AskTheExpert – Ms. Neha Makkar

As we celebrate 10 years of our brand, we are also celebrating 10 years of making mother and child care better. It is this motivation which also led to our Facebook Live sessions with doctors and experts to address issues commonly faced by mothers. In this video, we have with us Neha Makkar, who specializes in nutrition and is a strong advocator of leading active and healthy lifestyle. She has taken the time to answer your Questions on mom and baby nutrition. Take a look!

Question 1: Is there a diet to follow prior to pregnancy for a healthy baby?

Answer 1: Before pregnancy one should always eat healthy food like whole foods which include wheat grains, oat meal, fresh vegetables and fruits (not juice) etc. Try to have a lot of fluids.

Question 2: What foods should be avoided during pregnancy?

Answer 2: Foods high in mercury should be avoided like seafood including crabs and octopus. Papaya and egg plant should also be avoided.

Question 3: It is my first trimester of pregnancy and I am constipated most of the time. Any food that might help?

Answer 3: It’s a common problem. Have lot of fluids, water, coconut water and have smaller meals. Chew your food properly and have smaller meals at regular intervals. You can also include milk in your diet. Ajwain in any form can also help reduce the feeling of bloating.

Question 4: Any diet that moms can follow to stay in shape if advised not to exercise much in pregnancy?

Answer 4: Your mind set is the first thing that will affect your shape. Always be positive. Include healthy food in your diet like fresh green vegetables. They help in better bowel movements and happy guts lead to a happy mood.

Question 5: I have acidity frequently at 6 months pregnancy. Any foods that are causing this?

Answer 5: So people who have lot of mood swings include lot of junk and oily food in their diet. So these should be avoided, especially during monsoon. Even carbonated and caffeinated drinks should be avoided. Replace them with coconut water, fruit infused water etc.

Question 6: I feel bloated in the first trimester. Any foods that can help reduce gas and this feeling?

Answer 6: Eat smaller meals and chew them properly. Include ajwain in your diet to reduce the bloating. You can also have ajwain infused water, parathas made with ajwain etc.

Question 7: I have not put on much weight in the second trimester. Anything that would help me and baby stay healthy?

Answer 7: That’s absolutely fine. The weight gain happens after 5 months, which is close to the end of second trimester. You can also consult your gynaecologist. Coming to the diet, make sure you have enough of fibre and protein. Include iron-rich products and folic acid and calcium in your everyday diet.

Question 8: My baby is 1.5 years old and hasn’t gained any weight in the past 6 months. Although she is physically active. Is it normal?

Answer 8: Not really. Distract your baby and try to feed her more food. She may be active but she may be lacking some nutrients. You can contact your paediatrician to get a complete check-up and diet plan. If she is a fussy eater, plan healthy meals by cooking them in a way that appeals to her taste buds.

Question 9: My baby is 7 months and hasn’t doubled her birth weight. What should I feed him?

Answer 9: At 7 months, you should start other foods and not just rely on breast milk. You can try mashed moong dal, rice water etc. If your baby has sweet tooth, you can also feed mashed potatoes, bananas and mangoes as they are great for gaining weight and also add nutrients to the baby’s diet. You can also add spices to these boiled veggies and fruits to make them tastier.

Question 10: How do I determine how much I should feed baby when I start solids?

Answer 10: Whenever you start solids for a baby, make sure the portion is 2-3 teaspoons in a day. Moong dal and ragi can be used to begin solids and the quantity should be 2-3 teaspoons for the first month and then it should be gradually increased.

Question 11: My toddler is averse to new foods and refuses to eat. Any tips?

Answer 11: Toddlers are usually fussy eaters and you need to understand what they like when it comes to food – spicy, salty or sweet. Then you can use this knowledge to tweak foods to suit their taste buds. For example, if your toddler likes ice cream, you can offer them mashed fruits topped with chopped nuts for a healthy treat!

Question 12: What are some healthy food options for toddlers?

Answer 12: It depends on what your toddler likes as every kid is different. You need to decorate your food and make it look attractive for them to want to eat it. Infuse their preferred taste into each food that you make. If your toddler likes pizza, you can give them ajwain paratha topped with ghee, which is very good for health. Top it with boiled veggies and grated cheese to make it appealing.

Question 13: My toddler is very fond of junk food and gets fussy when denied. How do I change her habits?

Answer 13: Changing habits of a toddler is difficult. You can also try it with rewards – like saying that they can only go to the park if they finish a bowl of vegetables. So find out what they really like and then come up with a healthy trade off.

Question 14: Any tips for fussy eater toddlers?

Answer 14: First of all, make sure your toddler gets enough fluids. This could be in the form of fruit/ vegetable juices, coconut water, shakes etc. You should come up with fusion recipes that look pretty – humans especially toddlers eat first with their eyes and then with their mouth.

Question 15: Any diet that I should follow post birth?

