By Kamakshi Ganesh
The importance of nutrition during pregnancy has always been emphasized, but during these trying pandemic times, it becomes all the more important. Studies have shown that COVID does not affect pregnant women any differently than it does others. However, due to compromised immunity, it’s important for pregnant women to follow the same precautions that have been advised to the general public i.e hand hygiene, social distancing, wearing a mask and avoiding public places, and staying home as much as possible. In addition to this regular exercise and a balanced pregnancy nutrition plan will also help.
A healthy diet not only has a direct impact on your immunity which is essential at this time, but the right kind of food can also reduce your stress which is bound to be riding high at this time. Before we list out the types of food that need to be included in your diet, it is important to understand that food safety also plays an important role. Make sure to sanitize all your grocery items, fruits, and veggies when they come home before putting them away.
Right! Now that that’s out the way let’s get down to the things to include in your pregnancy nutrition during these COVID times:
1. Fresh home-cooked vegetables
Adding in servings of green veggies like spinach and broccoli is an efficient way to pack in vitamins. The high fiber content helps to fend off constipation and veggies like spinach also have high iron content.
In light of the pandemic, make sure to give all the veggies a good wash to ensure they are completely sanitized. Also eating cooked food is safer than eating raw food at this time. The high temperature of cooking ensures any possible pathogen is killed.
2. Snack on fresh fruits instead of junk
Being stuck at home with nowhere to go can be very boring and this boredom usually leads to increased snacking. To maintain well-balanced pregnancy nutrition, avoid picking up the packet of chips and snack on fresh fruits instead! The vitamin C available in oranges actually works towards reducing the stress hormones as well.
3. Including Immunity boosting food
Pregnant women have lowered immunity levels in order for their bodies to allow the fetus to grow and develop. While these immune system changes protect babies, they also make pregnant women more susceptible to viruses. At a time like this, it is advisable to introduce immunity-boosting food into the pregnancy nutrition plan. Here are some foods that improve immunity - probiotics like yogurt, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and broccoli. A lot of these foods are very common in Indian meals and increasing their intake will help improve the body’s immunity against viruses like COVID.
4. Protein-rich food
Protein-based food is vital to ensure growth for the baby and reduce the risk of low birth weight. It’s also essential for the pregnant mother to maintain her body’s tissue health. Protein in the form of meat, pulses, and nuts should be featured in the meal plan every day. However, if access to meat is limited during the pandemic, make sure to supplement your diet with eggs, dal, nuts, and whole grained cereals.
5. Whole grains and millets
Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, and whole wheat as well as millets are packed with a whole lot of goods like fiber, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. These should feature in any pregnancy nutrition plan but it’s even more important during the pandemic. They help promote bone health for both the mother and the fetus and also improve immunity. While buying packaged millet and whole-grain products, make sure to ensure they are organic, preservative-free, and free of any additives.