Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Eat Your Way to Fertility: Part 1

[Disclaimer: I am not writing this post to put down modern medicine or doctors.  I know they are totally needed and I have friends who would not be here today if it weren't for medical interventions.  However, I do believe that there are a lot of medical problems that can be solved through a healthy diet.  Diet can be a better solution to certain problems because it goes to the core of the problem where some medications treat the symptom and not the root cause.]

Yes, that was kind of an awkward post title, wasn't it?  But I think this is worth posting.

I was watching The Dr. Oz Show the other day, and he was talking about hormonal imbalances in women.  That spurred on the writing of this post.  I was the poster child for hormonal imbalance, going more than a year without ovulating.  I went through a few rounds of progesterone pills and Clomid, and I'm pretty sure those things just served to throw things off even more.

Not only was I having hormonal problems, but I also had extreme allergies, chronic sinus infections and bronchitis, and stomach pains that I'm pretty sure rivaled labor pains.  I'll let you know in a few months.

Along with the medical interventions for my hormonal problems, I was also seeing an ear, nose, and throat specialist to treat my sinus problems.  He was waiting until the end of the school year to schedule a sinuplasty: invasive surgery on my sinuses.

I am so thankful for my parents and in-laws for directing me and giving the means for me to see a chiropractor for nutritional therapy so that I never did have to have that surgery, and I will not have to visit a fertility specialist.  After a few months of changing my diet and lifestyle, my body was back on track:

  • I started ovulating within a month of starting "treatment"
  • I became pregnant without actively trying after 2.5 years of nothing but
  • All of my sinus problems 100% disappeared
  • My stomach pains are a distant memory
  • I haven't been sick with so much as a cold since I started "treatment."  I should add that your immune system is suppressed during pregnancy, and I also have been working with kids (now preschoolers who like to put everything in their mouths) since September.  All of this during one of the most intense flu seasons ever. Holy immune system boost, Batman!
I guess you could say that I went from being the poster child for imbalanced hormones, to being the poster child for successful nutritional therapy. 

I am at that age where I have many friends who are trying for a baby, and I wanted to share my knowledge! I am not promising that eating this way will get you pregnant right away.  But I am promising that it will really increase your chances!  Especially if you can get your husband to eat this way too! 

Admittedly, I was so desperate that I jumped into these diet changes whole-heartedly, without abandon.  I made some extreme changes, but as you can see above, I got some extreme results, too!  Here is an overview of what I did, that I believe ultimately led to baby Scarlett's existence (at least partly. Ha!):

1. Water, Water Water!  
The first thing I did was cut out every other drink option.  Goodbye morning cup of coffee, glass of sweet iced tea with lunch, and Diet Coke while out to dinner.   With a few exceptions on special occasions when I would order an unsweetened iced tea and then use Stevia to sweeten it, water was all I drank for months.  I kept a 28 oz water bottle with me 24/7 (literally) and made sure I drank at least 2 full bottles each day.  A rule of thumb is that you take your weight, divide it by 2, and drink that much water in ounces each day.

2. Cut the sugar.  
I'm talking about processed sugar here.  All fruit, local honey, maple syrup, and fresh fruit juice are fair game.  Based on the Prism Wight Loss System, my rule of thumb as far as processed sugar goes, was that I looked at the ingredients list on an item, and if sugar was listed as item 5 or earlier, it was off-limits.  For someone with a sweet tooth like me, that sounded absolutely impossible at first.  But once you cut it out, you really don't crave it anymore!  Fruit or 100% natural peanut butter (Smuckers Natural is my fav) would fill the void for me.

3. Cut the white, enriched flour
Seriously guys, this stuff might as well be poison.  And it turns to sugar in your blood.  I went for a few months where I cut all flour out completely.  then I started adding in 100% whole wheat flour, but in moderation.  Some good things to substitute to fill the craving are brown rice instead of pasta and rice cakes instead of bread.  To this day I would take a rice cake with all natural peanut butter and all natural Simply Fruit jam over a traditional pb&j sandwich.

