8 Foods to Avoid When Trying to Get Pregnant

Navigating the complex world of fertility can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to understanding the impact of our diet on the ability to conceive. While much emphasis is placed on foods that boost fertility, it’s equally important to shine a light on those that may hinder your journey to parenthood. This article delves into the critical yet often overlooked aspect of preconception care: the foods to avoid when trying to get pregnant. By steering clear of certain dietary pitfalls, you can enhance your fertility and pave a smoother path to conception.

Imagine your body as a garden where you wish to sow the seeds of new life. Just as a garden requires the right balance of nutrients, sunlight, and water, your body needs a harmonious blend of foods to nurture and support fertility. However, just as weeds and pests can disrupt a garden’s growth, certain foods can impede your fertility journey. This guide unveils eight foods to sidestep as you prepare your body for pregnancy, offering insights into crafting a fertility-enhancing diet that fosters a healthy environment for conception.

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1. High-Mercury Fish:

Mercury is a heavy metal that poses significant risks when consumed in high amounts, particularly for those trying to conceive. Found in certain types of fish, mercury can be especially harmful to reproductive health, affecting both male and female fertility. It can not only impair fertility but also jeopardize fetal development if pregnancy occurs. High-mercury fish like swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish should be avoided due to their potential to accumulate high levels of mercury.

Instead, focus on lower-mercury options such as salmon, sardines, and trout. These fish are not only safer in terms of mercury content but also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for fertility and overall health. Incorporating these into your diet supports a balanced and fertility-enhancing nutritional plan, safeguarding your reproductive health while ensuring you still benefit from the essential nutrients found in seafood.

2. Processed Meats:

Recent studies have cast a spotlight on the impact of processed meats on fertility, revealing negative effects on sperm quality in men and potential implications for female fertility. Processed meats, including sausages, bacon, and deli meats, often contain preservatives such as nitrates and high levels of sodium and fat, which can contribute to fertility issues.

Switching to lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, and plant-based proteins can be a wise move for those trying to conceive. Lean proteins provide the necessary nutrients without the adverse effects associated with processed meats. For plant-based options, consider lentils, beans, and tofu, which offer not only protein but also other fertility-boosting nutrients like iron and folate. Emphasizing these healthier protein sources can enhance your fertility diet, supporting reproductive health and wellbeing.

3. Trans Fats:

Trans fats are particularly notorious for their negative impact on health, including fertility. Found in some fried and processed foods, trans fats contribute to ovulatory infertility by increasing insulin resistance. This disruption in insulin levels can lead to hormonal imbalances, affecting ovulation and making conception more challenging.

To support your fertility journey, it’s crucial to avoid foods high in trans fats such as fried foods, margarine, and commercially baked goods. Instead, turn your attention to healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds. These not only support fertility but also provide a wealth of nutrients essential for maintaining optimal health. By choosing healthy fats over trans fats, you’re taking a positive step towards improving your fertility and enhancing your chances of conceiving.

4. High-Glycemic Index Foods:

High-glycemic index (GI) foods can lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which may upset your body’s hormonal balance. This imbalance can negatively affect fertility by interfering with the regular ovulation process. Foods such as white bread, pastries, and sugary snacks fall into this category and should be avoided by those trying to conceive.

To maintain stable blood sugar levels and support hormonal equilibrium, it’s beneficial to opt for foods with a low glycemic index. Whole grains, legumes, and vegetables are excellent choices. These foods release glucose slowly, keeping energy levels steady and supporting overall reproductive health. Incorporating these into your diet enhances fertility by promoting hormonal balance and providing essential nutrients.

5. Soy Products:

Soy products contain phytoestrogens, plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. While soy can be a beneficial part of a balanced diet, excessive consumption may have implications for fertility, particularly among women undergoing fertility treatments. This is because phytoestrogens can potentially disrupt the body’s natural hormonal rhythms, affecting fertility.

However, it’s important to approach soy with balance rather than complete avoidance. Moderation is key. Instead of relying solely on soy for protein, consider diversifying your protein sources. Incorporate a variety of proteins into your diet, including lean meats, fish, eggs, and plant-based proteins like lentils and chickpeas. This diversity ensures you receive all the essential amino acids and nutrients needed for optimal fertility without the potential risks of high soy intake.

6. Alcohol:

Alcohol’s impact on fertility is well-documented, with studies linking alcohol consumption to decreased fertility in both men and women. Alcohol can affect sperm quality and ovulation, making it harder to conceive. For those trying to get pregnant, it’s advisable to limit or avoid alcohol altogether.

Opting for hydrating alternatives such as water, herbal teas, and infused water can support your fertility journey. Not only do these alternatives promote hydration, but they also offer additional health benefits without the negative impacts associated with alcohol consumption. By choosing to reduce or eliminate alcohol from your diet, you’re taking a significant step toward improving your chances of conception and supporting overall reproductive health.

7. Caffeine:

Caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, can impact fertility when consumed in high quantities. Research indicates that high levels of caffeine intake are associated with fertility issues, affecting both male and female reproductive health. While a moderate amount of caffeine is generally considered safe, it’s beneficial for those trying to conceive to limit their intake.

To mitigate potential risks, aim to consume no more than 1-2 cups of coffee per day and consider switching to decaffeinated versions of your favorite beverages. Reducing caffeine doesn’t mean giving up your cherished coffee ritual; instead, it’s about adjusting quantities and exploring alternatives to support your fertility journey. Herbal teas and water can also serve as excellent substitutes, providing hydration without the caffeine.

8. Non-Organic Fruits and Vegetables:

Pesticides used in conventional farming can linger on fruits and vegetables, leading to potential exposure to chemicals known to affect fertility. These substances can disrupt hormonal balance and adversely affect both sperm quality and ovulation. Therefore, it’s advisable for those trying to conceive to minimize exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals by choosing organic produce when possible.

When shopping for fruits and vegetables, prioritize organic options, especially for those items known to have high pesticide levels, often referred to as the “Dirty Dozen”. This list includes produce like strawberries, spinach, and apples, which are typically higher in pesticide residues. Opting for organic produce can reduce your exposure to pesticides and support a healthier reproductive system.


Your journey to parenthood is precious, and nurturing your fertility is a vital part of this journey. By being mindful of the foods you consume, you can enhance your fertility and create a welcoming environment for conception. Remember, it’s not only about avoiding certain foods but also about embracing those that nourish and support your body. Consider this guide a stepping stone towards making informed dietary choices that align with your fertility goals.

Embark on your fertility journey with confidence and clarity. Download our guide, “Improve Your Fertility Naturally,” to discover more about how you can optimize your diet for conception. Click here to nourish your fertility with knowledge and take the first step towards welcoming new life.

Navigating dietary choices can significantly influence your fertility journey. By understanding which foods to avoid and which to embrace, you’re taking a powerful step towards creating the best possible conditions for conception. Remember, each step you take is a move towards welcoming a new life into your world

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About the Author: NFP Editorial Team

The NFP Team is composed of seasoned professionals in the field of natural health and reproductive wellness. With diverse qualifications ranging from Naturopathy and Reproductive Medicine to Evidence-Based Medicine and Integrative Health, the team brings together a wealth of knowledge and experience. Collectively, they have decades of hands-on experience in treating a myriad of health conditions with a focus on fertility and reproductive issues. Their scientifically grounded approach combines modern medicine with traditional practices, ensuring a holistic healthcare model. The team’s articles, videos, guides, and reports are meticulously researched and designed to provide actionable insights for couples on their path to parenthood. Rest assured, the information presented is rooted in science and honed by the practical, real-world experience of the NFP team members.