What to Eat during Pregnancy for a Healthy Baby?: Indian Women’s Guide
Indian Diet for Healthy Pregnancy? We have created this mini-ebook just for you.
We have divided this guide for Indian pregnancy diet into two parts: Diet for Pure vegan Indian Women and Non-Vegan Indian Women. You will learn here foods lists, diet plan and tips for a healthy pregnancy.
This list of foods is for expectant mothers who want their baby to be healthy. Since every pregnant woman wants to give birth, to a baby with good health, this is why we have classified this list as the ‘Highly-Recommended-Pregnancy-Diet’. You will know here the less known yet very important facts about these healthy foods here.
Essential Nutrients for Healthy Pregnancy
Some of those nutrients are:
Helps in formation of baby’s skeleton. If not taken in sufficient amount, your bone’s calcium will be used in his skeleton formation. This way you become prone to prenatal fractures and postnatal back pain.
Will help in cell formation of your baby. This means it will help in the formation of your baby’s body. The world suffers from iron deficiency the most. Even you could suffer from maternal anemia if you won’t take iron packed food and Vitamin C rich foods for iron’s absorption. (Make sure you avoid eating Iron rich foods and Calcium rich foods together as they interfere in each other’s absorption)
Along with building the nervous system of the baby’s body. Vitamin A also in formation and development of his vital organs like heart, eyes, liver and kidney. (But remember over dose of Vit A is more harmful so your gynecologist may ask you to stop vit A supplements if you are taking any).
For baby’s healthy brain development. The Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of baby’s eyes, brain and nervous system.
This is the most important nutrient for you as helps prevent neural tube defects in babies, also some serious birth defects like spina bifida
Read more About Nutrients During Pregnancy: here.
We have made sure that the foods given below are rich in much needed and necessary nutrients during pregnancy for Indian Women
List of Must-Eat Foods when Pregnant for Healthy Baby
Here’s the list of food that will keep the baby healthy in the womb. Our pregnancy food list for Indian Women is divided into two:
o Vegetarian Pregnant Women’s Indian Diet
o Non-Vegetarian Pregnant Women’s Indian Diet
At the end of our Post, we will also tell you about the diet plan for you and the type of liquids that are safe to drink in pregnancy.
These Lists aren’t exclusive in nature. However, we have made sincere attempts to include all the safe and important foods to eat and liquids to drink in pregnancy.
List of Veg Foods for Indian Women During Pregnancy
Almonds – for Absorption of Pregnancy Food Nutrients
Almonds are rich in Biotin (Vitamin H). Biotin is said to metabolize (break down) the nutrients that we derived from food. Without chewing food you cannot swallow it. Likewise, our body cannot absorb the un-metabolized nutrients. What would be the point of eating so much of everything then?
Biotin is quite essential for both of you. Since biotin is a water-soluble vitamin and, the same doesn’t remain stored in our body. It gets all used up by the end of the day. Hence you should eat almonds daily.
Eat those almonds that are soaked overnight. Or you may upset your tummy. In the morning, remove its brown peel that makes the almond hard to digest.
You can even eat green almonds if you want. They are safe for pregnant women, no worries.
Milk – for Not Becoming Diabetic in Pregnancy
Milk is not only for building your baby’s bones and keeping your bones healthy. Its protects you from many other possible deficiencies and diseases.
Even your child can become diabetic at an early age if you suffer from gestational (pregnancy) diabetes. One of the common symptoms of pregnancy diabetes is feeling fatigue, almost all the time.
The placenta through which you supply nutrients to your baby, it produces a hormone named, placenta lactogen, that is anti-insulin in nature.
Insulin converts our blood’s glucose (sugar) into energy. When insulin production would be restricted by placenta lactogen, the sugar in your blood would indeed be on the rise.
Milk, along with providing you bone-forming calcium, also helps in increasing the level of insulin inside the body. Plus milk increases the breast milk’s supply.
Never consume any eatables that contain unpasteurized milk products like unpasteurized Milk Cream, Soft Serve Ice creams (popularly known as ‘Softies’), Cookies ,etc. For this, you should not forget to see the Ingredients List printed at the back side of a product’s package.
