Is It OK to Diet While Trying to Conceive?

You and your partner are ready to start a family, but you’re still trying to lose a few pounds before you get pregnant. In the past you might have tried all sorts of crazy weight-loss plans, but this time it’s different: You want to be at your peak health because you have a future baby to think about as well. Is it safe to diet while you are trying to conceive?

The answer generally depends on where you are with your current weight and diet. For starters, you shouldn’t just assume that you need to get back to your high school weight or some other arbitrary number to be healthy again – you should work with your doctor to assess how close you are to a healthy body mass index. From there you can establish some goals and figure out how far you need to go.

Here’s a good way to gauge what’s right for you: Are you fairly close to your goal weight, and do you mostly eat foods that are good for you? Then you get the green light: It’s probably safe to go ahead and try to conceive while eating carefully from a healthy preconception diet. Do you have several pounds to go before you get to your goal weight, but you’re currently sticking to a healthy diet plan? Then you get a yellow light: You may start trying to conceive as long as you keep up the good work with your diet. But even so, you may want to hold off a little longer before trying to conceive because it will be easier when you are closer to a healthy weight. What if you are far from your goal weight and your diet isn’t so good either? You get the red light: You need to put the brakes on your conception plans while you revamp your eating habits and get closer to your goal weight.

When you diet, you should concentrate on slow, healthy weight loss rather than following a quick-loss or fad diet. If you take the weight off gradually and in a healthy way, you’re more likely to keep the weight off for good. Also if you follow a sensible preconception diet (that means no cabbage soup diet or cookie diet) your body will have the nutritional stores it needs to foster a healthy pregnancy.

A good preconception diet starts with plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Most also are high in fiber, which is good for keeping you feeling full and satisfied. You should also look for high-fiber whole-grain breads and cereals that will fill you up and help you sustain your energy over a longer period of time. Plus you’ll want to make sure you have enough protein, including from non-meat sources. If you don’t include beans and legumes in your diet, now’s a good time to start.

Now is also the time to pick up a healthy exercise routine – with your doctor’s approval – that will allow you to get your body moving for at least a half-hour several times a week. And of course, you should cut back on drinking and quit smoking and any recreational drugs, if you haven’t already.

Even though you may be impatient to get pregnant, it’s worth it to take the time to get your body in optimal health first. The better shape you are in, the easier it will be to get pregnant and the lower your risk of complications throughout the pregnancy. Just imagine that the end reward will be a healthy baby – and for that, it will all be worth it.

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