Most women know that they’re supposed to avoid certain foods when pregnant — but they may not realize that some of the same rules apply when you’re trying to conceive. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that you start planning to prepare your body — and your diet — for conception at least three months in advance. To help you conceive, you'll want to make sure you’re avoiding fertility-busing foods and instead filling your plate with a variety of nutrient-rich options.
Fish are an excellent source of protein and healthy omega-3 fats. However, certain fish contain large amounts of mercury and should be avoided while trying to conceive — and while pregnant as well. According to the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, women who are trying to conceive, who are already pregnant, or who are of childbearing age in general should avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish and should instead opt for two servings a week of low-mercury fish like shrimp, crab, scallops, fresh water trout and canned light tuna.
Slow Carbs Over No Carbs
Carbohydrates sometimes get a bad rap, because they are tied to refined sugars and also are found in not-always-good-for-you foods like breads, pastas and cereals. However, according to "The Fertility Diet," a Harvard Medical School book that stems from an eight-year study of 18,000 women on improving fertility, the right types of carbohydrates can actually increase your chance of conception, because they help to stabilize your blood sugar and insulin levels. The key is to avoid rapidly digested carbs like those found in cookies, white bread and white rice and instead choose slowly-digested carbs such as whole-grain breads and pastas, brown rice, vegetables and whole fruits.
Watch the Fats
While some fats are healthy for you and are needed to regulate bodily functions like ovulation, others can certainly impede your chances of conception. The Harvard study mentioned above found that saturated fats, like the kind found in butter and cheese, and trans fats, which are industrially processed and are often found in fried foods, can harm your fertility as well as your heart and blood vessels. Instead, choose heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in foods like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and cool water fish, as these can cool inflammation in the body.
If you can’t get through the day without a steady stream of the caffeine, now is the time to cut back. The American Pregnancy Association reports that more than 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day — the amount typically found in one or two cups of brewed coffee — may reduce fertility by up to 27 percent. Alcohol should be eliminated entirely or limited to no more than one serving per day. The best way to stay hydrated when trying to get pregnant? The Harvard study found that one or two servings of whole milk per day can boost fertility, and that good old-fashioned water should be your go-to beverage of choice.