The six things you need to know when it comes to eating for conception and your baby
This is not the list that your doctor, antenatal class or whoever will give you. The avoiding caffeine, alcohol, unpasturised list that is 101.
This is what they dont tell you….
ONE: Awareness: the pitfalls that we are generally told about when we are trying for a baby or are pregnant (not drinking alcohol, not drinking caffeine etc) are of course very valid. However, there is a lot that is missed. Unfortunately the way the world is these days increases the risks of hormonal issues, inflammation and many other factors that can ultimately impact our ability to have a healthy child. Being aware of these risks is the first step and will give you your motivation to make changes. Once you are aware of the pitfalls when it comes to food for pregnancy and conception (which are sadly everywhere), then it is actually pretty easy. As the famous quote goes: ‘eat real food, mostly plant based and not too much of it’. Its not rocket science: it's just about going for whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. After that, it's just a bit of common sense. Do you really want something in a packet that you can leave for weeks on end and it's still ‘good’? My guess: (unless it's something like a grain) probably not. Go for as fresh as possible whenever possible. The golden rule: if it has more than three ingredients you don’t recognise: stay away.
Top tip: one thing to be aware of when you are looking at ingredients lists: the items listed first are the ones that make up the bulk of the product.
TWO: The dreaded buzz word ‘organic’. Am sure you’re sick of reading this, but, hopefully you’ll have seen why it is so important to avoid pesticide and herbicide exposure particularly for conception and pregnancy (click here for a reminder). Of course organic food is an obvious way to do this, but, for those of us who don't have easy access to it or who have a tight budget - fear not. There is another way. Its pitch black, its powdery and its magical. Its Activated Charcoal, and it's the answer. Click here to learn more about this wonderful stuff and how to use it.
THREE: Be selective: It’s interesting that the Mediterranean diet is often cited as one of the healthiest. Many reasons of course, but, one of them is that they use meat sparingly (almost for a special occasion) which means its quality not quantity. Eating organic free, range meat is more expensive, however, knowing what I know now, I would rather eat it once a week from a good safe source than every day from a cheaper source where it is likely packed with steroids, hormones and antibiotics that will throw me completely off balance. Same goes for fish. Go for wild over farmed and watch your consumption of fish higher up the food chain (click here to understand why this is important). Be smart and selective. The same goes for fruit and veggies. If you can't go organic and you don't have any charcoal then be smart about what you pick. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s brilliant ‘Clean Fifteen and ‘Dirty Dozen’, will help you make smarter choices and minimise the nasties you’re exposed to: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php
FOUR: Listen to your body. I’m not a big advocate of telling people what to eat, I would rather focus on how to eat. Everyone is different and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. What I think is dodgy however, is cutting out entire food groups, unless of course you have a real intolerance. I was a victim of the ‘no carb’ craze, and for sure I lost weight. However, what I didn't realise is that it started to take a toll on my hormones and caused my cortisol levels to go through the roof. Here’s a tip: this is NOT what you want if you’re trying to get pregnant (click here to learn more on this). Being smart and selective around each food group is the key. When it comes to carbohydrates. Avoid the refined sort and go for whole and low GI. Same with fats, we need them and I think most people realise that its no longer the ‘80s and they are not the villains that we once thought. Omega 3 is key for brain development. It sounds obvious but being balanced, selective and aware of what your body is telling you is the best way to be. If you think something doesn’t sit well with you, then try to go without for a while and see what happens.
FIVE: think about what you’re eating and drinking from. You probably roughly appreciate that plastic isn’t good for us, or for the environment. However understanding why is key. When it comes to pregnancy and conception plastic is a real no-go. Certain plastics (especially BPA and PCBs) are known endocrine disruptors (ie. pushing your hormones out of balance). Once again, its just being smart. Avoid plastic containers and go for glass. That applies to drinking water too. Whatever you do, do not heat up food in a plastic container, it causes the harmful materials to break down and get directly in your food. Glass, brown paper or china is the way forward. Just avoid it - better for everyone.
SIX: Organisation. So, you want to get pregnant and have a healthy baby? Well, for many reasons it's time to get organised. Having a baby is hectic (in a good way!) and it will take up pretty much all of your time. So, if you can't make time to be organised on your food then you may want to re-think a few things! A lot of people shy away from this type of ‘clean eating’ because it takes more time. For sure vs grabbing a packet from a supermarket shelf - it does. However, it doesn’t need to be nearly as time consuming as you think. Its just about organisation. Just a few hours once a week is all you need. Here is a link to our top tips for being organised around food prep - promise you its not as hard as you may think and frankly if I (worst cook in the world) can do it - so can you.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.