DIETARY CHANGES BEFORE YOU CONCEIVE
The best foods you should eat before conceiving
One after another your girlfriends are announcing that they are expecting a baby. The coffee catch-up conversation has switched from how to cope with your hangover to how to tell when you’re ovulating. Now you’ve started fantasising about holding your own little one in your arms too. As a fertility and prenatal dietitian, one of the first things you should do when you’re thinking about conceiving, is to review your dietary intake before you conceive. The reason this is so important is that what you eat in the lead up to conception and during pregnancy can influence your baby’s epigenetics, which will then impact his or her health, wellbeing and intelligence for the rest of his or her life. It is worthwhile to skip the chocolate and opt for the almonds instead, so that you commence your dietary changes before you conceive.
FIVE SIMPLE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR YOU TO START WITH INCLUDE: 1. Review your nutritional supplements.
As a dietitian, I usually prefer that people get most of their nutrients from food rather than supplements BUT when it comes to fertility and pregnancy, it’s very hard to meet the high levels of nutrients required without them. I suggest that you speak to your local dietitian to get individually-tailored recommendations, but as a minimum you need some folic acid. Most women require iodine and vitamin D as well.
2. Ensure you are eating enough fish.
The omega 3 fats in fish are great for your egg health. Aim to eat low mercury, omega 3 rich fish such as salmon two to three times per week when you’re trying to conceive. Click here to learn about which fish are best to eat for fertility. Try to get into a weekly routine by having ‘Friday fish night’ so that you know that you’re meeting your requirements.
3. Optimise your weight.
Being overweight or underweight can significantly impact your production of the hormone oestrogen which goes on to impact your ovulation frequency and consequently, your chances of conception. In fact, about 30% of infertility is thought to be due to oestrogen imbalance. Losing or gaining weight can take a while so if you’re planning to conceive in the next year, it’s something that you may need to start working on now. Avoid fad dieting or bingeing, instead aim to optimise your weight in a healthy way.
4. Space your meals.
Many women I see in my practice, skip meals. I know it can be difficult, but try to eat small, regular meals throughout the day. This helps to optimise your insulin levels, which then impacts other fertility
hormones to have a big impact on your likelihood of a stress-free conception.
5. Eat a nutrient-rich diet.
Research shows that following a nutrientrich fertility diet can boost your fertility by up to 69%. Your diet should be packed full of nourishing foods such as wholegrains, lean proteins, fruit and vegetables. Minimise your intake of high kilojoule snacks such as chips, biscuits and chocolate and focus on eating foods which will nourish your body – as it will soon be the home to your growing baby. If you’re planning to conceive, download your free fertility meal plan to help plan your dietary changes before you conceive. Melanie McGrice is a fertility and prenatal dietitian who runs the YouTube channel Nourish With Melanie and Nutrition Plus women’s clinics. She has created a free fertility meal plan to help all women have access to a nutritious fertility diet.