Here’s a list of what foods not to eat when you’re trying to get pregnant. Avoiding eating peas, for instance, because it contains a natural chemical that affects fertility.
“[Some foods] may delay or in some cases even prevent you from conceiving,” writes Niels Lauersen, MD, PhD & Colette Bouchez in Getting Pregnant: What You Need To Know Right Now. “One of these foods is peas, and its history as an anti-fertility food goes back at least as far as 1949.”
A natural chemical in peas (m-xylohydroquinone) can prevent pregnancy – and peas are being studied as a possible natural contraceptive. I didn’t find research to support the idea that green peas are a food to avoid if you’re trying to get pregnant, but I did find a study that says reproductive success for both men and women is influenced by the food they ate early in life. This research by the University of Sheffield shows that in men and women born into poor families, food in very early life (prenatally, and early in infanthood and childhood) was related to the probability of reproducing.
The foods you eat today have an effect on your reproductive success – but so do the foods you ate as a baby! You can’t control what you ate in the past, but here are several foods not to eat when you’re trying to conceive right now….
6 Types of Foods to Avoid if You Want to Get Pregnant
Whether you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, focus on minimizing processed foods while increasing your intake of vegetables, healthy fats, and high-quality sources of protein.
1. Soybeans and soy foods
The plant form of estrogen (phytoestrogens) in soybeans won’t help when you’re trying to get pregnant – and it’s especially important to avoid high soy consumption if you’re coping with infertility. “For those trying to conceive, the excess estrogen activity is enough to induce a hormone imbalance that may affect egg production and ovulation,” write the authors of Getting Pregnant.
Decrease your soy intake six months before you start trying to get pregnant, and remember that soy is “hidden” in foods such as tempeh, oils, flour, milk, and texturized vegetable protein (TVP). But, make sure you get enough protein! Learn how protein increases female fertility.
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2. Peanut butter and spinach
Peanut butter and spinach are foods to avoid when you’re trying to get pregnant because they deplete calcium – which is a mineral that is essential for your baby to develop and grow. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium if you’re trying to get pregnant.
3. Soda pop, high-sugar fruit drinks, and candy
Excessive sugar can lead to low blood sugar, which can upset levels of reproductive hormones. You want your hormones to be as balanced and stable as possible when you’re trying to get pregnant. Avoid sugary foods if you’re trying to get pregnant – and learn how sugar and processed foods are common causes of fertility problems.
4. Coffee, tea, chocolate, cola and some medications
Excessive caffeine can not only reduce your chances of getting pregnant, it can increase the risk of miscarriage. When you’re trying to get pregnant, drink tea in moderation – and stick to decaffeinated tea.
In Getting Pregnant Lauersen and Bouchez write, “Cut out caffeine when you can, and when you can’t, minimize consumption by taking into account your total daily intake from all sources.” Single does or short-term use of caffeine-rich products won’t cause infertility, but they are good things to avoid when you’re trying to conceive.
5. Wieners and lunch meats (even if you’re not trying to get pregnant! gross)
The nitrates and nitrites in frankfurters, bologna, salami, and lunch meats make them foods that aren’t good to eat if you want to get pregnant or are coping with infertility. The preservatives (nitrates and nitrites) in these meats aren’t as potent as once believed – they were once thought to have reproductive cancer-causing effects! These foods may not cause cancer, but they are good to avoid when you’re trying to conceive a baby.
6. Watch the painkillers/stimulants/diet pills and caffeine
These aren’t exactly “foods not to eat when you’re trying to get pregnant”, but things like Extra Strength Excedrin, Maximum-Strength Midol, Vanquish, Anacin, and Amaphen are pain relievers that may contain significant amounts of caffeine. No-Doz is a stimulant that has caffeine, and many diet pills also contain caffeine…these aren’t foods to avoid if you’re trying to get pregnant, but they’re definitely factors that can affect your fertility levels!
But – do NOT avoid the prenatal vitamin supplements
If you’re not taking a prenatal vitamin supplement, consider the Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamins. Make sure your body has the folic acid, iron, and calcium it needs to get pregnant and support a healthy pregnancy.
If you have any thoughts on these foods to avoid when you’re trying to get pregnant, please comment below. I can’t offer medical advice, though. Please talk to your health practitioner if you’ve been trying to conceive for over a year without success. It may not be a fertility diet you need.
And, peas are not a contraceptive. I noticed that people are finding this article by searching for “foods that prevent contraception.” There is no such thing!
Omega-3 fats are a superfood for pregnant women
Omega-3s fats contain a powerhouse of nutrients to ensure that your baby will develop properly – and that you won’t struggle with depression or anxiety (which can be common in pregnant women). Omega-3 fatty oils protect your baby from brain injuries such as autism, pervasive developmental delay, and ADHD.
And in addition, omega-3 fats have been found to be effective in combating cardiovascular disease and depression in you, the mom. With hormones fluctuating so wildly during this time, you might find yourself dealing with emotions you didn’t expect.
One More Thing About Food and Getting Pregnant
Dietitians at Loyola University Health System say women who watch their weight and closely follow a Mediterranean-style diet high in vegetables, vegetable oils, fish and beans may increase their chance of becoming pregnant.
“Establishing a healthy eating pattern and weight is a good first step for women who are looking to conceive,” said Brooke Schantz, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, LUHS. “Not only will a healthy diet and lifestyle potentially help with fertility, but it also may influence fetal well-being and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.”
Thirty percent of infertility is due to either being overweight or underweight, according to the National Infertility Association. Both of these extremes in weight cause shifts in hormones, which can affect ovulation. Reducing weight by even 5 percent can enhance fertility.
Schantz recommends the following additional nutrition tips for women who are trying to conceive:
- Reduce intake of foods with trans and saturated fats while increasing intake of monounsaturated fats, such as avocados and olive oil
- Lower intake of animal protein and add more vegetable protein to your diet
- Add more fiber to your diet by consuming whole grains, vegetables and fruit
- Incorporate more vegetarian sources of iron such as legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and whole grains
- Consume high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy
- Take a regular women’s multivitamin
If you want to get pregnant, you need to maintain a healthy body weight and consume a balanced diet.
For more tips on getting pregnant, read Before You Take Fertility Supplements to Get Pregnant.