Expecting mothers are not allowed to do long hours of fasting as it might affect the growth of the baby.
By Greata Sherene Robinson
India has a wide range of cultures and festivals, which involve both fasting and feasting. Navratri among Hindus is one of the most common fasts which is being observed. Navratri comes twice a year during the seasonal change period, when the human body is vulnerable and susceptible to falling ill. Thus, during this nine-day long festival, people avoid non-vegetarian dishes, onion, garlic, grains, alcohol and smoking. But the type of fast and duration differs from individual to individual.
Fasting has numerous benefits such as boosting immunity, bringing LDL cholesterol levels down, making gut bacteria better, while improving strength and vitality, and hormones as well. But there are certain ways to adhere to fasting, such as consuming a variety of hydrated fruits and vegetables before the fast. This helps in a slow release of calories and keeps one hydrated and satiated throughout the day.
Remember that overindulging can cause weight gain. And also, as salt stimulates thirst, avoid salty foods. Opt for more air-fried and baked foods rather than deep-fried. Make sure the food isn’t very oily or greasy, as you might feel tired for the next day.
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During Navratri, make sure that the diet is balanced, comprising all nutrients. It basically works on complex carbohydrates which involve different grains on the plate with a vegetarian source of protein and antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. This diet helps to detoxify the system of toxins as well as build immunity. Keep the meal rule simple, 30% carbs + 30% good proteins + 30% high fiber vegetables.
Can pregnant women fast during Navratri?
Expecting mothers are not allowed to do long hours of fasting as it might affect the growth of the baby. Pregnant women will be allowed to fast with the doctor’s consent but making sure that they incorporate small frequent nutrient dense meals throughout the day. Pregnant mothers should work more on the quality of nutrients rather than the quantity. Consumption of healthy foods at regular intervals is required as the nutrients are going to the growing baby. Hydration status is also very important during the fasting period.
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Balancing the macronutrients and micronutrients well is something which has to be adhered to by the pregnant mothers during this period.
Remember to start the day with a good source of fibre and proteins like fruits, milk and nuts. For breakfast, opt for fruit yogurt with nuts and seeds or milkshakes or even smoothies. Always remember to hydrate in the middle of the day by indulging on tender coconut water, lassi or buttermilk. Lunch has to be balanced, with either of the millets as an option for a roti or rice with adequate gourd vegetables and a fibre dense vegetable with curd/paneer/tofu for proteins. Opt for vegetable soups for the evening with makana or any fruit or vegetable salad to munch on to cut down unhealthy and carbohydrate-based cravings. Dinner can be kichadi or rotis with proper balance and finish off with dry fruits, milkshake or milk. The essentials of adequate carbohydrates with the right amount of proteins for proper growth of the baby with a good amount of fruits and vegetables for antioxidants will work better.
Check out for certain tips which has to be followed by pregnant moms:
Choose whole grains which provide energy and fiber. Examples are buckwheat, Sabudana, Millets, Ragi, Amaranth, Samak, etc
Opt for vegetarian sources with each meal such as paneer, curd, milk, tofu, legumes and sprouts. This helps in growth and improves muscle status.
Indulge in a whole lot of fruits and vegetables to pump up your antioxidant range like apple, pear, potato, pumpkin, lauki vegetables, etc.
Hydrate with water and other fluids like soups and porridges to boost the metabolism.
Avoid sugars and sweets and swap it with nuts and fruits to get the natural sugars and to build the immunity as well.
Avoid deep fried, packed foods and caffeine which generally slows down the metabolism.
Avoid full cream milk / condensed milk as it can overload the system which can cause lethargy too.
This season, incorporate a lot of vitamin A rich foods on the diet like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, orange, muskmelon, etc.
Be sure to have small but frequent meals to maintain your stamina and to keep you functioning throughout the day.
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Sample diet plan
Type of meal
Banana or chickoo shakes with nuts and seeds
Multi grain Kozhukattai /Adai
Fruit smoothies with yogurt + nuts and seeds
Coconut water / buttermilk/ Fox nut kheer / Fruits and nuts
Samak rice with sauteed vegetables + curd
Kuttu chapati + pumpkin + paneer subji
Millet rice + lauki subji + sundal
Amaranth roti + subzi + curd
Jeera water, Green tea
Makana/ sabudana vada/ buckwheat momos/ wheat flour appam / dry fruit ladoo / sundal / soups / cucumber tomato salad /fruit yogurt
Milk + fruits
Fruit smoothie with curd
Jowar rice upma
Milk / dry fruit milkshake
Fasting does wonders to your body provided you balance the meal well. So, all the best and wishing you healthy and mindful eating during the festive season.
(The writer is Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai.)
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