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6 Foods to Avoid When You’re Trying to Get Pregnant

How do peas affect your fertility levels? What about chocolate, bananas and peanut butter? Fertility is affected by foods and food combinations that may surprise you. Here’s a list of what foods not to eat when you’re trying to get pregnant. Some doctors advise women who want to conceive to avoid eating peas, for instance, because they contains a natural chemical that affects fertility.

[Some foods] may delay or in some cases even prevent you from conceiving,” write Niels Lauersen, MD, PhD and 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.Is this true, or an urban myth that has been passed down through the decades? And if peas really do affect a woman’s fertility, will they stop you from getting pregnant? The truth is that nobody knows for sure because different foods affect different women in different ways. So there is no “one size fits all” answer to question about peas and fertility. Or peanut butter and fertility. That said, however, it’s always learn as much as you can if you’re trying to get pregnant.


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.

2. Peanut butter and spinach

Peanut butter and spinach are foods to avoid when you’re trying to get pregnant because they deplete calcium. Calcium is a mineral that is essential for your baby to develop and grow. The healthier and more nutrient-rich your body is, the better your fertility and the easier it’ll be to conceive. That’s why gynecologists and obstetricians say you should get lots of calcium if you’re trying to get pregnant. And, it’s why some health practitioners say peanut butter and peas are foods to avoid if you want to increase your fertility levels.

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. 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!

Don’t forget your prenatal vitamin supplements!

Foods to Avoid When You're Trying to Get Pregnant

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:

  • 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

Maintain a healthy body weight and consume a balanced diet. It’s also important to remember that every woman’s body is different! Specifically, this means that some women’s fertility levels may be affected by foods such as peas or dairy products. Other women get pregnant easily no matter what food they eat. The key is getting to know your body and learning how food affects you.

For more tips on getting pregnant, read Before You Take Fertility Supplements to Get Pregnant.

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46 thoughts on “6 Foods to Avoid When You’re Trying to Get Pregnant”

  1. Great article! It s always good to give your body half a year chance before conceiving; change diet and lifestyle, reduce stress take prenatal supplements. Ovarian pool declines at much faster rate than we’d like to admit, and most women over 35 are overestimating their fertility chances. Sadly, we are not well informed, and are influenced by everyday photos of celebs getting pregnant and having children in mid forties.

  2. Hi, my husband and i have been trying to get pregnant since the new year, ever since i removed my birth control mirena. i heard alot of worrying things but i also know its to early to tell. i dont know what to think. the nurse practioner said it could take 2-6 mos as well as anytime. others have said that it could take up to a year. its nothing urgent but it is worrying. why would i not be able to get pregnant if we’ve tried and still nothing. i have two wonderful loving boys and it would be a blessing if we could have a little princess to complete our family.

  3. Hi there, I’m confused. All I can find is information on how spinach is full of calcium and highly recommended to eat while trying to conceive. What is the source of your information that argues spinach depleted calcium?

  4. Hey Laurie
    I was looking for content on “Food to eat during pregnancy” today, and came across this article.

    First off, let me say thanks for creating such a great piece of content!

    As I was reading through your post I noticed that it seems to be something missing in your article. I think If you can add an information map to your article, your article will be more perfect.

    Also, I just created my own inforgraphic: Food Safety During Pregnancy.

    You can check it out. It might be a nice addition on your page. 

    Cheers,
    Tobby