This blog was originally posted here: https://mynaturalfertility.org/natural-fertility-and-food/
Natural Fertility and Food: Three Questions to Ask Yourself before Committing to a Fertility-Friendly Diet
Many women who are ready to be mothers yesterday are open to making dietary changes. But to what extent can your diet really increase your fertility? Lots of women I see in my pregnancy care practice have questions when it comes to food and fertility: Do I need to be militant about what I eat or just learn to let go? Should I give up dairy? Or gluten? Or sugar? Or, is it less about what I eat and more about my mindset and mood when I eat it?
Well, the answers to your questions are kinda “yes” and kinda “it depends”…and probably the last thing you want to hear! The truth is, though, what each individual is different. There are times in all of our lives when it’s appropriate to follow strict rules and there are other times when we do better with variety and flexibility.
No one online is going to know what’s best for you. But what I do know is that, if you can quiet your mind and turn down the volume on all of the voices from well-meaning friends, healthcare providers and online “experts,” you will be much better able to navigate your own way toward increasing your fertility.
Read on to help clarify your own thoughts about your diet so you can make the best decisions for you and stop listening to all of us online. ☺
Taking Charge of Your Fertility
I have been very sick at times in my life. For several years, I had no other choice but to follow a militant diet. Would I have been so strict without that illness? No way! I tried on my own–with many failed attempts—to give up gluten, dairy, alcohol and sugar. But it wasn’t until I struggled with chronic illness that I began to view food as my medicine instead of as just my comfort and best party pal. ☺ I loved going out for luxurious dinners with all the courses and drinks! But when I was sick I found that I could no longer do those things without a backlash to my body.
When I was trying to heal, I wanted someone to hold my hand and just do it for me. I wanted someone to tell me what the rest of my journey was going to look like. I wanted the exact date when I would be better. When no one else would give that to me, I chose my own date.
It was November 1st of that year.
Well, that date came and went I was still wasn’t where I wanted to be So…I had a little breakdown. (Which is fair, by the way. We all deserve little breakdowns along the way.)
To be honest, I really just wanted someone else to take responsibility for my health so I could have someone to blame if buying all this organic food and making these gross smoothies didn’t help! But no one would, or could, do that for me. It was up to me, just as deciding upon your path to fertility is up to you.
What I can offer are three important questions to ask yourself about committing to fertility diet before you sign up for any program, hire any coach or even just buy a book… Let’s dig into that a little more.
1. If I take on a fertility-friendly diet, what will I lose?
Maybe you will lose money or time by buying organic foods and cooking healthy meals. Maybe the stress of planning will outweigh any benefit of making these changes. These are serious points to consider.
In my practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, I have found that certain clients and certain lifestyles just don’t lend themselves well to extra food prep and shopping. While I now love to cook and find it creative, that’s only been since I got my schedule under control and learned to make larger portions so my healthy creations last longer. I’ve also come to terms with the fact that sometimes I have to shop online and rely on a CSA for my food because shopping is so time consuming and I get incredibly distracted once I get in the store. (“Wow, look at the cilantro!—wait, what was I was shopping for again??”)
On the other hand, maybe you don’t have much to lose. Maybe you’re ready to make some big lifestyle and dietary changes with the aim of boosting your fertility. If that’s the case, then it’s time to consult with a dietary counselor or nutritionist. If you would like to work with one of the providers at Isthmus Wellness to develop an organic fertility diet tailored to you, for example, I highly recommend booking a 60-minute in-person or FaceTime consultation with Dr. Remington Bain.
2. Am I aiming to increase my fertility more generally or am I specifically trying to regenerate my egg quality and hormones?
It’s essential to know if you are trying to reverse a disease or damage to the body or just improve your already healthy body. That decision will dictate how far you are going to go with your fertility diet.
If it’s the former, are you ready to splurge and get that Vitamix to become a daily smoothie queen carrying mason jars around with your colorful concoctions? Or are you just looking for basic pointers and recipes? Great energy, a pain-free body and zest for life are all indicators your body is getting what it needs. However, you can still feel great and not be falling pregnant quickly.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to regenerate your egg quality and/or hormones, it’s imperative you consult with a trusted provider who has experience and expertise when it comes to fertility and diet, and who will support and respect your values and beliefs around food. (There are many options for regenerative diets, for example, including some that incorporate meat and others that are primarily plant-based.)
3. What kind of fertility diet am I willing to commit to and for how long?
If you’ve decided to make a change, hallelujah! That’s the first step—and a big one. The next step is to set a timeline. It’s easy to commit to a change when we’re feeling pain, sadness and frustration. Where many of us fall short, however, is in committing and recommitting to those changes over time.
Take out a pen and write down:
The changes you will make,
How long you are willing to make them, and
A plan for when you want to fall off the wagon.
This practice will help prepare you to take this change seriously. That’s because writing with an actual pen and paper will stimulate parts of your brain that will help you commit for the long haul.
In my clinical experience, I’ve seen that, while any change is positive, the most beneficial dietary change is going to be measured in terms of months or seasons, not weeks or days. Still, if you feel you can only take on a change for a week or even day, go for it! Just be aware that the more long-term the commitment, the more sustained the change.
How long before you can expect to see noticeable results? I would say a minimum of three months is absolutely imperative. Traditional Chinese Medicine tells us it takes about that long for natural medicine to begin to impact the body.
I wish there were a magic button I could hit and give you results right away—or even that I could give you an exact date for when your body’s fertility will increase. But natural approaches activate organic and deep-rooted changes that cannot be rushed. With patience and diligence, however, a positive dietary change will transform your body on a cellular level that can be rewarding, sustainable and beautiful!
If you want to learn more about Chinese Medicine-based tools designed to enhance your fertility, including what everyday ingredients might be coming between you and your pregnancy consider signing up for our introductory My Natural Fertility e-course.
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The mission of my MyNaturalFertility.org is simple: to help every person who wants to become a parent do so. Through acupressure, healthy nourishing foods and creating a fertile life and mindset, everyone can have a healthier, richer and more fertile experience of life!