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What should be the ideal diet after a caesarean section?

Q: My 28-year-old daughter delivered a baby girl last month by a caesarean section. What should be her diet and what should be avoided? Can she take milk?

A:Eating a variety of nutritious foods will help ensure that she consumes enough calories for her and her baby. Unfortunately, far too often people think boring when they hear that they have to eat healthy. But eating well doesn't have to mean depriving herself of certain foods. She can still have a mithai after dinner if she wants, just see that she doesn't eat the whole the box. All foods can be a part of a healthy diet as long as she consumes things in moderation. Easy ways of consuming healthier foods is to include lots of raw or steamed fruits and vegetables in her diet. Also, choose foods that are made with whole grains and that haven't been processed too much. Ideally, she should try and spread out her meals. Have small meals and snacks throughout the day instead of just three big meals a day. Remember, what she eats is more important than how much she looks like she is eating. Also, try to eat foods that are rich in protein, iron or calcium, all of which are needed for her and the baby’s healthy development. Her daily intake for each of the food groups increases after delivery. If she is lactating, she will need 4 to 6 servings of dairy every day (a serving is equal to 250 ml of milk or two square slices of cheese, therefore 6 servings means 1 and a half litre of milk). She will also need 6 to 11+ servings of grains (a serving is equal to one slice of bread, 1 chapatti, or one cup of cooked rice, therefore 11 servings means 11 chapattis or more for the day) along with 3 to 4 servings of protein (two tablespoons of pulses, one to two eggs, or a 100 gm piece of chicken/ fish is one protein serving). She will need four servings of fruit a day while she will need up to five servings of vegetables a day (a serving is one medium size fruit or vegetable, 125 ml of 100% fruit juice, or a cup of salad). When she is in a rush, try some of these speedy meals.

  • Cup or bowl of vegetable soup with a whole grain toast
  • Chicken sandwich in half of a whole wheat bread with lots of veggies
  • 1 bowl oat porridge cooked in milk + 1 fruit.
  • Bowl of fruit salad with custard
  • Baked (or micro waved) potato topped with shredded cheese Here are some things she should avoid while she is lactating
  • Fast food, fried food and junk food. These are high in fat and calories and have very little nutritional value.
  • Processed foods. The more your food has been handled, the fewer nutrients it will contain. Choose whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables more often.
  • Sauces, gravies especially those made in mughlai restaurants and butter. They all contain lots of fat and calories. Look for low-fat versions like a simple tomato based gravy whenever possible.
  • Pizzas. Although they can be convenient, they can also be loaded with fat and calories
  • Don't skip breakfast. Both she and her baby need to start the day off right. Missing breakfast means that she will need to spend the rest of the day catching up in calories and this may cause her to overeat. Don't over-serve. Keep her portions small; she can always take seconds if she is still hungry. This will also keep her from eating too much.


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