If you are lactose intolerant, you should drink up easy-to-digest goat’s milk.
To absorb calcium you should maintain the Vit D levels too. Vitamin deficiency is common in Indian pregnant women as your sun exposure time gets reduced during pregnancy. Make sure you step out for a walk during morning time and also have Mushrooms which are richest source of Vit D in foods.
Oatmeals- to Absorb Milk’s Calcium
A tree cannot absorb water without roots. The same way, milk’s calcium cannot be absorbed by our body without manganese. Without absorption of calcium, bone formation is not possible.
Go for rolled/curled oats instead of instant and steel-cut oats. Instant oats are a type of oat that is used in ready-to-eat oats packets. They are the one’s in which artificial flavors and additives are mixed. Steel cut oats probably take more time to cook.
Oatmeals can be cooked and eaten in many ways. You can eat oats Upma, roti, pasta, and bread made with oat flour. Oatmeals porridge can also be made.
To cook oats, add the same in cold water and then simmer it. This means you can boil the water and oats, simultaneously.
Curd & Yogurt for Easy Digestion in Pregnancy
Both curd and yogurt are made from milk, only difference yogurt is prepared with bacteria fermentation. The bacteria used in making yogurts are probiotics, in an easy language, they are good for you tummy. They can ease digestion process and can also kick out harmful intestinal bacteria.
But both curd and yogurt can provide protein to your growing baby.
Note: If you are lactose (milk sugar) intolerant, then go with yogurt.
See that, the curd /yogurt that you eat are made of pasteurized milk only.
Walnuts – for Baby’s Smart Brain
If you are a non-vegan you would find plenty of foods below to make your baby brain sharp. The problem arises with vegan people. You need not feel disappointed anymore. Omega 3 present in walnuts will make your future’s child intelligent.
Also, Vitamin E can safeguard you from pregnancy inflammations (i.e. swollen, red or aching body parts). The same Vitamin also assists in the absorption of fat in your body. If the fat is not absorbed by you then:
Your child might have low-birth weight, or;
He could suffer from malnutrition.
When you buy walnuts without shells see that its packet doesn’t have any traces of moisture inside.
When buying shelled walnuts, see that it’s shells is not stained and have weight.
Must Read: What to Eat during Pregnancy for an Intelligent Baby
Green Spinach for Baby’s DNA Protection
DNA damage can cause cancer. Free radicals in your body can impair your vulnerable baby’s DNA. Leaf coloring pigment, chlorophyll is an antioxidant. That is found in high amount in spinach. This is why spinach leaves are dark green in color. Spinach’s iron also helps in the production of blood, thus it is an energy-giver too.
Spinach should always be boiled before cooking, for removing the acid content in it. (Do not over boil to protect the nutrients)
The leaves of farm fresh spinach leaves are soft and not wilted.
They even have a plain clean surface with no scratches or holes.
Broccoli for Beauty Care in Pregnancy
Since we all know the blessing broccoli is a healthy choice for you and your baby. We will talk about something that is known by few.
When you are eating this much of healthy food both your skin and hair must be radiating. But its opposite happens with almost every pregnant woman. Both their skin and hair turns flaky and starts looking lifeless.
When pregnant the excess production of estrogen (hormone) in our body dries out your hair. This dryness in hair weakens our hair roots and hair follicles. Subsequently, you may face the loss of hair every day. Vitamin E of broccoli can inject moisture into your hair roots and hair follicles.
It can also give you fewer stretch marks after giving birth.
The florets of broccoli must be bound together. I.e. they must be intact.
Buy broccolis that are uniformly colored. Means it should either look light green or dark green in entirety.
If you see any yellowness, don’t buy it. Also, don’t spend money on those broccolis which have yellow flowers attached to it.
Steaming is the best way to cook broccoli.
Red Beetroot – for Rosy Health
Beetroots are rich in phytonutrient named, Belatin. The one which is capable of growing and developing our body tissues. Body tissue growth is important because the growth of our body cells depends upon it. Belatin helps in the renewal of body cells by replacing the damaged one with the new ones.