4. Nuts and seeds instead of chips and crackers. 
Eat a snack that serves a nutritional punch instead of one with empty fat and calories.  Nuts and seeds include a lot of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins. If you ask me, they make you feel better and they taste better than potato chips anyway!  A little tip that I learned about serving size:  If you buy Emerald Nuts, fill the lid to the top for exactly 1 serving.  The perfect snack!  I personally could live solely on their cocoa roast almonds!  They're a little pricey, but so good!

5. Fat is good!  
Healthy fat, that is.  Healthy fat helps your body absorb the nutrients you eat.  It also gives your body energy. A diet lacking fat can put your body in starvation mode, which actually makes you store fat and gain weight!  Good fat comes from natural sources.  Some good examples are: avocados, nuts, seeds, and eggs.  Eggs are basically a super food.  Between scrambled eggs for breakfast and hard-boiled eggs on salads, we went through an average of 1.5 to 2 dozen eggs a week over the summer between the two of us!  

6. Don't forget the meat and vegetables!  
I've talked a lot about eating fruits and healthy fats, but meat and vegetables are important too.  As far as meat goes, I didn't give myself any specific restrictions, besides eating in moderation, because the protein was so good for me.  The only restriction I put on vegetables, was that I tried to restrict or at least limit my consumption of potatoes, because of the amount of starch in them.  Make yourself try some new or unique will probably find a lot that you love!

7. Don't over-indulge.  Don't under-indulge.
Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.  Pay attention to serving sizes, and track your calories.  Based on my body weight and lifestyle, a healthy amount of calories per day for me was right around 1,200. I used the My Fitness Pal app to find out a healthy amount of daily calories, and to track my calories.  Just as important as making sure you don't eat too many calories, is making sure you don't eat too few calories.  Food is fuel for our bodies, just as gas is fuel for our cars!  If we don't get enough nutrients and calories, things start shutting down.  Often, one of the first things to shut down is our monthly cycles!  So make sure you are a healthy weight, and getting enough healthy calories, especially if you are trying to have a baby.

8. Healthy eating does not equal boring eating!  
On the contrary, it forces you to be creative.  I found myself looking forward to grocery shopping and meal planning because I couldn't wait to try new and creative food combinations or recipes.  Tomorrow I'm going to post some of my favorite meal and snack ideas. 


Those are the main principles I used to literally "spoon my way to health."  (I Love Lucy reference!)  Honestly, I am not eating this healthy anymore.  I got a little lax with my diet when grad school started, and then Scarlett decided to wreak havoc on my body to the point where I couldn't keep anything down.  And I haven't quite gotten back on track since then.  I am still eating a ton of the good stuff, but I've added in some of the not-so-good stuff too.  As soon as she's born, I plan on going back to my manic, healthy ways.  First of all, to get back to a healthy weight, and second of all, to start the long preparation for baby #2!  No, we are not planning on having our children super close together, but I want to get a head start this time!  I don't want to wait another 2.5 years after we start trying! (Although it is ultimately in God's hands, and I trust His timing!)

Anyway, if you are currently trying for a baby, or even thinking about trying for one soon, I highly recommend changing your diet if you aren't already eating healthy.  You probably don't need to be quite as gung-ho as I was, but I guarantee it will help you have a better chance of conceiving and having a healthy body with which to carry a baby!

*One more thing that I feel I should mention!  I was taking a lot of nutritional supplements while eating very healthy to help even out my hormones.  The supplements were made of 100% whole foods, and I think they served to boost my nutrition even more.  If this is something you are interested in, a lot of chiropractors practice nutritional therapy as well, and could help you decide which supplements you need.  If you are local to me, I have an amazing, amazing, AMAZING recommendation for one!  Let me know if you want more info!


  1. All good things to keep in mind and do even when you're not trying for a baby! :) You had me at cocoa flavored almonds.

    1. Yes, yes! Very good point. I meant to write that in the post somewhere, but got so long-winded I never got to it :-)


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