Be sensible about your diet and you can sail through your pregnancy, say doctors

“You are eating for two now!” This is pregnancy myth number one, declares Dr. Shilpa Shah, Chief Medical Officer, R.K. Nature Cure Home. “Many pregnant women believe that they must start eating for two, and eat twice as much as before. It is not the quantity but quality that matters. A pregnant mother does need an extra 250 or 300 calories and that can come from an extra chappathi or an additional serving of dhal,” she explains.

Nutritionally, one has to eat healthy to cater to the vitamins and nutrients required for the growing baby. “Pulses and dhals are high in protein that is essential for muscle growth. Green leafy vegetables, dry fruits, brinjal and drumstick, which are rich in iron, is important too. Calcium requirements for bone development can be met by milk and milk-based products, almonds, walnuts, raagi, sapota, and citrus fruits,” says Dr. Shah. Intake of plenty of fluids and eating on time are important, says naturopath Dr. M. Vineetha. “Stick to breakfast at 8.30 a.m. lunch at 12.30 p.m. and dinner before 7.30 p.m. For mid-time snacks, gorge on fruits, sprouts, salads, steamed vegetables or soups. In the first trimester, folic acid-rich foods such as strawberries, figs, pears, plums, and green leafy vegetables are essential. To ensure calcium absorption, it is important to have vitamin-C rich fruits such as amla and orange. While making murungai keerai soup which is rich in iron, use the stem of the leaves too.”

A pregnant woman has to balance her intake of solids and liquids to ensure good digestion, advises Dr. Valarmathi Jayaraman, ayurvedic physician. “After breakfast, it is best to consume butter milk, tender coconut, tomato soup or spinach soup as the next meal. After lunch, the evening snack can be protein-rich channa or green gram sundal.”

Jeera water or warm water at regular intervals is also good. Valarmathi says don’t keep off ghee. “Just a half-a-spoon of ghee every day is believed to improve the intellect and enhance the memory of the growing baby. It enhances the internal organs of the mother too.”

There will be weight gain, so it is advisable to cut down on sweets. The weight gain has to be equal and proportionate between mother and baby. “In the first trimester, eating a little more helps to cope up with nausea and morning sickness. From the second trimester onwards, the quantity has to be limited. Whatever is applicable for healthy living for any individual is applicable to a pregnant woman too. So, avoid deep-fried food, cheese, and other high-cholesterol food,” advises Dr. Shah. In the second trimester, one should consume food with high glycemic index. Plain white rice can be replaced with nutrient-rich millets. Vineetha also says that vegetables should be cut into bigger slices and should not be overcooked, to retain the nutrients. “From the fifth month onwards, the nutritional requirement increases. Instead of three heavy meals, eat smaller quantities more frequently. This helps in handling indigestion. Don’t mix raw and cooked food. If you have a carrot salad, have it one hour before your meals. The speed of digestion of raw and cooked food differs. Do not over eat. Keep your BP, sugar and cholesterol in check.”

Avoid

Maida

Deep fried and high-cholesterol food

Carbonated drinks

Fast food

Any form of packed or tinned food. Processed food containing preservatives, artificial colours and salt.

Sea food

Avoid raw food and milk products while dining out

Eat and stay healthy

Go in for seasonal fruits. Ensure that you have fruits 30 minutes before your meal

Among vegetables, restrict consumption of tubers such as potato and yam

Consume ‘wonder foods’ such as walnuts, almond and pomegranate that have special nutrients

Avoid white sugar as it has zero nutrients and unwanted calories. Replace it with jaggery.

Breathing exercises, pranayama and meditation help in the first trimester

Mild joint exercises, abdomen and pelvic stretches can be done under the guidance of a medical practitioner over the second and third trimester