The Fertility Diet: Foods to Eat While Pregnant or Trying to Conceive | Ryann Kipping
Christa: Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining me today. I'm so excited for today's interview. We have Ryann kipping here and she's a registered dietitian and a Master of Public Health. And we are talking all about preconception and pregnancy nutrition. So, all kinds of questions that we get here at mommy knows best in our Facebook group. So, I just can't wait to dive in and talk further about what people can be eating and doing in this time of their life. So, thanks for being here.
Ryann: Yay. Thanks for having me. So excited.
Christa: Yes, I'm really excited. So first, just to get started, can you just tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
Ryann: Like you said, I am a registered dietician, nutritionist. I also have a master's in public health that I just recently completed, very excited about that. I am registered dietitian specifically for those who are trying to conceive and pregnant helping them sift through all of the information that is online today. I think nutrition is already really confusing, even if you're not pregnant or trying to conceive and then when you throw this journey into the mix, it gets even more confusing. There are so many people telling you different things and there's so much misinformation out there too. So my whole mission and goal is just to make make sure you guys feel confident that you know what you're doing, and also that you're getting the most up to date information for this journey because obviously I'm a little bit biased, but I think that this time in your life is the most important time to focus on nutrition and not that I always worry that when I say that people think like oh, I have to be perfect about nutrition. So, not by any means, it is not about being perfect at all. It's just about making those small changes, that I'm sure we'll get into some of those things and I'm here.
Christa: Awesome. Yeah, I think that's great to know too, because I think you mentioned too, like sifting through all the information. I mean, there's so much out there right now. I mean, we are in the time of information overload. So I think it's awesome to have experts on here and really talk about, you know, because I think it when people start thinking about trying to conceive, they look online, and they're like this thing, this boss, is this thing or yes, across. So, to kind of let's start with talking about preconception. So, yes. Do you count this as kind of a time before you're like, Okay, I am going to start trying to conceive soon? So, like, kind of that those kinds of pre weeks was discussion with your partner at that time? Like, what do you kind of consider preconception?
Ryann: Yeah, I really consider it any time leading up to that positive pregnancy test, honestly. So, I have a lot of friends and a lot of followers that are planning their pregnancy out pretty far in advance, which I think is fantastic. I'm definitely someone who was in that boat, too. My husband and I are like, Okay, we're gonna have kids in like, three years, like, we're gonna try on this day, like, not really, I'm just like, but like, if we could plan it that much, we probably would and a lot of times, you can't plan these things, you can't plan when you're going to get pregnant, all of these life events, it's really hard to plan. But if you do have a general idea of like, okay, we feel like maybe in the next two years, maybe in the next year, maybe in six months, like whenever you know that you have kind of set that timeline in your head, I consider that like, you're in the preconception phase, right? That's a great time, if you're a year out great time to take that year to focus on nutrition, start building in some of these healthy habits, because nutrition habits and healthy habits, they can take a while to like, make them into a habit, it takes a lot of time to change. So, the sooner you can start, the better and you'll feel more confident. Typically, the sooner you can start making these changes and maybe meet with a specialist or whoever you feel like, whatever area in your life that you feel like needs more work, hopefully you can find someone to work with work on those things to where you do feel very confident and ready. With that being said, if you're only three months out, if you're only two months out, that's still great. You still have time to kind of think about some things hopefully implement a few changes and get ready to go like anytime preparing is great
Christa: Awesome. Yeah. So, it's kind of like as soon as you're kind of having that talk with your partner, whether it's years down the line or months to kind of make some of those shifts in your diet and nutrition. So, when it comes to women for stuff, they're starting to try and conceive at that point. How do you recommend they change up their diet? Or what are the kinds of foods that you first recommend they kind of start putting into their regular diet?
