3.3 Food & diet

The FGDs and KIIs produced a wealth of information on dietary preferences, restrictions, and taboos. So much so, that they were pulled out for separate analysis and discussion. Here we focus on references that occurred in the FGDs and KIIs, but note that the quantitative survey also contains a great deal of information on diet and food choice.

ASHAs and mothers are both avoiding some nutritious foods. Miscarriage is a common concern for consuming high acidic, sour foods during pregnancy.

In this table, typing “halwa” in in the “food reworked” column shows that this common sweet is recommended by multiple health influencers as a food to add postpartum. Foods easy to digest such as Halwa align with Ayurvedic recommendation to be concerned about digestion during pregnancy and postpartum.

Table 3.4: Searchable table of food-related practices Traditional Ayurvedic Recommendation

Ayurvedic principles and practices provide unique recommendations for individual pregnant mothers to achieve a balanced state. In general, pregnant women are considered to be in a ‘hot’ state and should consume cold foods (bitter, sweet, astringent) and other easily digestible foods while avoiding heating foods (sour, pungent, salty) to balance their doshas. A wide range of ‘cooling,’ nutritious foods such as milk, apples, pulses, and pomegranates are added to the pregnancy diet by mothers and ASHAs. A wide range of ‘cooling,’ nutritious foods such as wood apple, papaya, and pickled foods are also frequently avoided during the postpartum period. Many of the avoided foods are sour, salty and oily, which risk creating imbalance due to their heating properties and compromise digestion, according to Ayurvedic principles.