Healthy Diet Plan For Pregnant Women (With Recipes)

Healthy Diet Plan For Pregnant Women (With Recipes)

If you’ve clicked on this article, it can only mean that you are pregnant! Congratulations on your pregnancy! In this article, we will help you make your pregnancy a healthy one with this healthy diet plan for pregnant women. 

Pregnancy is a wonderful journey. One full of surprises and unexpected cravings! No other time in life is as important as this one, so do take care of what you eat and what you need to avoid. As a pregnant woman, you need to be extra careful of what you eat, how much you eat and what you should give up on, so as to not harm the baby. You will also need to keep a check on your calorie intake as you do not want to put on extra weight than is required for a healthy pregnancy.

Also read: Postpartum Diet – What Foods To Eat & Avoid After Delivery – Chart Included

A healthy and nutritious diet for pregnant women should include the following food items:

  • A healthy serving of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Servings of whole grain breads and cereals along with low fat milk products
  • Lentils, pulses, lean meats, chicken without skin, fish, eggs
  • Plenty of water to keep the body hydrated

Almost every pregnant woman suffers from morning or evening sickness. If a woman is suffering from morning sickness, a light breakfast or a healthy snack would do her good. To avoid morning sickness, a pregnant woman should not stay hungry for a long time in the morning. Consuming a glucose-rich biscuit right in the morning helps in such cases. A woman who has morning sickness can stick to light breakfasts and eat heavy meals in the evening. Those with evening sickness can have breakfasts and lunches but should avoid heavy meals in the evening. During the third trimester, large meals should be avoided at nights because it might cause heartburn.

Also read: Diet Plan After C-Section – What to eat & What to avoid

What should be completely avoided from your diet?

Tobacco, alcohol and all forms of harmful drugs should be completely avoided.

Healthy diet plan for pregnant women

Every pregnant women should include these foods in their diet as they are rich sources of essential nutrients required during pregnancy. Things to remember:

  • If you have any medical condition or allergies to specific types of food, please consult your doctor or nutritionist before taking any them or trying any new food item.
  • Always drink plenty of water throughout your pregnancy
  • Try to avoid caffeine rich foods like tea, coffee etc
  • Limit snacking on junk food like deeply fried food, biscuits or takeaways. They add calories and increase weight which can lead to difficult labor and delivery.
  • Avoid eating a lot of sugary food as it increases the risk of gestational diabetes.

The first trimester

This is the trimester when most mothers face morning or evening sickness. Due to vomiting, pregnant women do not feel like eating and at times they crave for a particular thing. You need to remember that you need to eat healthy food for your baby to be healthy.

The most important nutrients that you need during the first trimester is folic acid, iron, calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B6. Each meal must include the following:

  • Protein to support the baby’s growth and development. Include lentils, beans, cheese, milk, fish, eggs, tofu, skinless chicken and variety of nuts in your diet.
  • Carbohydrates like whole grains such as multigrain chapati, whole wheat pasta, breads and brown rice.
  • Calcium is a must and you should aim for 3 to 4 servings of calcium rich foods per day. This includes low fat milk, curd, cottage cheese.
  • You need 3 to 4 servings of different colored fruits and vegetables.They are rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  • DHA is important for the development of the fetal brain and the retina. You can find it in fatty fish and eggs. Other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids like ALA can be found in flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.

Recipe for Vegetable sprouts poha (flattened rice)

Poha contains a good amount of iron and carbs and is a healthy breakfast option. If prepared with a lot of vegetables, the nutrient quotient rises.

Also read: Healthy Diet for BreastFeeding Moms

Ingredients:

  • 1 and ½ cup of poha
  • 1 cup chopped vegetables- beans, peas, carrots, potato, capsicum
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 green chilly, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Sprouts ½ cup
  • Few curry leaves
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Coriander to garnish
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice
  • Roasted groundnuts

Method:

  • Wash the poha in running water and strain all the water. Keep it in a strainer and let it dry completely.
  • Heat 1 tsp of oil in a cooking pot or kadhai.
  • When the oil heats up put the mustard seeds and curry leaves
  • As soon as they splutter put in chopped onions and green chillies.
  • When the onions turn slightly brown, put in all the vegetables and sprouts. Sprinkle little salt to taste and turmeric powder and cover the pan till the vegetables are cooked.
  • You can sprinkle a few drops of water if you feel the vegetables will stick to the bottom.
  • Put in all the poha and mix with the vegetables and sprouts properly. The colour of the turmeric will turn the entire poha yellow.
  • Sprinkle lemon juice and roasted groundnuts on top and mix well.
  • Serve with coriander leaves on top.

The Second Trimester

In the second trimester, your baby’s bones and the brain are growing. Thus, you need plenty of calcium and Vitamin D. Again, a vital part of your diet should be Omega 3 which is extremely essential for baby’s brain development. Iron rich foods should also be an important source here as most mothers tend to have low haemoglobin levels and may become anaemic. Each meal must include the following:

  • All leafy green vegetables, preferably organic and washed properly.
  • Milk and other sources of calcium like cottage cheese, curd, cheese or tofu.
  • Lentils and beans like chickpea, peas, runner beans, kidney beans, lima beans. Edible legumes like ‘arhar’, ‘moong’, ‘masoor’.
  • Fish is the best source of Omega 3 fatty acids, especially river fish like Salmon. Fish which are high on mercury level should be avoided. Shellfish have a lot of Omega but they should be avoided during pregnancy as they can cause allergic reactions.
  • Opt for healthy oils like soybean oil or canola oil.
  • Fortified foods such as eggs, yoghurt, juices, milk and soy beverages also have Omega-3

Recipe for Beetroot Fish

Fish is a great source of protein and Omega 3. Beetroot is a vegetable which many of us do not feel like eating on its own but it has immense health benefits. You can add beetroot in your curries to make them healthier and get the maximum benefit out of the vegetable.

