My Personal 12 Step Plan

April 3, 2011

Hi my name is NuttyBee and I am infertile.

You know it.

This list is a summation of months of research before, during, and after my infertility treatments failed. It is what I wished someone would have handed me three years ago, although I may not have been ready to hear it. I plan to expound on each of these steps in later posts, but these are a jumping off point for your own research, reading and experimenting. There is nothing on this list that I would consider easy, but there’s nothing on here that compared to the pain of repeated fertility cycle failure or miscarriage (I’ve had 2). I can’t promise this list will be a magic bullet, but I think you will find you could out stronger and healthier once you have tried it.

If you are going through fertility treatments I think these steps will absolutely help you. I would only caution you to talk to your RE before you take any kind of herbal supplement.

Things to do before you go on fertility drugs:

  1. Go gluten-free. Challenging, yes, but less painful than a HSG. Or giving yourself shots.
  2. Get the High Fructose Corn syrup out of your diet. Clean your fridge and cabinets. Read ALL the labels. If its got HFCS, toss it. There are plenty of HFCS free products like ketchup or barbecue sauce if you look for them. Often they will be in the “natural” foods section of a normal grocery store, or any option at Whole Foods or Trader Joes.
  3. Say buhbye! to white/brown sugar. You have probably already done this if you’ve gotten rid of gluten and HFCS. If you are using any G-Free “substitute” products, read read read those labels. Often they are full of sugar.
  4. Read The Infertility Cure. From this book I used a very small dosage of herbs. If your going to do anything other than small amounts, go see a naturopathic practitioner or herbalist or even chiropractor. Let someone with solid knowledge guide you. Practice pressure points or give acupuncture a try.
  5. Go organic for produce and dairy. Just for right now. Theory is: your liver processes just about everything you put into your body. Even trace amounts of pesticides must be processed and flushed out. Give your liver ever support you can, so its main job will be to allow the right amount of hormones to enter your blood stream.
  6. Stop drinking all alcoholic beverages. See liver, above.
  7. Stop drinking caffeine products. You can cry about this one if you need to. I did a little….
  8. Get your vitamins naturally. This means increasing things like vitamin A and folic acid in your diet through things like egg yolks, liver (I’ll show you how), dark leafy greens, and cod liver oil (in a supplement easy peasey).
  9. Balance your blood sugar this will be easy if you’ve been doing steps 1-8, but you may need a little tweaking in the form of planned snacks or mini meals.
  10. Add some high quality, full fat dairy. I drink a local grass fed. I know many people who drink raw milk. This is the only milk WAP supports. I encourage you to research this option and explore the availability of a quality raw milk in your area.
  11. Get some fermented food in your life. Let good bacteria come to the aid of your body functions. You may first think of yogurt, see dairy above, which you can make at home. There are other great options such as Kombucha (also something you can make at home), kefir, or fermented veggies.
  12. Serenity, Now! Get out of your own head. Find a way to really relax and unwind. For me it was a run or yoga. Or both, depending on the day I was having! “Infertility” and “trying to get pregnant” can really take its toll emotionally and stress does all sorts of nasty things to your body chemistry. So go get mellow. Serenity now!!
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Breaking up with G- The How.

April 3, 2011

…with Gluten

I was on a swim team on and off from elementary through high school. On of my events was the 50 meter free style, which is a sprint to the end of the pool and back. You wait for the starting gun longer than you actually swim. Through high school I would try to do with without breathing, hoping to go faster. My head sounded like this:

Gun/Buzzer…Dive…. Go, go,go…. I need air. I need air. Air. Air. Air. AIR. NOW. BREATHE. (give in and breathe) … worthless pathetic wimp. worthless pathetic wimp.

Pretty right? I bring this up because I think going gluten-free can either be this physically and mentally painful OR it can be like a well planned race, focusing on strengths and setting yourself up for the best possible success.

So here are some strategies to make the transition from G-full to G-free as smooth as possible.

