I’m a GP – here’s 7 foods to avoid when trying to get pregnant and what to eat instead

When it comes to fertility, everything is NOT in our control.

But experts say what you eat or drink can sometimes have an impact on your chances of conceiving.

If you're trying to conceive, it's best to avoid alcohol and limit caffeine


If you’re trying to conceive, it’s best to avoid alcohol and limit caffeine

The so-called fertility diet does not only apply to expectant mothers – the eating habits of men can also play a role.

Fertility Specialist Dr. Jane Frederick told Patient that some people follow a Mediterranean diet when hoping to have a baby.

“When you’re trying to conceive, you want a varied, healthy diet rich in monounsaturated (healthy) fats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish,” she explained.

Along with foods that could lead to improved fertility, the doctor has outlined certain snacks to avoid or limit when trying to conceive.

1. Alcohol

Alcohol came first on Dr. Frederick’s list of foods to avoid when you and your partner are trying to conceive.

This is not just because it could be harmful to the developing unborn child – alcohol can actually affect sperm count and should therefore be avoided whenever possible.

2. Caffeine

If you like a cup of coffee or tea in the morning—that’s about 200mg—try not to eat anything throughout the day.

Anything beyond that could affect the lining of the uterus, which is needed for sperm to travel easily to the egg.

3. Unhealthy fats

Trans fats are the unhealthy fats found in processed and packaged foods.

If you are trying to conceive, you should limit them if possible.

4. Refined sugar

You should also limit your consumption of refined sugar as much as possible.

These are found in candy, fizzy drinks, and packaged desserts.

According to Dr. Frederick increase your blood sugar levels and increase the risk of ovulation disorders.

5. Refined carbohydrates

The same goes for refined carbohydrates like white bread and crackers.

While delicious, it’s best to keep consumption to a minimum.

6. Artificial sweeteners

You may think that by opting for “diet” versions with artificial sweeteners, you avoid the ill effects of sugary foods and drinks.

But they can affect ovulation, said Dr. Frederick.

Aspartame and saccharin are some examples to look out for.

Instead, she advised you to use natural sweeteners like honey and agave.

The World Health Organization warned this week that replacing sugar with sweeteners could lead to type 2 diabetes or heart disease over time.

7. Gluten

Gluten — which includes wheat products like bread and pasta — was a surprising addition to Dr. Frederick’s list.

However, she said some want a reduction as it can cause an inflammatory response.

Her general advice was, “Eat like you’re already pregnant.”

“The same foods that are good for growing babies are also fertility-friendly and good for you in other ways, too,” she explained.

So what foods are good for you?

Healthy Fats

dr Frederick said, “As long as one is mindful of calories and portion sizes to maintain a healthy weight, some types of dietary fat improve fertility and prevent embryo loss.”

Stick to monounsaturated fats, she advised.

“Vegetable fats like nuts, avocados, olive oil, and grapeseed oil contain antioxidants and reduce inflammation, which in turn helps support regular ovulation,” she said.

fruit and vegetables

According to Dr. Frederick can also aid in conception as it provides your body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs.

This is also the best way to fuel your body with glutathione – an antioxidant that helps maintain all other antioxidants.

According to the fertility expert, glutathione can reduce cell damage and improve the quality of eggs, embryos and sperm.

In particular, she recommended that you eat asparagus and kale.

Complex carbohydrates

While some people may want to avoid carbs, they’re fine for people who aren’t sensitive to gluten.

Just make sure you stick to complex carbohydrates to reduce blood sugar spikes.

dr Frederick explained that good blood sugar control is one of the key mechanisms of a fertility diet.

She said, “You should avoid foods that increase insulin resistance — a hormone released into the bloodstream during spikes in blood sugar that can disrupt ovulation.”

“Instead, choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains, brown rice, or quinoa.”

In men, high blood sugar can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.

vegetable protein

The fertility expert advised you to opt for plant-based rather than animal-based protein sources.

That’s because chicken, pork, turkey, and beef are higher in unhealthy fats that can affect blood sugar and insulin.

She cited a study of 18,555 women that found those who got five percent of their energy intake from plant-based rather than animal-based protein had a 50 percent lower risk of infertility.


dr Frederick’s only exception to the vegetable protein rule was fish.

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Salmon, sardines, and tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory fats that may support fertility by supporting ovulation, embryo growth, and reproductive hormone production in women.

They can also support sperm quality and motility in men.

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing russellfalcon@ustimespost.com.

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