Bitter Sweet: An Inconvenient Truth

May 2, 2011

*Current Obesity Stats may disagree.

I have been struggling for a week to write a post on why those pursuing fertility, who are pregnant, lactating or feeding a small child (and basically everyone else… so… everyone) should give up sugar. When I say sugar I am referring to the white stuff, the brown stuff and the High Fructose Corn Stuff. Because as best as I can research, they hit you about the same (anyone got anything different? Please share!).

How do they hit you? Well, not good. It just arguable the degree of not good. On one end of the spectrum you have “its just empty calories preventing you from taking in good nutrients, plus it damages your liver leading a large portion of this country into metabolic syndrome (syndrome X, a precursor to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a major cause of INFERTILITY). That’s the mild end of the scientific research. The other end of the spectrum involves sugar altering every single cell in your bodies function and being responsible for basically every modern disease we have: cancer, diabetes, ADHD, Autism, Irritable bowl syndrome, lack of gut flora, etc. AIDS has not been attributed to sugar, however the immunity hit from sugar would theoretically aggravate it.

So that’s the spectrum of nutritional science I have read. That should make it easy to post about sugar being bad right? But it’s not easy.

Perhaps because I feel like sugar is my heroin. My body CRAVES it and gets angry when I don’t give in. I LOVE all things sweet. I love to bake. I love to eat baked goods. I love candy and chocolate and soda. And Ezekiel bread with strawberry jelly. These are just the things that are obviously sweet. It excludes things like ketchup or barbeque sauce, both of which I am a big fan of.

Also, people get extremely defensive of sugar. I have shared with many people that I am a Christian and got tepid responses. The few people with whom I shared I had given up sugar in order to get pregnant reacted in such strong negative ways I actually stopped telling people for a while. Some of these people included members of the fertility group I went to where my chart read in bold all caps: SYNDROME X. I have a 3 hour glucose tolerance test that proves my blood sugar can’t get it together. Yet, I mentioned giving up sugar and even my dietician looked at me funny.

So I have started and stopped writing on this topic several times. I will try to formulate some real posts of this issue but here’s my bottom line:

If you’re trying to have a baby easy up on the sugar.

Sugar messes with your blood glucose levels, telling your reproductive system if it can or cannot support a pregnancy. Sugar needs to be filtered through the liver along with every other reproductive hormone. Give your liver a break. For now that may just mean passing on a second doughnut. For me it meant riding my shelves of ALL sugar and HFCS containing products (at Christmas people. I deserve a medal. Ok, this baby works too:). But please, have an open mind. Do your research. Don’t pretend the science isn’t out there. Heres some articles to get you started:

Is Sugar Toxic? A great article from the New York Times

Sugar: The Bitter Truth This is the lecture referenced in the NYT article. Long, but informative.

Too Much Sugar Affects Sex Hormones, Causes Health Problems  An interesting article on the sugar/hormone relationship.

Sugar is the New S Word A video by Donielle of Naturally Knocked Up who is basically my hero.

Basically this is me:

augustus-gloop.jpg



Fertility Food Friday: Not-So-Scary Chili!

April 22, 2011

This is a continuation of my Step 1 in combating infertility with food: Goodbye Gluten! It will someday be a part of adding in good vitamins…

Part Two of G Free and Tasty is being hijacked by Fertility Food Friday. That guy….

AND… I am participating in Fight Back Friday on Food Renegade. Go see all the other fabulousness: http://www.foodrenegade.com/fight-back-friday-april-22nd/

Scary Chili is actually pretty normal chili with a bit of liver added to it. Liver is one of THE BEST fertility foods you can eat. I will be posting my Ode To Liver and all the fat soluble vitamins it possess, and how easily you can absorb them and how much you NEED THEM TO GET PREGNANT in a later post. For now, I just wanted to continue with the G Free and Tasty series. If the thought of liver sends you into the fetal position, by all means just skip it. I’ll work on convincing you later!

Chili is one of the most versatile, easy foods to make. It doesn’t hurt that most people enjoy it. This is my basic recipes (with some liver). I like to mix it up with lots of farm stand veggies in the summer or root veggies/ winter squashes in the winter.

Basic Chilli:

  • 1.5 Lb Grass Feed Ground Beef (or 1 lb plus 1/2 lb grass-fed beef liver, or 1.25 plus .25 which is probably the best if this is your first liver rodeo. For this particular batch I am using 1 LB GFB & 1/2 LB GFBL)
  • 1 Onion
  • 2-4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 16 Oz Red beans (best if you soak them, here I got lazy and used a can)
  • 1 32 Oz Can tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
  • 2 TBS Chili powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 TBS Red Pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 TBS Cumin, or to taste
  • assorted veggies if you would like (summer i do yellow squash/zucchini/mushroom, winter maybe butternut squash) This time I don’t have any veggies. Which is kinda a bummer.

