Articles on nutrition and pregnancy

Your Nutrition Checklist During Pregnancy

Ms. Harpreet Pasricha, Dietitian/Nutritionist
IF YOU'RE LIKE MANY pregnant women, you vowed to eat healthier the minute you found out you were expecting. You may even have started making a mental list of nutritional do's and don'ts: Eat more calcium-rich foods, get more protein, cut out the caffeine and junk foods.The Good thing: Developing healthy eating habits will set the stage for your baby to grow into a strong child and adult, as well as ultimately reduce his risk for certain diseases. There is no doubt that there are plenty of things to think about over the coming months. One thing to get started on straight away is to make good food choices that will help both you and your baby.Are you eating well? What exactly should you eat? What should you avoid and why? Here are some facts and tips for the different types of food to watch out for during this very special time-Firstly you need to eat more of certain foods. Some people see pregnancy as an opportunity to eat freely. After all, you are going to put on 10-12 kg at least that is the expected weight gain for a healthy pregnancy. However, pregnancy is a risk period for the development of obesity and it is always more difficult to lose weight than gain it. Getting the balance right and eating well now is important for the health of the baby as well as the mother.Eating regular meals and a wide variety of food is the definition of 'eating well'. It really is that simple. It also means making time for yourself and eating at least three meals each day.Snacking between meals will be very helpful for those who experience fatigue during the day. Fruit, yoghurt, crackers and buttermilk, is the type of snack that is recommended.A cup of coffee and a chocolate bar, however, is not recommended. It is energy you need as opposed to feeling awake. No more than two cups of coffee per day is recommended during pregnancy.Which foods should I eat more of?You should eat more of the following foods in the second half of your pregnancy:Calcium rich food: Your baby’s teeth will begin to develop as early as the sixth week of pregnancy and calcium is also needed for bone development. Milk, cottage cheese and yoghurt are the best sources of calcium. Some examples of calcium-rich foods are milk on cereal, a glass of milk, a cheese sandwich, all types of yoghurt, and milkshake. Calcium is also found in the soft bones in fish, in broccoli, cabbage and spinach.Iron rich foods: Iron is needed for the growth of your baby’s brain. As you go through pregnancy your baby will build up a store of iron which will last until they reach six months. 75% of women do not eat enough iron. The best dietary source is lean red meat and you should aim to eat it 3-4 times a week. Fortified breakfast cereals, beans, eggs, apricots, prunes, figs, spinach and broccoli also contain iron but you also need a good supply of vitamin C to make use of the iron.Vitamin C Rich Foods: Vitamin C rich foods include gooseberries, guavas, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, limes, kiwi, blackcurrants, mangoes and nectarines. Any drink made from these fruits is also high is vitamin C. Potatoes are also a reasonably good source. The need for vitamin C increases by 33% during pregnancy. Choose two of the foods listed above to meet your daily Vitamin C requirements.Oily Fish: Mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines and kippers contain oil which is essential for the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. Aim to eat oily fish 2-3 times a week.Drink plenty of liquids: Drink at least eight glasses of water daily to help prevent dehydration. Without enough water, many of our regular body functions can't take place, including cell respiration, digestion and absorption of nutrients.Foods to be avoidedPeanuts: These are a possible allergen.Unwashed fruit and vegetables Take extra care when eating out and only choose cooked fruit and vegetables.Liver: It may contain too much vitamin A.Raw eggs: Ensure the yolk and white are solid when having a boiled or fried egg and avoid homemade mayonnaise.Undercooked meat: Even cooked until pink is not cooked enough.Unpasteurized milk and milk products such as cheese and yoghurt.Alcohol: The balance of evidence suggests that drinking alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy, alcohol while pregnant; even small amounts have been linked to serious birth defects.DON'T fill up on empty calories. Candy, cake, cookies and ice cream definitely don't count as double-duty, nutrient-rich foods. It's OK to have them during pregnancy but in moderation. Limit these foods to thrice a week, you won’t feel deprived and you also won't overeat.DO remember that you're not really eating for two while you are pregnant.What about folic acid?Folate is a folic acid supplement available from your pharmacy. It contains 400 micrograms of folic acid and should ideally be taken three months prior to conception and up until the twelfth week of pregnancy. It aids the vital development of your baby’s spine and brain, thereby preventing the conditions spina bifida and anencephaly (jointly known as Neural Tube Defects or NTD).Some foods are fortified with folic acid and will help to increase the high intake required during pregnancy. These include bread, breakfast cereal and milk supplemented with folic acid.To avoid constipationA lot of pregnant women suffers from the problem of constipation. To avoid constipation:Choose high fibre foods such as whole wheat or wholegrain breakfast cereal, wholegrain bread, pasta and rice.Fruit and vegetables are also an excellent source of fibre. Aim to eat four or more pieces a day. In practical terms, this means eating at least one portion of fruit or vegetables at each meal and then one more in between meals.Eight to 10 glasses of water each day is also vital to help avoid constipation

