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  • Writer's pictureSally Marchini, APD BND

On a Restricted Diet and Wanting to Start a Family?

Updated: May 17, 2023

When people are on restricted diets, both males and females, their nutrient intakes may hinder their fertility.

Some common restrictive diets include gluten free, dairy free, low FODMAP and the RPAH Elimination diet. It may also include medical conditions such as coeliac disease, IBD, endometrosis and more. If you are following any of these diets it's really worth getting personalised advice from your certified fertility dietitian to ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need for best health outcomes.

Chart showing nutrient deficiences on a restricted diet
Recommended Dietary Intakes

This chart shows the nutrient deficiencies of a client on a restrictive diet 2023

When I see a client on a restrictive diet to improve their fertility I start with a medical assessment including blood tests for key nutrient biomarkers, as well as a thorough check of the actual nutrient intake of their diet. I use a dietary software to make that analysis, which can help us to supplement missing nutrients if necessary. I also help to add more nutritious foods into restricted diets to tolerance, as food provides better access to nutrients than supplements do.

For people with coeliac disease, evidence shows that following a strict gluten-free diet improves pregnancy outcomes. However, if we extrapolate from studies in people without coeliac disease, chances are that those gluten-free diets are not as nutritious as they could be. In my experience as a dietitian with a special interest in this field, I often see low levels of fibre, some miss whole food groups (such as grains and dairy) unnecessarily, and are low in other nutrients such as folate, iron, zinc, choline and iodine.

So, if you are following a gluten-free or other restrictive diet please take a moment to check with your certified fertility dietitian that you're addressing all nutritional concerns.

Accredited Practising Dietitian and Certified Fertility Dietitian, Sally Marchini of Marchini Nutrition, has type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease herself and is passionate about supporting others with these and other chronic conditions. You can follow her on her Instagram account @Marchini.Nutrition, Facebook page Marchini Nutrition, and in her closed support group Be Well Gluten Free

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