Following a Mediterranean-style diet high in vegetables, vegetable oils, fish and beans could increase your chances of getting pregnant, according to dietitians at Loyola University Health System.
You hear that, ladies? Dietitians want you to eat more like a Greek—and to that, I proudly say: BRING. ON. THE. FETA.
Brooke Schantz, who was involved in the study, told potential moms-to-be what they already know: "Establishing a healthy eating pattern," she said, "and weight is a good first step for women who are looking to conceive. Not only will a healthy diet and lifestyle potentially help with fertility, but it also may influence fetal well-being and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy." And according to the National Infertility Association, more than thirty percent of infertility is due to the fact that women are over, or under, weight. The two weight extremes actually cause a shift in hormones that likely affect ovulation.
So, now for what you didn't know. Schantz and her team of researchers said that you can follow a few tasty nutritional tips in the kitchen and when you're dining out to help boost your chances of conception. As for what to eat, you should:
Reduce your intake of animal proteins and add more vegetable proteins to your diet
Think: less red meat, more asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, artichokes, sweetcorn and watercress. And if you're thinking like a true Greek, more vegetable proteins means more feta and a few extra grape leaves.
Cut back on the foods with trans- and saturated fats and increase monounsaturated fats
Uh, dictionary, please? Let's cut to the chase: Start saying "no" more often to these foods: fast foods, frozen foods, packaged foods, spreadable foods, toppings, dips, baked goods (like cookies. Sigh), candies, chips, crackers and soups (ugh!). And start saying "yes" to more avocados, peanut butter, nuts and olives (yes, yes, yes and yes!). And skip the canola oil—go straight for olive oil instead. Rachael Ray, and your future baby, will thank you.
Get more fiber
It may hurt your belly at first, but taking in more whole grains, vegetables and fruit will do wonders for your reproductive parts. And, no, to disappoint, feta is not loaded with fiber. But when no one's watching, eat the damn feta.
Even if you're not vegetarian, get more creative with your iron options
Meat eaters, please don't think you've got to cut the animal-derived dishes completely. You can have your deer and eat it too, but do try to add a variety of iron options to your weekly menu. Start shopping for things like tofu, seeds, whole grains, nuts and more legumes. And if you made a face at tofu, allow me: It tastes like whatever you cook it in. It truly is the chameleon of foods.
Consume high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy
Having to choose one dairy option over the other does, I admit, bring me great pangs of sadness, but there's (always) a silver lining when it comes to cheese. Look for dairy-products that are full-fat cheeses, cream, sour cream, whole milk, two percent milk and ice cream. And, of course, feta! But don't make it your life's work to eat all the full-fat cheeses. This is about making your diet work, not clogging your arteries.
Start taking a multivitamin
Hit the pavement and check out the options at your local wellness store, a GNC or a Vitamin Shoppe. The staff on-hand will help you make a purchase that gives your body just want you need.