Nutritional Facts and Myths During Pregnancy

Ms. Raminder Kaur Deshmukh, Dietitian/Nutritionist
So you are expecting? Enjoy the  wild rage of raging hormones, crazy cravings and body changes that are about to begin. As if you did not have enough you are also going to be bombarded with a ton of conflicting and unsolicited advice, much involves what you put in your mouth.MYTHS AND FACTS:1. MYTH: You should eat for twoFACT: It is true that nutrient needs increase but energy requirement only whereas by 150  calories for 1st trimester per day and 350 calories per day for second trimester and third trimester.2. MYTH: Eating kesar will give a fair complexion to the child.FACT: Genes play role in determining complexion of the baby. Eating kesar is not going to determine it.3. MYTH: High-fat diet will keep the baby healthy.FACT: No doubt fat is essential for the body but the problem is that sometimes one consumes fat in excess. So keep control over it.4. MYTH: You should not eat fish.FACT: There is nothing fishy about fish during pregnancy but yes it should have low levels of mercury like catfish, salmon. oysters, shrimps and crab well cooked can also be a source of proteins for the mom to be.5. MYTH: I am having supplements so there is no need to change dietary changes.FACT: During pregnancy the nutrient requirement of certain nutrients especially calcium, iron, folic acid increases. So it calls for dietary modification even if you are swallowing various supplements prescribed by your doctor. Increased intake of milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables, dals, nuts will ensure that your body is not deficient as well as form the basis of strong bones and a healthy weight of fetus.

Tips for a Safe Pregnancy and Post Pregnancy Care

Dr. Sonica Chugh, Gynecologist/Obstetrician
Carrying your baby in your womb is the most beautiful experience and a precious period that a mother can enjoy in her life time. Concern for your baby’s health, well being and one’s own health is key to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.Diet during Pregnancy:Good nutrition during pregnancy ensures your baby gets the right start. Small, frequent and healthy meals containing folate, iron, calcium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acid should be taken. Plenty of water in between the meals is good for you and your baby. You don’t need to eat for two, rather your calorie intake during first six months should be more or less the same (pre pregnancy state), while increase in only 200 calorie/day during the last three months is recommended.Working women can take nuts and fruit salads as mid meal snacks and homemade lunch instead of going out to the mall or restaurant for lunch. Road travel of any kind is safe, provided, you are careful of bumpy roads and unruly traffic. You have to be more careful if there is associated high blood pressure, diabetes or history of previous premature delivery.Exercise, Meditation and Yoga:Pregnancy is not a time to start a rigorous regime or to gain or lose weight. A normal walk of 20-30 minutes without getting exhausted will help. Deep breathing exercises in fresh air are recommended. Yoga should also be a part of your life as it relaxes and calms you and your baby throughout the pregnancy. This also relieves tension and also builds up stamina by increasing circulation which enhances immunity and health. Light kegels exercises (Pelvic floor exercises) prepare you for easy child birth and labour management. Post Pregnancy Care: First 40 days are meant for you to recuperate, gain strength and bond with your baby. Resting and eating well is important during this time. Although rest may not be easy for you and with the newborn baby as you have to feed every two hours and change diapers frequently. Your mum, mum-in-law or trained maids can be of help during this period.Breastfeed exclusively for six months. You need to have a good diet during pregnancy (calories intake would increase to 330 calories/day). Therefore immediate and fast weight reduction should not be targeted. Eating healthy food will only reduce weight sensibly.Opt for moderate intensity physical activity, walk for 25-30 minutes, do abs exercise, pelvic floor exercise and stretching without resuming high impact activity post delivery. If your delivery has been uncomplicated it will help your body regain its normal strength. Gentle body massage will also help you and your baby. Do not resume your normal working routine or a heavy gym schedule immediately after delivery.

