Health & Food

Tips for Fueling Fertility (Fertility Friday!)

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Today I’m going to get really personal.  This is my blog, and today I’m treating it as a diary. But I’ll start on a funny note, since, if you didn’t know, my life is a Seinfeld episode (and I’m sure if you’re a Seinfeld fan you feel the same way).  Ok, name this episode!

JERRY: Why do you invite these women over if they annoy you so much?

ELAINE: They’re my friends, but they act as if having a baby takes some kind of talent.

JERRY: C’mon, you want to have a baby.

ELAINE: Why? Because I can?

JERRY: It’s the life force. I saw a show on mollusk last night. Elaine, the mollusk travels from Alaska to Chile just for a shot at another mollusk. Do you think you’re any better?

ELAINE: Yes! I think I am better than mollusk!

KEVIN: I couldn’t help overhearing what you were saying.

ELAINE: Oh, I’m sorry.

KEVIN: No, no, I think I agree with you. I mean, all this talk about having babies.

ELAINE: Yeah, like you must procreate.

KEVIN: Besides, anyone can do it.

ELAINE: Oh, it’s been done to death.

(
Episode: The Soul Mate.  The basic premise of this clip is that Elaine has met a guy that shares her same detest for the idea of having children.  Of course, later in the episode, she changes her mind, after her man of the episode, Kevin, gets a vasectomy).

I always think about this scene from Seinfeld, because let’s be honest, we all grow up thinking that it’s just too easy to get pregnant and so easy to have a baby and raise kids. Right?!  Then reality hits.  It’s not too easy.  Ok…..so I’m 30 years old and I’ve never been one to worry about my age.  I plan just about every single thing that goes on in my life, but for some reason, I never thought about my wedding or even kids when I was growing up.  Even when I met Nick, my husband, I thought about getting married but never obsessed about it as I tend to do with other things…. As for having kids, I was always the one to think “yes, I want them, but it’ll happen when it happens”.  Age was never an issue.  After all, my mom was 40 when she had my brother….I have nothing to worry about, right?  So for the past 7 years, I’ve always known Nick and I would have kids one day, but it wasn’t until last year at this time that we really started talking about it.  I still didn’t think much about it, and naively thought it would be super easy to conceive, so I figured I’d go off birth control and BAM get pregnant (yes, I’m naive, it’s true, I mean most of my friends haven’t had kids yet, and those who haven’t really confided in me about how difficult it was…or if it was at all).  I mean we see pregnant women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, ages, etc. all the time (especially when working in a supermarket!) so it’s hard not to think; “how hard can it be?!”.

Source: iStock Photo

As a little background,  I went off birth control over 5 months ago, after being on it for…well….almost half my life.  I figured my body would go right back to its normal…you know….ways, pretty fast.  I gave myself 2 months, but then after four months,  I got a little nervous (my body didn’t go back to its normal ways).  I went to the doctor to get my hormones tested, as well as my thyroid, just to make sure everything was ok.  After all, I’m small, very small, and I was nervous something might be wrong (and let’s not forget I had an eating disorder for five years).  Then I started freaking out that maybe I have celiac, because while my labs all came back normal (yeah!), my doctor said my liver enzymes were high (it’s a sign of Celiac, apparently, according to WebMD, bad idea to go to that site).  So what happened? STRESS! The one thing everyone says not to do when you’re trying to conceive. As it turns out my liver enzymes were likely high because of my daily small glass of red wine, as well as my apparently way too high consumption of niacin (oops, as a dietitian I should have known to stop my B-complex when I started taking a prenatal.  I’m completely embarrassed).

Enter….the fertility book!
Eating Expectantly, by Bridget Swinney, MS, RD

Seven years ago tip number one (see below) would have been the reason I could never have gotten pregnant. I was only just starting to eat normal after healing from an eating disorder that lasted from my senior year in high school through age, well….23 or so (at that time it was more like disordered eating, not an eating disorder. Yes, there is a difference). I was basically a normal weight, just a little under.  Now?  I’m right where I should be.

