition. Be sure to boil them until the skin doesn’t break.
  • Seasonal fruits and vegetables are a highly recommended category. Fruits like guavas, oranges, watermelons, and bananas are rich in vitamins and minerals. Raw cabbages and carrots are also a great source of nutrition.

Food to avoid during pregnancy

Tea, Coffee, Cola Drinks & Chocolates

Limiting consumption of tea, coffee, cola drinks, and chocolates is advisable as they contain caffeine and other substances such as tannic acid that can have a negative effect on digestion. Excessive intake of these items should be avoided to maintain a healthy digestive system.

When consumed in excess, caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it can increase the frequency of urination, leading to the loss of essential salts and water-soluble vitamins. Additionally, it can hinder the absorption of iron and calcium in the body. Caffeine overconsumption can also result in sleep disturbances, anxiety, and heartburn.