Day 81, Meal Planning for Pregnancy

Eating for two is what comes to mind when you find out that you are pregnant. But is that really true ? When you announce your good news, you are inundated with well meaning advice and most of it is food related. And of course as a mother you want to do what is best for your developing baby. So let’s take a look at how to optimally plan your meals during pregnancy.

Pregnant Moms need to eat every 2-3 hours which means six meals. Three would be main meals and three are considered as snacks. Let’s start with the basic concept of making a food plate. These would be your main meals. Each of your main meals must contain all the five food groups – Carbohydrates, Vegetables/Fruits, Protein, Milk Protein and Fats. All of these nutrients work in tandem with each other and hence there is maximum nutrient absorption. Imagine if my hand was missing one finger, the hand would not be fully functional right ? The same way if any food group is missing from the meal then the absorption of nutrients is not optimum.

The main source of carbohydrates is grains. Choose the unrefined variety such as whole wheat, brown rice, ragi, jowar, bajra, oats etc. You need to consume a minimum of six servings per 24 hours. Each serving would constitute one medium roti, one slice of bread or ¾ cup of cereal. Carbohydrates are the base of any food pyramid and hence a must in your pregnancy diet as they contribute to building each and every part of the baby.

Vegetables and Fruits should be of a multitude of colors. A rainbow diet is what is recommended. The minimum consumption is 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits per day. Each serving would constitute 100 grams of the fruit or vegetable. If you are fond of soups and fresh juices then ensure that you do not strain the soup or juice as this will help retain the fibre. Vegetables and Fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals and help you to maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Protein is considered the building block of life. It helps in repair and growth of cells. At conception your baby is a single cell and at birth the baby is made of trillions of cells. Hence good quality proteins are a must in your diet. Make sure that you include a generous portion of protein in every meal. Each serving would constitute a palm sized piece of lean meat, two eggs, a fistful of nuts etc. Some choices are lean meat, eggs, soy, sprouts, beans, pulses and nuts.

Milk protein can be best got from dairy products. You do not need the full cream variety. Rather opt for skimmed or toned milk and milk products. This will provide you with calcium and protein which will work towards bone growth, teeth development, muscle growth and a healthy nervous system for your baby. You need approximately 500 ml of milk and milk products every day. Some healthy choices are skimmed plain milk, yoghurt, lassi and cottage cheese.

Fats are also considered a nutrient as they aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K. However our choices should be from the mono and polyunsaturated varieties like olive oil, flax oil, rice bran oil etc. Very limited use of saturated fats like vegetable oil, butter and ghee is recommended. The total intake of fats in a 24 hour period is 6 tspns which includes all the oil in your cooking, the ghee on your rotis and the butter on your bread. Hence this naturally leaves no room for fried foods.

Water is a must for absorption of nutrients and also to ensure that you do not get dehydrated. Mild dehydration can result in pre term contractions hence ensure that you keep that bottle of water close to you and keep sipping. A minimum of two litres and then drinking to thirst is the rule to follow.

Supplements prescribed by your doctor must not be ignored. They ensure that any dietary deficiency is taken care of but they are not considered a substitute for a healthy diet.


Note: Additional servings especially in the post partum period can be a vegetable soup or a fruit juice which should be pulpy and not strained.

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