The physical connect to emotional well being

It is often said you are what you eat. This is true for the motherto-be and the child. The food that the mother eats has a direct impact on her emotions and, in turn, has an impact on her baby in the womb. That is why our grandmothers insist on satisfying the food cravings of pregnant women. A lot is written on why food cravings occur during pregnancy and I intuitively believe that some of our cravings come from the wishes of our unborn child. I used to feel nauseous during my pregnancy whenever I ate any non-vegetarian food. My son at the age of 3 made the conscious decision to turn vegetarian. I believe that he was conceived with a vegetarian blueprint!

‘I remember my mother and grandma would strictly monitor the food I ate when I was pregnant. I was kept off all fried food. They adamantly refused to use any refined products. My grandma had a very good explanation for all this. She used to say, “the fresher you eat, the fresher you feel, the happier you are, the happier your baby is!”’ says Rashmi, 32, a filmmaker. Ever feel like eating comfort food when something goes wrong? Food affects our mood. Knowing this can help a pregnant woman eat foods that keep her in a well balanced emotional state. ‘Dietary changes can bring about changes in our brain structure (chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behaviour. For example, the connection between carbohydrates and moods is all about tryptophan, a nonessential amino acid. As more tryptophan enters the brain, more serotonin is synthesized in the brain, and mood tends to improve. Serotonin, known as a mood regulator, is made naturally in the brain from tryptophan with some help from the B vitamins.1 According to researchers from Arizona State University, a very low carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet was found to enhance fatigue. ‘Foods thought to increase serotonin levels in the brain include fish and Vitamin D. Researchers from the University of Toronto noticed that people who were suffering from depression, particularly those with seasonal affective disorder, tended to improve as their Vitamin D levels in the body increased over the normal course of a year. But it’s important to make smart carbohydrate choices like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which also contribute important nutrients and fibre. Ayurveda divides food into the categories satvik, rajasaic, and tamasik. Satvik food (like fruit, dairy products, legumes) is that which grows above the ground, is freshly prepared, energizes the body, and adds vitality. These foods induce a sense of fulfilment and contentment. Rajasaic are foods that are spicy and salty (like garlic, ginger, onion, tea and coffee) and induce emotions like hate and anger. Tamasik is food that is prepared with a lot of ghee, butter, and oil. Such foods can make one feel heavy and sleepy. Consumption of freshly prepared food that is light to digest helps you gain the required weight and ensures you have a happy pregnancy.

Enjoy Your Pregnancy

Generate positivity through your pregnancy by:

• meditating for a few minutes daily to maintain a calm state of mind;

• reflecting on how you are going through such wonderful changes;

• doing things that engage you;

• being in the present. Do not brood over the past or worry about the future; and

• watching your emotions and learning to handle them.