  1. Meal Plan: fail to plan and plan to fail or something. This one takes time, but you’ll be glad you did. Think through your entire week, then brainstorm out what you would like to eat in those occasions. Random hunger attack? Have a plan. Cheese sticks or apples with nut butter are great and way more nutritious than pretzels. Aunt Millie’s 90th Birthday party? If its going to be nothing but cakes, cookies, and bread?Eat before hand, untill you are full. The compliment the hostess on her great party throwing/shoes/kindness. She’ll never notice you are skipping the donuts.
  2. Be Full: Many an excellent intention has been felled by an empty belly confronted with a bread basket.
  3. Eat enough carbohydrates: this is complicated, as most carbs you are used to eating contain gluten. Start by adding lots of starchy veggies and fruits to your diet. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, apples, pears, etc. Secondary options include things like rice or quinoa. For example: breakfast could be eggs with oven roasted potatoes (make a double batch at dinner) instead of toast, lunch could be turkey, sweet potato, and rice, instead of a turkey sandwich, dinner could be any combination of meat/veggies/and perhaps a non gluten grains like quinoa. Snacks could be yogurt with fruit and g-free granola, cheese slices with grapes, or jerky and dried fruit.
  4. Give up (most) white sugar. If there is a sugar/gluten combo (and just about all the them are) that’s a definite skip. Bridal shower brunch? Skip the zucchini bread and load up on fruit salad. Your gut will be so happy.
  5. Indulge! There are some amazing food that have no G. How about steak and veggies on the grill? Jalapeno’s stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon? Baked potatoes stuffed with toppings? Sweet potato oven fries? Yes, it is a sad, sad lifestyle having to eat all this goodness, but someone’s got to do it!
  6. Tweak your recipes: I adore the Pioneer Woman’s Comfort meatballs. The recipe needed a tiny tweak (with no flavor change whatsoever) and I had G-Free Comfort Meatballs. Get creative, you’ll suprise yourself with what you can do.
  7. Try new things! Quinoa for breakfast? With berries and whole milk, its amazing. Get a little crazy.
  8. Read, read, READ your labels. Gluten and wheat sneak into the darndest places. Like your store-bought granola bars. Look for words like hydrolyzed vegetable protein, flour, malt/malt flavoring, modified starch/modified food starch, vegetable gum, to name a few. Soy sauce, unless otherwise noted, contains gluten.
  9. Beware of deep friend stuff. Why do you think they call it “breading”?
  10. Allow yourself a sweet treat. Yes this sorta goes against #4. But I don’t mean drown yourself in a sea of cell altering white sugar. I mean, have a great piece of dark chocolate, or melt it and dip some strawberries into it. Or some fresh pineapple and raspberries. This is a great way to reward yourself for another day well done and one great step in the right direction.

I do think certain gluten-free products and sprouted/soaked grains have their place. However, when your starting out I feel they should be avoided, because often they just remind you of what you’re not eating. Every now and then I love a bowl of brown rice pasta. But if I went straight from traditional white pasta to brown rice I would feel dissatisfied and frustrated and miss my “normal” pasta. Many gluten-free products contain a lot of hidden sugars, which send your blood glucose on a roller coaster, often leaving you hungary and cranky. Hungary and cranky are not your friends in wise decision-making.

I’ll be posting some of my favorite G-Free, but in the meantime check out All Recipes extensive selection of G-Free recipes. Let me know what was good and what was not!

http://allrecipes.com//Recipes/healthy-cooking/gluten-free/Main.aspx


Breaking up with G is hard to do… not. The Why.

March 30, 2011

Gluten Free

The words send tremors through the general public. But going G-Free is actually not that hard to do! I’ll show you how, but lets talk about WHY.

You have probably heard about celiac disease, made somewhat famous by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. If you have not I highly recommend you read this. A very small percentage of the population is actually diagnosed as celiac. However, quite a bit of the population is somewhat gluten sensitive.  What happens when your sensitive? The theory in its simplest (and we could get very complex people) explanation is that the gluten (found in wheat, barely, rye, some oats and tons of processed food) damages the cell bindings in the lining of the intestines. This allows some nasty things to leak through. You immune system is called in for clean up creating an inflammation response.

