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Eat to Conceive

By Kimberly A. Tessmer, RD, LD

Eat to Conceive

Did you know that bad eating habits can impact your ability to become pregnant? On the flip side, good nutrition can give you an edge while trying to conceive. Following these 4 tips can help ensure better health for both you and baby once you become pregnant.

Improve your overall diet

Good nutrition can help boost fertility for both women and men. Start with a food diary to learn what you’re actually eating and continue until you’re confident you have developed better habits.

Cut foods from your diet now that you’ll need to avoid once you become pregnant, such as alcohol, sushi, raw eggs, deli meats and soft cheeses. Limit caffeine and fish high in mercury (such as king mackerel and swordfish).

Eat a good daily balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Opt for healthier monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and omega-3 fats versus unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats.

Choose complex carbohydrates and whole grains rather than refined grains and sugary foods. Include fruits and vegetables daily in an array of varieties and colors as well as plant and lean animal proteins.

Drink plenty of water; it’s your best beverage choice! Skip high-sugar sodas, caffeine and alcohol.

Take a daily prenatal vitamin

Experts recommend taking a daily prenatal vitamin while trying to conceive. Besides containing essential nutrients for pregnancy, prenatals contain adequate folic acid, which is shown to prevent some birth defects. Speak with your healthcare provider before choosing a prenatal supplement.

Reach for and maintain a healthier body weight

A healthy body weight can help boost fertility. Too much or too little body fat can make it difficult to conceive for some women.
Skip the crash diets, which rob your body of essential nutrients you need to get pregnant. If you’re underweight, eating the wrong foods to gain weight may still lack the essential nutrients you need.

Keep physically fit

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to become pregnant but moderate exercise (at least 30 minutes per day) may just help you conceive.

Exercise can help you to lose a few pounds, maintain a healthy weight, relieve stress, boost mood, keep insulin and blood sugar at optimal levels, increase self-esteem, improve sleep and decrease your risk for a number of health issues, all of which can make your baby-making efforts more productive.

You can, however, do too much of a good thing. Excessive exercise such as marathon running or competitive sports can sometimes cease or disrupt ovulation.

Kimberly A. Tessmer, RD, LD, is a consulting dietitian in Brunswick, OH, and author of Tell Me What To Eat If I Am Trying To Conceive, among other titles.

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