What to Eat When You’re Trying to Conceive

Featured Article, Fertility, Healthy Recipes and Nutrition
on August 1, 2013
What to eat and avoid when trying to conceive.

So you’re trying to conceive. Could that pastrami sandwich really keep you from getting pregnant?

The pregnancy books all warn mothers-to-be about the potential dangers of eating deli meat and sushi, but the diet recommendations for women who are trying to conceive aren’t as well documented.

However, it can’t hurt to take a cue from those pregnancy books. Why take a chance on eating deli meat that might increase your chances of ingesting the bacteria listeria (which increases the risk of miscarriage) if you might find yourselves celebrating the early weeks of a new pregnancy?

RELATED: Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

“When you are trying to get pregnant, you could be pregnant at any time and not know it, so it’s best that you follow all the advice about what not to eat when you are pregnant,” says registered dietitian Bridget Swinney, author of the upcoming book Eating Expectantly: Practical Advice for Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy.

Or as Maher Abdallah, medical director of American Reproductive Centers in Irvine and Palm Springs, puts it, “You might as well prepare for the inevitable.”

Here’s Abdallah and Swinney’s advice on what to steer clear of—and what to make sure you eat—during pregnancy.

Foods to Avoid

Raw seafood. That rules out sushi, except for perhaps the kind with cooked fish.

Raw sprouts, which can contain bacteria like listeria and salmonella.

Fish that’s high in mercury. This includes shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel. Try the app Fish4health.net for more information.

Foods to Include

Swinney recommends a healthy balanced diet when trying to conceive that includes lean protein and foods that are rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E.  She suggests trying these foods:

Eggs. They are a source of choline, a nutrient that helps your cells function normally. You could even eat eggs every day.

Lean beef. This is a good source of iron, since iron-deficiency anemia in first trimester is linked to low birth weight in babies.

Leafy greens. Greens like spinach contain a lot of folic acid, which is good for women who are trying to conceive or maintain a pregnancy.

Berries. In Eating Expectantly, Swinney lists black raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries as antioxidant-rich foods that are good to try.

Buckwheat. Buckwheat?  Swinney suggests that women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who have trouble when trying to conceive experiment with making dishes with buckwheat flour. It contains a form of inositol, which can help with infertility.

And since folate is recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, it’s a good idea to incorporate many folic acid-rich foods like those leafy greens, legumes, broccoli, strawberries and orange juice into your diet on a daily basis.