More precise explanation (from wikipedia, there are more scholarly sources on this, but I thought this summed it up quickly)

Health care practitioners who diagnose this syndrome explain that intestinal inflammation which may originate from intestinal dysbiosis or other sources of irritation, widens the junctions between the cells of the intestinal lining, allowing endotoxins and incompletely digested particles to be partially absorbed. These are targeted by antibodies, forming immune complexes which cause a semi-infectious state and can be carried by the bloodstream to distant sites where they may stimulate the release of cytokines. Low grade fever, transient gut pain, and a sense of inability to absorb nutrients are some reported symptoms in otherwise undiagnosed patients.

Now, to those of you struggling with infertility (or anything): who wants a lot of nasty inflammation in your body? In addition, your immune system is now tackling the inflammation. It can’t do the rest of its job as well. It needs more energy to keep you from getting sick. Your body becomes Kate Gosselin trying to hold down the chaos.  It cannot do much else, but you want to make a baby.  Following this logic, I feel the first thing anyone dealing with any type of physical issue should do it get rid of gluten (and sugar), be it ADHD, cancer, migraines, problems going number #2, etc.

Kate Gosselin and your immune system need a break.

One woman and one immune system can only handle so much!

Another theory is that gluten cause the villi (finger-like hairs that push stuff through your intestines) to flatten. This blocks nutrient absorbtion in the intestine wall (and makes it hard to go #2). If your body knows it can’t get the vitamins to care for itself, chances are slim it’s going to throw another body into the mix.

But, as Reading Rainbow would say:

Don’t Take My Word for it!

 

Research for yourself. Google. Read. To get you started google:

infertility and Gluten Sensitivity/intolerance

Infertility and Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut and Vitamin absorption

Gluten Intolerance and Vitamin absorbtion

Leaky gut and inflammation response

inflammation response and fertility

remember doctors often look for gluten sensitivity last. It takes a true celiac on average 10 years to get a diagnoses and most of us are not true celiac, we are just sensitive.

Read. Reasearch. Give it a try I’ll show you how to make it easy in the next post. Your intestines need about 2 full weeks to heal. What will you lose? A bread stick? What could you gain?

Perhaps the chance to be a parent?


Tasty Tuesday, March 29, 2011- Breakfast in a Crock pot

March 29, 2011

What's wrong with a hug?

Breakfast is a big deal in our house. When I first met my husband, that meant almost an entire box of cereal possibly with a protein shake on the weekdays and pancakes with half a bottle of syrup of the weekends. Yikes. I gave up cereal a long time ago, and although he still likes a bowl of cereal, we both love something hot and nourishing in the morning. I have had lots of success with two crock pot breakfasts set them up the night before, stumble down the stairs in the morning and feast. Couldn’t be easier.

* There is some discussion about leaving a crock pot on for extended periods of time (greater than 12 hours) leading to leaching of such lovely things as lead into food. My thoughts are to invest in a timer or program the pot to switch to “warm” after 8 hours.*

Breakfast 1: Egg Casserole

Yes, your Christmas favorite is back in honor of… Tuesday. This recipe is really a guideline, you can throw in whatever suits your fancy. Makes a great, frugal way to use extra veggies and meat. This will serve 6 Large appetites or maybe 8-9 small ones. Make the leftovers into breakfast tacos by warming them and rolling in a sprouted grain tortilla.

Ingredients:

Butter for the crock pot

potatoes: 1-2 pounds, diced or shredded. Sometimes you can buy these frozen, but check the ingredient label carefully!

1 1/2 cup cheese jack/cheddar works great, but be creative!

1 Green pepper + 1 Onion: or mushrooms, chillies, jalapeno, etc.

Meat: Ham works great, as does sausage.

12 Eggs (Cage-free if you can)

1 Cup of whole milk

Salt & Pepper

Process:

Rub butter/Coconut oil around the bottom and sides of your crock pot. Layer in thirds:

Potatoes, Veggies, Meat, Cheese, Potatoes, Meat, Veggies, Cheese, Potatoes, Meat, Veggies, Cheese.

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, S&P together until smooth. Slowly pour over top the PVMC in the crock pot.

Set crock pot to low for 8 hours, switching to warm after the time has elapsed. Wake up to awesome. This is this mornings (after man had helped himself to a generous portion). It was shredded potatoes, green pepper, onion, leftover chorizo sausage, leftover ham, Monterey jack and cheddar cheese. I served it with a big fruit plate. Please excuse the picture quality.

