Fertility

Eating Out Tips for Anyone TTC

Eloise Edington  |   3 Jul 2021


As the world is opening up and we are beginning to tentatively venture out to restaurants again (for the first time in many months), it may seem tempting to abandon healthy eating resolutions and let go a bit. For those of us trying to conceive or going through fertility treatments like IUI and IVF, and using many different fertility supplements, we all know the connection between fertility success and your diet/holistic preparation.

To give us some food inspiration and get taste buds going, we’ve turned to fertility specialist Sandra Greenbank, a leading fertility nutritionist who tells us what to keep in mind when eating out and trying to conceive, including the healthiest eating out options.

Words by Sandra Greenbank

It’s really important to recognise the benefits of eating with family and friends and the sense of well-being that this brings to our emotional health. The feel-good chemicals that are released when we dine with the people we love are part and parcel of the stress-reducing practices that are so important for your well-being.

fertilitynutritioncentre.org | @fertility.nutrition.centre

Of course, there is always space for the odd slice of birthday cake in any healthy diet.”

However, it isn’t necessary to let go of all your healthy eating habits when eating out – it’s entirely possible to enjoy a restaurant meal while also adhering to a fertility friendly diet and lifestyle. Let’s break down what this might look like, starting with the proportions of fat, protein and carbohydrates on your plate.

A healthy diet includes a source of good-quality protein. We don’t need a lot of it in any one sitting, so the general rule is to go for quality instead of quantity and include roughly a palm-sized portion with every meal. Good protein choices are meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and pulses. Ideally, steer clear of any less healthy options such as processed meats such as sausages or charred/ flame grilled as well as burnt food. Instead, opt for grilled, steamed or poached meat or fish.

Related Article – Fertility Specialists: How to Improve Egg Quality Through Nutrition with Sandra Greenbank

Choose Your Carbohydrates

The amount you need depends on your metabolism, how much you move or exercise, as well as whether you need to lose or gain any weight. For most people, it is enough to include roughly what you can hold in a cupped hand. The better options are whole-grains such as brown rice or quinoa, root vegetables such as sweet potatoes or parsnips. You can also include pulses, such as chickpeas or beans in this category since they are generally composed of 75% carbohydrate and 25% protein. Some ideal options are sweet potatoes, hummus or a slice of dense Danish rye bread. Avoid eating too much of the refined variety – white flour (white bread), pasta or white rice. This is due to the fact that these types of simple carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar, which can have a knock-on effect on hormones and raise inflammation in the body, which is not conducive to healthy fertility.

It’s important not to forget the healthy fats, which are essential for healthy cell membranes and hormone balance. Oils from nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, as well as oily fish such as wild salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring are all good options and don’t be afraid to add some healthy fats to each meal. Most restaurants will have olives as an option to nibble on or will be happy to add ½ avocado to your plate, alternatively simply ask for an extra drizzle of olive oil on your plate.

With a palm-sized portion of protein and a handful of carbohydrates, you should have roughly ½ plate left for what is arguably the most important part of your meal, your non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are generally those that grow above ground, ie tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, peppers and so on. Now, think ‘rainbow’ whenever you are choosing your vegetables and you can’t go far wrong. Aim to include as many colours as you can: orange, red, yellow, blue, purple, green, white and brown.

Green really is the star of the show for anybody who is trying to conceive, as green vegetables are a good source of B vitamins, including folate, and magnesium, which are so important on your conception journey. Luckily, this is also one of the easiest colours to include when eating out, as greens are almost always available to order as an additional side dish.

Related Article – Fertility Specialists: How to Improve Sperm Quality Through Nutrition

A ‘Healthy Restaurant Meal’ Might Look Like This:

Breakfast/Brunch

  • Poached eggs with smoked salmon on rye with steamed spinach
  • Eggs with halloumi, avocado, grilled mushrooms, baked beans and tomatoes
  • Courgette or sweetcorn fritters with a tomato salsa
  • Pancakes with greek yoghurt and fresh fruit or berries
  • Bircher muesli topped with berries and nuts

Lunch

  • Fillet of salmon with sweet potato fries, mixed salad and a side of greens
  • Chicken burger with hummus, coleslaw and avocado (the bun is generally not the most healthy option but you could ask for a side dish of vegetables in place of the bun or perhaps just eat half of it)
  • Chicken curry with wok fried greens (go easy on the white rice)
  • Any salad (just make sure it includes enough protein and fats so that you come away satisfied).
  • Fish cakes with a mixed salad and additional side of vegetables

 

Dessert/Alcohol

With dessert, try to minimise your consumption of pastries, cakes, biscuits and sweets as much as possible. Perhaps share a dessert with your partner, or if you can tolerate dairy, choose a cheeseboard instead.

Alcohol is a very personal choice. It is undoubtedly a toxin, and not something that should take main place in a fertility friendly diet and lifestyle. However, the occasional glass of wine with friends is unlikely to cause any harm and may help you relax and release more of those all-important feel-good endorphins. A tip would be to order the one glass with a bottle of water alongside it.

Related Article – How to Increase Egg Quality and Sperm Quality Through Diet and Lifestyle

You may want to look up the menu before heading out, so that you can take your time to choose and even get a chance to phone ahead and ask about alternatives if you don’t feel there is anything suitable on the menu. Don’t be afraid to order ‘off-menu’ or choose a few starters and sides instead of one main meal, this can be a great way to get the balance right and include lots of colours.

If you enjoy eating out, don’t think you have to stop in order to stay healthy. With some thought and preparation, you can order meals that are just as healthy as those you would prepare at home.

Related Article – Conception Help: Help Prepare Your Body For Fertility With The Right Supplements

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