Is there a specific diet you can eat to increase your chances of pregnancy? And do you need to control portion size?

There is a link between food and fertility, say some nutrition and health experts, so by sticking to a healthy, balanced diet and sensible portion sizes, you might be able to increase your chances of conceiving.

What is a healthy, well-balanced diet?

Eating healthily means trying to include the following in your diet each day:

  • At least five portions of fruit and vegetables – fresh, frozen, canned or dried. Be careful with fruit juices though – these contain a lot of sugar, so try to stick to one glass a day.
  • Include protein in each meal, like lean meat and poultry, fish or eggs.
  • At least two portions of fish a week (one of these should be oily), but avoid having more than two portions of oily fish a week.
  • Foods that contain calcium, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese.
  • Iron-rich foods such as red meat, pulses, dried fruit, bread, green vegetables or fortified breakfast cereals.

What is a healthy weight?

For the best possible chance of getting pregnant, try to get as close as possible to a healthy weight – ideally, our body mass index (BMI) should be between 20 and 25.

Being underweight before conceiving is linked to an increased risk of having a baby with a low birth weight. Babies born small are at a higher risk of range of health problems as they grow. Being overweight before conceiving has been linked to an increased risk of complications once you’re pregnant, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and miscarriage.

If you’re overweight, you should take control of diet and portion control. Eat healthy food, but in sensible quantities, and combined with exercise. And remember that sugar can affect your fertility by throwing your hormones out of balance, besides having no nutritional value.

Are there any food types I should completely avoid?

There aren’t really any foods you need to avoid while you’re trying for a baby. However, once you’re pregnant, there are a few foods that could harm your baby that you might want to avoid. Things to avoid during pregnancy include:

  • More than two portions of oily fish a week, such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and trout.
  • Soft, mould-ripened and blue-veined cheeses such as brie, camembert or Danish blue.
  • Foods with an increased risk of food poisoning, such as rare meat, fish and shellfish.

Your partner’s diet

Your partner should also pay close attention to his diet. Eating certain nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C and E and folic acid are all important for making healthy sperm.

Check out our guide to the best fertility apps for more top tips on increasing your chances of having a baby.

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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