Pregnancy Diet: Things You Need to Know!

Dr. M.L.Kothari, Pediatrician
Foods to eatDuring pregnancy, the goal is to be eating nutritious foods most of the time, Krieger told Live Science. To maximize prenatal nutrition, she advises emphasizing the following five food groups: fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and dairy products. When counseling pregnant women, Krieger recommends they fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of it with whole grains and a quarter of it with a source of lean protein, and to also have a dairy product at every meal. Fruits and vegetables: Pregnant women should focus on fruits and vegetables, particularly during the second and third trimesters, Krieger said. Get between five and 10 "tennis ball"-size servings of produce every day, she said. These colorful foods are low in calories and filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Lean protein: Pregnant women should include good protein sources at every meal to support the baby's growth, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, cheese, milk and nuts, Krieger said. Whole grains are an important source of energy in the diet, and they also provide fiber, iron and B-vitamins. At least half of a pregnant woman's carbohydrate choices each day should come from whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta or breads and brown rice, Krieger said. Dairy: Aim for 3 to 4 servings of dairy foods a day, Krieger suggested, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, which provide good dietary sources of calcium, protein and vitamin D. In addition to a healthy diet, pregnant women also need a daily prenatal vitamin to obtain some of the nutrients that are hard to get from foods alone, such as folic acid and iron, according to ACOG. For women who take chewable prenatal vitamins, Krieger advised checking the product labels because chewables might not have sufficient iron levels in them.Foods to avoidAlcohol: Avoid alcohol during pregnancy, Krieger advised. Alcohol in the mother's blood can pass directly to the baby through the umbilical cord. Heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy has been linked with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, a group of conditions that can include physical problems, as well as learning and behavioral difficulties in babies and children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Fish with high levels of mercury: Seafood such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish are high in levels of methyl mercury, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and should be avoided. Methyl mercury is a toxic chemical that can pass through the placenta and can be harmful to an unborn baby's developing brain, kidneys and nervous system. Unpasteurized food: According to the USDA, pregnant women are at high risk of getting sick from two different types of food poisoning: listeriosis, caused by the Listeriabacteria, and toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite.The CDC reports that Listeria infection may cause miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, and illness or death in newborns. To avoid listeriosis, the USDA recommends forgoing the following foods during pregnancy: Unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it, such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, queso blanco and queso fresco. Pasteurization involves heating a product to a high temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Hot dogs, luncheon meats and cold cuts unless heated before eating to kill any bacteria. Store-bought deli salads, such as ham salad, chicken salad, tuna salad and seafood salad. Unpasteurized refrigerated meat spreads or pates.Raw meat: A mother can pass a Toxoplasma infection on to her baby, which can cause problems such as blindness and mental disability later in life, reports the CDC. To avoid toxoplasmosis, the USDA recommends avoiding the following foods during pregnancy: Rare, raw or undercooked meats and poultry. Raw fish, such as sushi, sashimi, ceviches and carpaccio.Raw and undercooked shellfish, such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops.Some foods may increase a pregnant woman's risk for other types of food poisoning, including illness caused by salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Foodsafety.gov lists these foods to avoid during pregnancy, and why they pose a threat. Raw or undercooked eggs, such as soft-cooked, runny or poached eggs. Foods containing undercooked eggs, such as raw cookie dough or cake batter, tiramisu, chocolate mousse, homemade ice cream, homemade eggnog, Hollandaise sauce. Raw or undercooked sprouts, such as alfalfa, clover. Unpasteurized juice or cider.Pregnancy diet misconceptions:Morning sickness: When a mother-to-be is experiencing morning sickness, the biggest mistake she can make is thinking that if she doesn't eat, she'll feel better, Krieger said. The exact causes of morning sickness are not known, but it may be caused by hormonal changes or lower blood sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can bring on waves of nausea and vomiting in some women, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. And "it's definitely not happening only in the morning," Krieger said. "It's any time of day." It's better to eat small amounts of foods that don't have an odor, since smells can also upset the stomach, she suggested.Food cravingsIt is common for women to develop a sudden urge or a strong dislike for a food during pregnancy. Some common cravings are for sweets, salty foods, red meat or fluids, Krieger said. Often, a craving is a body's way of saying it needs a specific nutrient, such as more protein or additional liquids to quench a thirst, rather than a particular food, she said. Eating for twoWhen people say that a pregnant woman is "eating for two," it doesn't mean she needs to consume twice as much food or double her calories." A woman is not eating for two during her first trimester," Krieger said. During the first three months, Krieger tells women that their calorie needs are basically the same as they were before pregnancy, because weight gain is recommended to be between 1 and 4 pounds in this early stage of pregnancy. Krieger typically advises pregnant women to add 200 calories to their usual dietary intake during the second trimester, and to add 300 calories during their third trimester when the baby is growing quickly. Weight gain during pregnancy, "Weight gain during pregnancy often has an ebb and a flow over the nine months," Krieger said. It's hard to measure where pregnancy weight is going, she said, adding that a scale does not reveal whether the pounds are going to a woman's body fat, baby weight or fluid gains. When it comes to pregnancy weight gain, Krieger advises mothers-to-be to look at the big picture: During regular prenatal checkups, focus on that the baby is growing normally rather than worrying about the number on a scale. The total number of calories needed per day during pregnancy depends on a woman's height, her weight before becoming pregnant, and how active she is on a daily basis. In general, underweight women need more calories during pregnancy; overweight and obese women need fewer of them. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) guidelines for total weight gain during a full-term pregnancy recommend that: Underweight women, who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 18.5, should gain 28 to 40 lbs. (12.7 to 18 kilograms). Normal weight women, who have a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, should gain 25 to 35 lbs. (11.3 to 15.8 kg). Overweight women, who have a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9, should gain 15 to 25 lbs. (6.8 to 11.3 kg).Obese women, who have a BMI of 30.0 and above, should gain 11 to 20 lbs. (5 to 9 kg). Rate of weight gain: The IOM guidelines suggest that pregnant women gain between 1 and 4.5 lbs. (0.45 to 2 kg) total during their first trimester of pregnancy. The guidelines recommend that underweight and normal-weight women gain, on an average, about 1 pound every week during their second and third trimesters of pregnancy, and that overweight and obese women gain about half a pound every week in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Twins: The IOM guidelines for pregnancy weight gain when a woman is having twins are as follows:Normal weight: 37 to 54 lbs. (16.7 to 24.5 kg). Overweight: 31 to 50 lbs. (14 to 22.6 kg). Obese: 25 to 42 lbs. (11.3 to 19 kg). This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.

