A Leading Fertility Dietitian Answers Your Burning Questions

“What should I be eating when I’m trying to get pregnant?”

“Can I eat sushi?”

“Is it safe to drink coffee?”

We get questions like this all the time–and considering the overwhelming amount of conflicting information floating around the internet, it’s no surprise! Trying to conceive is an exciting yet overwhelming time, and many of you have so. many. questions for us…

And the truth is, we can’t answer them all. We reached out to you on Instagram and picked some of the most common questions–then we sent them to our brilliant fertility dietitian Stefanie Valakas for her expert advice. Want to see what she had to say? Keep reading!

Q: What should I be eating when trying to conceive if I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)?

A: PCOS can affect your hormones and body’s ability to ovulate, thus reducing your chances of conceiving. Unfortunately, we don’t have one perfect dietary pattern we should be aiming for when it comes to trying to conceive with PCOS. I strongly encourage you to work closely with a dietitian with expertise in this area to help you get on top of it, as each woman’s needs with PCOS are truly unique! 

Learn more about diet and PCOS here.

Q: I drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Is this harming my chances of getting pregnant?

A: The upper limit for caffeine is 200 mg when TTC or pregnant. This is about 2 espresso shots worth of coffee daily, or 4 caffeine containing teas such as black or green tea. I would recommend cutting back to 1-2 maximum daily and ensure anything else you’re eating doesn’t contain caffeine like chocolate, cocoa products or “energy” bars.

Q: Does what I eat affect whether I have a boy or girl?

A: No, you or your partner’s diet before conceiving does not affect whether you have a boy or a girl!

Q: I’m considered overweight. How does this affect my chances of getting pregnant?

A: Excess weight can affect both female and male fertility, research suggests that for every BMI point over 29 a woman is there is a 4% reduction of falling pregnant. Excess weight can contribute to poor egg and sperm quality. Ideally, both men and women should aim for a healthy and comfortable weight before conceiving to optimise their chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy

Q: What foods should I make sure to eat when I’m TTC?

This is a tricky one, but I would focus on the following few foods to get you started and think about chatting to a dietitian about it further.

  1. Salmon or another kind of oily fish rich in omega-3s great for egg and sperm quality.
  2. One vegetarian meal per week – studies show trading just 5% of your daily animal protein for vegetarian sources improved fertility
  3. Eggs – rich source of choline, an essential nutrient for a healthy pregnancy not found in many standard prenatal supplements
  4. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula or rocket for a good dose of folate
  5. Fruit – at least 2-3 pieces of fruit daily helps support optimal female and male fertility!
  6. Nuts & seeds – a healthy handful everyday for healthy fats, zinc and other important minerals like selenium found in Brazil nuts

Want to know what not to eat? Check out Stefanie’s advice here.

Q: Should my husband change his diet?

Both men and women should be looking at preparing from a nutrition perspective when preparing to conceive and become parents. In fact, some research is suggesting a father-to-be’s diet impacts more than just sperm health–it may have an impact on your future baby’s health risks too. I like to talk to couples about changing your diet together in preparation for conceiving.

Q: Will eating seafood affect my fertility?

Yes! Research suggests that couples who eat seafood on average twice per week conceived faster, this could be due to the rich sources of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids which are both key for male and female fertility. Eat up! 

Want to learn more about your fertility and optimize your chances of conceiving? Try our new Trying to Conceive Program in the Baby2Body App today!

Stefanie Valakas is a leading women’s health and fertility dietitian and nutritionist based in Australia. She specializes in preconception nutrition, and is passionate about helping couples who are trying to conceive optimize their diet–and chances of conceiving! She helps women facing  PCOS, endometriosis, hypothalamic amenorrhoea, thyroid issues, and early menopause.


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