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Trying for a baby? Keep a food diary

Although women of all lovely shapes and sizes get pregnant, sometimes improving your diet can really help.

Posted: 17 May 2009
by Laura Lee Davies

Don't worry - this isn't a lecture about losing weight!

It is true that being overweight, or indeed underweight, can affect your fertility, this is probably largely to do with the kinds of things you're eating. But keeping a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet is as important for those women who already like their shape as it is for those majority of us who will always say 'could do better' when we stand in front of the mirror.

Run a stock-take on your diet
It isn't always easy to devote our days to getting into Hollywood movie star shape. (Just ask my GP how many times she's heard me resolve to shed the pounds!) In fact, don't even think about heading for the bathroom scales for a few weeks.
Instead, just think about the food and drink you get through in a day and keep a note of it over a few days. Also note down what times you're eating. You'll be amazed what it shows - even if you enjoy your apples or breaktime banana, are you then hunkering down with a bowl of peanuts on the sofa by 9pm?
Or are you one of those people who doesn't eat much at breakfast so you leave the house without anything, only to find yourself starving by the time you pass the croissant stand next to your office?

Eat yourself fitter
When you think about what's needed to get an egg fertilised, it's amazing how any of us end up on a maternity ward!
The health of a woman's eggs, the motility of a man's sperm... then there's exactly the right levels of several different hormones to get each of these going at the right place at the right time.
Stress and other lifestyle pressures can affect our hormonal balances and diet can be central to helping us feel mentally better, physically refreshed and nutritionally retoned.
Don't obsess about eating 'lo-fat' foods (which often contain chemicals to compensate for 'taste' or to reduce fat). Instead, think about the quality of what you are eating.

Keep it nautral
Not everyone has the money to maintain a 100 per cent organic fridge. However, some foods are more valuable in an organic form. Tomato ketchup, for example, is a third more nutritionally beneficial if it's the organic version. (OK, I know, the problem comes when we then put that ketchup on our non-organic, gloriously fatty chips!)
Eggs, too, are nutritionally better if the chicken who laid them is in good health, so try to source organic, free range varieties.
Sure, we can't all visit the farms of Britain checking to see if the livestock is relaxed, happy and lounging in good conditions before we have our dinners! However, we can reduce the amount of extra additives that come between us and our food.
Prepare meat and fish simply rather than relying on ready meals, buy fruit and vegetables fresh and steam them where possible. If you're going to eat treats - puddings etc - try making your own cakes so you can see what's gone into them, and try to sweeten things with fruits rather than a ton of sugar, where you can.
Processed food is a major issue when you're busy, but do this simple experiment (unless you're allergic to nuts!): Do you get the 11 o'clock munchies? If you usually have biscuits, chocolate or a packet of crisps, make a note of how you feel over the next hour. Are you hungry again by 12noon? The next day try a bag of trail mix, nuts or seeds. (M&S do some really gorgeous ones that DON'T taste like squirrel food!) Gauge how you feel an hour later. Chances are you'll still feel full and by lunchtime will be in a better frame of mind to eat well rather than opt for the quick-fix comfort of a pub lunch or an over-loaded, mayo-topped sandwich.

Simple starting points
Your FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone)is vital to conception, yet this can sometimes be too high. Adjusting your body's intake of food and drink is a non-invasive way of making a positive start on the road to getting pregnant as it can affect hormones like this.
Remember - whilst you might have heard about diets etc in a 1000 women's mags, we're NOT hear to nag you into fulfilling someone else's idea of what every woman should look like.
Try ONE thing, ONE new habit to improve your nutritional intake. Don't try to do everything on the list only to end up feeling a failure or frustrated. Instead stick to that ONE thing you think you can muster and then enjoy you're new habit just as you might enjoy wearing a new style of skirt or a new haircut!
  • Keep a diary - As we said above, just thinking about what you're eating can instantly help.

  • The five a day routine - If you don't already, really think about aiming to eat at least five portions of fruit and/or vegetables a day. Maybe even line up the things you're going to eat so you can count them off as you go. And perhaps start each day with a big glass of fruit juice - that counts as one - before you reach for the teapot.

  • Wash down with water - If you don't already, make a bottle of water your essential accessory. You can refill a water bottle with tap water and keep it in the fridge if you don't want to be a slave to expensive bottled waters, but drinking from a bottle is a good reminder of how much you're having.
    Fill a jug with 2 litres of water and drink cups from that to gauge your progress through your daily allowance. It's great for your skin, and can help COMBAT water retention. Plus you won't be so thirsty for sugary or caffeine drinks.

  • Cut down on the coffee - We're not in the business of demonising coffee here, but if you resolve to have only one GOOD cup a day you can really enjoy that time with it. Perhaps it's your wake-up ritual, or your reward in front of your emails when you get to the office.
    For the rest of the day stick to water and some juices.

  • No meals after 8pm - Eating late isn't great for your digestive system and under-uses the nutriional value of what you're eating. Plus, the more hungry you are, the more tempting it is to eat quick-fix comfort foods.

  • Replace one meal with fruit - Make the most of warmer weather to get into a habit that'll last you the year round: eat refreshing, watery fruits and sweet berries for one meal - breakfast, or lunch, maybe - each day.

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Discuss this story

t s
I just found out I am pregnant!  I did a pregnancy test the week before and it was negative...SO I went to a theme park and did not take any folic acid.  As a lark I did a 2nd test a few days ago, and voila...pregnant! I am over the moon.  Hopefullh the lack of citamins and x-ray I took on day 1 of my missed period does not affect baby.

Posted: 28/05/2009 at 07:10

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