#PrenatalNutrition: Two Healthy Nigerian Lunch Options
Everyone with even the slightest knowledge of fitfam knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In pregnancy, however, every meal taken at any time is important, both to fuel the mother with the much-needed energy and to nourish the growing fetus.
Breakfast may seem a chore for women dealing with morning sickness or nausea and they might need a couple of hours to get their system settled for the day before attempting any meal. While it is ideal to fuel your body soon after you wake, some pregnant women, however, can only fuel by lunch or brunch time. So for the purpose of this article, we shall put the spotlight on lunch and share a few Nigerian lunch recipes that will both give strength and nourishment.
First, why does lunch matter?
If taken between noon and 2 pm, then it is a good time to have the heaviest meal of the day, heavy being relative to each woman. The timing gives the body enough time to properly digest and absorb the food and nutrients, so the feeling of heaviness passes before bedtime. Also, for most of us, we are still relatively active after lunch so that extra calorie burn means you don’t have to bother too much about unnecessary weight gain.
Now if you are working, making time to have a great lunch typically also gives you the much-needed break you need in your day. If you have to set an alarm for lunch and then clear out your desk to truly savour this big meal, please do. It is also a great idea to take a short walk around after a big meal as experts make a case for it per helping lower blood sugar (as a result of the muscles involved in walking), and aiding digestion and circulation. It doesn’t have to be anything long, even ten minutes is a winner. A casual stroll is all you need, not a brisk walk.
Now that we have established the importance of lunch when pregnant, here are two Nigerian lunch options that rock in pregnancy
Beans and plantain with fresh orange juice
Beans is one of the richest sources of iron and iron is one mineral that a woman needs in pregnancy to ensure she is not always lethargic. Body processes in pregnancy require a lot of energy and if the iron supply dips, a woman may become anaemic, leading her to be more tired than usual. Eating beans right in the middle of the day is a great energy booster. However, the (non-heme) iron in beans is not naturally absorbed by the body without a natural source of vitamin C accompanying it. To further explain, while beans is rich in iron, the digestion process means that the iron would just be floating around and ultimately find its way out of the body without being absorbed into the cells and organs that really need it.
However, a natural source of vitamin C helps the body absorb the iron in beans and takes it to all the organs that need them, thus translating to energy among other benefits for the mother. It is important to note that only natural sources of vitamin C can enhance absorption so drinking the vitamin C tablet or supplement does not make any difference.
Natural sources of Vitamin C like oranges, dark green leafy vegetables and strawberries are a great idea. However, my pick is oranges as they are affordable, accessible and ready to eat. Beans, of course, can be replaced with moin-moin
The second lunch option on the table is Chicken salad.
With a generous portion of chicken added to the salad, it becomes a heavy meal. The salad would consist of cabbage, carrots, sweet peppers (red, yellow or orange), sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and of course, chicken.
Adding cream or mayonnaise is not really necessary as it is high in fat and calories, so just drizzle some olive oil over it, or use some black pepper. Suya pepper also brings a nice twist to the salad. Another salad tip that works if you are not exactly in the mood to eat completely raw fruits would be to very lightly steam with a little of the chicken broth on low heat while stirring for no more than three minutes. This is enough time for the broth to fully penetrate the veggies while also reducing the crunch factor without destroying the nutrients significantly.
This meal is bursting with lots of vitamins and minerals from the salad, while chicken brings some carbs and a lot of protein to the table.
To control the calorie content of this meal, you can reduce or increase the amount of chicken. Skinning the check also reduces the calories in the chicken, this is especially important for weight watchers.
Remember that in pregnancy, you should not just eat for two, you should nourish for two, and both meals at lunchtime provide great nourishment for your bump.