Your daily diet and exercise is important to your overall health and well-being. But it is even more crucial when you’re trying to get pregnant naturally or through assisted reproductive technology such as IUI or IVF.
I didn’t know much about this when I was going through my IVF journey. But I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about the Fertility Diet and Exercise Plan. Like with any new regimen, it is best to seek your medical provider’s advice on what would be beneficial for your unique health needs.
What is the Fertility Diet? It basically consists of foods that would help you maintain a healthy body whether or not you’re planning to conceive. But it’s especially more important if you do want to get pregnant.
The Fertility Diet began as a study of about 18,000 women in 1991 to determine how diet and lifestyle choices affect ovulation disorders in women. Two of the co-author doctors published their findings and later a book in 2007 titled The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation and Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant.
Here are the basics of the Fertility Diet that can help you before, during, and after you conceive –
Healthy fats aid in the production of female hormones. You need this to have a regular menstrual cycle to be able to ovulate and hopefully get pregnant.
Whole fat yogurt like Greek yogurt, nuts, almonds, and avocados are some great options to include in your diet that contain healthy fats.
Whole grain and pasta are smart carb choices. Sweet potatoes and beans are also great choices to fulfill your carbohydrate needs.
Carbohydrates affect the regulation of blood sugar and insulin. This affects fertility due to too much insulin affects ovulation.
My Filipino roots had me eating white rice as a daily staple in all our meals. As I grew up and learned, there are healthier options to satisfy my carbs that are whole grain and still have the taste good factor. I didn’t cut out white rice completely, but I definitely limited my intake.
A diet rich in plant-based proteins is good for you. Vegetables high in protein include edamame, tofu, kale or spinach, broccoli, and potatoes.
Eating meat or poultry should be limited to organic or grass fed meat and poultry. Due to most meat being added with hormones and antibiotics, these can contribute to hormone imbalance.
I love Japanese food so I love eating edamame and tofu. And who doesn’t love a burger or steak every now and then? Again, there are healthier options available, whether you’re cooking at home or dining out.
High doses of folic acid are associated with a greater likelihood of healthy pregnancies. It is an important factor in the prevention of infertility as well as birth defects.
Leafy greens, fruits, and nuts are high in folate. The authors of the Fertility Diet also recommend taking a multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid for adequate levels.
What to Avoid Eating
Most food sources that contain trans fat are best to avoid or at least limit your consumption. Food that contain trans fat are mostly fried or processed food. Cookies, cakes, burgers, and frozen dinners are included in that list.
But there are healthier options in case you still want to indulge and satisfy your sweet or salty tooth. I still craved for donuts and an In-N-Out burger but I didn’t eat it everyday.
Being overweight can reduce a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. As well as being underweight. One’s weight can impact your cycle – if you don’t menstruate, then you don’t ovulate, and that diminishes any chances of getting pregnant.
Eating healthy is one thing, but you have to include exercise as well to maintain good health. Exercise is known to be a great stress reliever, but it can also be a stressor that impacts your fertility and chances for conception if you overdo it with high impact workouts.
The goal is to do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. That could include walking, dancing, yoga, or even going for a jog.
Fit in an exercise routine in your daily life that you actually enjoy. That will help you stick to it and be more consistent.
Avoid strenuous exercises
That includes bootcamp type of classes or endurance running. For those who do this as part of their regular workout routine, it would be advisable to consult your doctor to determine if you can continue these type of workouts before or during your pregnancy. I know women who were able to still continue to do this and have a healthy pregnancy.
But for myself, my pregnancies were all considered high risk and having a cerclage (cervix is stitched up) done to avoid a preterm birth due to having a weakened cervix, I was advised to not carry heavy items or stay long on my feet. It was a great excuse to have the hubby take care of all the household chores during this time.
Hydration is key. Stay hydrated by drinking water, water, and more water. There are many benefits of drinking water, but most importantly it aids in digestion and ovulation.
Whether you’re working out or eating your meals, make water your choice of beverage instead of sodas, energy drinks, coffee/tea, or alcohol.
The Fertility Diet suggests that eating a diet rich in healthy fats, whole grains, and plant-based protein may help improve a woman’s egg supply—which could help her ovulate more regularly and get pregnant more easily. These foods can also help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels, which play a role in ovulation as well.
On the other hand, consuming a lot of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, sugary sodas, and red meat has been linked to diminished egg supply and more difficulty conceiving, according to the Fertility Diet book.
I don’t advocate in just cutting all carbs and sweets out of your diet and resort to your body having more cravings – just eat in moderation and make healthier choices. There are many healthy and tasty options available.
As for exercise, fit in an exercise routine that you would enjoy. Doing it with a partner helps in being accountable in actually getting in your daily dose of exercise. Don’t overdo it and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
Of course doing any or all of this does not guarantee pregnancy. Do what works best for you in consultation with your doctor. Your diet and exercise plan can help you in your journey to parenthood.
Would love to hear what helped you. What did your diet or exercise plan include? Please share in the comments below.