Before we jump on to what foods to eat and what to avoid, let's talk about how some pregnant women also have the problem of morning sickness. It can interfere with their eating patterns, especially in the first trimester. Let's see what the solution to it is.
Nausea and morning sickness
Many women feel nauseous or ever vomit often, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. This is quite normal, but can be very annoying. There are a few things you can do to reduce the nausea. Try to eat very small meals. Eating in the morning, right after getting up, can settle an uneasy stomach. Small sips of ginger tea can help with the nausea. And in general, only eat what you feel like eating. You might want to eat only bland food, or have strange cravings – that's all okay! Listening to your body and trying different approaches will be the best way to deal with morning sickness and nausea.
Just make sure you drink a lot of water and fluids, especially if you have been vomiting. If your problems are severe and don't get better, discuss this with your doctor.
Do I need to eat for two?
No. You will need to eat a little more than usual to ensure that the foetus can develop healthily, but you don't need to eat twice as much. This could lead to excess body weight, which can create complications later. If you’re not over or under weight, you will need about 300 to 500 kcal more every day in the second and third trimester.
Some women are afraid to put on weight or think that if they eat less, labour will be easier and they won't have to work hard to get rid of the excess weight. But this can lead to serious complications for the mum as well as the foetus, so you should avoid dieting or starving yourself. Eat healthy, nutritious food and avoid junk food. This way you will only put on a healthy weight, which is needed for the foetus and it's growth. That pregnancy weight can easily be shed post pregnancy, once you get busy with the foetus or breastfeed.
What should you eat?
The healthier, the better! Try to eat a balanced diet with carbohydrates (grain like wheat, ragi, sooji etc rice in the form of rotis, rice or idli/dosa), proteins (lentils/dals, paneer, egg or meat if you are a non-vegetarian ) and lots of green leafy and fibrous vegetables like paalak, sarson saag, methi or other colourful vegetables like cabbage, capsicum, carrots - depending on the season and availability. Also, don't miss out on various seasonal fruits.
Eating good amount of fruits and vegetables can help you avoid constipation, which is a common problem for women in pregnancy.
You can cook your food in desi ghee, sarson/mustard oil, coconut oil or olive oil. Try to avoid refined oils, if you can. Also, use them in moderate quantities. Try not to eat too much fat, sugar and salt during pregnancy. Moderation is the key.
Also avoid eating too much processed food like frozen food, pasta, noodles, corn flakes etc. that come out in a box! Eat freshly prepared, home-cooked food for good health.
For the sweet tooth, eat something that has been cooked at home like rice kheer/payasam, sewaiyan/vermicelli, home-cooked halwa, panjiri with dry fruits or any other sweet cooked at home. Avoid too many chocolates and outside mithai to reduce the chances of your exposure to infection.
Also, you can indulge in outside food/street food like paani puris, chaat, Pizzas/Chinese etc. once in a while but do not make it a habit. Eat from a good, hygienic restaurant rather than a road side vendor.
Make sure that you wash your fruits and vegetables well before eating them. If you get sick easily, you might want to stay away from salads and uncooked vegetables. Your raw chicken and poultry shouldn't touch any other food, and you need to wash knifes and plates that have touched raw poultry thoroughly before using them for other food.
Also, don't forget to keep hydrated by drinking at least 6-7 glasses of water every day.
Here are some more ideas suited to what’s available in India.
What should you avoid?
You should stay away from alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs when you’re pregnant. Those can seriously harm the foetus.
Also avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs, fish and meat, liver and other innards and drinking coffee and other drinks with caffeine. When you drink milk and eat cheese, make sure that it has been pasteurised (heated after milking to kill bacteria).
Because it can contain mercury, you shouldn't have more than two portions of fish a week.
Also, not that you would eat it (!), but if you have a cat, don't clean the litter box. Bacteria in the cat poo can make your foetus sick.
If you are planning on having a baby, you should start taking a folic acid (folate) supplement. It prevents your foetus from getting an illness called Spina bifida, which causes parts of the spine in the embryo to close incompletely.
Folic acid is very effective, especially if taken very early on during pregnancy, which is why you should take it once you are pregnant or even better, once you start trying for a baby.
It's difficult to get enough folate through eating alone, but if you can't access supplements, make sure you eat a lot of leafy green vegetables and avocados. You might want to look into taking special pregnancy vitamins that contain folic acid and other vitamins and minerals you need.
Read more about folic acid.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.
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