3 Tips for Preconception Nutrition

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I recently got a question from a reader asking “How far in advance should I start changing my diet before trying to conceive?” This is a really great question that’s got an answer that probably won’t surprise you… it depends! My general recommendation is to give yourself 1-3 months to make dietary changes before getting pregnant… but, PLEASE don’t let me stop you from getting it on! The most important thing when trying to conceive is that you are relaxed and enjoying time together with your partner before bringing a kid into the world. There’s lots of changes you could make, but many people before you have had pregnancies that went perfectly fine without planning anything. That said, if you have the luxury of planning your pregnancy, here’s 3 tips I have for preconception nutrition.


1. Start taking a prenatal vitamin

Even if you’re still on birth control, it’s a good idea to start taking your prenatal vitamin now so you can up your intake of B vitamins and other micronutrients. B vitamins, especially folate, are actually most critical in the very first few weeks of pregnancy when a lot of people don’t even know they are pregnant. Plus, some hormonal birth controls might deplete some people of B vitamins - taking a prenatal vitamin like this tasty gummy one is an easy way to give yourself a nutrition insurance policy before getting pregnant. Talk with your doctor or registered dietitian to make sure your prenatal vitamin is meeting your personal nutrient needs.


2. Work on your relationship with food

Pregnancy is a critical time period where everyone is paying attention to you and your weight and your body - it can be really overwhelming. The preconception period is a really good time to look inward and think about which aspects of your relationship with food and body could be improved before the chaos begins. Intuitive Eating and body acceptance are important for your mental and physical health, but they’re also really important so that you can help your child have a healthy relationship with food as they grow up. You can stop the intergenerational cycle of disordered eating right now.


3. Choose 1-3 gentle nutrition changes

Everybody’s needs will differ as far as nutrition goes, but choosing 1-3 simple, sustainable changes to make at a time is the best way to go about improving your diet. No need to overwhelm yourself with a diet overhaul! Think about what small changes might improve your well-being without causing your mental health to suffer - food stress is not healthy. Here’s a few ideas of what you could add in (not take away!) to your diet:

  • A variety of fruits and veggies (each one provides different nutrients, keep it interesting!)

  • More fish (provides DHA for your baby’s brain and other omega-3s for your heart health)

  • Cook in a cast iron skillet (fortifies your food with iron sans toxins, read more in this post)

In the end, the changes you make will be personal. More fruits and veggies might not be the right choice for some people, or somebody else might be allergic to fish, etc. If you’re confused or if you have specific medical concerns including pre-diabetes or diabetes, meet with a registered dietitian to work through what changes make sense for your life.

If you’re looking to work on your relationship with food and maximize your nutrition before, during, or after pregnancy, I have spots open virtually and in person for nutrition counseling! Click here to schedule a free 15-minute discovery call and find out what packages are right for you.

McKenzie Caldwell