Pregnancy and You – a Guide to Healthy Eating

Dr. Devjani Das (Ganguly), Gynecologist/Obstetrician
Pregnancy is a normal physiological journey through motherhood. In the absence of any complications, apart from some screening tests and monitoring of the general health of mother and baby, little else needs to be done in managing this condition. Majority of pregnancies are uncomplicated, and have a happy ending with the delivery of a healthy baby.It is nevertheless important to optimise a mother’s health during pregnancy, as this has a direct bearing on the baby’s health and wellbeing. This can be achieved by some simple measures, and watching what you eat is one of them. Keeping yourself hydrated with a good fluid intake, at least two litres a day, eating abundant dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, fish, red meat and milk, would help your pregnancy. Folic acid supplementation in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy helps to prevent abnormalities of brain and spinal cord.It is also important to know what foods to avoid in pregnancy.High doses of vitamin A can be harmful for the baby. Therefore vitamin A supplementation, and consuming liver and liver products in pregnancy should be avoided.Infections transmitted through food can be avoided by avoiding consumption of unpasteurised milk, soft cheese, pate, uncooked or undercooked ready meals. Raw, half-boiled, and partially cooked eggs, mayonnaise; raw or partially cooked meat and poultry should also be avoided. Prescribed and over the counter medications should only be used if benefits outweigh risks, as the safety profile of many such medicines in pregnancy, is yet to be established. Therefore watching what you choose to eat can have a significant impact on your pregnancy and its outcome. As Asian women, we are also susceptible to developing diabetes in pregnancy, therefore avoiding excess of high calorie food such as chocolates, chips, fizzy drinks, may also be helpful.So here’s wishing you a Happy Women’s Day, and a safe and happy journey through pregnancy and motherhood.

Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
What’s that on the telly? It’s an angel sent from GodGrowing in my belly…!!Like a sweet pea in a pod(Malissa  Hatcher)Even though everyone will advise you to eat for two, the average woman does not need any extra calories during the first six months of pregnancy. Your body actually becomes more efficient at extracting the required energy and nutrients from your diet when you're expecting a baby. Even in the last few months, you only need about 200 extra calories per day.Many vegetarian pregnant women worry about the effect their diet may have on their developing baby during pregnancy. However, with careful meal planning, there may be no need for concern."Vegetarian pregnancy diet can provide the mother and baby with all the proper nutrients they need," says Rachele Dependahl, RD, a dietitian at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, Calif.These nine months may be the most challenging months of your life. With your body undergoing a number of changes, you need to be extra careful about yourself as well as your surroundings. And watching your vegetarian pregnancy diet should be on top of your top list.The Pros of  Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet -There are many positive aspects to maintaining a vegetarian diet during pregnancy. For instance, vegetarian sources of protein are easier on the kidneys. And being a vegetarian can help keep tooth decay — a common problem during pregnancy — at bay. In addition, vegetarian eating, in general, lowers the risk of the following conditions:- Obesity- Hypertension- Constipation- Heart disease- Type 2 diabetes- Cancer- GallstonesAnother plus to being a vegetarian, says Martha K. Grodrian, RD, a nutrition therapist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, is that "most vegetarian women eat fewer junk foods and a more nutritious diet."The Cons Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet -A vegetarian diet during pregnancy can be a healthy option, though it requires a little more effort."It may take more work and effective meal planning to follow a vegetarian diet that is healthy during pregnancy," says Grodrian. In general, the more foods a vegetarian omits from the diet, the more difficult it is to meet nutrient needs." However, dietary supplements may be able to fill the void.A lacto-ovo vegetarian (one who also eats dairy and eggs) can get all the nutrients she needs for a healthy pregnancy through diet and a multivitamin/mineral supplements. A vegan, on the other hand, who avoids all animal products, will need to take supplements of vitamin B12 and iron and might want to take calcium, zinc, and vitamin D, too.Vegetarian Pregnancy Diet - Nutritional GuidelinesNutritional guidelines for pregnant vegetarians are the same as for non-vegetarian women who are expecting. "All pregnant women need additional iron, calcium, folate, essential fatty acids such as DHA (which can be obtained in a vegetarian form), zinc, protein, and 200 to 300 calories more than pre-pregnancy," says Grodrian.Specifically, vegetarian pregnancy diet should include  the following:- Six to eleven  servings per day of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta (choosing whole grain when possible)- Four to five servings per day of vegetables. Four or more servings of fruits- Eight servings of milk and milk alternatives (one cup of cooked kidney beans as a milk alternative, for instance).- Three to four servings of beans and bean alternatives.- Two servings of omega-3 fats for DHA (found in flax-seed oil, walnuts, tofu, and omega-3 fortified eggs, among other places).- Fats, sweets, and junk food should be eaten sparinglyPregnant women should be careful to avoid the following foods:- Unpasteurized soft cheeses (such as brie, Camembert, and feta) and unpasteurized milk, because they carry the risk of listeriosis (a food-borne illness caused by bacteria).- Raw vegetable sprouts and fresh unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices, which can contain bacteria like E. coli and salmonella.

