With the nausea gone and the hunger pangs making their way – my second trimester was all about FOOD. Though I haven’t had any major cravings, I have experienced the occasional sweet craving and more recently, as I’ve entered my final trimester, the spicy cravings. Overall though, I think I have been very good with my diet and maintained good health throughout. My take on food during pregnancy (and please keep in mind I’m no expert) is to keep it simple – eating healthy is key!
You’re probably familiar with the popular concept of ‘eating for two’ – now before I find you elbow deep in a jar of Nutella – let me stress on how this statement cannot be taken literally. Eating during this time is about giving your body all the nutrients that it needs in order to fuel your little one’s growth.
Eating for two shouldn't be a license to binge eat unhealthy food all day.
Eating a well balanced diet will ensure steady growth and development of your little one and also ensure you remain healthy throughout – because let’s face it, being pregnant takes a toll on our bodies. Over the course of my pregnancy, I have listened religiously to my doctor and my family and also made sure to educate myself on different foods and their benefits from numerous online articles. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been following and that have worked for me for the past six months.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutrition expert. This article is compiled based on the things that have worked for me personally. I urge you to consult your doctor or your nutritionist before you try anything.
Eat small frequent meals – this has worked for me right from the first trimester. I would feel heavily nauseous and found that eating smaller frequent meals made me feel less like throwing up and I was able to hold my food in. It is a practice that I have continued to follow throughout my pregnancy.
The pros? Breaking up my meals through the day, allows me to refrain from indulging in unnecessary junk. It keeps me full but doesn’t make me uncomfortable. Setting an eating routine that works for you will ensure you meet all the nutritional needs of your pregnancy.
Stay Hydrated – SUPER IMPORTANT! You need to keep yourself hydrated at all times. Obviously drinking enough water is key but if you find that too bland and boring, mix it up with juices and milkshakes and also water-packed fruits like watermelons. I have a bottle of water with me wherever I go – even if I’m just at home. And I switch between fresh juices, fruits and milkshakes through the week.
Do not diet – This is not the time to diet. It could be harmful to both you and your baby – you will end up skipping on essential nutrients like iron, folic acid, minerals and vitamins that are all necessary for you during this time. Weight gain is one of the biggest positives of a healthy pregnancy. Having said that you do not need to go absolutely crazy with food. Eating well will ensure you put on the appropriate amount of weight. I discussed this with my doctor and she advised me heavily on positive weight gain.
Avoid packaged food – Stay away from processed, packaged and preserved foods as much as possible. They aren’t high in nutrient value and will not meet your dietary needs during this time. They may in fact cause acidity and discomfort. By this I mean be conscious of how much packaged food you consume – For example, I love a good cereal with milk for breakfast on Sundays. Instead of eating highly sugared and coloured cereals, I opted for museli in almond milk, both easily available. For sweetness I add a banana instead of sugar. It may be difficult to completely eliminate packaged foods from our diet, but its best to reduce your consumption to the minimal.
Limit caffeine – One of the hardest things I’ve had to do during my pregnancy was limiting my caffeine. I am someone that would require at least 3 cups of coffee a day! Unhealthy, I know! And I was told to immediately change this habit. While you are allowed the occasional hot cuppa coffee while pregnant, I decided to test my willpower and give it up. So far, it’s been 6 months without a single cup of coffee! If you can, then avoid aerated drinks too. I’ve read online that they aren’t healthy at all, especially during pregnancy. While some sites say you can have a glass here and there, most have recommended that you avoid it completely. Caffeine doesn’t have the best effects on your growing baby and that’s why it is recommended you opt for alternatives like decaffeinated teas or healthier drinks, 100% fresh juices, water with a squeeze of lemon, milkshakes or smoothies.
Some healthy foods you must add to your diet
(I am vegetarian, so everything mentioned is largely based on a vegetarian diet)
Trail mix: Make your own trail mix at home. Nuts are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals and are the perfect in between snack. Earlier in my pregnancy, when I was up and about town, I’d keep a little box of nuts and dry fruits in my purse. It was the perfect snack on the go. I mix walnuts, almonds, raisons, pistachio, cashews and seeds. They are rich in nutrients that fuel development and healthy growth of the fetus. Eat these in all your trimesters. While at home I make sure to keep a box of nuts in my room incase I get hungry in the day.
Curd and Buttermilk: They are rich in probiotics, Vit B and calcium, all good for your growing baby’s bones. I prefer to take mine with my meals.
Leafy green veggies: I can’t begin to tell you how important it is to be having your greens – they’re rich in some vital vitamins and are high in calcium, iron and folate all which contribute greatly to your growing baby.
Fruits: These are also a source of vitamins and add to keeping you hydrated. However, do consult your doctor about which fruits you should avoid and which you can have. I was made to stop eating papaya. I see that I eat two fruits everyday. One in the solid form and one in it’s juice form, with enough gap between the two.
Beans and Legumes: Consuming your chickpeas, lentils and pulses all add the much-needed folic acid and protein to your diet. So if you’ve been skipping on your daals, you might want to reconsider.
Quick snack ideas for the hungry mom
Hummus with veggie sticks: Hummus is actually very healthy as chickpeas are high in folic acid and protein. Eat with carrots and cucumber sticks.
Guacamole with veggie sticks: Avacados are rich in monosaturated fatty acids (healthy fats), Vitamins, antioxidants and folate which help the baby’s skin and brain development.
Veggie chilla (savory pancake): These protein rich chillas are a great meal or an evening mid meal. Make it with besan (gram flour), moong daal, rava or even oats – add loads of chopped veggies to the mix and voila!
Pizza: Craving a pizza? I’ve been replacing the base of my pizza with jowar or bajra homemade bases. Load with veggies of your choice and add a little (or a lot) of cheese. Yummy!
Banana peanut butter and chocolate smoothie: Mouth’s already watering, am I right? Well, this one is super easy to make and extremely tasty. Plus, it’s healthy and filling. All you need in one banana, a spoonful of peanut butter, a spoon of drinking chocolate powder (I use an unsweetened one), add a spoon of sugar if you need. I usually don’t because the banana and peanut butter is sweet enough for me and I like to avoid the refined sugar. Add milk – you could use whole milk. I prefer almond milk. You only need half a cup of milk (measure half of the cup you are using for your smoothie). Blend. All done!
Banana milkshake: This is fairly easy too. Follow the above recipe. Just eliminate the peanut-butter and chocolate powder.
Soups: I try to have soup 3 times a week. Broccoli, tomato, spinach and mixed veggie soups are some of my favourites.
A girl needs to snack: Craving chips, puffs and all that yummy junk? I have managed to replace it with healthy and super super yummy snacks from Hapup
. Their foods are made from natural millet mixes without any chemical preservatives or added sugar. They have a range of jowar and ragi chips and puffs, energy bars, khakras and powdered millet mixes - for which they share recipes on their page. Check them out for sure, thank me later.
I like to eat a hot breakfast, so dosa, chilla, oats, upma, poha are some of the things I would eat. I do eat bread but try to limit my intake.
Lunch and dinner are usually sabzi-roti-daal. But we do indulge in Thai, Mexican and other cuisines from time to time.
I am not really into cooking, but my family is very innovative with food, which is great because they whip up some amazing healthy and tasty meals.
There are also a ton of recipes online if you want to have a look or are craving something particular. We've spoken a lot about healthy eating here, but trust me, I do give in to the occasional (okay maybe a little more than just occasional) cravings of chips, dessert and other yummy treats.
Balancing your diet is all you need to focus on.
Okay, off for my next meal! Talk soon.
- Veronna D