If you’re trying to conceive, congratulations! You’re now capable enough to handle and raise another human being. If you think you’ve reached that phase in life, that is a massive achievement. However, while you may be mentally and emotionally ready to have a child, you need to ensure that your body is up to the task as well. A pregnancy takes a huge toll on a woman’s body. To make sure you have a healthy pregnancy, you need to start taking care of yourself now. We spoke to certified nutritionist and fitness expert Diksha Chhabra on what to eat and what not to eat before pregnancy, and everything else you need to know about pre-conception nutrition.
What should women who are trying to conceive exclude from their diet?
Avoid junk and processed food, and items which contain added flavours or chemicals in the form of preservatives, Ms Chhabra says. “Such products disturb the metabolism and hormones which help in regulating the monthly cycles in a woman,” she tells us.
Is desi ghee actually good for women trying to conceive?
For decades now, our moms and grandmoms have been emphasising on the goodness of desi ghee. When a woman is pregnant, or has just delivered a child, she is given food loaded with ghee. And it’s supposed to be good for her. But all the diets and fads online have told us to cut down on fats permanently to avoid long-term health problems. So what should it be?
“Desi ghee is a good fat, and fat is an integral part of the nutrient family,” Ms Chhabra tells us. “However, excess of anything will lead to unnecessary weight gain, lethargy and hormonal imbalances which may lead to metabolic disorders. A woman who is trying to conceive or has just delivered should have ghee and dairy within the limits of body requirements. Excess of both may lead to diabetes, thyroid or PCOD which may make conceiving difficult.”
Related: Why Ghee Should Be Your BFF
Does a woman without any health issues need a specific pre-conception diet?
This is something a lot of women wonder, especially if they’re trying to conceive in their mid to late 30s. While a generally healthy diet is important for all, do women need a special diet to make conception easier? We asked Ms Chhabra to clear the air here.
“In my opinion, there is no pre-conception diet or nutrition plan which can help you with starting a family,” she says. “A healthy diet which helps in regulating your metabolic functions properly leading to an active and healthy lifestyle is a must for every individual. Once your body functions are in place, and you are doing everything to maintain it, everything works in a synchronised manner.”
But still… there must be an ideal diet for women trying to conceive?
According to Ms Chhabra, an ideal diet for anyone, not just women trying to get pregnant, should be balanced. It should have all the macro nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, protein, and fibre, along with micro nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Carbs and fats have a bad reputation in the diet and fitness industry, but they are vital for a healthy body. If you have PCOD, you would’ve heard more often than not about how bad carbs can be for you. But you do need carbs, even if you’re trying to lose weight.
Pre-conception nutrition isn’t limited to the mother
This is an aspect that most people tend to ignore. If you’re planning a baby, the focus should not be on the mother’s health alone. “Planning a baby depends on father’s health too,” Ms Chhabra tells us. “As a couple, one should have a healthy lifestyle to bring a new life into existence. Proper sleep, a healthy diet, exercise, no stress, limited or no smoking, limited alcohol consumption, and other factors are important for both parents. A family’s healthy lifestyle works in a conducive manner for a newborn too.”
Diksha Chhabra is a fitness expert and nutritionist. She is a renowned name in the industry and is the founder of Diksha Chhabra Fitness Consultations. Ms Chhabra has worked with many people, including new mothers, with her customised diet and exercise plan.