Nutrition for the Elderly

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Are the seniors in Your Life Eating Well? No matter your age, it is important to get the right amount of nutrients every day. However, the elderly are often at a higher risk for certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to a variety of factors, such as low activity, slow body functions, comparatively a weaker immunity or poorly balanced diet and medication consumption. Talk to your dietitian and doctor about your changing nutritional needs as you age, and ask him/her about making changes to your diet or taking supplements to help prevent any of the nutritional deficiencies.Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, heart diseases and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy. But you still need just as many of the nutrients in food. To get the proper nutrition for the elderly, refer the following guidelines related to food and nutrition.Vitamin B-12Elderly men and women have a higher risk of B-12 deficiency because their stomachs do not contain an adequate amount of hydrochloric acid, which helps the body absorb the B-12 in food. For this reason, those over 50 should get the bulk of their vitamin B-12 through supplements or fortified foods like cereals, milk etc.ZincZinc is important for immune system health, wound healing, and blood clotting and thyroid function. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite, lack of taste or smell, hair loss, skin problems and depression. Men need 11 milligrams of zinc a day, and women need 8 milligrams, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can get this amount by eating foods like red meat, fish, poultry, cheese, legumes, whole grains and sunflower seeds.Calcium and Vitamin DAs you get older, your risks of losing bone mass and developing osteoporosis increase. Along with regular exercise, consuming adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D can help keep your skeletal system strong and slow bone loss. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, men and women over the age of 65 needs between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day, and good food sources include dairy products like milk and cheese. Early morning sunshine is the best source of vitamin D.Other Considerations regarding Nutrition for the ElderlyOffer nutritionally-dense foods. Since many seniors aren't eating as much as they should, the food they do eat must be as nutritious as possible. Encourage whole, unprocessed foods that are balanced in calories and nutrients for their size.Enhance aromas and flavors. Appealing foods may help stimulate appetite, especially in someone whose senses of taste and smell aren't what they used to be.Make eating a social event. Many seniors who live alone or suffer from depression may stop cooking meals, lose their appetites, and depend on convenience foods. If you are worried that your parent or grandparent isn't eating properly, make meals a family occasion.Encourage healthy snacking. Many seniors don’t like to eat large meals or don't feel hungry enough to eat three full meals a day. One solution is to encourage or plan for several mini-meals throughout the day.Nutrition for the Elderly-How can they stay on track Eating healthily is an ongoing commitment, but it’s easier than you think. Here are some tips for staying on course:Ask for help. Admit when you need a hand to shop, cook, and plan meals and find someone to help. It’s important for your health not to revert to frozen dinners or takeout food.Variety, variety, variety! Try eating and cooking something new as soon as boredom strikes.Make every meal “do-able.” Healthy eating needn't be a big production. Keep it simple and you’ll stick with it. Stocking the pantry and fridge with wholesome choices will make it easier to prepare quick, tasty meals.Set the mealtime mood. Set the table, light candles, play music, or eat outside or by a window when possible. Tidying yourself and your space will help you enjoy the moment.Break habits. If you eat watching TV, try eating while reading or use the time to catch up with your spouse or a friend. If you eat at the counter, set the table instead.

Food and Nutrition: Boost Your Mood With Some Food

Dr. Sangeeta Malu, Dietitian/Nutritionist
If you thought poor nutrition only affected the poor, think again. Millions of human beings across the world suffer from under-nutrition. Under nutrition refers not to lack of access to food, but to the body's inability to absorb nutrients. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. This doesn't apply only to your physical health, but to your mental health as well. Here are some things you should know about foods and your moods.  Say NO! to these foods1. Dump the junkMost fast foods contain trans-fats, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners and other synthetic ingredients and have little nutritional value. These ingredients have been linked to irritability and depression in the long run.2. Sugar and glutenThe sugar and gluten present in some foods affect mental health. Consuming them in high quantities will suppress BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) activity BDNF is a growth protein which keeps brain neurons healthy. This can lead to depression, schizophrenia and other mental problems in people.Say YES! to these foods1. Omega-3 fatty acidsFoods like flax seed, walnuts and salmon contain Omega 3, which affects neurotransmitter pathways in the brain, and improves heart function by reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.2. L-Tryptophanis an essential nutrient for brain function. This amino acid is responsible for the production of a chemical called serotonin, which is used to treat people with depression. This can be found in red meat, dairy products and turkey.3. MagnesiumThis vitamin helps maintain physical and mental health. Leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and avocados contain magnesium, and their regular consumption will keep your mood light and your body healthy.4. Folic acid and vitamin B-12Both these essential nutrients increase metabolism and production of blood cells, which keep the brain healthy.Low levels of these nutrients are associated with depression and mood swings. Folic acid is present in fruits and leafy vegetables, and vitamin B 12 in seafood, meat and dairy products.What we eat determines how we feel! So, eat right and boost your mood with nutrition dense food!

