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If trying to get pregnant, avoid these  

Beyond being totally tasty, food can do so much for your health

Article by Dr. Layla Sade

Photography by Layla Sade

Beyond being totally tasty, food can do so much for your health. It can give you the necessary fuel to power through your days, and it can help improve your mood and overall mental outlook. Even more impressive is that eating the right foods can even prime your body for pregnancy. But on the flip side, there are also foods to avoid when trying to get pregnant. If you’re looking to see a positive test in your future, here are the foods that can potentially affect your fertility.

Unfortunately, there is no one food that is going to guarantee that you’ll get knocked up. What it really comes down to is having a healthy diet from the start, so that when you do become pregnant, it’s already an established lifestyle. There is no magic pill or solution, but eating right can go a long way in helping your body prepare for pregnancy. Eating a well-balanced diet, which consists of whole grains, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and lean protein, while limiting alcohol, added sugar, and overly processed foods, isn't the most glamorous approach but is one of the healthiest ways to take care of yourself prior to — and after — getting pregnant.

So from sugar and soda to alcohol and caffeine, here’s the foods that you should avoid eating prior to pregnancy.


Saturated Trans Fats

Some fats are good, and others, well, not so good. If you want to get pregnant, though, you’ll need to steer clear of the saturated trans fats. Trans saturated fat sources promote inflammation and are typically found in calorie-dense foods that precipitate weight gain and make it challenging to maintain a healthy weight. Opt instead for monounsaturated fat sources, like avocado, nuts, olive oil, avocado oil.



Yes, it might make your dessert extra sweet, but too much sugar isn’t good for you — or your future baby. A diet pattern high in added sugar intake (soda, candy, sweets, donuts, pastries, energy drinks, etc.) increases an individual’s risk for type II diabetes, among many other health conditions. Forego foods high in added sugars and opt for natural sugars, like fruit or starchy vegetables. This will help keep your risk of developing diabetes lower.


Refined Carbs

When it comes to food colors, orange and green are good, while white is often not a good food choice. For example, white rice and white bread should be foods to pile less on your plate. When it comes to carbohydrates and fertility, it’s important to think about the quality of the carbohydrates you are eating. Refined carbohydrates are those that have been processed to remove their fiber and other important nutrients, and because they lack fiber, they quickly raise blood sugar. while that can be scary in and of itself, a diet that is higher in refined carbs can lead to blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance. This can in turn lead to an imbalance in sex hormones and reduce chances for conception. Try swapping out some of your white foods for healthier options, such as brown rice, quinoa, farro, or whole wheat or whole grain bread.


Low-Fat Dairy

If you thought that you were doing yourself a favor by cutting out some calories drinking low-fat or skim milk, think again. It could potentially be having an adverse effect on your fertility. A study in PubMed found a link between consuming large quantities of low-fat dairy foods and an increased risk of anovulatory infertility, which is when you don’t ovulate. We aren’t exactly sure why low-fat dairy may increase the risk for infertility but it could be related to the effect low-fat dairy has on hormone balance. When full-fat milk is processed to skim milk, the hormone composition of the milk changes and this change may also influence our hormone balance when we consume low-fat milk. So if you’re planning on eating or drinking dairy, switch from low-fat to full-fat varieties.



Sure, the syrupy sweetness is tempting, but if you’re trying for a baby, forget about sipping on a soda. Researchers found that soda consumption can adversely affect fertility. Both regular and diet soda has been linked to decreased fertility. In fact, one study found that women drinking at least one soda per day had a 25% lower rate of conceiving each month compared to women not consuming soda. If you love the fizziness of soda, you can replace it with plain or flavored seltzer water instead.


High Mercury Fish

While many types of fish are recommended before and during pregnancy, there are some you will want to avoid. Fish that are high in mercury, such as swordfish and king mackerel, can be harmful to a fetus. Mercury can inhibit proper organ development and even cause brain damage in unborn babies.

But that doesn’t mean that you should avoid fish altogether. Fish is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s and micronutrients that may boost fertility. While trying to conceive, include low mercury fish and seafood in your diet regularly such as salmon, anchovies, shrimp, light canned tuna, cod, trout, and haddock. Aim for at least two servings of low mercury fish or seafood per week to reap the benefits.



This one kind of goes without saying, but you should be backing away from that beer (and any alcohol, for that matter), when you’re TTC. When it comes to alcohol, while a drink here and there may be okay, heavy drinking can potentially cause miscarriage or hormonal changes that could affect ovulation. Plus, there are known risks of drinking while pregnant, so limiting or avoiding alcohol may be best when trying to conceive in case you become pregnant before you know you are. Even though you might miss your mojito, it’s best to start saying no to alcoholic drinks now, to prep for that future 9-month dry spell, anyway.



You’d rather them pry your latte from your latte from your cold, dead hands, but consuming that cup of joe daily could create complications when it comes time for conception. While some amounts of caffeine are most likely safe when trying to conceive, you can drink too much of it without causing complications including miscarriage. The current recommendation for caffeine during both pre-pregnancy and pregnancy is 200 milligrams per day, which is about two cups of coffee. If you’re hitting up your local coffee dive craving more, you might want to start cutting back so that you can get pregnant when the time is right.


Highly Processed Foods

Fast food might be a friend to you during witching hour, but it’s not doing you any favors if you’re planning on another sibling for your child. Highly processed meals and snacks may be best to limit when trying to conceive due to often high amounts of ingredients like sugar and/or trans-fat. This may be especially important for women with irregular periods as high sugar meals can cause blood sugar and insulin spikes and cause other hormones to get thrown off balance, especially if high sugar foods are consumed often.

Your diet is pretty powerful, since it can affect everything from how healthy you are to your chances of a quick conception. Although no one food is entirely good or bad for you, making small lifestyle changes (including eating well) can put you on a path towards a healthy (and happy) pregnancy.