In this exclusive extract from her book, ‘Kareena Kapoor Khan’s Pregnancy Bible’, the actor shares how she ate simple, home cooked meals through her pregnancies, as well as indulged her cravings
My two pregnancies were completely different from each other. But there was one common strand that ran through both of them — my obsession with pepperoni pizza! Whenever we went out with friends, it was a given that I would eat pepperoni pizza. My friends would sit across the table from me — watching in disbelief (and probably embarrassment) as I demolished one pizza after another.
All that salt intake took its toll. In my last trimester during both pregnancies, I got bloaty under the eyes. My fingers swelled up so much that I couldn’t take off my ring. I wisened up the second time around though and took off my rings by my eighth month. Forced to choose between my pepperoni and my wedding ring, I chose pepperoni!
Mind you, I am very health conscious usually. I never add extra salt to my homemade salad. I know it’s not great for me. And if I fed into my cravings on one day, I would try to be super healthy for the next two days. But then I’d fall off the wagon again. I guess there is no pregnancy without cravings.
What I ate in a day
Now I wasn’t all pizza through the nine months and did also try and eat as well as possible. When I first began working with my nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, she got me to start the morning with a banana and I’ve stuck to that. It is excellent for your iron and potassium requirements. So my day always, always begins with one banana and five almonds. This has never changed, whether or not I’m pregnant.
Breakfast was typically poha, upma or two idlis. It is the most basic Indian diet — and I can’t live without it. I made a diligent effort to stick to smaller meals (or portions), especially in my first five months during both pregnancies.
Food was how I bonded with my closest friends through both my pregnancies. While Taimur’s time was all about eating out and travelling, my second pregnancy was a little more homebound, owing to the pandemic. When I wasn’t working, we would plan many long and elaborate lunches at one home after another where I would decide what I wanted to eat and my friends would do a potluck. One would bring her awesome sambar, and the other would do her amazing potatoes. A chaat meal at my house would mean absolutely every favourite chaat item, made by my cook at home from scratch; nothing was store-bought!
Let me tell you I am a proper Punjabi at heart. I love my Indian food and need my roti, dahi, dal, sabzi every day. That’s been my lunch for years. I eat everything from lauki and turai to karela and baingan. I had a lot of south Indian food cravings (like sambar-rice or dahi-rice with grated cucumber). I also ate a lot of simple Maharashtrian dishes, such as varan-bhaat. I prefer my food cooked in mustard oil or half a teaspoon of homemade ghee. And I make an effort to try different oils round the year.
For dinner, it was usually fish or chicken (with a little smattering of red meat) with rice, maybe with a vegetable side dish. I moved between brown rice, quinoa, white rice and, on occasion, pasta for dinner.
When Saif is in the kitchen
- Saif is a really good cook. He cooked me Chinese, Thai and Malaysian and was in the kitchen twice or thrice a week, when he was not working. He did a lot of cooking during the second pregnancy in particular. The pandemic made him an even better chef! I like eating his meals because he has a light hand when it comes to seasoning and I especially love his healthy mustard chicken and a chilli chicken he makes with brown rice. This is his habit round the year, you should know — it wasn’t a special treat for his pregnant wife!
When the craving hits
Throughout my pregnancies, a glass of chaach or a fruit for the 4 to 6 pm snack craving was my thing. It’s healthy, sure; but I also found that when I ate a fruit, I didn’t miss my afternoon caffeine kick. It’s a trick I used on myself!
Fortunately for me, I had no sugar cravings — except for maybe that occasional scoop of chocolate ice-cream. Dessert has never been my thing. My sister, on the other hand, can sit in front of the TV with a big piece of chocolate cake and truly savour every bite.
My only after-dinner sweet treat — and that too not every day — would be simple homemade yoghurt in which I mixed chopped dates, cashews, pistachios and raisins. It was good for me and for my baby and was great for dealing with a spot of indigestion too.
Apart from trying to eat healthily every day, I didn’t have any special pregnancy food hacks. I did have one great pregnancy food — a mutton and paaya soup made by my cook at home. I had it once a week, if not more. It’s basically a hearty stock complete with the trotters and meat and it really strengthens the bones. As you know, a baby is predisposed to suck calcium off your bones, when it is in short supply. I was always wary about keeping my energy levels up, especially as I worked throughout both my pregnancies.
I didn’t drive myself nuts and start eating and drinking foods to promote lactation. My mother and grandmother did try to push post-delivery ghee, besan and gond ladoos on me. Culturally, we have so many post-baby traditions when it comes to food. It’s all really wonderful, and I know it comes from the heart but the gond ladoos were too heavy for me — I just couldn’t do it!
I believe it is too tough to follow a pattern set by someone else and it’s best to create your own good habits that feel like something you can follow. In any case, each pregnancy will be its own journey — I say this from experience. So whenever anyone tried to lecture me — ‘this is how you should eat/drink/behave’ — I would just listen with one ear and take it out from the other.
Edited excerpt from Kareena Kapoor Khan’s Pregnancy Bible, published by Juggernaut.