Confinement food is a crucial part of the confinement period, which can help women recover faster and have enough iron for breastfeeding. However, there are a few things that you should avoid eating during confinement.
You should avoid foods with a cooling nature, such as bitter melon, radish and tomatoes. Instead, you should focus on consuming balancing confinement food such as ginger and oats.
Meat and fish
The confinement period is an important time for new mothers to rest and recover after delivery. It is also a good opportunity for them to adopt better eating habits that can promote their health and well-being, including breastfeeding. This is because many of the foods that are consumed during this time have important nutrients such as iron, folate and healthy oils from fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. In addition, consuming foods that warm the body such as ginger can help boost blood circulation and strengthen the joints and muscles.
A carbohydrate-rich dietary pattern with a high score for cereals, bakery and pastries, tubers and plantains, sugar or sugar cane beverages and snacks emerged before and during confinement, although variations were observed by regions (Supplementary Figure 1). Moreover, fried foods were consumed more frequently in Orinoquia and Amazonas than in Bogota.
During confinement, women also consumed more protein-rich foods such as eggs, milk and dairy products, fish and meat. The consumption of these foods, especially fish and meat, is beneficial to new mothers because they are a good source of protein and zinc which are important for the development of the baby’s brain. In addition, these foods are also rich in iron, which is essential for the formation of red blood cells and normal functioning of the lungs.
Dairy foods are nutrient-dense, affordable and easy to digest. They provide protein, calcium and other micronutrients (such as phosphorus and potassium) important for bone health and muscle function. In addition, dairy foods may play a role in the regulation of body weight.
Dairies are a key part of a balanced diet, and are recommended by nutrition guidelines for healthy eating patterns across the world (1). These foods include milk, yoghurt and cheese which can be eaten in a variety of ways. Add milk to your morning oats, sprinkle some cheese on a taco or dunk a piece of natural yoghurt into your favourite smoothie.
Alternatively, try some cheese in a sandwich or spread some on a piece of toast. Cheese is a food produced by coagulating milk, separating curds from whey and letting it ripen with the help of bacteria or other flavour-enhancing moulds. Cheese can be made in a wide range of textures, flavours and ages, and is an excellent source of calcium (2).
Other dairy products include butter, ghee and cream, which can be used in cooking or as dressings. They are high in fat, but also contain essential fatty acids and vitamin A (3). For those who cannot eat dairy, there are many plant-based choices for a nutrient-dense diet including almond, coconut and oat “milks”, which may be fortified with calcium, but do not belong in the dairy group.
In Asian cultures, the postpartum period is a time of confinement for new mothers to rest and recover. This includes a restrictive diet and a set of practices that aim to purge “wind” from the body and promote milk supply. It also aims to prevent infection and heighten personal hygiene. Traditionally, this period lasts for three months after birth.
During confinement, it is important to consume foods that are rich in iron and vitamins. This includes vegetables and fruits. Veggies such as apricots, avocados, bananas, spinach and sweet potato can help boost breast milk production and boost energy levels. Cereals are also an important source of iron and protein. It is recommended that new mothers avoid foods that are too cooling, such as bitter melon and radish, or legumes such as mung beans. These should be replaced with balancing ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, oats and quinoa.
A study in a multi-ethnic Asian cohort identified four dietary patterns. Adherence to the Traditional-Chinese Confinement Diet and the TIC diet were inversely associated with EPDS and probable PPD symptoms, respectively. Similarly, the Soup-Vegetables-Fruits diet was inversely associated with symptoms of state-anxiety. This pattern is likely to be protective against mental health disorders because it includes a high intake of herbs and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress.
A cereal is any grass cultivated for its edible grains (botanically, the fruit of the plant called a caryopsis). These crops are produced in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other crop. They are often referred to as staple crops and include wheat, rice, barley, oats, rye and maize. Edible grains from other plant families are also considered cereals, such as buckwheat, millet and quinoa.
Grains and cereals are used in a variety of foods from bread to pasta to beer. They can be cooked, steamed or roasted and are usually processed in some way after harvesting. For example, grinding wheat creates flour that is used for baking, crushing barley makes malt that is an important ingredient in beer production and oats are commonly made into granola bars.
Eating a variety of grains and cereals every day helps ensure that you’re getting enough nutrients. You can eat them by themselves or combine them with dairy and fruits to make a nutritious and easy-to-prepare meal. Many packaged and ready-to-eat cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals, including iron, iodine, vitamin B6, B12, calcium, phosphorus, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin D and phytonutrients.
Try to avoid foods that are too cooling during confinement, such as bitter melon, radishes and tomatoes, as these can make you feel unwell. Instead, include more balancing ‘warming’ foods such as ginger, adzuki beans and cinnamon.