- Fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Starchy foods, such as rice, rotis (including mixed grain or stuffed roti), whole grain bread, pasta, and baked/boiled potatoes.
- Foods rich in protein, such as lean meat and chicken, eggs, pulses (such as beans and lentils) and soya nuggets.
- Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese, cottage cheese (paneer) and curd/yoghurt.
It's recommended that you take a daily folic acid supplement of 400mcg,
when you are trying to get pregnant and for the first 12 weeks of your
You need folic acid during pregnancy to help protect your unborn baby against developing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
You can also get plenty of folic acid from your food. It's referred to as folate when it's in your food. Here are some excellent sources of folate:
- Green leafy vegetables: spinach (paalak), fenugreek leaves (methi), lamb's quarters (bathua), mustard greens (sarson), radish (mooli) leaves, coriander (hara dhania), mint (pudina) and lettuce (salad patta).
- Vegetables: bitter gourd (karela), bottle gourd (lauki), apple gourd (tinda), lady's finger (bhindi), carrot (gajar), cauliflower (phool gobhi), beetroot (chukandar), capsicum (simla mirch), asparagus (shatwar/sootmooli), broccoli (hari gobhi), French beans (faras been), peas (matar), corn (makai), cabbage (patta gobhi) and brussels sprouts (chhoti gobhi).
- Pulses and lentils: black-eyed beans (lobhia), bengal gram (chana), soya beans, chickpeas (kabuli chana) and kidney beans (rajma).
- Fruits: muskmelon (kharbuja), avocado or butter fruit (makhanphal), pomegranate (anaar), guava (amrood), oranges (narangi/santra), sweet lime (mausambi, kinnow) and strawberries.
- Fortified breakfast cereal: whole wheat flakes, oats, cornflakes, wheat germ and wheat bran. Whole meal bread, whole wheat flour and whole wheat pasta.
- Dry fruits and nuts: Walnuts (akhrot), peanuts (moongphali) and almonds (badaam).
A constant feeling of fatigue is very common in the early stages of pregnancy. Being pregnant puts a strain on your entire body, which can make you feel exhausted during the day.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Have your hemoglobin levels checked. Anaemia is a common cause of tiredness, especially if you are vegetarian.
- Eat regular and healthy meals and snacks. Having refreshing drinks like Lemon drink (nimbu pani) and coconut water will also help combat tiredness.
- Go easy on the sugar. Biscuits, chocolates, cakes, pastries, mithai and sweet drinks will only give you a short burst of energy. You may feel hungry again soon after eating them.
- Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks. They may perk you up for a while but too much caffeine could dehydrate you. The amount of caffeine recommended during pregnancy is no more than 200mg a day. Instead have nutritious drinks such as "homemade" lemonade (nimbu pani with honey), aam panna, chach or fresh orange juice.
Healthy drinks and snacks during pregnancy
In addition to other fluids, drink eight to ten large glasses of water a day. A refreshing alternative is a glass of chilled filtered water with a twist of lime or mint.Here are some other healthy drinks you could try:
- skimmed milk
- coconut water
- banana shake
It is best to prepare milk shakes and juices at home and drink them immediately. This reduces the risk of any spoilage or contamination. Also be careful when buying drinks from roadside vendors as it is difficult to be sure of their hygiene and freshness levels. You could also include herbal teas for variety, but make sure you get the go ahead from your doctor first.
If you're feeling peckish and want a healthy snack, you could try these:
- steamed or sautéed corn or corn (chaat)
- mixed vegetable idli
- grilled paneer tikka
- fruit or vegetable bhel puri
- dhokla or khandvi
- sweet potato chaat
Be guided by your appetite but beware of ‘emotional’ eating that could make you overeat at times. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need any extra calories in your first two trimesters, so don't feel that you have to try and eat for two. If you are underweight your doctor or dietitian will recommend a specific meal plan for you.
If you have morning sickness,
you may not have much of an appetite at the moment. Try having small,
regular meals and plenty of drinks. This may help to ease your nausea
and keep your energy up if you’re feeling very tired.
Nausea is not only unpleasant, but it can be tricky to deal with if you
have not yet gone public about your pregnancy. Although it is often
called morning sickness, nausea can occur at any time of the day.
some tips to help you with morning sickness:
- Keep biscuits (or cream crackers) by your bed and nibble one or two before getting up from your bed in the morning. This can be repeated every time you lie down during the day as well.
- When you feel sick, sip a ginger-based drink, such as ginger tea (adrak ki chai), ginger ale or a cup of hot water with a slice of fresh ginger and lemon. You could also chew on a small piece of fresh or dried ginger as and when you feel nauseous.
- Eat small, mildly flavored snacks between meals, such as poha or plain khakara.
- If the smell of food makes you feel worse, ask a family member to take over in the kitchen for sometime, till you feel more settled. You could also hire a cook to help you during this period.
- Sniff freshly cut lemons, fresh coriander or mint. Choose the one which works for you. You can also add some slices of lemon or fresh mint to iced tea or sparkling water.
- Try these natural remedies to cope with morning sickness.
Do keep in mind that you don't have to worry about eating for two. Most women don't need any extra calories until the third trimester, when an extra 300 calories a day are recommended. That adds up to just one slice of cheese with 2 slices of bread, two idlis with chutney or a large serving of upma or poha.
However, depending on your weight and activity levels you may need to eat less or more than usual. Speak to your doctor or dietitian to work out a diet plan suited to your specific needs.
