For the female: A healthy, balanced diet composed of fresh foods that are not overly processed is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your future offspring. Children who start life well nourished have a distinct advantage in their intellectual capacity and ability to fight disease.
Reducing caffeine intake is important in pregnancy, and may also play a role in fertility. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women take in no more than 200mg of caffeine per day, and it may be wise to do the same when attempting to conceive. And remember, caffeine is not just found in coffee; it is also found in many sports drinks, energy drinks and in chocolate!
The US Food and Drug Administration and US Environmental Protection Agency disclosed an alert in August 2004 regarding the consumption of mercury in fish and shellfish. They recommended that women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not eat shark, swordfish, King Mackerel, or tilefish due to their high levels of mercury. You should also check local advisories about the fish caught in local lakes or rivers. It is still recommended that you eat two servings of other fish or shellfish due to their high quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and low saturated fats.
Vitamin Supplementation: A multivitamin containing folic acid (800 mcg) is a good adjunct to dietary nutrition. Vitamin use should be started prior to attempting pregnancy. For a list of foods containing folic acid, refer to the March of Dimes website (marchofdimes.com). Visit the Professionals and Researchers section, and then select folic acid from the list in the left hand column.
Exercise and Weight Management: For optimal fertility, you should try to maintain your ideal weight. Being significantly overweight or underweight can affect fertility. Exercise regularly. Staying fit will help control your weight and will keep your body strong enough to carry a pregnancy more easily. Excessive exercise (exercise that burns more than 2000–4000 calories per week), however, may impair ovulation in some women.
Additional Resources on Nutrition: Good, whole nutrition and a healthy BMI are the keys to overall health, but we recognize that there is not one lifestyle or diet that works for everyone. Listed below are several resources with different philosophies regarding health and weightloss.
Elizabeth Shaw, Registered Dietitian – click here to visit her website
Tara Coleman, Clinical Nutritionist- click here to visit her website
The Eating Academy– Blog with a scientific approach to weight loss and overall health.
Coursera– Free online courses on food, nutrition, health, and a wealth of other topics!
Forks Over Knives– Documentary researching the benefits of a plant based diet.
Free Personal Health Coach: Take Shape for Life – health coach and diet plan resource