Answer 15: For a lactating mother, diet is important. Make sure that you add enough nutrients to your diet so that your baby is nourished. Everyone has different amount of nutrients that need to be replenished. Make sure you have enough fats, carbohydrates, protein and concentrate on iron, folic acid and calcium. Due to childbirth, you undergo many changes and these should be replenished.  A lot of nutrients are also passed on to your baby when they are being breastfed. Include whole foods in your diet like ragi, wheat bran, green vegetables, oatmeal, chicken etc. For a month, start with dals and other pulses. Include fat in the form of olive oil by using it for cooking dals etc. It also helps in bowel movement.

Question16: Are there specific foods that should be consumed by a breastfeeding mother?

Answer 16: There are foods that help increase the amount of milk that your body produces for the baby. Try to have foods that are nutrient-rich as your baby is completely dependent on your feed. Papaya, sesame seeds, pulses and whole grains would be helpful.

Question 17: My toddler is allergic to dairy products. Any substitutes for a healthy diet?

Answer 17: Toddlers allergic to dairy products usually lack calcium and protein in their diet, which at their age is very important. Vegetarians can add soya to their diet in the form of soya chunks, soya roti etc. Non-vegetarians can go for chicken, mutton and eggs.

Question 18: What are some good options for breastfeeding moms that won’t add more weight but help milk production?

Answer 18: Every food has calories in it. So you have to figure out which food is nutrient-dense and gives complete nutrition to your body. Once you add more nutrients, you will start losing weight. So don’t worry about the calories and just consider nutrient rich food.

Question 19: How to reduce weight post pregnancy?

Answer 19: Once you start breastfeeding, you automatically start losing weight. However, some people have stubborn weight which is difficult to lose. If you are deficient in any vital vitamin or mineral, it will be difficult for you to lose weight. Always eat healthy and add whole food to your diet.

Question 20: I am a mother of 47 days old baby and want to know how can I lose my belly fat?

Answer 20: There are couple of exercises that you can do which can be helpful. One is while you’re sitting, squeeze in your stomach, hold your breath for 10 seconds and relax. Do it 10-12 times a day. Another thing is that the bloating makes you feel fat. So increase your fluid intake, have infused water like cucumber and parsley or ajwain. Also do light exercises and you should be okay!

Question 21: Should small kids be introduced to packaged foods like chips?

Answer 21: No. We should always come up with healthy recipes that will be helpful for toddlers and would give enough nutrients to kids. Instead of introducing them to chips, we can give them zucchini or eggplant based chips. You can cut them into thin slices, roast them till they turn crispy, add some spices and give them in a beautiful bowl. This would give them enough nutrients and keep them away from fried food.

Question 22: Should we drink lukewarm water or lukewarm lemon-honey water during morning?

Answer 22: Start your day with normal water, don’t have lukewarm or lemon infuse or any infused water. This is because of the fact that the pH value of your stomach is set in that period. So start your day with normal filtered water that is at room temperature, followed by lukewarm water or lemon water or any infused water. That ways your stomach will be stabilised to handle any sort of a shock and sometimes very rarely, but we have seen people who actually develop ulcers if they start having a lot of hot water/drinks. This is due to the myth that if we have a lot of hot drinks we will lose weight/belly fat. So don’t do that, start your day with normal water.

Question 23: Is consuming chocolates good or bad for kids between the age of 5-10 years?

Answer 23: Definitely it is not a good habit because that contains a lot of sugar. But again the question that arises is how you keep them away from these things. Gradually start moving them to healthier food options. Instead of giving them a whole bar of chocolate, give them chocolate shake. This way you are giving them milk, they are getting enough calcium and vitamins and are also getting the taste of the chocolate.

Question 24: What do I cook for my 3.5 years old daughter that is healthy as well as tasty?

Answer 24: It depends on your daughter’s taste preferences. Basically the idea is to come up with healthier recipes for their favourites like homemade pizza on ajwain paratha or homemade zucchini or eggplant chips etc. And instead of carbonated drinks, try nimbu pani. Some kids are into samosa and noodles, so use whole wheat foods. For example, use whole wheat pasta etc. for them.

Question 25: My son is 1 year and 2 months old. He is very weak. My son’s weight is 7kg. His main problem is fever. Fever comes very soon. Doctor says that fever’s main cause is summer. Please tell me what can I do?

Answer 25: Add more fluids to your son’s diet – water, juice, milk etc. At least 6-7 cups of water is required by him. Oranges and mausambi are good fruits to have during this period. This will help in frequent urination which will help tackle the fever.

Question 26: How good is warm water and apple cider vinegar for our health?

Answer 26: It is good for health as it helps reduce belly fat. However, as mentioned earlier, start your day with normal water and then any warm and infused fluid. Some people have the tendency to develop acidity due to this drink, so make sure you have heavier meals.

We hope you enjoyed the video and got the answers to your questions! Watch this space for our next video, in which we will have our yoga expert on board!

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