Ryann: Yeah, well, the good thing about preconception is that there's no like, air quotes, like food rules that you have to follow, right? We think there's so many rules in pregnancy that we have to follow. There's nothing like that, really, there's no like you don't have morning sickness in the way like, typically you don't have like these pregnancy symptoms to deal with. So, you're just like unstoppable, kinda, you have all of this power to make changes and granted, you might have other health conditions that you're dealing with and things like that, and that's a great point. If you have a pre-existing health condition, I think that's a great focus is to try to manage that existing health condition to the best of your ability, right? Go to your doctor, tell them you're trying to conceive, what are the or you're planning to start trying to conceive? What are the steps you should be taking to make sure you're managing this condition as best as you can? But if you're not, if you don't have a healthy existing health condition, I think overall, just focusing on what you can add to your diet, right? Because a lot of the times when we think about making dietary changes, we're like, Alright, I need to cut the alcohol, cut the sugar, cut the dairy cut that like we think we all of a sudden have to like, cut all these things out of our diet, which ultimately makes eating miserable. You know, we don't want it like it's like, okay, this isn't fun anymore, enjoy my life. I can go to social gatherings and enjoy food with friends. And that's really not the case, you want balance. a lot of dietitians preach this and for good reason. We have to have balance or else it's not going to be sustainable. If you start making changes and then two months later, three months later, you're like, Ah, forget it, this is this is too hard and I can't keep up with this, then what was the point to begin with, right? So again, focus on what you can add to your diet, which is usually more leafy greens, more foods high in folate, more nuts and seeds, more fish, like a lot of people struggle with fish intake. So, focusing on fatty fish consumption, thinking about where your proteins coming from thinking about where your sources of fat are coming from. I find that a lot of people are not getting enough healthy fats, especially when trying to conceive working with women in all stages of trying to conceive those who are just planning have never even tried before in those who have maybe been trying for a couple years and haven't had success. Both groups I feel like need to work on fitting more healthy fats in their diet really because we've been taught to avoid fat for so long. There was that whole low-fat error in our lives were mainly our parents that people that were like, it was so rooted in them that like we had to pick low fat, everything, which later science has, like disproven time and time again that this is a true, right? We need fat in our diet, and especially especially for pregnancy. We need that fat, so healthy, bad's folate, folate rich foods, nuts and seeds. Thinking about where your proteins coming from and fish. I'll just leave it at that. There's so much more right.
Christa: No, that's awesome. That's helpful and I love that you say adding stuff to your diet. So, taking away because that is so common. I mean, even I can see if people are like, wait, so I'm going to cut this, this, this and this like what do you consume, though? What are the things that give you that healthy protein? Healthy fats? awesome. And so, when it comes to you kind of talk about getting the folate, which I know, you have, it doesn't sometimes like prenatal vitamins. So, what do you recommend women to start taking prenatal vitamins that like once they're pregnant? Or do you recommend sometimes in that preconception phase at all?
Ryann: Most of the time in the preconception phase and that's for a few reasons, several reasons. One, definitely building that routine and building that habit, like I was just talking about with other dietary changes. If you've never taken a supplement or a multivitamin before, maybe you've never even taken like, a pill before consistently. It can be a challenge, like this is something I have to work on with my clients is like, how can we make sure you're taking this every day, it can really be a struggle for some people. So, building that habit, again, if you've already built it up before you're pregnant, once you're pregnant, you're going to be like, oh, I do this every day. This is part of my routine. It's no big deal. Number two, when you hit that first trimester, just eating can be hard. Like literally just eating anything can be hard but if you've done that work, you know, during the preconception phase, you've really worked on building up those nutrient stores, your body knows what to do, like our bodies are so amazing. It's just going to pull on those nutrient stores, you built up during preconception. So that's another reason. Taking a prenatal vitamin can be beneficial is working on those nutrient stores and then the first few weeks of pregnancy, going back to that first trimester, that's when a lot of the major organs, they start to form and they actually finished forming in those that first trimester. So, it's really, really important that during that time, you have everything baby needs to develop these important organs. Of course, this is going to be individualized, you might be someone that, you know, I've worked with people who don't prefer not to take supplements or just want to kind of figure out individual micronutrients to take versus just like taking an overall prenatal vitamin. So, it's going to depend on the person. Ultimately, what you need to supplement with what prenatal vitamin you might need, if you need to add extra, maybe you need a prenatal vitamin, but you also need to take additional vitamin D, that's really common. So yeah, if you are starting to think about having a baby, it's probably in your best interest to try to find a prenatal vitamin and you might go through a bunch to find one that works for you because sometimes people will try one and be like, made me really nauseous or there's just some, sometimes there's unwanted side effects, especially if you start one that's like a really high dose too. So, it might take some time for you to find something that you can make into a habit and you know.
