Women were asked eat as many green, leafy vegetables, cereals and grains as possible

In an awareness programme held to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week that commenced on Wednesday, a number of pregnant women and young mothers were briefed about the kind of food to be avoided at a village near Tambaram.

The programme was launched at the Children’s Centres of Integrated Child Development Services at Pathuvanchery village that comes within Madambakkam Town Panchayat limits. Officials said there are 284 Children’s Centres in the southern suburbs of Chennai and over 4,200 pregnant women and mothers of newborns receive counselling and medical assistance apart from a fortnightly dose of the nutritious supplementary diet called ‘saththu maavu’. The beneficiaries, most of whom are from families living below the poverty line receive nearly two kilograms of the supplementary diet.

Officials said pregnant women and young mothers required 160 grams of this diet everyday and it could be eaten after preparing them as ‘laddoos’ or as porridge. At the awareness programme, women were asked to take as much green and leafy vegetables, cereals and grains and other nutritious foods as possible and stay completely away from junk food and also reduce the intake of oil and spices said S. Vimala, Chairperson, Madambakkam Town Panchayat, who also distributed prizes to winners who took part in a healthy diet preparation contest.

Beula Ajithkumar (22) has been receiving this supplementary diet ever since she was pregnant with her first daughter Dharshini, now 18 months old. She was present at the event along with her second daughter Jeevapriya, four months old. “The supplementary diet is a boon to women from poor families, where only one member earns,” she said.

Staff from the Food and Nutrition Board, of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, work along with the State government’s Department of Social Welfare in ensuring that supplementary diet reaches all the beneficiaries it is intended for.

A healthy diet during pregnancy ensures the sound health of both mother and infant post childbirth, said C. Jeyapal, Technical Assistant, Food and Nutrition Board.

More In: Chennai