One of the common things that I notice in my patients who are having trouble conceiving is inadequate diet. Because of the fear of becoming overweight or because we have been brain washed that all fats are bad for us, more and more women are consuming foods low in protein and fats but unfortunately high in sugar and processed ingredients. Salads and fruits are great additions to a healthy diet but they should not constitute the diet itself. On a daily basis, I encounter patients who are very slim, fatigued, cold, have irregular or scant periods and whose main meal is a salad! If you are trying to conceive, now is the time to build your energies and nourish your body with adequate nutrition containing protein, fats, vegetables and fruit.
During winter months, you should increase the consumption of meats, especially lamb and beef since they have warming energetic value. Stews or soups that have been cooked for long periods of time are especially good for building up yang energy and keeping you warm. If you have a crock pot you can throw in some meat and vegetables in it at night and you will have your lunch or dinner ready in the morning! Organ meats like chicken livers are strong blood tonics and are the richest sources of iron. Iron is especially helpful for women are are planning to conceive or are pregnant. Chicken livers can be fried with a bit of garlic, onions and/or soy sauce (I like to add a dash of lime at the end), or eaten as pate over whole wheat bread for breakfast or snack. Make sure that you purchase organic liver. Fresh fish is a great source of omega 3 acids and should be consumed at least twice per week. Avoid consumption of large fish like tuna since it contains high levels of mercury. Small fish like sardines, mackarel or anchovies are a better choice. Wild cought salmon is definitely better than farm raised. If you don’t like fish, make sure that you take a high quality fish oil supplement in order to compensate your omega 3’s.
Root vegetables like beets, squash, sweet potatoes as well as cabbage, cauliflower and rutabagas are great winter vegetables and can be consumed baked, fried or in soups. Fermented cabbage in a form of sauerkraut or kim chee are staple foods in Europe and Asia in the winter months. They are rich in vitamin C as well as beneficial bacteria which help with overall digestive function.
Consumption of fruits should be limited in the winter months since fruits have very cool energetic nature. Most fruits are abundant in summer time because they cool us down and are refreshing. Dried fruits like apricots, cherries, plums etc. can be simmered in water with warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger and eaten as a compote or added over morning oatmeal for a yummy breakfast. Baked apples make your whole house smell so good and are great comfort food especially when mixed with walnuts or other nuts.
Eggs and full fat dairy products are a great source of protein and should be consumed daily (unless you are allergic to them). Fermented products like kefir and yogurt are especially helpful since they also contain friendly bacteria that help digestive function. Make sure that you buy organic dairy products and that you don’t consume milk straight out of the fridge (for more details you can read my article “Got Real Milk?”). Eggs are nature’s perfect food rich in B vitamins and iron, both essential for healthy conception and pregnancy.
Getting whole grains into your diet is essential since processed grains have been stripped of most of their nutritional value. Whole wheat bread is more nutritious than white bread. You should also consider indluding grains like: buckwheat, oats, quinoa and millet into your diet.
Legumes like lentils, beans are chickpeas are great sources of protein as well as fiber and should be consumed in abundance. If you have trouble digesting them, try adding bay leafs and spices like cumin seeds while cooking.
Plain water is the best drink you can choose. Room temperature or warm water is better since cold water can produce indigestion and abdominal cramping. Herbal teas are another great choice. Also, sipping chicken/beef/lamb broths can provide you with all necessary minerals in easily digestible and most natural form.
Lastly, taking a good quality pre natal vitamin is a good idea since it will ensure that you are receiving all the nutrition necessary.
Things to be eliminated include:
-Trans fatty acids (e.g. margarine or other types of hydrogenized oils)
-Junk and all processed foods
-Cigarettes and other drugs
-Pharmaceutical drugs (if possible)
If you have a serious medical condition, you should be evaluated by a qualified health practitioner as well as nutritionist in order to determine the best possible diet for you and your future baby.