Process

Conquering Liver:

You will probably need to ask your butcher for this. I cannot say enough about Grass Feed Meat, so if at all possible try to get grass-fed liver. Good news in, it’s going to be pretty cheap. It looks something like this:

Hey...your not so scary!!

Go ahead and give it the stink eye. Tell it who’s the boss. Tell it you would like all the vitamins, right now. Tell it you know why your both here, and that’s to get pregnant. If I know liver, it will get on board.

The cube it up.

Show it whos the boss.

Toss those cubes into a food processor. A blender would work too, but a FB is easier.

Give it another stink eye. Youre in charge here!

Food process until smooth. Not unlike a meat smoothie.

Now for a confession I am not proud of. This is where I freaked out the first time. I walked away, I swore I would not do it, I swore all those “experts” who had smarty pants degrees where dumb. Then I remembered that I would in fact like a baby. For extra motivation I pulled out a Pottery Barn Kids catalog and checked out some nurseries (don’t lie, I know you have at least on PBK cat). Beatrix Potter Bumper Pads strengthened my resolve. With renewed determination I headed back to the kitchen to dominate this recipes.

Now it gets all “normal old chili”

Chop up your onion and garlic. I like 4 cloves of garlic, because I want some strong flavors covering the liver.

Not scary, but can make you cry.

Saute these bad boys in your choice of butter or coconut oil. I chose CO.

Add your GF Ground beef. Then add your liver puree. Let the two brown together until you can’t tell which is which. Feel powerful.

Heres the part I’m also not proud of, because they come in a CAN. Don’t be like me. Soak your beans. Use fresh Tomatoes.

2 Cans Red Beans, 1 Big can Tomatoes

Rinse your beans, then add them and the tomatoes to the beef & veggie mixture. You could also add whatever other veggies you would like.

Spices (do what tastes right to you):

2 Tablespoons Chili Powder. I Like it hot.

1/2 Tablespoon Red Pepper. Fire Burnin, Fire Burnin

1/2 Tablespoon Cumin

Simmer this mixture for 30 minutes or so. The longer is sits the better it will taste. My man prefers it the next day. Than serve with cheese, sour cream, and a deep sense of satisfaction that you came, you saw, and you conquered. Scary Chili that it.

Bets Enjoyed with the Self Satisfied Smugness of a True Victor and a Pottery Barn Kids mag.

** This is a meaty chili. I have seen lots of great recipes, including the one in Nourishing Traditions that included Beef Stock and are a little more soupy. They taste good too, so experiment! Go Banana’s!**


12 Steps and.. Desperate Housewife NuttyBee??

April 18, 2011

Some of the steps I purpose may seem too harsh or daunting. Or, just plain Nutty. I must stress that this is what worked for me. My motivation was desperation. I do not wish that one on you. I hope your motivation is all about positive changes in your life. I wish I could guarantee that these steps will also work for you. I can’t. My magic wand is broken…sigh. What I can tell you is, these changes will lead you to an overall physical and mental health improvement. For most people, that will mean a big old fertility boost. Or a healthier pregnancy. Or a healthier kiddo. Or a happier life. Not a bad option in the bunch.

These are hard changes to make. If you have the time, try just one change a month. You won’t be so shocked, will have less withdrawal symptoms and you significant other won’t feel like the carpet has been ripped out from under him. If your already eating a mostly whole food diet (little or no processed foods, meals typically take place at home instead of at fast food/restaurant chain (for most of the country. I know there are some fabulous whole food options available to certain zip codes.)) try one step a week. If your crazy like me, do them all at once. I was eating a mostly whole food diet and was pretty convicted on all these points before I got started. I was also desperate to avoid IVF or another miscarriage. Desperate housewife NuttyBee. Of course, I am nutty. The first week was rather rotten. Then for me, it was mostly fine. I know other people take longer to adjust. Lots of people, who are much smarter than I, take 6 months to a year to prepare their body to conceive. This give you the luxury of cutting back on gluten, than eliminating it, trying one or two HFCS free products a week, easing out of the sugar habit, etc.

That’s the smart way. I went the desperate way. For me it worked. You need to listen to your own body’s needs. It’s a very hippie way to put it, I know. But the hippies they are always right. I found that I had gone to great lengths to “shut my body up” that at first it was nearly impossible to hear, understand and meet its needs. But that’s another story!

Desperate. But not like these ladies.


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!!

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?


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.