Pregnancy Diet

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Pregnancy is the most beautiful phase in a woman's life. It brings both emotional and physiological changes as well as it also poses extra demands on the body. In this phase the body needs extra nutrition for the developing fetus, for pregnant woman herself and also the lactation period to follow. Pregnancy Diet must be full of nutrition and healthy also.Importance of Nutrition in The Diet in PregnancyThese nutritional demands have to be met for a healthy child and mother because as the week progresses the organs and other system of the fetus start developing in mother’s womb and thus the energy used to create these systems (which actually comes from the energy and nutrients in the mother's circulation, and around the lining of the womb) also starts to increase. The table below highlights the nutrients, its importance and food sources which should be included in a women's pregnancy diet -NUTRIENTSIMPORTANCEFOOD SOURCES Protein cell growth and blood productionlean meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, beans, tofuCarbohydrates daily energy productionbreads, cereals, rice, fruits, vegetablesCalcium strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction, nerve function milk, cheese, yogurt, spinachIronred blood cell production (to prevent anemia)All green leafy vegetables e.g. spinach, methi and whole-grain cerealsVitamin A healthy skin, good eyesight, growing bonescarrots, dark leafy greens, sweet potatoesVitamin C healthy gums, teeth, and bones; assistance with iron absorption citrus fruit, broccoli, tomatoes, amla, guavasVitamin B6 red blood cell formation; effective use of protein, fat, and carbohydratespork, ham, whole-grain cereals, bananasVitamin B12 formation of red blood cells, maintaining nervous system healthmeat, fish, poultry, milk(Note: vegetarians who don't eat dairy products need supplemental B12)Vitamin D healthy bones and teeth; aids absorption of calcium fortified milk, dairy products, cereals, and breadsFolic acid blood and protein production, effective enzyme function green leafy vegetables, dark yellow fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, nutsFatbody energy stores meat, whole-milk dairy products, nuts, peanut butter, margarine, vegetable oils(Note: limit fat intake to 30% or less of your total daily calorie intakeRecommended Nutrients in The Diet in PregnancyNutrientRecommendation (Extra = Above RDA)EnergyIncrease by 300 kcal (840 kJ) per day. Certain guidelines according to trimester.1st trimester (1 to 12 weeks) - 10 kcals/day 2nd trimester (13 to 27 weeks) - 90 kcals/day 3rd trimester (27 to 40 weeks) - 200 kcals /day.ProteinsExtra 15 gms per dayThiaminIncrease in line with energy; increase by 0.1 mg per dayRiboflavinNeeded for tissue growth; extra 0.3 mg per dayNiacinRegular supplementation/diet of substance. No increase required.FolateMaintain plasma levels; extra 100 µg per dayVitamin CReplenish drained maternal stores; extra 120 mg per dayVitamin DReplenish plasma levels of vitamin 10 µg per day.CalciumNeeds no increaseIronExtra 3 mg per day neededMagnesium, zinc, and copperNormal supplementation or consumption.IodineExtra 100 µg per day.Foods To Avoid During Pregnancy- Skip aerated or caffeine based beverages like coffee, tea and colas. Too much caffeine may affect the growth of baby. A recent study said that pregnant women who consume even about a cup of coffee everyday are at a higher risk of giving birth to an underweight baby.- Avoid eating foods that have been prepared with maida.- Try and cut down on eating foods that are high in sugar content.- Sea-food that is high in mercury should be strictly avoided. Swordfish, shark and king mackerel are among these. Raw fish may contain listeria, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. While canned seafood is considered safe, skip smoked or frozen seafood like oysters, sushi, sashimi, and smoked salmon.- Unpasteurized milk may contain listeria, which can cross the placenta and lead to infection or blood poisoning in the baby. Ensure that the milk you drink is pasteurized.- Stay away from mould-ripened cheese (cheese that has a blue vein in it) like brie or camembert. Make sure you cook raw eggs. When the eggs are cooked, see that the yolk and white are firm.- Avoid the consumption of smoking and drinking in day to day routine.Healthy Pregnancy Diet Tips:-- Have a piece of fresh fruit for a mid-morning or afternoon snack, instead of reaching for chocolates or biscuits.- By carrying a small bottle of water when you are out ensures you are well hydrated, and not tempted by sugary soft drinks.- Each week, prepare a couple of meals using beans, lentils and pulses.- Add in your diet different healthy grains, such as barley, couscous or brown rice, in order to give variety to your favorite recipes.- Choose low-fat dairy productsIt is important to note that being pregnant doesn't indicate that the mother to be has to consume food for two individuals, as she is supporting a life within her. The key to a healthy pregnancy is to consume a balanced diet with light and frequent meals throughout, and to regularly take the supplements or medicines prescribed by the doctor. One should also try, and be active, for e.g., go for walks or light swimming or do pregnancy specific yoga [under supervision].