Buy beetroots that are small/medium-sized. Never buy mushy beets or the ones that have cuts/ bruises on its skin.
You can eat beetroots raw. But eat them in moderate quantity. After being cut, refrigerate it to avoid loss of nutrients.
The cooking methods that you should opt for cooking beets are either steaming or sautéing.
You can even apply the juice of red beetroots on your lips for making it look naturally red. A little beauty care in pregnancy won’t do any harm to you, would it?
Avocado – for body’s center of life
Avocado lowers the bad cholesterols (LDL) in our body. The increase in LDL can cause heart attacks too. The rise in cholesterol is natural during pregnancy but women, who already have high cholesterol, might face problems.
Avocado is loaded with Vitamins and Minerals. Most importantly it contains folate which is very crucial nutrient for you in pregnancy. Avocado will help in healthy neural development of baby
The soft and smooth avocados are the ripe ones.
Try eating the avocados without removing its dark green peel. And eat them raw. For this better slice them thinly.
The peels of the avocados are full of antioxidants, which removes the cancerous, free radicals from our body. Even free radicals can block the arteries of our heart. Thereby causing its failure.
Raggi for Blood Transportation
Copper rich and gluten-free Raggi (Finger Millets) helps in the formation of blood vessels of your baby. The heart is only the distributor of blood and blood vessels are the carriers of our blood.
Copper helps in the formation of Red Blood Cells (RBC’s), responsible for production of hemoglobin.
Not only this. Up to 14 percent, Raggi is said to contain more protein than rice.
Raggi is said to be the least allergic cereal. But, it is also to be less digestible. So for its easy digestion, you can soak it in water for 7-24 hours.
Raggi Gruel is tasty and easy to digest. Roast sprouted->Powdered Raggi->Add pure ghee, add cumin powder, hing and salt and make gruel/soup.
Figs – for Metabolism of Nutrients
Anjeer is the Indian word for Figs. You can buy and eat fresh fig fruits. But in India, mainly dried figs are found. The probiotics found in figs can flush out the toxins in your gut.
Another interesting fact is that, Figs are said to contain potassium more than bananas.
Vitamin B6 of figs is responsible for converting carbohydrate into energy. Likewise, all the protein-rich foods that you will eat every day in your pregnancy, their metabolism is also necessary for the growth of your baby’s body and brain.
Try not to buy loose or figs kept in open. On buying pre-packaged figs, strictly keep them away from moisture. Store them in airtight conditioners.
Pomegranate – for Comfort in Pregnancy
Pregnancy could be a difficult phase for some. They are those set of people who think that weakness, laziness, and back aches ,etc. are common pregnancy problems. But that’s not so…
For making pregnancy a beautiful phase of your life, you should eat the pomegranate. For they are capable of relieving you from body aches, weakness, low weight, and pregnancy cramps etc. All this is possible due to Potassium which is present at a very high percentage in pomegranates.
A non-deseeded fresh pomegranate would have some weight. Its skin would firm (note, not dry).
The seeds pomegranate must be stored in an airtight plastic bag to retain its freshness.
Read about Fruits to Eat to During Pregnancy
Cooked Sprouted Lentils – for Maternal Anemia
The reason we have emphasized that you should eat only cooked sprouted lentils is that-
Heat destroys the body-harming microbes in fresh raw sprouts.
Lentils are very good source of molybdenum. And sprouting kind of, awaken the nutrients present in it. Molybdenum catalyzes the level of iron inside our body, by facilitating iron metabolism.
So instead of taking all those serious-looking, bitter tasting pills and syrups, you can simply eat molybdenum packed sprouted lentils.
You should always stir-fry sprouted lentils.
Lentils need not be soaked overnight.
Most recommended of all lentils for you are the sprouted Moong beans. Sprouted Moon beans stir fry everyday one bowl at morning! It is one of very popular Breakfast Item for Indian Pregnant women
Whole Wheat for Trouble Less Pregnancy
During pregnancy, you body starts producing estrogen more than before. This is to enlarge your breast’s size so that milk ducts gets fully formed in it. But, accelerated metabolism of estrogen can put you at risk. This risk is in the form of breast cancer.