Christa: Yeah, I've even found that with some multivitamins I've taken, I'll feel like kind of sick to my stomach after before I can used to or some. What are the biggest differences then in diet between preconception phase and pregnancy phase? like what are the biggest things they should change?
Ryann: Really, it's the same. The same foods that are going to help you get pregnant are going to help you stay pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy. You might just need to, as you go throughout pregnancy, eat a little bit more definitely you're going to need more protein as you go throughout. But in general, like the foods that you want to focus on, are going to be the same when you're thinking about trying to get pregnant. When you are pregnant, right? a lot of the same foods you want to include that I already talked about are still food you want to put emphasis on. There are some nutrients before pregnancy and first trimester that are really involved in building your baby's brain and spinal cord like fully in choline. So, those are two that you could put emphasis on before trying to conceive. And the first trimester as you go throughout pregnancy and looking at closer to the end third trimester, DHA and that goes back to those fish those fatty fish. Those are super important in the third trimester because they're super good sources of DHA, which is rapidly involved in accumulated in your baby's brain and those final stages. There are some nutrient changes as you go throughout the trimesters. But in general, the same foods are good throughout that whole journey.
Christa: I know we talked about like the elimination thing, but what are some key foods when you are pregnant that you should, that women should avoid?
Ryann: When you're pregnant, obviously, alcohol is like the number one thing you should avoid, unwashed produce. Making sure that your produce is super thoroughly washed is really important in that same food safety realm. Unpasteurized dairy, it should be limited or avoided. The good thing there is that most dairy in the grocery stores is pasteurized so there's really not much you have to limit the in the means of dairy unless you shop a lot. At farmer's markets or maybe you live on a farm or something most various completely pasteurized, including soft cheeses. So, the mostly you can eat all the dairy Like honestly, and it's pretty easy to check, you just flip the label over and it should say pasteurized right there shellfish so that we have to mention that one. So raw shellfish is often on the foodborne illness outbreak list. So that's one that should be definitely limited or avoided because it is a higher risk food. You can eat it cooked. I get this I think there's a lot of confusion there whenever people say avoid raw shellfish, people are like, oh, just forget shellfish altogether. But people really like crab and lobster and scallops and you know these shrimps. So as long as these items are cooked, you can enjoy them. Just making sure to avoid the raw ones is best practice deli meats. That's another common one. I'll make sure to hit on that too. It's so this is like a long conversation. So, I'm trying to figure out how to like sum it up. There are ways you can make it safer, right? I have people all the time that really crave sandwiches, or like their favorite food is a sandwich and I don't want to be the one to be like, oh, well you can't eat sandwiches for nine months like that's miserable if you can't your favorite food for nine months. So, toast get the sandwich toasted. Heat the deli meat before eating it, there are ways to make it safer. And then on top of that, deli meats carry Listeria and you get Listeriosis from if you ingest listeria, and it's harmful so this is very rare. Listeriosis is very, very rare. I don't have the number off the top of my head. I have posted it a lot on social media. The numbers, definitely in some of my social media posts, about how many cases there are a year in America, but it's actually pretty rare. That is not to downplay the seriousness at all. If you do get Listeriosis when you are pregnant, it is very serious if you do get it. That being said, it is very, very rare. And our food supply in America here is safe. Like it's very safe. But ultimately, it's up to your comfortability level. If you feel like you are if you are someone who is a very anxious person, and you feel like if you eat a sandwich and after it, you're going to be like, oh my god freaking out feeling so guilty and just going down this downward spiral, then you should probably not eat it right? Because our mental health is can be so affected and it really matters. So, if you are going to have sort of like a mental health spiral, then you add someone. I would say like hey, just avoid it. It's not it's not good for you to have these guilt trips and anxious feelings. But if you feel comfortable, you feel like hey, like, I've done my research. I feel comfortable with the restaurant that I'm going to or I'm making it at home and heating it or whatever it is then I think it's totally okay.
Christa: Awesome. Awesome. It's really good to know. Is there a common? I don't know We hear a lot of times like a lot of women or people in general are deficient of like vitamin D as an ally people need to take. So, it's a common thing that you see a lot of women or pregnant women are deficient in that they should definitely look after?