Post Pregnancy Weight Loss Plan

Ms. Swati Kapoor, Dietitian/Nutritionist
Weight Gain during pregnancy is absolutely normal . On an average a woman gains 10–12 kg during the entire span of pregnancy. Although the weight gain varies from woman-to-woman depending upon body type, eating pattern and severity of nausea and vomiting. A slow and steady rate of weight gain is considered ideal.While its natural to put on weight during pregnancy it becomes really difficult for most to lose weight after it. Post pregnancy weight gain is a cause of concern and depression among many women but according to experts a woman should concentrate on eating healthy food for the first three months instead of weight loss. This is to ensure that new born gets complete nutrition and also to avoid nutrient depletion from the mother’s body which might lead to other complications later like osteoporosis, caused by deficiencies.Here are some tips to get post pregnancy weight loss in a gradual but healthy way after you & your body are ready to get started:Breast Feeding: Breast feeding is great not just to provide nutrition to your baby, but also for you to lose weight. Breast feeding is the reason why fat is accumulated in the mammary glads. As the mother uses stored nutrition from her body in the form of milk to feed the child not only does it is very extremely healthy for the baby but she also uses up the fat cells during this process burning calories & working towards getting back to the pre-pregnancy weight. So remember the more you prolong your baby's dependency on the formula the better it will be for both you & your child.Post Pregnancy Diet Plan: The body needs time to recover from the stresses of labor, delivery and the hormonal changes in the body. Dieting soon after giving birth can delay the recovery and make one feel more tired, low in energy and some cases also lead to deficiencies in the body. It can also have adverse effect on milk production thus affecting the baby’s health. During breast feeding the mother’s nutritional demands are higher not only in terms of calories but also minerals like calcium, so diet except for that prescribed by the doctor is not at all recommended.Post 8-12 months of pregnancy you can look at losing the extra weight you might have gained. Losing weight post pregnancy does not mean restricting your calories. It means ensuring that you are getting your adequate supply of nutrition based on daily dietary requirement and avoiding extra rich food that might have been prescribed to you during breastfeeding.Post Pregnancy Exercise Plan: It is advisable to start with the exercise routine only after 6 months of delivery. You need to consult your doctor before you get on any routine. Apart from helping to accelerate weight reduction, exercises can help tackle post-partum depression, improve the mood, reduce stress and boost the confidence. Finding time to exercise is one of the biggest issues women face when losing weight after childbirth. The one and only solution to this problem is finding a perfect workout plan that suits your schedule and personality. For a post pregnancy weight loss plan a few recommended post natal workouts include:• Yoga and Pilates.• Swimming and Aqua aerobics.• Cycling.• Strength training – under the guidance of qualified health professional is recommended.• Low impact aerobic workouts.Having a baby not only changes your life but also bring about many changes in your body including the weight gain. First of all, the woman should have realistic goal about how long it takes to lose weight. From the moment you give birth, your body starts working to shrink your belly back to its pre-pregnancy state, but it's a slow process. So be patient and consult experts to get a customized diet and exercise plan.