Whole Wheat is one of the highest dietary fiber rich foods, which aids easy digestion in pregnancy. Since you have to eat a bit extra in your pregnancy, your gut might get upset due to this suddenly increased intake of food. This way Dietary fiber is said to relieve you from pregnancy’s constipation and restlessness too.
Why whole wheat?
A whole wheat contains both the bran (outer brown layer of wheat) and germ (embryo of a wheat grain).
Try to use sprouted wheat atta, as sprouting makes the grain healthier and easier to digest.
Carrots for Protection from Environmental Pollution
You must have heard a zillion time that, carrots are good for eyes. Of course, they are. But the beta-carotene rich carrots can also provide protection to pregnant women from environmental pollution.
Want to know how?
Beta-carotenes are a type of phytonutrients (i.e. nutrients derived from the plant). We all have been studying since childhood that, “Plant trees, for they purify our air.”
Plants perform this function with the help of beta-carotene only. When the same is consumed by humans, beta-carotene inside our body doesn’t let the environment pollutants, harm us.
Feeling guilty of eating fried food in pregnancy?
To detoxify the carcinogens (known to cause cancer) that are commonly found in fried food, up to certain extent. You can gorge on carrots.
Bell Peppers for Baby’s Eyes Immunity
Having sharp eyesight doesn’t mean having healthy eyes. To protect your baby from certain eye diseases and from the UV rays of the sun, you should be eating Red and Yellow Bell Peppers. They both are rich in antioxidants and carotenoids (the same nutrient found in carrots). Bell peppers are also rich in Vitamin C and help you improve immunity.
The nutrients of capsicum are heat-sensitive. Hence you should always cook them on low heat.
Orange for Immunity and Stronger Bones
The calcium of milk just helps in the formation of bones. But to keep those bones safe in place, to avoid fractures and sprains, and to heal the same, you will need Orange’s Vitamin C.
Our human body gets its shape, through connective tissues. These connective tissues are our bones, tendons, and ligaments. Vitamin C of Orange produces collagen. Collagen works like an adhesive and keeps them joined together. Our tendons and ligaments are made of collagen only.
Those oranges must be bought that have a slight tinge of green color on their peel.
Juice the orange in room temperature, then also you would be able to extract more orange juice. Hence instead of storing it inside a freeze. Store them outside in a fruit basket or something.
Before eating or juicing the orange, only a few people tend to wash it. You must know that even its peel might contain germs. Or else it can get in touch with the fruit, through your hands.
Sweet Potatoes preventing bitter CNS defects
CNS means Central Nervous System. Our brain and spinal cord are the two main parts of our body’s CNS. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene the same is helpful in improving our eyesight.
Our body converts beta-carotene into Vitamin A. Deficiency of Vitamin A in babies can affect their ability to think, understand, memorize and other bodily functions.
Eat the sweet potato with its skin. Because its peel is full of antioxidants. It is also said to be anti-cancerous.
Sweet Potatoes can even be baked or roasted but you should know that steamed (not boiled) sweet potatoes are packed with more nutrients and flavor too.
Add the cut slices of sweet potatoes in a pot only after the water is boiled. Don’t boil the water and the sweet potatoes together.
Tips for Vegan Pregnant Women
Cook the vegetables in pressure cookers, as the pressure cooking method preserves more nutrients of the veggies in comparison to boiling.
Soak the fruits in lukewarm water for about 30-45 minutes before eating them raw.
Try buying the seasonal fruits and veggies only. This means in winter, don’t try eating watermelon (fruits mainly eaten during summers). Seasonal fruits and vegetables are fresh.
Try finding a vegetable and fruit vendor in your city, who sells organic produce.
Avoid eating canned and ready-to-eat foods.
