Preconception Diet & Recipes for Men & Women

It is a well-known fact that women who are expecting need to follow a balanced, healthy and nutritious diet throughout their pregnancies, so that their babies can grow and develop well. However, did you know that many health care providers now encourage women to follow a preconception diet in case they are planning to have a baby shortly?

This is because eating right is the best way to get your body ready for pregnancy. Your diet has an impact on your overall health, which includes the functioning of your organs, bones, muscles, tissues, cells, hormones and the various systems within your body.

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For a healthy pregnancy, it is important for your diet to be high in vitamins, minerals, protein, calcium, fiber, iron and other essential nutrients. If you are planning to have a baby soon, therefore, you need to incorporate a preconception diet plan as early as possible.

Another important reason to follow a healthy preconception diet plan is that your body weight can influence the ease with which you get pregnant. You should neither be overweight, nor underweight, if you are planning a baby.  It is therefore better to speak to a doctor or a nutritionist for a customized preconception diet that best suits your needs.

A few decades ago, people became aware of an eating plan known as the Preconception Gender Diet through books. This preconception diet was based on the theory that your diet can influence the gender of your baby. The creators of this plan claim that a diet high in sodium and potassium, but low in calcium, increases the chances of conceiving a boy and a diet rich in calcium and magnesium, but limited in potassium and sodium can increase the chances of having a girl. According to this diet plan, therefore, to increase their chances of having a boy, women should follow a high-sodium diet, which includes foods like table salt, processed meat, chips, cheese, bacon, pastrami, ham, canned soup and pretzels. For the conception of a girl women are asked to consume a high amount of calcium-rich foods like milk, almonds, yogurt, cheese, fish, leafy greens and legumes. However, there is no evidence to claim that this diet is effective in helping parents choose their baby’s gender. Before making any dietary changes for following any recommended preconception diet, it is important to speak to a doctor and get an approval.

Preconception Diet for Women

A healthy and well-balanced preconception diet for women can also make it easier for you to get pregnant A good preconception diet for women is not very different from most other healthy eating plans. Given below are a few helpful tips for an effective preconception diet for women:

  • Consume colorful food: This does not mean that you need to add food coloring to everything you eat. Instead, make sure that you consume a high amount of greens, reds, yellows in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid alcohol: While it is true that an occasional drink will not really hamper your chances of getting pregnant, it can have a harmful effect on your baby. Studies indicate that women who have fewer than 5 alcoholic drinks a week are twice as likely to conceive, as compared to the others.
  • Reduce intake of caffeine: Many health experts claim that consuming a small amount of coffee each day will not really hamper your chances of getting pregnant. However, in case you have been trying to conceive for a few months, it may be best for you to cut down on caffeine, as it constricts the blood vessels and slows the flow of blood to the uterus, making it difficult for an egg to grab hold.
  • Increasing iron: During pregnancy, your baby will absorb a lot of iron from your body, because of which you may suffer from iron-deficiency. This in turn leads to anemia or low hemoglobin. It is, therefore, a good idea to fill your body’s iron reserves even before you get pregnant.
  • Reduce refined carbs: While your body does need carbs for energy, it is important for you to choose the right sources that contain complex carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cereals. Refined carbs present on sweets, bakery items, white rice and pasta do not increase your likelihood of getting pregnant in any way.
  • Choose your fish carefully: While fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, it can also lead to mercury contamination.

    Mercury is highly toxic for a developing baby and it can stay in your bloodstream for over a year. Make sure that your diet includes nothing but low-mercury varieties of fish, like shrimp, tuna fish, catfish and salmon.

When trying to conceive, it is difficult for women to get all the nutrients they need from their diets alone. Adding a prenatal vitamin or a multivitamin supplement to your diet, after checking with a doctor, can be a good option.

Preconception Diet for Men

It is not just women who are advised to follow a preconception diet. In many instances, fathers-to-be are also advised to make a few dietary changes, so that their chances of conceiving increase. A man’s dietary habits have a direct impact on the quality and potency of his sperm. Studies indicate that men who have poor eating habits and drink alcohol regularly could take longer to have a baby. Given below are a few tips on a healthy preconception diet for men:

  • Eating a higher amount of foods that are rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C to boost sperm motility.
  • Increasing the consumption of zinc, to prevent semen volume and testosterone levels from reducing.
  • Including foods that are high in Vitamin B or folic acid in the diet.
  • Consuming a higher amount of Vitamin D and calcium each day.
  • Cutting down on the consumption of alcohol.

It is a good idea for men to take a multivitamin containing selenium and zinc each day, for at least three months before conception. This is because it takes their bodies around 90 days or so, to develop healthy sperm. However, before making any drastic changes to a diet, it is important for men to check with their doctors.

Preconception Diet Recipes

While it is easy for you to get tips on what you should eat and avoid while following a preconception diet, implementing them may be a bit more challenging. Fortunately, there are several preconception diet recipes that you can easily find through online websites, pregnancy books and other similar resources. Given below are a few ideas on recipes that you can include in your preconception diet plan. Scrambled eggs and pancakes with jam or fresh fruit smoothie are delectable breakfast options. Chicken sandwich or salad with lettuce and tomatoes is a healthy lunch option.

You may be able to find several other preconception diet food ideas, along with their recipes through various resources. However, it is best to check with your doctor, before adding any of the suggested foods to your diet.

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