Number six on the list above has been taken very seriously lately. Eat more chocolate? Done.

And then there was this list.  Fertility foods.  Ummm…..I eat each and every one of these foods already (aside from a few that contain FODMAPs, such as cherries).  So……what more can I do?!

Well, I’ll tell you what I can do, a few more things, that’s for sure.  Here is what I’ve learned thus far, and what I’m doing (and Nick!) to get ready for pregnancy (this is after reading some more, talking to several other women, chatting with my mother, going to a new OBGYN, and of course getting my lab work done)

What I’ve learned:

  • Don’t stress.  Literally every single person has told me this.  Typically when someone says that to me, I just stress more.  In this case I’m taking their advice.  I’m trying not to think about it too much and I’m just going with the flow.  As it turns out it was a good thing that literally the one thing I didn’t plan in my life was when I was going to get pregnant (well, until now I suppose).It will happen when it happens.  And that’s truly the best time.
  • While I’m in this stage of my life (actually ready to get pregnant), the most important thing is not to worry, but to relax, enjoy the moment, and treat my body well.


What I’m doing:

  • Going to an OBGYN, finally. I am taking progesterone for ten days to jump-start everything (ie: menstruation)
  • Buying mainly organic foods(especially the dirty dozen foods, linked below)
  • Continuing to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats(I’ve been into chia seeds lately.  Stay tuned for a chia gel smoothie recipe on Monday!)
  • Drinking little to no alcohol(ok, it’s more like a little. I have about 2-3 ounces of red wine on most nights because, to be honest almost all women have said to me, “Come on Gina, you can drink a little, look at how many people get pregnant without knowing it…and drink a ton!  A little should be fine until you find out you are pregnant.”  Ok, that advises I like, although the book I’m reading doesn’t agree, and I’ll probably stop once I start to finally ovulate)
  • Reducing my caffeine intake(I’m down to about 150 mg from 250 mg.  BAM!)
  • Working out less vigorously(no more 90 minute runs, followed by arm workouts.  No It’s 45 minutes, max)
  • Eating more. Yes, I’ve been consciously eating more. This doesn’t mean I’m eating junk, but I’m sort of telling myself it might not be a bad idea to put on another pound or two.  AlthoughI did get my body fat measured the other day and it was 26%. Note to self: never get a body fat measurement again (that’s not even in the range of “fitness”!).
  • Eating mainly gluten-free.  While I don’t have Celiac, I know my body doesn’t respond well to gluten (I do have “Gluten Sensitivity”).  As you know I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free grains, and I’ll tell you I’m loving them! Amaranth is a favorite of mine, and soon I’ll be posting a millet granola recipe.

What Nick’s Doing

  • Exercising more (ok, not necessarily on the elliptical, but definitely outside in the garden and running)
  • Eating more fruits and veggies(as if he wasn’t getting enough before).  And yes, I’m trying to buy organic versions for him as well, especially the ones with the more delicate and thin skin, such as blueberries, and also produce from the updated EWG Dirty Dozen Plus list
  • Consuming less cocktails.  And even though this is me in the photo below, he does tend to enjoy a nightly cocktail (typically calorie-free juice or seltzer water and vodka)….while he’s still drinking one each night, he’s stopping at one (two is rare now)

Want more information about fueling your fertility (and your man’s)?  Check out two great articles recently published in Today’s Dietitian Magazine.  I couldn’t believe the perfect timing of these two articles!

Here are the links to the two fantastic article from Today’s Dietitian; Eating to Fuel Fertility and Improving Men’s Fertility

So, that’s my update for now.  While I don’t really want to put too much pressure on me, or Nick, I have given myself a pretty reasonable goal (or at least I think it’s reasonable) to get pregnant by 2014.  We shall see!  If not, well obviously we’ll just keep trying!  Enjoy your Friday everyone, and have a wonderful weekend (did I mention I get to meet Alton Brown on Sunday?!?!?!?!?!?!?!).

QUESTION:  Do you have any fertility tips you’d like to share?

Thanks for reading!

The Candid Rd

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