Whether you’ve been trying to become pregnant or plan to start in the near future, choosing foods to optimize your fertility is key to having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Figuring out what to eat, however, can be quite a daunting task, especially when faced with the avalanche of conflicting information at your fingertips. Let’s take a look at some of the key ways to feed your fertility and turn the foods in your belly into a bun in the oven.
1. Eat like your Great-Great Grandparents Ate
Whenever possible, try cooking from scratch, using whole food ingredients, seasonal produce, organic meats, wild caught fish, pasture based, sustainability raised dairy sources and little to no processed foods. Don’t let your busy schedule hold you back… try incorporating one or two changes per week, congratulating yourself every step of the way!
2. Ditch the Junk
It’s time to get clean and purge your pantry of all the processed foods, new-fangled oils, sodas, and refined sugars. With a world of delicious, nutritious and easy to find alternatives at your beckon call, transitioning from factory made to fresh food is simpler than your might think. Here are a few easy ways to make the switch:
- Look up local farmers markets and schedule a weekly visit to find the freshest, most delicious local food in your area
- Order a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm box, a weekly delivery of farm fresh produce, meats, eggs and dairy from a farm near you.
- Grow a garden! It’s all the rage to turn patios and yards into vegetable patches and mini-orchards – and for good reason! Take some time to plant a few new veggies for the season and reap the health benefits and satisfaction, while offering your body (and future baby) all that home-grown goodness.
3. Eat More Fat!
Yes, You heard that correctly. Our bodies require plenty of good quality fats, which are used as building blocks for so many things, including hormones like estrogen and progesterone, both vital for healthy baby making! Try and eat a little fat with every meal….
- Saute your veggies in coconut oil or add a TBS to your morning smoothie
- Cook Chicken with the skin and bones, and use the bones to make broth
- Don’t fear butter—especially high quality butter from grass-fed cows raised on pasture. Enjoy it on veggies or properly prepared grains.
4. Enjoy Cultured Foods
These include foods and drinks such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and fermented condiments. These delicious additions to any meal help to maintain healthy gut flora, crucial for absorbing nutrients, supporting the immune system and maintaining good digestion. Try….
- Homemade (or store bought grass-fed, organic) yogurt mixed with fresh berries and raw honey
- Raw sauerkraut on a fermented sourdough with tempeh and whole grain mustard for a yummy variation on a “Rubin” sandwich
- Kimchee atop a bowl of steaming miso broth, bok choy, buckwheat noodles and shrimp or salmon.
5. Properly Prepare Your Grains, Legumes and Nuts
If you enjoy including these foods in your diet, be sure and aid in their digestion by taking the time to prepare them properly. These foods contain phytic acid, a nutrient blocker that is released through the soaking process.
- Each night before bed, scoop tomorrow’s grains into a bowl and soak for 12-24 hours in water with a 1-2 TBS of vinegar, lemon juice or other fermented liquid (such as whey)
- Sprout grains by soaking and rinsing repeatedly over several days, which will increase protein content and the reduce glycemic index value
- Sour grains (for sourdough bread, for example), by leaving them soaking with a bit of vinegar or whey for several days before using
- Soak nuts overnight, rinse and place on a cookie sheet. Put them in the oven at a low temperature (try 200) until dried and crunchy.
6. Include Sacred Foods
In our world of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and skinny lattes, it’s easy to look down our noses at foods that have nourished us throughout human history. In truth, most cultures valued these foods as sacred, and saved them especially for women of childbearing age. Delicacies like fish eggs, organ meats and bone broths are some of the most nutrient dense foods around, and they’ll give your body an incredible boost in the arena of health, fertility, strength and immune support.
- Try making bone broth from chicken or beef bones by adding a TBS of apple cider vinegar to your pot of bones, veggie scraps and water
- “Hide” some ground liver in a bolognaise sauce, or try your hand at pate
- Enjoy some oysters while you’re out on the town.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, eat with joy! Do your best to find the highest quality food around, experiment and try new things. Try cooking as a mindful meditation, think of trying new things as a chance to expand your worldview, be present and enjoy every bite!
Find recipes for all the foods discussed here and more at www.feedyourfertility.com
About the Author: Laura Erlich
Laura Erlich is the Clinic Director of LA Herbs and Acupuncture in West Los Angeles, CA, which she co-founded in 2007. She holds a Masters Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. In addition to her private practice of acupuncture, herbal medicine and birth doula services, Laura is a teacher of continuing education to other acupuncturists, a writer and a family-gal.
(Main photo source: NewParent.com)