Ingredients:

  • 250 gm Indian salmon (rohu, rawas, catla). Washed thoroughly.
  • ½ cup of beetroot – shredded
  • 1 small tomato chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ginger paste
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp panch phoran (mix of methi, saunf, zeera, kalaunji and sarson seeds)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Coat the fish pieces with little turmeric and salt and set it aside for a few minutes.
  • Fry the fish pieces in little mustard oil, until the fish is almost half cooked. (Do not deep fry in a lot of oil. Use very little oil in a non-stick vessel). Turn the sides of the fish to get it cooked evenly.
  • Pour 1 tbsp of mustard oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
  • Sprinkle the panch phoran and pour in the onions
  • When the onions start to brown, put the ginger paste and saute till the onions change colour.
  • Put the beetroot and mix well.
  • Put salt to taste
  • Put in the tomato and mix well.
  • When the beetroot is half cooked, put in the turmeric powder and coriander powder and mix.
  • Add 2 tbsps of water and let it cook covered for few minutes.
  • Now pour in the fish and add 2 cups water.
  • Cook, covered for 5 minutes and then remove the cover.
  • Select the consistency of the gravy that you want- either thinner or thicker.
  • Eat this with rice or chapati.

Recipe for Moong Dal and Paneer Chila

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup yellow moong dal (split yellow gram), soaked for 3 to 4 hours
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 2 pinches of sugar
  • 1 and ½  tsp green chilli paste
  • 8 tbsp crumbled low-fat paneer (cottage cheese)
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped coriander (dhania)
  • 1 tsp chaat masala
  • 1 tbsp besan (bengal gram flour)
  • 3 tsp oil for greasing and cooking

Method:

  • Combine the moong dal along with little water and blend in a mixer till smooth
  • Transfer it to a bowl, add the salt, asafoetida, sugar and green chilli paste and mix well.
  • Heat ¼ tsp of oil in a non-stick tava (griddle) and pour a ladleful of the batter and spread it evenly to make a thin round of approx. 125 mm. (5”).
  • Sprinkle 2 tbsp low-fat paneer, 1 tbsp coriander and ¼ tsp chaat masala and cook on a medium flame using ½ tsp of oil till they turn golden brown in colour from both the sides.
  • Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 3 more chilas.

(Courtesy: Tarla Dalal recipes)

The Third Trimester

In this trimester, the overall baby’s growth speeds up. This will increase your weight too but as long as you are eating healthy, you need not worry. Your baby builds layers of fat in these three months, thus your energy requirements will also increase. This trimester your food intake should have a good amount of Vitamin K and DHA is most important in the third trimester. Vitamin K is important for blood clots and will help post pregnancy. Iron continues to be an important nutrient.

  • Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, lettuce, turnips are all good sources of Vitamin K.
  • Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage are also rich in Vitamin K
  • Keep taking your daily dose of fish, lean meat, eggs but in moderation.
  • Cereals, whole wheat bread, multigrain bread should also be taken.
  • You can increase your DHA intake by consuming lamb and seaweed.

Recipe Mushroom and Spring onion soup

Raw mushrooms should be avoided during pregnancy but cooked mushrooms are great as they contain riboflavin which is essential for baby’s nerve and bone development.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups button mushrooms (khumb), sliced
  • 2 cups spring onions (hari pyaaz), sliced
  • Half tsp garlic (lehsun), finely chopped
  • Half tsp ginger (adrak), finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp spring onion (hari pyaaz) greens, chopped
  • One fourth tsp soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (kali mirch) powder
  • One fourth cup milk
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • Half tsp oil

Method:

  • In a pan, heat the oil and add in garlic and ginger and sauté till they turn golden brown and the raw smell goes away.
  • Add in the spring onions and sauté. Next put in the mushrooms and mix well. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add water as required and boil for five minutes. Now add in the soy sauce and salt. Cover with a lid and cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the flame and allow to cool. Blend the mixture to a creamy consistency and return to the pan. Put on the stove and heat on a low flame. Pour in the milk to get the desired consistency. Season with pepper and garnish with chopped spring onions and mushrooms. Serve hot.

(Courtesy: Archana’s kitchen)

Eating a variety of healthy food during your pregnancy will make you have a happy and healthy one. But your doctor will recommend taking supplements because at this time your body does need that extra support and boost. In the first trimester all pregnant women need to take supplements for folic acid. Doctors even prescribe supplements for iron and calcium but that depends on your health history and diet. Sometimes a Vitamin D supplement is also given to women who are deficient. Eat healthy, take your supplements and have a healthy pregnancy. If you follow this healthy diet plan for pregnant women, your pregnancy will be a healthy and smooth-sailing one. 

Also read: Dals: Amazing Benefits Of Different Kinds Of Lentils

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