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Ayurvedic Diet for Pregnancy by Martin Gluckman


Ayurveda puts special emphasis on the diet of the mother during pregnancy. It’s ancient sages specified certain foods to be emphasized during various months of pregnancy. This will help nourish a healthy and intelligent child.


First Month


Take organic cow milk that has been boiled and left to cool. Take it once it has cooled to room temperature.


Second Month


Take boiled organic cow milk and add cardamom and jaggery and any of the sweet herbs listed below.


Third Month


Boil some milk with a tiny amount of ghee (1/2 t) and add a spoon of honey once it has cooled below skin temperature and enjoy! Make sure the honey is raw, wild and organic!


NB: Take care not to heat the honey more than 40 degrees!


Forth Month


Take boiled milk and add 12g of unsalted butter throughout the month. You can add a little organic jaggery and organic cardamom. This is a very special tonic for your unborn child in it’s 4th month. Make sure the butter is organic and fresh.


Fifth Month


Take fresh homemade ghee made from pure fresh cows milk butter. This should be taken amply during the 5th month. Take ghee only in it’s liquid form – it makes a delicious snack drizzled over jaggery – Ayurvedic Butterscotch! Make the ghee yourself if possible until it becomes crisp and golden brown. Yum!


Sixth Month


Make ghee the traditional way and while boiling it let it boil with cardamom, fennel, jaggery and any other of the mentioned sweet herbs. The ghee will become impregnated with these herbs and be a sweet elixir. Take this frequently.


Seventh Month


Repeat as per 6th month.


It is very good to rub your breasts and abdomen in this month gently with a scrub of pure sandalwood powder (you can mix it with a little rose petal powder if you like).


Eight Month


Organic oatmeal porridge cooked well with ghee, milk and some jaggery (some cardamom can be added too) is very excellent in this month.


Ninth Month


Same diet as per above, all items are fine (milk, ghee, honey and so forth).


Special Note:


Cotton swabs should be soaked in organic sesame oil and kept in the vagina for some time for oleation of the uterus and genital tract.


Sweet Herbs available in South Africa









Ashwagandha and Brahmi powders are available from Maharishi Ayurveda. Liquorice poweder is available for A.White and most health food stores.


General Dietary Guidelines


Foods to avoid: 


Heavy to digest foods such as wheat, meat (esp. red meat) and refined sugar. These foods severely decrease the digestive fire (agni) and produce mucus and toxins (aam). Deep fried foods are also heavy to digest and highly vata increasing.

Sour foods such as tomatoes, all sour fruits (oranges, pineapples, lemons, grapefruits etc.), vinegars and hot spices like chilies. These foods increase pitta and heat in the body and also reduce the digestive power (esp. tomatoes).


Fermented or fermentation increasing foods such as alcohol, cheese (esp. old and hard ones) and yeast containing foods such as marmite, veggie pâtes, soya sauce and beer. All fermented foods are sour in nature and therefore have pitta increasing qualities. Whenever there is too much pitta and heat in the intestines, fermentation is multiplied, thus resulting in gas and decreased digestive capacity.


Ice cold foods and drinks are immediate ‘killers’ for the digestive fire. They are best avoided totally, but if taken then not directly before, after or together with meals.


Avoid ready made, tinned and microwaved foods! They are devoid of real nutritional value, deplete the digestive fire and produce toxins in the body.



Foods to enjoy:


Cooked vegetables such as pumpkin, squashes, marrow, courgette, spinach, french beans, mange-tout, asparagus, fennel, sweed, sweet corn, onions, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, cellery, chicory and leeks. However, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, peppers, broad beans, kohlrabi and potatoes should only be taken occasionally. Raw vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, cellery, peppers etc.) should be avoided, but lettuce and all salad leaves can be taken at lunch time, preceding the meal and served with oil.


Pulses like mung and split mung beans, tur dal and red lentils are easy to digest, balancing and nourishing to the body. Chickpeas, chana dal, black-eyed and kidney beans should only be taken very occasionally and must be thoroughly soaked and well cooked. To get the full value from pulses they should be eaten together with grains (esp. rice). Tofu made from soya beans can also be enjoyed.


Grains including rice, oat, rye, maize, millet, amaranth, quinoa, kamut, spelt, polenta; basically everything other than wheat. Flours made from the above grains and also from potatoe and buckwheat are excellent substitutes for ‘normal’ flour. Bread (wheat free!) should only be eaten when toasted as the dry heat stops further fermentation. Porridge made without milk, but with cinnamon and cardamom, coconut flakes, soaked raisins or stewed fruit is an ideal breakfast: easy to digest, highly nutritious, warming and energizing.


Seeds and nuts such as pumpkin, sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds, pine nuts, almonds (without skin), walnuts, hazelnuts, pistaccios and brazil nuts should only be eaten in very small amounts (max. 10 daily!) as they are heavy to digest and vata increasing. They are best soaked and made into a paste or milk. Peanuts and cashewnuts should be avoided. The flesh, milk, cream and flakes of coconuts can be used liberally.  


All sweet fruits such as apples, pears, apricots, grapes, cherries, plums, sweet berries, fresh figs, dates and also pomegranate. Bananas are very cold in energy and therefore best eaten when cooked. They should be avoided while having a cough, cold, flu or mucus accumulation in the respiratory tract. Unsulphured dried fruits are okay, but have to be soaked or made into a stew.


Of all dairy products ghee (clarified butter) is the best - it is like a medicine (highly pitta reducing) and can be cooked with and added to practically everything. Normal butter is also good and definitely better then margarines and other such processed spreads! Milk should only be taken warm and, preferably, spiced with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon or turmeric. Good alternatives to cow‘s milk are soya and rice milk. Fresh cheeses such as quark, mozzarella, feta and ricotta are easier to digest then hard, old ones and are also less mucus producing. They are best enjoyed with some black pepper to stimulate agni.


If meat is eaten at all one should stick to white meat only, i.e. chicken and turkey. Fish is very hot and pitta increasing in nature and therefore best avoided. If eaten one should choose fresh water rather then sea fish.


Sweeteners: refined sugar should be replaced by jaggery (solidified sugar cane juice), raw cane sugar, date sugar, molasses, rice syrup or honey. Honey is not heat stable and becomes poisonous for the body when heated, cooked or baked.


Drinks: Black tea and coffee can be drunk, but herbal teas and decaffeinated coffee are better. Good alternatives to normal coffee are Caro or Barley Cup. Ginger tea made from fresh roots is warming, agni increasing, removes mucus and toxins and is the number one remedy for coughs and colds. However, if drunk regularly it would be too pitta increasing.


Most essential is the use of spices. Cumin, coriander, fennel and saffron are the best for balancing all doshas, increasing agni and should be used liberally. Black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds, nutmeg, all fresh herbs (particularily fresh coriander) and onions, garlic and ginger should also be used. Asafoetida reduces vata and should be added when cooking pulses, cabbage and beans to reduce their gas producing properties.





-         Cooked is better than raw!

-         Warm, sloppy, soupy meals are better than heavy, dry, solid foods.

-         Never mix milk with fruit, honey, meat or fish!

-         Never heat honey!

-         Only eat when hungry and when the last meal has been digested (after 3-4 hours).

-         To avoid diluting the digestive juices (agni) preferably drink 10 minutes before or half an hour after a meal.

-         Try to eat at regular times in the day.

-         Don’t eat too late at night and leave 1-2 hours before going to sleep.






-         Ayushakti Training Course

-         Ayurveda and Panchakarma – Sunil Joshi

-         Charaka Samhita – Vd. Bhagavan Dash

This article was published on Wednesday 07 March, 2007.
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