If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, somewhere along the way, you may have researched fertility nutrition, only to feel confused, overwhelmed, and with no idea of where to start. You may have tried different fertility diets or nutrition recommendations such as clean eating, keto or low carb, avoiding added sugars, paleo, or vegan only to come up without a positive pregnancy test.
These may have left you feeling restricted from eating some of your favorite foods, thinking that if you ate one thing that wasn’t on your diet plan that you had blown your chances of conceiving that month. This often turns into a cycle where every negative pregnancy test turns into a new diet change, just to see if that would result in a positive pregnancy test. All of this can be so frustrating, especially when you aren’t sure if the information you are finding is correct.
When it comes to fertility nutrition, there is a vast amount of misinformation out there, but the truth is you don’t have to follow a restrictive diet or meticulously read food labels to get pregnant. Creating a more balanced approach to eating for fertility is likely better for your fertility than any strict diet.
Restrictive diets often increase stress on your body. This could be from not eating enough of the right nutrients or not eating enough in general (calories). All of these diets can also cause you to stress out about what to eat when to eat and how much to eat. It can even make meal planning stressful.
The problem with all this added stress around food and fertility is that stress increases the hormone cortisol. When the body has high levels of cortisol, this can impact your reproductive organs. Too much cortisol sends signals to your brain to decrease your reproductive hormones. This could affect ovulation, egg quality, and your uterine lining. Think about it, if your body is struggling to get its basic needs to survive, will it think it is a good time for you to grow a baby? Probably not.
Now that you are stressed about stressing about nutrition (amongst all the other stress-related to infertility!), lets calm those nerves with a little basic fertility nutrition lesson. While the research on fertility nutrition continues to evolve, similar to all areas of nutrition, there are things that we know for certain will help promote fertility:
1) Eat more fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
2) Increasing unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, nut butters,
avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish such as salmon.
of things that have shown to have positive impacts on fertility.
2) If you consume dairy, consuming full-fat dairy.
One of the more common issues I have seen is that women aren’t eating enough or finding the right balance of nutrients for the body. Going through all the different fertility diets and the constant wonder of what to eat can lead you down this path of not eating enough, which is just more stressful for your body and ultimately not good for fertility. An easy way to tell if you are eating enough is noticing if you are hungry frequently, especially after eating a meal. If you are, this is a sign you may not be eating enough food (volume) or the right blend of nutrients for your body.
When it comes to fertility nutrition, incorporating these recommendations in a balanced way, rather than an all or nothing or restrictive mentality, is better for your fertility and overall health. Learning how to listen to your body is incredibly important when you are learning how to eat for fertility. Struggling with infertility may leave you feeling like your body is broken. Chances are at some point you stopped listening to what your body needs. When we learn how to listen and respond to what our bodies need, whether it’s food or rest, this can help your fertility by decreasing the stress on your body.
You Got This!
Bottom line – stressing about fertility nutrition isn’t the answer to your infertility. Nutrition can support and improve your fertility, but we need to approach it in a balanced way that involves you listening to your body. This means no more google searching fertility nutrition or seeking out answers from an infertility support group page, seek help from a qualified expert! You got this infertility warrior!
Susan Portz is a registered dietician, fellow infertility warrior who specializes in helping women with infertility find balance with fertility nutrition without diets, rules, or guilt. You can find her at https://www.simplejoyfulnutrition.com/.