Yum

Some variations that would be delish:

Chorizo sausage, potatoes, jalenpano’s, onions, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. In the morning you could serve with sliced avocados and sour cream.

Ham, Spinach, shredded taters, and Swiss cheese fancy fancy.

Breakfast 2: Steel Cut Oatmeal

Steal cut (or irish oats) are so much better than that chopped up stuff Quaker tries to pass off as “instant”. I am very new to soaking my grains, but I am pretty sure the oats (grout) would benefit from soaking. More on that later. Steel cut oats can be bought from places like Whole Food in bulk which is a cost effective route. So is Trader Joes.

Basic Recipe:

1 Cup of steel cut oats

4-5 Cups of water (err on the high side, dry oatmeal is….well dry oatmeal)

– Set the crock pot of low, wake up to delicious, slightly nutty oatmeal. Top with what tickles your fancy. Yum.

Get Crazy:

Please mess with this recipe! You will be happy you did. Be aware when you add something watery (apples) you may need to slightly decrease the cooking liquid. Add dried fruit, you’ll need more. Our favorite way to add chopped unpeeled apples and flaxseed in the evening. The apples essentially dissolve overnight. A dash of cinnamon and a sprinkle of walnuts makes its perfect. Other ideas: dried figs, cranberries, or raisins. Or, add everything! No ones judging go nuts! We also like to make it plain and in the morning top it with blueberries, cinnamon and whole milk.

Never let breakfast be boring again!


Yogurt… Adventures in Lacto Fermation

March 24, 2011

The scene: The evening before a charity event I had been lucky enough to be planning all year.

The Characters: Me, some harsh antibiotics, and zero bacteria left in my digestive tract. The some food…running right through me.

Enter: Amazing friend L, with a mason jar of homemade yogurt and bananas.

Hours later: Amazing recovery! Well, I could keep food in my body, it was a start!

Those dang activia commercials love to remind us of yogurt’s “regulating” properties. After a harsh round of antibiotics or a stomach bug, I liken them more to the “stop the rivers” properties. Yes I went there. I am sorry.

Fermented foods are amazing. Read more on them here. Yogurt from the grocery store is ok… its live cultures will help a sister out, but they won’t do it quickly. Pretty sure not that many of them are still kicking. But you can easily make your own, amazing (cheap!) yogurt to chase your blues away. Or just to enjoy because its delicious.

If you are used to the splenda-saturated, fake fruit containing yogurt this stuff is going to taste different to you. I suggest adding some honey or vanilla bean paste and eating it with fruit and granola. In a few weeks the only reason you’ll need other yogurt is to make medals for the office Olympics.

Medals!

Pam did not make her own yogurt...

You need:

A half gallon of milk – whole is easiest. Go for Raw milk if your even more fabu. BTW milk fats not that bad for you people, eat the whole milk yogurt and skip the chicken fingers. Your body, fertility, and intestines will thank you.

Already made yogurt or frozen cultures – frozen cultures are better if you are near a place that sells them (Whole Foods so far, maybe Trader Joes) but really any plain, all natural yogurt will work. I like Whole Foods 365 Organic Plain Yogurt, but I’ve heard good things about Dannon Natural Plain. This will be your starter.

Crock Pot – fancy people use yogurt makers or double pots and thermometers. I am not one of those people.

Bath Towel – weird, but see above. Not fancy.

1. Pour milk in crock pot.

2. Set to low for 2.5 hours. Or 2 and 20. I should prob be more exacting.

3. Unplug your crock pot. Wait 3 hours. Or if your impatient, 2.5. Mine still worked.

4. Remove 2 cups of warm milk and whisk together with 1/2 cup yogurt starter. Or more if your me.

5. Dump mixture into crock pot. Wrap crock pot in a towel, forget about/go to bed/wait 8 hours.

6. Wake up to fabu fresh yogurt! (the consistency will be thinner than store bought yogurt because this stuff does not have extra thickeners…aka junk.)

Easier than making a roast in the crock pot.

Store bought yogurt costs about 10 times what it costs to make it at home. I pulled this off of http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/.

