As an expectant mother, what you eat may affect not just your health but that of your foetus, too. While Western medical doctors advise mums-to-be to stick to a balanced diet, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), pregnant women are told to steer clear of foods that are deemed too “cooling” or “heaty”.
YS Healthcare TCM physician Lim Lay Beng explains that it’s because these tough-to-digest foods may compromise how your spleen and stomach function. In TCM, the spleen breaks down food nutrients, turning them into qi — which refers to your life force — and blood. If your spleen is weakened, this may trigger or aggravate morning sickness, kill your appetite, and also cause your stomach to bloat, as well as give rise to constipation.
When you’re pregnant, changes in your body’s hormones will leave you with a yin deficiency, which results in excess internal “heat”. Lim points out, “You’ll feel hot easily and may suffer from palpitations, constipation, feel thirsty and have a bitter taste in your mouth.”
“You’ll feel hot easily and may suffer from palpitations, constipation, feel thirsty and have a bitter taste in your mouth.”
This lack of yin may slow down your body’s energy levels and trigger morning sickness, oedema (water retention), high blood pressure and constipation. So, reduce your intake of/avoid the following foods:
* Deer meat (venison)
* Pumpkin and squash
* Longan (龙眼肉)
* Lychee (荔枝)
* Walnuts (核桃仁)
* Aloe vera
* Chinese pearl barley
* Canned foods and drinks
* Preserved foods
Noting that pregnant women should only take customised herbal tonics and not off-the- shelf ones, Lim adds, “A prescription of various herbs not only boosts the effectiveness of treatment but also works to minimise the side effects of certain herbs.”
She stresses that mothers-to-be should refrain from self-medicating as the wrong use of TCM supplements can harm both the mother and her foetus. Observe these simple dietary recommendations, instead:
* Avoid overeating or starving yourself This is to strengthen your spleen and stomach functions while ensuring regular bowel movements.
* Avoid too salty foods Salty foods can worsen water retention, especially in the third trimester where oedema can be a serious issue.
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