Let’s real talk for a moment here. Can we please?
What you eat matters. It has the ability to make you a superhero with all the energy and focus you need to kick total a&$ in life. No joke. It can especially help make conception a little smoother, helping to balance sex hormones, nourish and strengthen sperm, turn on healthy genes and even help make pregnancy a lot more enjoyable.
Oooooor it can do the total opposite. And tear. You. Down. Damaging genes, blowing up your hormones and blood sugar, clogging your detox pathways and making you feel downright crappy. Not to mention leaving you with a nonexistent sex drive. No thank you.
You may be somewhere along the spectrum. Maybe you’ve started to clean up your diet, planning for baby in the near future. Or maybe you don’t feel great, but have been wanting to start moving forward on your health journey.
Wherever you’re at, I’ve got your back boo.
I find that a lot of articles focus on what to eat (which is awesome and there will definitely be more of those posts to come), but I wanted to focus a bit on the opposite...what NOT to eat.
What to avoid at all cost.
What to look out for to help get your body all beautifully baby makin’ ready!
Both you and the hubs. Because as I’ve said many times before, it’s a 50/50 split when it comes to those first incredible steps of creating your baby.
So let’s dive into a few foods I recommend you start paying attention to and begin avoiding to help optimize fertility and feel and live better!
Oh, and since I want to make this whole "healthy eating" thang a tad bit easier for you, I've got a little freebie for ya!
Oh canola oil, you little liar. We’ve been told for years that vegetable oils like canola, corn, safflower and soy are the way to go for better health. FALSE. These types of fat sources are highly processed - bleached, deodorized, heavily damaged by high-heat processing and made to stand out with their perfect shiny yellow color on your local market’s shelf. Trans fats are also dangerous- found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, margarines and shortenings found in processed foods like crackers, breads, chips, pastries, commercially fried foods, etc.. Trans fats have the ability to mess with our cell structure, the health of our cardiovascular system, mess with our hormones and most alarmingly, create issues with growth, visual acuity and development in baby. Avoid these types of fats like the plague.
What to eat instead: Focus on unprocessed, cold-pressed, organic oils like coconut, olive and avocado as well as plenty of other healthy fats like grass-fed butter, ghee, wild fish, nuts and seeds, sustainable sources of duck fat, tallow, and of course, bacon. Do not fear fat, they nourish your hormones and provide a long-lasting energy source. My favorite preconception fat is butter. But you should have known that already!
Refined and Artificial Sweeteners
Sugar is one of the top ingredients that can wreck havoc on our health. Sugar, called numerous enticing names from “nectar” to “syrup” and everything in between, has been linked to a long list of health problems like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, digestive issues, endocrine problems, hyperactivity, bone loss, depression and you guessed it, infertility. Artificial sweeteners are no better and can cause neurological issues, reduced immunity and have been linked to low birth weight. Are you catching my drift here?
As you can imagine, kicking the sugar habit prior to conception is so important to your health as well as the health of that future little baby love. I love Whole30 as a challenge to get off the sugar and fill up on healthier carbohydrate sources along with plenty of healthy proteins and fats. All good for baby makin’!
What to choose instead: If you are going to use a sweetener in your coffee or baking, choose whole food versions that can also have health benefits like raw honey, coconut sugar or pure maple syrup. Make sure you are reading the “Ingredients” on all the foods you purchase to make sure you’re avoiding added sugars and harmful artificial sweeteners. Remember, if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, put it back and opt for a cleaner version. Our freebie below gives you links to my favorite brands!
Hell no, GMO’s!
There is growing evidence that genetically modified (GM) foods, plants and animals that have had their DNA altered, cause serious health problems. This is especially true for a delicate fetus and growing children. The top three GM foods are corn, soy and canola oil, but the list is growing. I recommend that couples looking to conceive in the near or distant future (or any other breathing human) avoid these conventional foods and choose organic whenever possible, which do not allow GM ingredients to be used.
What to choose instead: Organic. Whenever you are able to choose organic, you are making a decision to support the non-GMO movement. Yes, there are stories of GMO crops blowing into non-GMO crops, but let’s not get crazy friends. No one’s perfect, but the more we look for organic ingredients (especially anything containing corn and soy), the less likely we are to consume GM foods.
It is actually surprisingly difficult to avoid soy or soy-containing products if you are not on a whole food diet. Soy is in eeeevveeerrything on the grocery store shelves these days and used for a number of different purposes from increasing protein content to binding processed foods. One of the big issues with soy is that it is loaded with phytoestrogens that compete for our own estrogen sites and can create hormonal imbalances. Phytoestrogens also have anti-fertility properties which is a huge no-no for what we’re trying to accomplish here. Soy also contains enzyme inhibitors, oxalates and phytic acids that can mess with your digestive tract and block mineral absorption.
What to choose instead: If you are looking for more protein sources, choose sustainably raised animal protein sources like grass-fed beef, pastured chicken or eggs, duck, bison, wild fish and so on. If you’re vegetarian, look for organic, pastured eggs, organic dairy like plain, whole-milk yogurt, kefir or cottage cheese, properly prepared beans and legumes and consider adding wild fish. You can eliminate most soy by reading food labels.
The easiest way to make all this happen is to focus on eating nutrient-dense, whole, real foods, found at Farmer’s Markets, local co-ops and the outside perimeter or your grocery store. Every decision you make has the potential to make a positive, baby makin’ improvement in your health or the opposite. Let’s get our bodies ready to make healthy babies!