My favorite ways to serve:

with vanilla bean paste (12.5 bottle WORTH IT, makes everything with vanilla way better) and a banana for breakfast.

– with thawed frozen berries & honey for a snack

– blended with mixed berries and honey, frozen, topped with bit a more honey and eaten as sorbet. Spinach can be blended finely and added to this without effecting the flavor, making a fabu healthy dessert. Top it with a bit more honey for a funsies. Top anything with a bit of honey for funsies. 🙂


Take Your Vitamins!

March 24, 2011

I do not own this...I just think its awesome.

The answer is yes.

There is a decent amount of debate among the natural community of the validity of pre-natal vitamins. At best they theoretically serve as safety net for when morning sickness gets the best of you and you just can’t eat right. I really do not feel well researched enough in the debate for-or-against, so I attempted a middle ground and picked what I feel to be a solid, abet pricey choice. I take New Chapter Organics Perfect Prenatal (no they don’t pay me… no one does:P). Looks like this:

Just like a real commercial!

The reason I mention this is because this vitamin gets 100% of its Vitamin A from beta-carotene, which is plant derived, unlike retinol which, when found in a vitamin, is synthetic vitamin A. Synthetic vitamin A had been linked to birth defects and causes the March of Dimes to warn pregnant and trying to conceive women away from foods high in natural vitmain A such as liver, and instead take a cheap, synthetic version in a vitamin. I feel like this is foolish, as there are no studies linking birth defects to natural vitamin A (to its credit, the March of Dimes does state this). The studies show the birth defects ARE related to synthetic vitamin A which is in MOST prenatal vitamins. So why would you even mess with it? Your babies worth reading labels.

Natural is ALWAYS better.

Real food sources like liver have been used for centuries in the aiding of conception and supporting healthy pregnancies. I have much to say about liver that I will save for another post but let me do a quick cliff note version here: Liver provides many fat soluble vitamins (including A) needed to achieve and maintain a healthy pregnancy that are missing from our low-fat, processed food obsessed diets. Why are miscarriage and infertility rates spiking? Could it have anything to do with what we DO NOT put into our bodies? Do not toss away traditional wisdom and real food in the name of cheap, synthetic, birth defect proven chemical substances.

At the end of the day… the hippies are always right:)


Infertility is a jerk; so I kicked it in the face.

March 16, 2011

My Story

Hi! I am the NuttyBee. I am a SAHM to Sweet Pea, who’s arrival we are eagerly anticipating. Sweet Pea is how I got started in this nurtrative-holistic-food thing. Or, as I like to call it- Nutty Bananas. Nutty because it seems a little (lot) crazy. Banana’s because it works so well (as in “this food is banana’s, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.” it old, I don’t care, don’t judge me).

Sweet Pea took his/her sweet time coming into our lives. I was given plenty of diagnoses: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis, Hyperinsulema, Poor Egg quality, and finally “Unexplained Infertility”. (If I had the previous list, I don’t think its that unexplained sweet Doctor. But I digress). Couple of failed rounds of fertility, Sweet Doctor told me I need to begin seriously considering In-Vitro. Because my eggs wimpy and sad (and unexplained!).

I am very, very good at following directions. I went home and ignored everything Sweet Doctor had said. I googled every holistic, homeopathic alternative I could find. Low and behold I found a slew of people who cured their infertility with diet. And a whole host of other diseases. Always methodical and precise, I decided to try ALL the methods. AT THE SAME TIME. I gave up sugar, caffeine, high fructose corn syrup, alcohol, gluten, took some herbs, did shots of wheat grass, practiced “fertility yoga” (and  as dirty as it sounds..). And prayed. A lot.

Four weeks later my husband, PateintJay and I were staring at a positive pregnancy test. Take that Unexplained Host of Diseases! Sweet Doctor didn’t know what to do. Ultrasound Tech demanded, How are YOU better?? I was humble. HAHA, I was really smug. Then morning sickness hit.

I will try and keep up to date on all sorts of research here. By no means am I a doctor or qualified medical professions. Use good judgement when trying anything. Find a doctor or naturopath willing to listen to you and talk to them. But don’t negate what the hippies say, because my friend, the Hippies are always right.