Pregnant Indian women - Healthy foods

Parentree-editors 2008-09-10 21:52:40

Indian women need to maintain a high quality diet during their pregnancy. This article provides a list of healthy Indian foods and meal planning tips to eat well during a pregnancy.

Remember, the baby inside depends on the mother for nutrition. During pregnancy, a mother while maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet, must also focus on supplemental nutrients that are important for the baby's health.  These tips will help you and your baby stay healthy and get good nutrition.

Pregnancy diet - How much more should I eat?

The extra energy that is required during pregnancy is only 300 kcal/day and any consumption above this will only add empty calories and weight to the mother.   This is only about 15% more than usual Indian food quantities.

While the common Indian advice is to eat for two but we must keep in mind that it is not two grownups we have to eat for. It is for a baby that is 3 - 4 kgs in weight. So focus on nutrition, rather than the quantity of the food you eat.

This is for a normal pregnancy with a single baby. If you are having multiple babies or if you have any special health conditions, please talk to your doctor.

Pregnancy diet - What Indian foods should I eat?

For meal planning, Indian foods have been divided into different groups.
  • Cereals & Grains
  • Pulses & Beans
  • Milk and Milk products
  • Green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, tubers and roots
  • Fruits

The table below shows the average meal plan for a pregnant Indian woman who does moderate work during the day.

Food group  Quantity/serving Servings/day
Cereals & Grains
  • Ragi, Kezhvaragu, Ragulu
  • Bajra, Kambu, Sazzalu
  • Rice flakes, Chewra, Aval, Chira, Pohe, Atukulu
  • Wheat germ
  • Oats
60 grams/serving 6 servings/day
Pulses & Beans
  • Bengal gram, Chick pea, Chana, Kothukadalai, Sanagalu
  • Black gram, Urad dal, Ulutham paruppu, Minapa pappu, Mashkalair, Udad
  • Cow pea, Lobia, Karamani, Chorap, Barbati, Bobbarlu
  • Green gram, Moong, Payatham paruppu, Pesara pappu
  • Lentils, Masur
  • Rajma, Phanasi, Barbati, Barigalu
  • Soyabean
 30 grams/serving 3 servings/day
Milk and milk products
  • Cheese (high in fat)
  • Paneer
  • Khoa, Thirattu pal - (From skimmed milk for low fat)
  • Pasteurised Buffalo milk (better than cow's milk)
  • Pasteurised Cow's milk - Skimmed has lesser fat and more proteins
150 ml/serving 2 servings/day
Green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, roots and tubers
  • Agasth-ka-phool, Agathi, Bak, Agathio, Avise
  • Beetroot greens, Chukandar-ka-sag
  • Drumstick leaves, Saijan patta, Sajna Sag, Saragavo, Murungai keerai, Mulaga akulu
  • Fenugreek leaves, Methi sag, Venthaya keerai, Menthikoora
  • Makoy leaves, Manathakali leaves, Piludi, Kamanchi, Kakmachi
  • Turnip greens, Shalgam-ka-sag
  • Lotus stems, Kamal gatta
  • Curry leaves, Gandhela, Barsanga, Kariveppilai, Karivepaku (use for seasoning)
  • Mint, Pudina
  • Parsley
  • Spinach, Palak, Pasalai keerai, Palang sag
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkins, Kaddu, Parangikka, Kohlu, Gummadikaya, Kumra
  • Cauliflower
  • Drumstick
  • Bitter-gourd
  • Knol-khol
100 grams/serving 4 servings/day
  • Dried dates, Khajur
  • Water melon
  • Raisins, Kishmish
  • Fresh apricot
  • Guava
  • Orange
  • Traditional Indian custom is that pregnant Indian women should avoid eating ripe mango and papaya.
50 grams/serving 4 servings/day
Nuts and seeds    
  • Almonds, Badam
  • Cashews
  • Groundnut
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Watermelon seeds
  • Mustard seeds, Rai, Sorse, Kadugu, Aavalu (for seasoning)
  • Walnut
  • Pistachio
Have a handful of these  to get proteins. But don't eat too much as they contain a lot of fat 1 handful
Condiments and spices
  • Fenugreek,Methi, Venthayam, Menthulu
  • Turmeric, Haldi
  • Cumin, Jeera
 For seasoning  For seasoning


Non-vegetarians can substitute 1 or occasionally 2 servings of pulses and beans with fish/meat/eggs etc.,

Oils and fats are also required in the diet. The meal plan above assumes that food groups are cooked using moderate quantities of oils which provide the required supply of oils and fats to the diet. If this is not the case, please ensure you get oils and fats as required.

Use moderate quantities of salt in your cooking. Iodised salt should be used to ensure that the required Iodine is provided during pregnancy. Moderate use as required in normal cooking is sufficient.

Sugars are also required in the diet. The table above assumes that sugars are obtained from the foods included in the diet like fruits, tubers etc., If this is not the case, please ensure you get sugars as required. Try to get sugars from sources other than sugarcane. You can use jaggery (Gud, Vellam, Gol).

Drink water regularly throughout the day.

Pregnancy diet - How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?

A weight gain of 1 to 2 kilogram in the first trimester (Month 1 to 3), and 1.5 - 2 kgs per month in the second and third trimester (Month 4 to 9) is ideal for Indian mothers. The ideal total weight gain is thus 10 to 14 kgs for the whole pregnancy. 


1. All the data used for this article was obtained from "Nutritive Value Indian Foods", a publication of the National Instititue of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad. 
Authors: C. Gopalan, B.V. Rama Sastri, S.C. Balasubramanian, B.S. Narasinga Rao, T.G. Deosthale, K.C. Pant
We strongly recommend that a copy of this book be bought by everyone who is interested in understanding the nutritive value of the foods they eat. The information is provided clearly and concisely and the price of the 2007 edition is only Rs. 40/-. It can be obtained at all leading booksellers. If you have trouble getting it, drop us a note.


2012-12-28 22:50:33


great stuff

2010-06-20 08:08:44


Very beautiful information for all Indian pregnant women. JessyNaidu.

2010-03-24 12:11:43


This article'd be more useful if you could also include a section on foods to avoid during pregnancy.


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