Vitamin B6 may help with morning sickness.
It also helps your body to use and store energy from your food and
produce red blood cells. Many foods are excellent sources of vitamin B6,
such as bananas, brown rice, lean meats, poultry, fish, avocados, whole
grains, corn, and nuts.
Vitamin B12 is also an important nutrient in pregnancy. You only need
small amounts of this vitamin to keep you healthy. But if you have very
low levels, you can develop anaemia or even damage your nervous system.
If you eat meat or dairy products then you're unlikely to be lacking in
vitamin B12. If you are a vegan, you will either need to include plenty
of foods that are fortified with vitamin B12, or take a supplement. Some brands of soya milk, some breakfast cereals and yeast extract are fortified with vitamin B12.
Magnesium is important in pregnancy for the proper growth of your baby's
bones. It is also essential for your muscle health, including your
uterus. Magnesium helps to make and repair tissue in your body as well.
Aim to include these magnesium-rich foods in your diet:
- salad greens
- soya beans
- whole grains
- seeds of pumpkin, melon (magaz) and sunflower (surajmukhi ke beej)
Traces of magnesium are also found in:
- Dried fruits, especially figs (anjeer), apricots (khubaani) and raisins (kishmish).
- Green leafy vegetables such as spinach (paalak), radish leaves (mooli ka saag), lamb's quarters (bathua), mustard greens (sarson), fenugreek leaves (methi) and lettuce (salad patta).
- Vegetables such as bottle gourd (lauki/doodhi), bitter gourd (karela), peas (matar) and sweet corn (makai).
- Non-refined cereals such as whole-wheatand brown rice.
- Pulses such as green gram (moong dal) and kidney beans (rajma).
- Dairy products such as milk, cottage cheese (paneer) and curd/yoghurt.
- Non-vegetarian foods such as fish, poultry and meat.
The placenta helps to keep a check on the magnesium reaching your baby. So don't worry about taking in more than you need.
Healthy snacks and drinks:
These drinks may help make your morning sickness more bearable:
- aam panna
- homemade jal jeera
- lemonade (nimbu pani)
- homemade tomato soup
- ginger tea (adrak chai)
These nutritious snacks may be easier to keep down than other foods during your first trimester:
- whole grain crackers
- cucumber raita
- banana chaat
- baked papad with rasam
You can get plenty of vitamins from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Try to eat five portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables every
day. Eat raw vegetables or steam them instead of boiling them. This will
help you to make the most of the vitamins vegetables contain.
If you are worried about your diet, speak to your doctor about taking a pregnancy multivitamin. But remember that no supplement can be a good enough substitute for healthy food.
You need plenty of iron every day during pregnancy because it helps you
to make red blood cells for your growing baby. You can also become anaemic if you don't have enough iron. Try to have plenty of foods rich in iron, such as lean red meat, poultry and fish. Your body can absorb iron most effectively from non-vegetarian sources.
You can also get iron from vegetarian sources such as lentils, pulses, spinach (paalak),
and iron-fortified breakfast cereals. But your body can’t take in as
much iron from these foods. If you include a source of vitamin C at the
same time, such as glass of orange juice or nimbu pani, this will help your body to better absorb the iron.
Cooking in iron utensils can also contribute to improving the iron content of the food.
Black tea and coffee can interfere with the absorption of iron, so it's best not to have these drinks with or soon after your meals.
If you are vegetarian, you should take extra care to ensure you have plenty of iron and calcium. Good sources of iron
for vegetarians include fortified breakfast cereals, tofu, wholegrain
bread, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, pulses, soya and soya products
and dried fruits such as raisins, dates and figs.
You can get calcium from dairy products, chickpeas (chana), kidney beans (rajma) and baked beans, sesame seeds (til), almonds (badaam) and fortified soya products.
Healthy snacks and drinks:
These drinks are packed with vitamins and minerals that you need for a healthy pregnancy:
- fresh sapota (chikoo) or mango smoothie
- freshly squeezed pomegranate (anaar) juice
Check out our healthy and alcohol-free drink options for more ideas.
Here are some nourishing and tasty snacks for you to try:
- porridge made from different cereals such as finger millet (ragi), oats (jai) or cracked wheat (dalia)
- wheat noodles with vegetables
- rice pancake (appam)
It's best to gain weight gradually. You'll probably put on between 10kg and 12.5kg during your whole pregnancy.
Bear in mind that weight gain during pregnancy
varies among women. So it is best to concentrate on eating healthily. A
well balanced diet includes plenty of carbohydrates, fruits and
vegetables, protein, and dairy foods. And just a little in the way of healthy fats and jaggery, honey and brown sugar.
You may not have put on much weight during the first trimester, but your weight should steadily increase during the second trimester as your baby grows.
omega 3 fatty acids:
Omega 3 fatty acids are important in pregnancy for your baby's brain and eye development. Oily fish such as mackerel (bangda) and herring (bhing) and sardines (pedvey machli) are good sources.
When choosing oily fish,
bear in mind that they may contain some environmental pollutants, such
as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins. So it's best that you
don't have more than two portions a week. Also, try and have the smaller
sized fish as opposed to the large fish that tend to accumulate more
If you're a vegetarian, you can get omega 3 fatty acids from foods such as:
- soya beans
- walnuts (akhrot)
- leafy green vegetables
- sesame seeds (til)