List of Non-Veg Foods for Indian Women During Pregnancy
Chicken Protein for Body Cells Development
Human body parts are composed of living cells only. To form your baby’s fingers, head, hands, and legs etc. protein supply is necessary. Deficiency of protein can retard baby’s growth, can weaken his immune system, can reduce oxygen’s supply through blood and might result in birth defects too.
You should eat Lean Chicken that is skinless chicken.
Never eat the liver of chicken and other animals. Livers are high in retinol that can cause birth defects.
Prefer having baked/boiled chicken and not fried chicken. The muscles of chicken when fried produce cancer-causing carcinogens.
Fresh chicken meat would be soft, instead of being stiff.
Fresh chicken would be pinkish in color. Its flesh would shine and would have no foul smell.
Under our special Section “Right Way to buy Freeze Food in Pregnancy”, given at the bottom of our post. You will find the right ways to buy, store and cook the frozen chicken and other meats.
Low-mercury Fish for High-Brain Power
Is fish safe to eat when pregnant? Our answer for this question, would be both Yes and No. Our ‘Yes’ is for low-mercury fishes, while our ‘No’ is for high mercury fishes’. The reason mercury is dangerous for mothers-to-be is that:
Mercury might deteriorate your baby’s nervous system.
Avoid eating Sushi when pregnant as it may contain raw fish slices. Some low-mercury that can be found in India are – Catfish, Cod, Salmon (Ravas), and Anchovies. All these fishes must be cooked properly.
Though the above fishes are full of Omega-3 fatty acids which help in the growth of brain cells. You should not eat these fishes for more than two portions per week. This means in a week, you must not eat fishes more than two times a week.
You should not take pregnancy supplements that contain, fish liver oil. As said earlier, a liver is high in retinol and can prove to be bad for babies.
Avoid frying the fish as then the fish muscles may emit carcinogens. Just a reminder, carcinogens are cancer causing elements.
Eat a variety of low-mercury fishes. This means one week you could eat salmon (Rawas), then next week you could switch to anchovies.
Fresh fish scales are intact. Their eyes are bright and a bit bulged out. Also, their gills are red in color.
Their skin/ scales are shiny but without much slime on it.
Fish with very strong odor is definitely not fresh. Avoid that too.
Shellfish for Eyes like Hawk
You can gift sharp vision and brain to your baby by eating certain shellfishes. The major shellfishes that are safe to eat during pregnancy are:
o Shrimps & Prawns
o Squid (Calamari)
o Scallops and;
All of these foods must be properly COOKED. Never eat raw oysters in pregnancy.
Hence to be self-assured, it will be a wise choice to cook shellfishes at home. If so then you must know that:
o Fresh Oysters, Clams, and Scallops would feel heavy on hand. Also, their shells would be tightly closed and moist.
o Fresh Squids look wholesome (not deflated), they smell fresh, and their eyes shine too. The fresh ones are moist and have whitish in color and have yellow-brown spots. While the un-fresh ones are pinkish in color.
o The shells of fresh Crabs, Shrimps, Prawns and Lobsters would be firm, glossy, moist and bright in color. Also, its body would be less slimy and less smelly. Even their eyes should be glossy.
Egg Whites for Brain’s Right
Will help in [baby’s brain development] as it is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, this is one of the nutrients which are used in many health drinks too. The choline in eggs would also protect your child from various mental illnesses. The same choline can also be derived from eating cooked oysters and cod fish.
Has anybody told you that you should not eat Uncooked and slightly cooked Eggs when pregnant? Like these, there are few more [foods to avoid during pregnancy]http://www.gomama247.com/diet-plan-during-pregnancy-for-indian-moms/ .
If you have a high cholesterol problem, then avoid egg’s yolk. You could eat wholesome brown eggs, which have less cholesterol.
Always try eating hard-boiled and fully-cooked eggs. This would destroy all the food-borne pathogens.
Never eat such things where raw eggs has been used like- Tiramisu, Mayonnaise, Cake Batter, Ice cream containing eggs and Cookie Dough ,etc
Tips for Non-Vegan Pregnant Women
When pregnant you should be cooking the non-vegan food the following way:
After handling raw eggs, chicken, fish, and shellfish always wash your hands and utensils properly.
