QUESTIONWhat is the diet for ladies who are trying to conceive, for pregnant ladies and for women post-delivery. I prefer vegetarian food mostly. I take chicken, egg but rarely eat other non veg food. (Lekha, Kerala)

pregnancyANSWERStick to a balanced diet to boost your chances of a healthy baby. Eat several servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, and milk every day. Not getting enough nutrients can affect your periods, making it difficult to predict when you ovulate. And you may not ovulate at all if you're significantly underweight or obese.

During pregnancy, the goal is to be eating nutritious foods most of the time. For prenatal nutrition include:

Fruits and vegetables: Pregnant women should focus on fruits and vegetables, particularly during the second and third trimesters. These colourful foods are low in calories and filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals. 

Lean protein: Pregnant women should include good protein sources at every meal to support the baby's growth, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, cheese, milk and nuts.

Whole grains are an important source of energy in the diet, and they also provide fiber, iron and B-vitamins. Half of a pregnant woman's carbohydrate choices each day should come from whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta or breads and brown rice.

Dairy: Aim for 3 to 4 servings of dairy foods a day such as milk, yogurt and cheese, which provide good dietary sources of calcium, protein and vitamin D. 

There's no magic pill to help you lose weight after Pregnancy. A healthy diet combined with regular exercise is the best way to shed the pounds and to keep them off. And it's important to exercise while trying to lose weight to ensure you're losing fat instead of muscle. Once you're begin losing weight, start by eating a little less and being more active even if you're just taking a quick walk around the block with your baby in the stroller.

QUESTIONI am a mother of an 8-year-old. I pack her off to school at 7 am in the morning and most often she skips breakfast and often eat some ready-made snacks in the morning. Can you please advise an alternative which is healthy? Also please tell me what are the most important food that she should have at this age? (Sreedevi, Kozhikode)

children dietANSWERYour child's nutrition is important to her overall health. Proper nutrition, which should include eating three meals a day and two nutritious snacks, limiting high sugar and high fat foods, eating fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products, including 3 servings of milk, cheese or yogurt to meet their calcium needs can also prevent many medical problems, including becoming overweight, developing weak bones, and developing diabetes. It will also ensure that your child physically grows to her full potential.

QUESTION I’m a media person aged 32 years. Given the nature of my work, I’m unable to perform exercise on a daily basis. Accordingly, I’ve resorted to fasting or skipping lunch once in 2-3 days to reduce fat belly. Is this a healthy practice? (Rijin Krishnaraj, Thiruvananthapuram)

ANSWERThe largest factors for fat loss are your overall caloric intake and exercise. Also, starvation mode is said to kick in after 72 hours of fasting. So, skipping lunch would really not lower your metabolism, but it could affect your energy levels for the day.

When trying to lose weight quickly it may severely restrict calorie intake or skip meals as a way to cut back on calories. While reducing caloric intake is necessary to shed unwanted pounds, skipping a meal does not lead to successful weight loss. To lose weight and keep the weight off, it is necessary to develop a lifelong healthy eating plan that should include at least three balanced meals a day and a wide variety of foods rich in the nutrients your body needs.

QUESTIONCan a person get enough nutrients through a vegetarian diet? Do vegetarians get enough iron and proteins? (Ganghadharan, Thrissur)
 

ANSWERIf you’re eating a well-balanced vegetarian diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, you are eating one of the healthiest diets on the planet. While it's true that protein is necessary, equally important for vegetarians are calcium, iron and vitamin B12.

foodNow, about getting enough iron. It’s an extremely important mineral that’s present in all cells and is essential for transporting oxygen through your body. But although it’s true that red meat is high in iron, the mineral is also available in a slew of plant foods. In fact, it’s so prevalent in vegetarian diets from soybeans to enriched cereals that many studies have documented that vegetarians actually get as much iron as meat eaters do.

Plant-derived diets tend to contribute significantly less fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and foodborne pathogens, while at the same time offering more fiber, folate, vitamin C, and phytochemicals, all essential factors for disease prevention, optimal health, and wellbeing.” And the more whole plant foods the better. If we compare the nutritional quality of vegetarian diets with  omnivorous diets, traditional healthy diet indexing systems consistently indicate that the most plant-based diet is the healthiest one.

QUESTION I’m a middle aged woman and interested in a light diet as I fear I may gain weight. However I try, my weight is 62 and does not come down. I have heard drumstick leaves boiled in water is an excellent source to reduce weight. Is it true? (Janaki, Mattannur)

ANSWERMature and young moringa leaves are edible, though the older they get the tougher they feel. While the raw leaves have a better vitamin content, in a cooked state, they’re still a good source of vitamin A, B, iron and other minerals.

Moringa leavesMoringa foliage is also low in fat and carbohydrates. While this may mean that moringa leaves don’t make you put on weight, it certainly doesn't prove that they help you lose weight. A purgative is a powerful laxative that can cause your body to lose a lot of water. Since your overall weight includes the water in your tissues, when you lose that liquid, your weight naturally drops. It is possible that someone who associates moringa leaves with weight loss is thinking of their purgative effect. Losing weight through purging is a dangerous practice that can cause dehydration.

Nutritionist Priyadarshini R Menon will answer your questions on diet, health and wellness, every fortnight. Send in your queries to english.mathrubhumi@gmail.com.