When you are trying to get pregnant it pays to make sure your diet is giving you all the nutrients you need. A healthy diet may improve your chances of conceiving and give your baby a better start.
Fad diets or gorging on fast foods won’t do your pre-pregnancy body any favours. A balanced diet with a few special tweaks is the best way forward.
If you are either too overweight or underweight it may reduce your chances of getting pregnant, so try to make sure you are at a healthy weight when trying to conceive.
"Getting your body into prime condition pre-pregnancy gives your baby the best possible start in life," says British Dietetic Association spokesperson Priya Tew. "There are links between the nutrition a foetus receives in the womb and their health later on in life, with increased risks of some chronic diseases with unhealthy diets," she adds.
According to the NHS you are in a healthy weight range if your body mass index (BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says women who have a BMI of more than 29 can take longer to conceive than women whose weight is in the normal range.
"Follow a healthy diet with all of the nutrients you need to build-up reserves for you and ensure maximum health for any baby," says women’s health specialist dietitian Gaynor Bussell.
It’s important to have enough protein in your pre-pregnancy diet. Good sources are lean red meat, chicken, turkey, eggs and fish. Soybean and soya products like tofu, nuts and pulses (peas, beans and lentils) are also useful protein sources.
Try to adopt healthier eating habits before you get pregnant. A healthy body is more likely to successfully conceive. Include complex carbohydrates - such as bread, pasta, potato, rice or yam - an important energy source that provides B group vitamins as well. Choose wholemeal bread, brown pasta and brown rice as higher fibre starchy foods, important for a healthy bowel and to prevent constipation, before and during pregnancy.
Milk, cheese and yoghurt are all calcium-rich foods, important for healthy bones in a growing baby, but really important for your bones, too. Get into the habit of including calcium-rich foods in your diet if you’ve not been used to thinking about this vital nutrient. If you’re lactose intolerant choose a lactose-free milk. It has a similar protein and calcium content to cow’s milk. Tofu (soybean curd) is a particularly calcium-rich food. Oat, almond and rice milks may be fortified with calcium, but their protein content is far lower than animal or soya milks.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are important in your diet not just because they’re a great source of vitamins and minerals, but also because they contain a wide range of fibres and phytochemicals that contribute to good health. "Try to get your 5-a-day, but if you can, try for 9-a-day if you really like your fruit and veg," says Gaynor.