Prefer cleaning those utensils with warm soapy water.
Use kitchen paper rolls instead of a sponge for drying the same. As sponge remains full of bacteria after initial use.
Prefer keeping separate chopping boards, knives, and utensils for cooking and eating non-vegan foods.
Avoid eating canned and ready-to-eat food.
Right Way of Buying Freezer Food in Pregnancy
When buying frozen seafood, vegetables, fish, chicken etc. ask the attendant about the temperature of the freezer. The food frozen at 0 degrees Fahrenheit/-18 degree Celsius or lower tends to have long shelf life (in months).
While food frozen at 40 degrees Fahrenheit/ 4 degree Celsius or lower tends to have short shelf life.
Never forget to check the ‘Best before’ date while purchasing frozen food.
If you would exceed that time limit, then Listeria bacteria can grow even in your refrigerated food. Listeria is a bacterium that might have adverse effects on your baby’s immunity system.
When you buy a frozen food, and then on your way back home keep them in a cold bag. Try reaching home within 60 minutes. Hence shop them at the last of your shopping spree. If it would be kept out, for more than 60 minutes, bacteria can grow on it.
Then on reaching home, you could set your freezer’s temperature at which your food was frozen earlier.
For thawing food, keep the packet of the food in cold water. Then the food can get defrosted in about 30-60 minutes. Start cooking the food immediately after that.
If you will thaw food by moving it from freezer to your fridge, then it will take 2-3 days to defrost.
If you have raw chicken, seafood, fish etc. then you should keep the raw meat wrapped in double plastic bags. So that juice of raw meat doesn’t come in contact with other foods.
Try buying freshly frozen seafood and fishes. Means soon as it was caught, it was frozen.
Never buy frozen food that has freezer burns i.e. excess ice crystals.
List of Safe Liquids to Drink during Pregnancy
Water is irreplaceable. During pregnancy try not to feel thirsty because that would mean you are dehydrated. Remember this thumb rule that, “Thirst is not good.”
Pregnant women should avoid being dehydrated. Ample of water would keep pregnancy troubles at bay, like:
o Body Ache
o Headache and;
o Nausea ,etc.
On weekends or whenever you get bored with drinking water. Keep distance from caffeinated or carbonated drinks and drink things like:
o Fresh Coconut Water
o Kokum Sherbet
o Lassi and
o Butter Milk ,etc.
Want to know, what lies beyond the ‘etc.’, above? Check our recommended, 6 Best Alternative to Caffeine in Pregnancy
A Perfect Diet Plan For Indian Pregnant Women
For proper absorption of all nutrients of all above healthy foods in your body, the timing and frequency of meals is also very important.
You should avoid heavy and few meals instead have short meals frequently over day time to let your body digest it slowly.
So you should have some light snacks before lunch and after morning breakfast and also one fruit yogurt salad/soup/gruels kind of foods at late afternoon snacks
Know here: “Diet Plan for Indian Pregnant Women”
Not Feeling Like Eating Solid Foods in Pregnancy?: Have Gruels
Most of Indian Pregnant women stop eating solid meals during early pregnancy due to nausea and heart burning? Are you one of them? Don’t worry.
The Gruels (We call it as ‘Pej’ in Marathi, ‘Kanji’ in Hindi).
Multigrain gruel is the best way to have your solids in soupy form. Make sure you add all healthy ingredients and do not just rely on them to fulfill your daily nutritional requirements.
Know here more about Gruels/Pej/Kanji for Healthy Pregnancy
Earlier Indian pregnant Women thought that it is always good to eat more, to satisfy one’s pregnancy cravings. Only thing is, in this process, many women gulp down their favorite bread pakoda and other such junk foods. You make the monthly grocery list so that you don’t forget any essentials to buy. Similarly, we made this pregnancy food list so that you don’t forget to eat any of these essential foods for a healthy baby and for maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy. New moms, What were/is the healthy ‘MUST eat’ foods during your pregnancy? Share with us below. We want to see what we missed out.