Lactating Indian mothers - Meal planning

Parentree-editors 2008-08-17 07:34:41

Indian mothers need to maintain a high quality diet when they are breastfeeding their baby.  In this tip, we help you create a balanced diet during lactation.

Read our article about the various foods that give you the nutrition you need when you are breastfeeding - Lactating Indian mothers - Healthy foods

Lactation diet - Recommended Dietary Allowances

The National Institute of Nutrition, a part of the Indian Council of Medical Research has created Recommended Dietary Allowances during lactation for Indian mothers. These are shown in the table below.

Lactation recommended dietary allowances Indian women

One other critical piece of data that lactating Indian women need to know is how different this diet is from the diet of a non-lactating women. The table shows that too.

As you can see, lactation requires Indian women to consume a healthy increment of energy, proteins, fat etc.  However, the extra energy that is required is only 400 - 550 kcal/day and any consumption above this will only add empty calories and weight to the mother.   So focus on nutrition, rather than the quantity of the food you eat.

Food Groups System

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

Building a meal plan for lactation

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

Food group Quantity/serving Servings/day
Cereals & Grains 60 grams 6
Pulses & Beans 30 grams 4-5
Milk and milk products 150 ml 2
Green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, roots and tubers 100 grams 4-5
Fruits 50 grams 4

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 table 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.

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.

Drink water regularly throughout the day.


In combination with the members of each food group that we have highlighted in our article (Lactating Indian mothers - Healthy Foods), this guide can help you create wholesome healthy meals that will give Indian mothers and their developing babies the right nutrition for a healthy 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  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.


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