Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 Tips for Sticking with Your Fertility Diet through the Holidays

Sticking with your fertility diet and routine over the long run can be challenging under any circumstances, but it’s especially taxing during the holidays.

Gatherings of friends and family, especially if they include children, can bring up emotional stress and pain. And then there’s all the holiday food and sweets—at the office, at home, at parties, at dinner events. How do we resist the temptation to munch on food that doesn’t nourish us, and stay on the path of bringing our baby home?

Here are a few tips and tools to help: 

# 1. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE. In a moment of weakness when you just want that cup of coffee or piece of cake, ask yourself, “Which do I want more? This coffee or a baby?”  This has helped Renee Bornfreund, author of Persevering Through Infertility, get through many moments during her fertility journey.

# 2. PRACTICE VISUALIZATIONS to strengthen your resolve. Imagine your baby already in your arms, snuggling against you. Visualizations, like these, are powerful and effective, especially when repeated over time. When you reach for the glass of champagne, an image of your baby might remind you only to take a sip, or none at all.

# 3. KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS ON HAND. To combat the onslaught of happy, holiday foods, such as cranberry sauce, gravy, and all manner of sugary confections, keep lots of happy, healthy snacks around. These include almonds and raisins, chopped celery and carrots, hummus and non-wheat crackers (the beans in hummus are especially good for fertility), and fresh fruits and veggies. Prepare healthy meals ahead of time as well. Also see Prepping for a Fertility Diet for more.

# 4. BRING YOUR OWN HEALTHY DISH TO AN EVENT. If you’re attending a party in which you know the food won’t work for your fertility diet, bring your own side dish or main dish, as appropriate. One of our most popular party dishes is the Spicy Garbanzo Beans. A good, main dish for winter months is our Chicken with Portobello Mushrooms.

# 5. LET IT BE OK TO NOT ATTEND EVENTS. Don’t be afraid to say “No” to family and friends if you know attending an event will be painful, or if it will cause too much temptation to eat what you shouldn’t. Those who care about you and know what you’re going through will understand. For those who don’t know, you can always tell them you don’t feel well or you're not up to attending. This is YOUR time. You need to nourish and take care of yourself right now—which is all part of putting your body in the best possible position for conception.

# 6. DON'T GIVE UP. Just because you “slipped” one day and ate a pint of ice cream or missed fertility yoga doesn’t mean it’s time to forget even trying. What you do over the long run is more important. Every day presents a fresh start, so don’t let one day, or even one moment, defeat you.

# 7. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Likewise, don’t beat yourself up for doing or not doing something. This doesn’t help and only hurts. Instead, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can to move toward parenthood, take corrective action if needed, and nurture yourself.

# 8. GET SUPPORT. Not only does this help to not feel so alone on the journey, but it can also offer the strength of having a team behind you. Support can come from many places: your friends and family, your partner, organizations like Resolve, and numerous online support groups. The latter is where I found comfort and strength, just reading others’ stories. A favorite is Fertility Community.

# 9. PRACTICE MIND-BODY TECHNIQUES. Alice Domar, PhD, a fertility mind-body expert, recommends doing “mini relaxation exercises” whenever confronted with a stressful situation. These help to elicit a relaxation response, essentially bringing you back to inner peace. (Stress is fertility’s #1 enemy, so any healthy way of managing it is vital!) So if you see your very pregnant friend at a party, or plates of candy all over the room, causing stress or anxiety, first take ten, slow, deep breaths. For other mind-body techniques, click here and here.

# 10. KEEP UP (OR START) YOUR AFFIRMATIONS. Affirmations help us stay positive and on track. You can find a few examples of fertility affirmations here and here.

Keep your eye on the prize!! OK, we’ve already mentioned this, but it’s worth repeating. Almost any woman who has travelled down the thorny, gut-wrenching path of infertility and come out the other side with a baby—after years or even decades of struggle—will tell you that their child (no matter how he/she got there) is worth it. There is nothing like the overwhelming love you feel for the child you so badly wanted. And deserved! Remember always, that your child is waiting for you.

I wish you all the best on your fertility journey, through the holidays and beyond.