Fasting during Navratri? Here are some diet tips for pregnant women


India has a wide range of cultures and festivals, which involve both fasting and partying. Navratri among Hindus is one of the most common fasts observed. Navratri comes twice a year during the period of seasonal change, when the human body is vulnerable and susceptible to getting sick. So, during this nine-day festival, people avoid non-vegetarian dishes, onion, garlic, grains, alcohol and tobacco. But the type of fast and the duration differ from one individual to another.

Fasting has many benefits, such as boosting immunity, lowering LDL cholesterol, improving gut bacteria, while improving strength and vitality, as well as hormones. But there are certain ways to adhere to the fast, such as consuming a variety of hydrated fruits and vegetables before the fast. This helps in a slow release of calories and keeps you hydrated and full throughout the day.

Remember, overdoing it can lead to weight gain. Also, since salt stimulates thirst, avoid salty foods. Go for more fried and baked foods rather than deep-fried. Make sure the food is not very oily or greasy, as you might feel tired the next day.


During Navratri, make sure that the diet is balanced, including all nutrients. It basically works on complex carbohydrates which involve different grains on the plate with a vegetarian source of protein and fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants. This diet helps detoxify the system from toxins as well as boost immunity. Keep the simple meal rule, 30% carbohydrates + 30% good protein + 30% high fiber vegetables.

Can pregnant women fast during Navratri?

Expectant mothers are not allowed to fast for long hours as this could affect the growth of the baby. Pregnant women will be allowed to fast with the doctor’s consent, but ensuring that they incorporate small, frequent, nutrient-dense meals throughout the day. Pregnant mothers should work more on the quality of nutrients than on the quantity. Consuming healthy foods at regular intervals is necessary because the nutrients go to the growing baby. The state of hydration is also very important during the fasting period.

Balancing macronutrients and micronutrients properly is something pregnant women should stick to during this time.

Remember to start the day with a good source of fiber and protein like fruits, milk and nuts. For breakfast, opt for fruit yogurts with nuts and seeds or milkshakes or smoothies. Always remember to hydrate yourself in the middle of the day by drinking tender coconut water, lassi or buttermilk. Lunch should be balanced, with either optional millets for a roti or rice with adequate squash vegetables and a fiber dense vegetable with curd / paneer / tofu for protein. Opt for evening vegetable soups with makana or any fruit or vegetable salad to snack on to curb unhealthy and carb-based cravings. Dinner can be a kichadi or rotis with a good balance and end with dried fruit, milkshake or milk. Getting the right amount of carbohydrates along with the right amount of protein for good growth for the baby along with the right amount of fruits and vegetables for antioxidants will work best.

Check out some tips that should be followed by pregnant moms:

  • Choose whole grains that provide energy and fiber. Examples are buckwheat, sabudana, millets, ragi, amaranth, samak, etc.

  • Opt for vegetarian sources with every meal like paneer, curds, milk, tofu, legumes and sprouts. It helps in growth and improves muscle condition.

  • Indulge in plenty of fruits and vegetables to increase your antioxidant range like apple, pear, potato, pumpkin, lauki veg, etc.

  • Hydrate with water and other fluids like soups and porridge to boost metabolism.

  • Avoid sugars and sweets and replace them with nuts and fruits to get the natural sugars and boost immunity.

  • Avoid fried and packaged foods and caffeine which generally slows down the metabolism.

  • Avoid whole milk / condensed milk as it can overload the system and also cause lethargy.

  • This season, incorporate plenty of foods rich in vitamin A into your diet like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, orange, musk melon, etc.

Make sure you eat small but frequent meals to maintain your stamina and keep you functioning throughout the day.

Example diet

Type of meal



Sabudana kitchadi

Buckwheat poru

Banana or chicken shakes with nuts and seeds

Multigrain Kozhukattai / Adai

Millet Pongal

Fruit smoothies with yogurt + nuts and seeds


Coconut water / Buttermilk / Fox nut kheer / Fruits and nuts


Samak rice with sautéed vegetables + curd

Kuttu chapati + pumpkin + paneer subji

Millet rice + lauki subji + sundal

Roasted amaranth + subzi + curd

After lunch

Jeera water, Green tea

Evening snack

Makana / sabudana vada / buckwheat momos / wheat flour appam / dried fruit ladoo / sundal / soups / cucumber tomato salad / fruit yogurt

Having dinner

Milk + fruit

Fruit smoothie with curd

jowar rice upma


Milk / dried fruit milkshake

Fasting works wonders for your body as long as you balance your meal. So all the best and I wish you a healthy conscious diet this holiday season.

(The author is executive nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai.)

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