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NATURAL FRIDAYS: An Ayurvedic Diet

by Sarah on February 11th, 2011

As promised, this week I want to share with you all the foods that are good to eat whilst pregnant and breastfeeding – according to Ayurvedic principles. All of the information that I am going to share with you has been taken from Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood.

Firstly, it is important to understand a little about what is happening to our digestive systems because of hormones. In pregnancy, the dominant hormone is progesterone (which prevents the early start of labour). It causes peristalsis (a rippling motion) of the uterus, colon and other organs, and this is why so many women have problems with constipation and bloating. It’s best to avoid lots of heavy dry foods (like breads) and also things like day-old leftovers. Coffee and black tea are dehydrating, and should be kept to a minimum too!

Here’s a list of all the healthy foods that you should be eating to balance the agni (fire of digestion).

Grains

Organic whole wheat, German wheat, oats, basmati rice, millet, barley, mung beans, pasta (made from organic whole wheat, German wheat or millet), and homemade bread (from organic whole wheat, German wheat or millet).

Fruit

Ripe, juicy, sweet fruit (can be slightly cooked for easier digestion). Apples, pears, apricots, plums and pomegranates. Things like grapes and cherries, though sweet, can be bloating.

Cooked Vegetables

Carrots, celery, onion, Chinese cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumbers, sprouts, potatoes (not too many), sweet potatoes, green beans, cassava, mushrooms, asparagus, plenty of green herbs and green leaves. Note: Paprika, eggplant, potatoes, pumpkin and zucchini can cause bloating. Prepare them with warming spices like black pepper and cumin.

Nuts and Seeds

Roast these without fat in a pan: almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, and walnuts.

Fats

Sesame oil, olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, mustard oil, and ghee.

Herbs

Ginger, coriander, black pepper, celery seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, anis, cinnamon, Ayurvedic masalas (spice mixtures) and rock salt. Only use small amounts of turmeric, saffron and cardamon. Instead of salt, try to use herbs like parsely, basil, rosemary, thyme and American raspberry.

Milk Products

Organic cow’s milk, buttermilk, ghee, fresh goat cheese, fresh sheep cheese, and cream. Note: Don’t mix milk products with fruit. The milk will curdle and forms a type of cheese that in the acidic stomach that is heavy to digest and can even cause joint problems.

Nonlactic Proteins

Soy milk, tofu and miso soup (from barley or soy).

Sugar

Unrefined brown sugar, cane sugar and honey.

Beverages

Drink about 2 to 3 litres (or quarts) of hot water a day. Boil the water for 10 minutes and then pour half of it into a flask. Boil the rest of the water for 5 more minutes with 3 slices of fresh or dried ginger and 1 teaspoon of celery seeds. Add this half to the flask also. You can replace the ginger with fennel if preferred.

And there you go! The perfect diet for a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding mother. Next week I’ll share some Ayurvedic recipes with you, to help you get going with your healthy eating.