Most people believe that pregnant mothers must eat for two during pregnancy but, recent studies show that it is not entirely correct, pregnant women do not actually need to ‘eat for two’ but, the demand for certain micro-nutrients increases.
The really important thing is for you to maintain a healthy and varied diet with plenty of nutrients, beneficial for both you and the baby. The developing fetus inside the womb solely depends on the mother for all its nutritional needs. So, you need to consider your diet more during this period.
You are recommended to have plenty of starch such as rice, bread, potatoes and rich in fruits and vegetables. Moderate amounts of dairy, protein-rich foods (lean meat, fish, eggs, and pulses) and very low amount of high fatty, salty or sugary foods.
As Sri Lanka is a tropical island, you can find plenty of naturally grown fruits and vegetables, paddy cultivation, high availability of seafood and nutritionally rich native food varieties. So, you can find below foods easily and add them to your diet to feel the benefits of a healthy pregnancy. Below is a list of the top 10 Sri Lankan foods to eat during pregnancy:
Top 10 Sri Lankan Foods To Eat During Pregnancy
Dairy is an excellent source of Calcium and it is easily absorbable into your bloodstream. During pregnancy, you must take 750mg-800mg of Calcium per day. It helps keep your own bones strong and contributes to the growth of a healthy skeleton for your baby.
Dairy is also a good source of high-quality protein and provides high amounts of phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. You can easily find fresh cow milk, curd, and dairy-based products in Sri Lanka. Local buffalo milk curd, a rich source of Calcium, has 149g of Calcium per 100g of curd. 100g of curd fulfills 20% of your calcium need in the day.
2. Green leafy vegetables
Locally available green leafy vegetables like spinach, gotukola, mugunuwenna, amaranthus, kankun, Sarana, moringa leaves are rich sources of iron, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, folate and potassium. These are highly essential for pregnant women daily. Furthermore, they are rich in antioxidants. The high fiber content of them helps to prevent constipation, which is a very common problem among pregnant women.
Recent research has revealed that consuming green leafy vegetables has also been linked to a reduced risk of low birth weight.
3. Citrus fruits
Vitamin C included in citrus fruits is essential for the growth of your baby. Having adequate amounts of vitamin C helps to absorb iron, which is a key nutrient needed during pregnancy. You can find plenty of Vitamin C from locally abundant citrus fruits like Naran, lemon, ambarella, bilin, tamarind, etc. You can have citrus fruit after each meal and then it will help to release more iron from food.
Moringa is a locally available plant in Sri Lanka and both pods and leaves are nutritionally beneficial during pregnancy. It is a rich source of calcium, protein, iron, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C. You can cook moringa pods as a tasty curry and leaves as a porridge or a mallum.
5. Jack fruit
Jack fruit is also a locally available fruit in Sri Lank. This is enriched with vitamin A, Vitamin C, vitamin B1, and B2, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and zinc that is highly beneficial during pregnancy. You can eat flesh when ripe and unripe also seeds after cooking. It is a rich source of dietary fiber and helps to relieve constipation conditions that are common during this period.
Nutrients present in jack fruit aids for your bone nourishment, boost the levels of your red blood cells and prevents anemia, protect you from free radical damage, promote better eye health and improve your immune system.
6. Ash plantain
Ash plantain is a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Dietary fiber present there is highly beneficial to digestion and prevent constipation problems during this delicate phase. Also, it offers you good amounts of energy, proteins, folic acid, minerals, tissue-building elements, and minerals that help you to enjoy a healthy pregnancy.
Hathmalu is a traditional dish cooked in Sri Lanka, that is highly rich in essential nutrients needed to you during pregnancy. It is a combination of seven locally available foods and so is rich in a variety of nutrients needed. It includes of Pumpkin, Brinjal, Carrots, Mukunuwenna/ Kankun, Cowpea, Sprats, Jack seeds and additionally with Coconut oil/ Coconut milk and Spices. You can consider this to be one of the best Sri Lanka foods to eat during pregnancy.
Fish is a good source of protein and it is highly available in Sri Lanka. Apart from proteins, omega 3 fatty acids are highly available in fish. The omega-3 fatty acid is a special kind of healthy fat that builds your baby’s brain and eyes. Fish is a rich source of vitamin D and iron, also essential nutrients needed during pregnancy.
9. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene, a plant compound that is converted to vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is essential for the growth of most cells and tissues of the fetus. Furthermore, sweet potatoes contain dietary fiber as well.
As it is an abundant root crop in Sri Lanka, this is one of the top Sri Lankan foods to eat during pregnancy. You can include boiled sweet potato or as a curry to your daily diet.
10. Banana flower
Eating banana flowers during pregnancy is excellent since it provides a long list of benefits for you and your baby. Moreover, this locally available food is even easy to be made into several dishes in a delicious way. Banana-flower is a rich source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
According to recent research studies, the banana-flower can stimulate the production of breast milk, reducing morning sickness, treating for constipation and preventing anemia.
Including a variety of locally available foods to your diet is not only beneficial to you but also an easy and cost-effective way. They are fresh and full of essential nutrients needed. Although these foods are beneficial, having in moderation is important as too much eating any food will lead to bad situations in later life.
You will get nutrient toxicities for certain nutrients in overdose. So, keep in mind that always be in moderation and have a happy pregnancy.
You may also want to read:
- World Breastfeeding Week: 5 Breastfeeding Tips for New Mommies
- Antibiotics Risks During Pregnancy: Are You Aware?
- Recommended Dietary allowances for Sri Lankans – 2007 Department of Nutrition, Medical Research Institute, Colombo
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service
- Food composition database for Sri Lankans