Ryann: Yeah, definitely vitamin D is a huge one. But I think 50% of us our I don't know, if it's everyone or just pregnant woman, now it's escaping me. But I know definitely at least 50% are deficient in vitamin D and then even higher number or even Yeah, some people are even critically deficient, which is like just meaning your vitamin D is so, so low. I don't know the exact percentages, but they're pretty shockingly high. Most prenatal vitamins, they don't contain even like 1000 I use, they'll contain like 600, I use or 400. Somewhere between 400 and 1000. I feel like it's pretty common. There are some out there that contain 2000 3000, even 4000. These are grades, most people do need at least 2000 I use of vitamin D. The best way to know though is to get your vitamin D levels tested. This is a relatively easy test and also the supplementation vitamin D supplementation is also relatively cheap. So, it's easy to easy to test easy to correct yet so many of us are deficient in it. That's an important one choline, it's estimated that greater than 90% of pregnant women aren't getting enough choline. So that's one that's super important. In general, just like working one on one with people back to the folate thing, I think a lot of us are under consuming folate, too. And this is folate from like natural food sources. Because folic acid is the synthetic type that our foods are fortified with. So, I'm talking foods are naturally high in folate, like leafy greens, nuts and seeds, avocados, lentils, things like that I feel like women aren't consuming enough of. And then I'll also say omega threes, too. I touched on that some. But omega threes. I think we're also under consuming for how important it is also in pregnancy. These are just a few there are definitely more.
Christa: Well, that's super helpful to hear. Just because yeah, that's one of those things where, you know, you hear about deficiencies that even know about I remember hearing about the vitamin one. And I heard that recently to like magnesium, a lot of people are you know, deficient in so yes, yeah, people can start kind of planning now I think that will help. And I actually saw on your page and this was so interesting to me. So, I was hoping you could explain a little bit more on it. How you don't recommend pregnant women to take Tums because a lot of pregnant women, heartburn. And so, I want to hear a little bit more about that. And then, what you kind of recommend for natural remedies for heartburn?
Ryann: Good question and this is so funny because I talked about it in stories on my stories and Instagram, because I don't know about getting a bunch of questions, or I can't remember what sparked this. But yeah, so I just went on stories and I was like, you know, talent talking about tones of this information and I got such a response. Like everybody was like, oh my gosh, like I've never heard this before. One, two, this is so incredibly helpful. Like I was just told like Tums are saved and, on my way, and now I've been like popping eight times a day, I would have never known like this is crazy. And then I also had a bunch of people that responded and were like, oh my gosh, yes. Like, I know, people that got kidney stones during pregnancy, you know, some of my friends because they were eating so many times that it caused kidney stones. So, or other issues, right? Because Tum's have calcium. So that's one of the reasons and we need calcium. Calcium is great, we definitely need it during pregnancy. If you don't consume dairy, you might be under consuming calcium. So that could be a benefit of Tums. But it can also be a downside. As you know, I was just explaining with some of these issues that you might run into if you get too much calcium additionally. So, kind of going back to Tum's work by decreasing or neutralizing the acid in our stomach, right? because that's what causes heartburn or acid reflux is that acid in your stomach coming back up your esophagus, which causes that burning sensation. So, Tums are basically neutralizing this acid or decreasing it. So that doesn't happen that's why they work and not by any means. Am I saying you cannot use them? I know that sometimes heartburn is just so bad, you can't sleep at night because of it. So, you might this might be the only thing that works for you to get sleep or for you to go about your day. So, I, 100% understand that. And I'm not saying you shouldn't use them or that they are harmful, right because they are safe to use. Let's just get that out of the way. But we already have the issue of potentially too much calcium. The next thing is that when it neutralizes that acid in your stomach, we need that acid there, we need that acid for two reasons. One, foodborne illness, which we just finished talking about. So that acid actually protects us and prevents us from getting sick, right? It helps us fend off that potential bacteria that we might have consumed that was in our food. And then number two, that acid actually helps us absorb some nutrients and like the 12, it helps us absorb those nutrients. So, if we don't have that acid there, and that's basically kind of interfering with a normal pathway of how we absorb nutrients. So, three reasons why they're not ideal remedies for heartburn and why we should try some other things first, before we're just like, oh, go get the Tums like, I have heartburn, there are definitely a lot of other things you can try. Number one is finding what is causing it right? because if you know what's causing it, you can hopefully limit that food and that can kind of stop the heartburn, keeping a food diary can help