During pregnancy, vegetables, fruits, grains, pulses and beans should all be part of diet in appropriate quantities and in the right form. Therefore, one needs to know which vegetables, fruits and other food should be used at what time. Several such questions have been dealt with in this chapter. Vegetables are an integral part of a balanced diet which should include all kinds of vegetables including leafy ones. According to Ayurvedic literature the following vegetables are easily digestible and suitable for most constitutions.
- Bottle gourd (dudhi – Lagenaria vulgaris)
- Ridge gourd (dodka – Luffa acutangula)
- Smooth gourd (ghosali – Luffa aegyptiaca)
- Ash gourd (kohala – Benincasa cerifera)
- Ladyfingers (okra – Abelmoschus esculentus)
- Red pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima)
- Potatoes (Solanum turerosum)
- Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia)
- Gherkins (tondli – Cephalandra indica) And leafy vegetables, such as
- Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
- Fenugreek (methi – Trigonella)
Kokam (Garcinia purpurea)sherbat(concentrate with water) is good for the pregnant woman if it suits her constitution. To this the addition of cumin powder, a pinch of freshly ground black pepper, sugar and black salt, will help to pacify pitta, and improve digestive capacity. Kokam sherbat taken in slowly, in small sips at a time, is very helpful especially during the first trimester, when there may be nausea, dry retching, and a general loss of appetite and taste.
Mango is one of the most well-liked and nutritious fruits but eaten in excess it can lead to digestive imbalance and loose motions. It is best eaten as pulp, with 2-3 teaspoons of pure, home-made ghee, and a pinch of dry ginger powder (soonth), per cup of pulp. Ideally, mangoes should be soaked in water for two to three hours before consumption. Maigo milk shakes should be strictly avoided.
Raw green mangoes, if taken regularly, increase pitta in the body, and should be avoided. Instead, they may be added, occasionally, to spicy dal (amti) or used in chutney. Tamarind
should also be used sparingly during pregnancy. Kokam or lemon can be used instead, for a tangy flavour in food. Even if the pregnant woman craves tamarind or raw mangoes, their
consumption should be kept to a minimum (just enough to satisfy the taste buds).
Sour fruits such as pineapple, strawberry, wood apple (kavath – Feronia elephantum), bor (Zizyphus jujuba), should only be consumed occasionally, and non-seasonal fruits should be
avoided (one finds nowadays that markets are filled with fruit from all over the world, most of which are out of season). Custard apple, guava (Psidium guyava), pear (Pyrus communis), chikoo (Achras sapota), rose apple (jambhul – Eugenia jambolana ) andwatermelon, may all be eaten occasionally during pregnancy.
Papaya, which is known to cause uterine contractions, and which could induce miscarriage, should never be eaten by pregnant women. Fresh fruit which has been cut, and freshly- squeezed fruit juice, should both be consumed immediately, as the nutritive quality of cut fruit diminishes very quickly. Fruit should be eaten during the day and not after sunset. Commercially available canned juices are best avoided, as they are stale, and may contain chemical preservatives. Often, these canned juices contain only artificial flavouring, instead of real fruit juice. Milk shakes are yet another popular beverage, but Ayurvedic philosophy does not advocate consuming milk and fruit together and certainly not during pregnancy. The excessive intake of fruit salads and milk shakes during pregnancy, could be one of the reasons for the increased occurrences of allergies, weak lungs, or skin ailments, now common among newborn babies.
Out of all dry fruits, almonds are a must for the expecting woman. Three or four almonds soaked overnight, peeled, and eaten in the morning help to improve and maintain health and also nourish the brain of the developing foetus.One dried date (kharik – Phoenix dactylifera) should be chewed and eaten properly everyday. Alternatively a teaspoonful of dried date powder, added to a glass of milk, should be taken every day. Fresh dates are also permissible during pregnancy. One or two fresh dates eaten daily, with two teaspoons of pure, home-made Ayurvedic ghee, help the foetus gain weight properly. Dry figs, consumed directly, or after being soaked in water, are good for the body.
On Preparation : Vegetables should not be strongly spiced or made in rich gravies. To enhance the flavour of vegetables while cooking, ingredients such as freshly grated coconut, grated ginger,
sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coriander powder, and cumin powder, are fine. Fresh coriander leaves in the diet or as a garnish, are very beneficial. Coriander leaves may be served as an
independent preparation as a paste or tiny cutlets when mixed with mung dal flour. They could also be added to parat has. Chutnies (a chutney is a paste made from herbs, normally used as a condiment) made from several spices and herb can be good additions to one’s diet. A Simple Chutney – Mix freshly grated coconut, ginger, coriander leaves, lemon, mint, green chilly and cumin. Grind to a paste. This mixture aids digestion, and helps to stimulate the appetite, which is often diminished during pregnancy.
Try and avoid using too much chili in vegetable or soup preparations. Ginger could be used as a substitute. Preparing food in pure ghee (as a fodni base) is especially recommended for the pregnant woman (and even in general). Cooking vegetables with oil (as a fodni base), should be kept to a minimum. The use of too much oil can cause weight-gain and indigestion. Out of the wide variety of oils available commercially, peanut oil is best for daily use.