Discuss some of the factors you would consider while planning meals for lactating woman.

Following are some of the factors that should be considered while planning meals for pregnant woman:

  1. It is important that the expectant mother gets the right amount and kind of food, so that the health of foetus does not suffer. Enough energy food should be supplied to ensure that the dietary protein is used for building new tissues and not utilized to meet the energy requirements. Protein of good quality e.g. milk, egg, fish, meat need to be used. Good quality protein may be achieved by a combination of vegetable proteins and milk. Intake of vitamins and minerals should be sufficient by including liberal amounts of leafy vegetables, other vegetables and fruits.
  2. During the period of nausea and vomiting, some plan be made to include carbohydrate foods available during early morning.
  3. Since the pregnant woman is not able to eat much at a time, meals must be planned with smaller intervals i.e. 5-6 small meals. Some women may prefer three large meals.
  4. The meals must also be placed to provide for drinks such as buttermilk, milk, or lemon juice and simple snacks between meals. Taking lemon juice or orange juice in the morning and before meals helps to relieve the nausea of pregnancy.
  5. To meet the additional iron need, foodstuffs like whole grain cereals, whole pulses, some leafy vegetables like mustard leaves, bathua etc., dried fruits, eggs, organ meats should be included in the diet.
  6. The liking and tolerance of the pregnant woman should be kept in mind, especially in the early part of pregnancy.
  7. Rich, sweet, fried and other fatty foods should be avoided. These are more harmful than helpful.
  8. The restriction of salt may be necessary, consumption of pickles, chutneys, etc. rich in salt must be avoided.
  9. Variety in terms of colour, texture and flavour is necessary, especially if the expectant mother does not feel hungry.
  10. During pregnancy due to foetal pressure, constipation is common. Therefore, larger quantities of foods rich in dietary fibre like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals, husked pulses with plenty of fluids need to be included in the diet.
  11. Socio-economic status of the expected mother should be kept in mind and cheap yet nutritious food items may be selected for a woman belonging to low SES. e.g. groundnuts, jaggery and leafy vegetables for cheap iron sources.
  12. Meals should be served in a pleasant atmosphere.

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