Pregnancy isn’t a random event. Trying to get pregnant can be pretty stressful though. You want to know how and what to eat to get pregnant faster. Thankfully, researchers have gone ahead of us, and here are the most important food habits for a pre-pregnancy diet. Don’t leave it to whim!
Nutrition is an essential component for healthy, high-chance conception and pregnancy. It’s also one of the factors we have the most control over when trying to get pregnant. Depending on the person, you eat around 3-6 times per day. Every bite, for both partners, is an opportunity to provide the building blocks necessary for producing the egg and sperm that will become your baby!
That’s why eating a healthy diet is essential to conception.
In my approach to supporting and boosting fertility, here are 7 food habits that I have my patients incorporate into their everyday life. These seven habits are the building blocks to a healthy, pre-conception diet.
1. Try to buy and eat clean—but what does that mean?
A. Fresh, unrefined foods
To boost your chances of getting pregnant, try to eat fresh, unrefined foods. Ideally choose organic and in-season produce when possible.
Do you have a farmer’s market by you? A quick search online will direct you to local growers, or try checking the USDA’s national directory of farmers markets. At farmers markets, farmers will only sell their best produce and goods that are in-season.
B. Grass-fed, pasture-raised organic meat
Likewise, try to choose meat that is organic, ideally grass-fed and pasture-raised. Organic meat helps ensure the animals were not exposed to polluting chemicals, hormones or antibiotics. These toxins are easily stored in the fatty tissues of the animals. You don’t want any hormone-disrupting toxins while trying to get pregnant.
C. Prioritize which foods need to be organic
If your budget, location, or time doesn’t allow much flexibility for an overhaul of your pantry, here are some lists of foods that you can use as guidelines of what to watch out for.
You need to prioritize eating more fruits and vegetables (see below), whether organic or not. Aim for organic produce, when possible, but not at the cost of eating your veggies.
If you cannot afford to buy organic produce, the clean 15 are the best non-organic fruits and vegetables to eat while focusing on fertility.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) evaluates popular fruits and vegetables each year and ranks them by pesticide contamination. These fruits and vegetables are tested after they have been washed and prepared for consumption, not just after harvesting. With this list you can equip yourself with the know-how on which foods to definitely buy organic, pesticide-free when you can.
The EWG also has a Clean 15 list, a yearly rank of produce that can be eaten non-organically as they have the lowest levels of pesticide residues. Some great options on this list include avocados, asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms.
2. Eat at least 3x a day while trying to get pregnant.
Eat at least 3 meals per day. Do not skip meals. Also, try not to go more than 4 hours without eating during the day. Choose high protein/fat snacks over carbohydrate snacks, especially over processed carbs. This is important for blood sugar balancing, which affects stress hormones like cortisol and thus, your reproductive hormones.
A fun rule of thumb I tell fertility patients is to eat:
- Breakfast like a queen
- Lunch like a princess
- Dinner like a pauper
That means to eat a hearty breakfast, filling (but not overloaded) lunch, and a light dinner. Try to finish dinner at least 3 hours before bed. If you go to bed at 10pm, try to finish your meal by 7pm at the latest. Like the foods you choose, the cadence of your meals is a vital component of your blood sugar and hormone balancing.
Not sure of where your levels are at now? Book an appointment with me and get started with in-home testing to find out.
3. Make room for vegetables.
Vegetables should be the focus of every meal, including breakfast! Add asparagus and mushrooms to your omelet or butternut squash to your lunch salad. You have limited space in your stomach, so capitalize on the volume by filling it with highly nutritious and fibrous foods.
Another good rule to follow is to “eat the rainbow,” meaning that adding colorful vegetables to your plate will help you get a diverse range of nutrients. Some of my favorite parts of the “rainbow” include red tomatoes, orange (or purple) carrots, a variety of bell peppers, green kale, blueberries, purple cabbage, and more!
4. Think of protein as your sidekick.
Protein sources like eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, legumes, etc. need to be included with every meal and snack to support blood sugar balance.
(Hint: Seafood and fish count both toward your Omega-3’s and your protein needs.)
Don’t forget, your blood sugar levels also communicate to your body about how to adjust your hormone levels. And hormones are vital to your journey to conception and pregnancy!
That’s why diet is so interconnected to supporting fertility with a naturopathic plan. Some quick hacks for easy protein add-ons include hard-boiled eggs, pre-cooked shredded chicken, and a healthy trail mix.
5. Let your body love good fats.
When you’re trying to conceive, fat is GOOD! Healthy fats help to produce hormones necessary for fertility. Like protein, try to eat with each meal/snack. Consider adding coconut cream, ground seeds, avocado, or nuts.
- Avoid “trans fats”, also known as “partially hydrogenated” oils. These are in commercial nut butters, margarine, and many snack foods.
- Eat more omega-3 containing foods, including:
- Ground seeds like flax, chia, sesame, sunflower or hemp seeds
- Eat more seafood and clean, WILD-caught fish (the richest source). Seafood Watch has a consumer guide list they put out annually for each state.
- Grass-fed meat is important because animals that are also fed corn have a higher level of omega-6 fatty acids. The omega-3 to -6 ratio has a huge influence on inflammation in the animals’ bodies and our bodies too.
6. Cut back on simple carbs, especially processed carbs.
What’s a simple carbohydrate? The classification of carbohydrates includes fiber, starch, and sugar. Simple carbs are associated with sugar, which can be found naturally in fruit but also added as raw sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, or sucrose.
Aim to cut back on added sugars and sugary beverages like juice or soda. These simple carbs cause your blood glucose levels to spike and plummet. When you instead eat healthy high fiber, complex carbs, your levels rise at a steady and more stable rate.
“Working with Alicia on choosing a low sugar, whole grain, high protein diet has changed my quality of life dramatically. My blood sugars are more stable, I feel more clear-minded, and have the energy to keep up with my wild animal of a 3 year old.”Natalia from Washington
7. Drink less alcohol and caffeine than what you think is “healthy.”
In an ideal world, none of my patients would crave their morning coffee, afternoon pick-me-up, or evening cocktail. But hey, we all enjoy the simple pleasures of caffeine and alcohol once in a while. My best advice here is to drink less than what you think might be healthy. When it comes to alcohol, try not to exceed 1-2 beverages in a sitting or day and try not to drink every day. We have all heard how beneficial a glass of red wine can be, but when it comes to hormones, alcohol interrupts your body’s internal communications—leading to crossed wires or lagging signals. For caffeine, limit your intake to the morning so your body has time to deplete it before you lay down to rest.
In short, what you eat when trying to get pregnant matters. It influences how fast you get pregnant and the health of your pregnancy and future baby. Incorporate a few simple food habits to boost your fertility and get pregnant naturally.
Which of these habits is the easiest for you to incorporate? The hardest? Or do you have some tips to share on ways to maintain these habits? Let us know in the comments.
Nailed down your diet habits but still need answers to your fertility journey? Book an appointment to get started on your personalized, preconception detoxification.