this. So, writing down what you ate, writing down your symptoms to figure out what the heck is causing this heartburn. And sometimes it's not a specific food, sometimes it's maybe like, eating too much at one time, right? Because if we overdo the portion size, I do this too. You know, like I'm not pregnant, but this happens to me, I eat too much at a meal and I feel I get heartburn. So sometimes that causes it. Sometimes just laying down, we eat dinner, and then we get on the couch and we watch Netflix, right? So, laying down right after you eat is just gravity, it's like helping the acid go back up your esophagus. So that sometimes can be a cause of it to figuring out that trigger that I think is most important. A lot of people were commenting on this thread to other things that help them outside of Tums, which I love. Dairy kind of works both ways. Sometimes dairy is the cause of people's heartburn. But sometimes milk like a glass of milk really helps people's heartburn. So, I have plenty of clients who what worked for them is like drinking a glass of milk after they had dinner, or like it helped or yoghurt. Sometimes people eat yoghurt after a meal, great little parfait or something for your dessert, you get tones of nutrients from yoghurt, I love yoga for pregnancy. So that's something you could try. There's herbal tea is like ginger tea, chamomile tea. Some of these can help with heartburn to small frequent meals. So that goes back to the large meals. If that is your trigger, then maybe figure out a way to break up some of your meals and do you know six small meals as opposed to three big meals, going on walks, instead of lying down, right after you eat, go on a short walk. I mean, even if this is like around your house, you know, it's getting cold some places I know. So, if you can't get outside, then just walk around your house for like 10-15 minutes. Or at the least when you go to the couch, sit up straight work on your posture. Posture definitely matters to for our digestion. So, make sure you're sitting up straight. Even at work if you're eating breakfast or lunch at work, and you're going to sit at your desk after or even eating at your desk, definitely work on your posture sitting up straight, that can help your digestion. There are a lot of things you can try for our burn. But like I said, if it's so bad and none of these things are working in Tums is the only thing or another medication right that your doctor may have prescribed. Not saying these are bad not saying these are harmful sometimes they are necessary, but I would try some of these other things, too. Sorry, long winded response.
Christa: No, that's great. No, because I think a lot of people want to hear those kinds of natural remedies or things they can do before you know popping something quickly. So, it's a great alternative as well no, this is awesome. I think you know we get a lot of questions about people that are trying to conceive and how they can you know, change up their diet or what things to look for. So, this was this is really helpful and I know we're just about you know at the end here I just had a couple final questions for you. I always asked these to everyone that comes on the show it's kind of a fun thinking question I call it so if you could have a billboard made today where you could share one tip with moms everywhere What would you have it say?
Ryann: Oh my gosh even sent me this beforehand and I like did not think of anything. Oh gosh, I don't know I think it would just be to listen to your body like you know your body best really tuning in and listening to what it has to say. Whether that is in regards to a certain food that your body needs or you feel a certain way that you need to contact your doctor or you feel like your doctor is telling you something and you're like I don't think that's right or that's not what I feel, then you know, your body best. Listen to it, tune in and hear what it has to say.
Christa: Yeah, that's great advice. Because as we were kind of talking about earlier, there's a plethora of information out there and I think it's important to see information, understand information and see how it applies to you because exactly, people just take it and like, well, this is what worked for them. So, it's gonna work for me.
Ryann: Exactly, exactly, yep. 100%
Christa: Awesome. And so of course, where can everyone find you on Instagram? I know that's how I found you and saw your awesome reels. They're full of information. So, you guys definitely have to go check her out any Instagram links or any downloads or things they can check out?
Ryann: Yeah, definitely. So, come see me on Instagram at prenatal nutritionist. I am also on Tiktok and Facebook as well, a little bit less. But yeah, tick tock Instagram at Purina nutritionist and then we also have a specific page for our membership and app which is at the prenatal nutrition library. So pretty much daily information on both of these pages, I would follow both of them. If you really want to dive in and get learning, you can also download our app for free, which is the prenatal nutrition library in any app store. So, I would highly recommend downloading that as well.
Christa: Awesome. Well, that was great. And thank you so much for coming on and sharing all the info with us. And definitely go check out her page, guys, because that's how I found the reels. I can't wait. I was like, these are awesome. Like they're so inspirational. And yeah, thank you. So, thank you so much for coming on. It was great meeting you.
Ryann: Yeah, thanks for having me.
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