You and your partner have talked about having a baby, but it’s not happening just yet. If you plan to get pregnant within the next few months—or even year—it’s important to get your diet on the healthy track now to prepare your body for pregnancy later. To learn more about the easy tweaks you can make to your diet today to increase your fertility and prepare your body for a baby, we talked to Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of The Belly Fat Diet for Dummies.
Here are the five food categories you should make an effort to consume more of so you’ll do your body good in the months to come.
1. Folic Acid
”If you plan on getting pregnant any time in the next year you want to make sure your diet is rich in folic acid and that you’re proactive about that now,” says Palinski-Wade. You can take a supplement, prenatal vitamin, and increase your intake of folic acid-rich foods like fortified whole grains, fortified cereals, vegetables, and citrus fruits. You should be taking in 400-600 mg of folic acid daily before pregnancy and about 800 mg during pregnancy to ensure a healthier pregnancy and minimize risk of birth defects.
See more: Prenatal Vitamins from A to Z
2. High-Quality Proteins
One study conducted on couples who were having trouble with fertility found that a higher-protein, lower carb diet helped increase pregnant rates. Eating a diet of 25% or more protein and 40% or less carbs improved egg quality and doubled pregnancy rate in IVF patients as opposed to those following a higher carb, lower protein diet.
“High quality proteins in your diet are important for fertility. Make sure you’re getting a complete protein that has all the essential amino acids,” says Palinski-Wade. “Whole eggs and egg whites are excellent sources, as are white meat poultry, and fish, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon.
If you’re a vegetarian, beans and legumes are healthy protein sources which are also rich in iron, another essential nutrient.” If you’re a vegetarian and consuming soy products, Palinski-Wade recommends sticking with whole soy products over processed as the processed versions tend to be higher in sodium and not as healthy for you overall.