Thursday, June 4, 2009

Diet Stress

I thought I’d talk about stress today because in trying to meet a work deadline, I’ve had pounds of it. I don’t know what you do when you’re stressed, but I hit the munchy-crunchy starch foods and down more cups of decaf coffee (with cream and sugar) then I care to count. Of course, these are forbidden on a fertility diet, as is the stress itself!

I have a couple of things to say about this. First, responding to stress by munching on the wrong foods really is a habit (although an ingrained one, I admit). You can strategically choose to munch on the right foods instead by making sure you have a lot of them on hand, and when it comes to the vegetables, not caring about how much you consume. With a fertility diet, the goal is absolutely not to lose weight – unless you’re also trying to bring your body mass index (BMI) down to a more fertile zone, slowly. No, the goal is to optimize your reproductive health.

But a better idea, of course, is to either 1) eliminate the stress in the first place; or 2) train yourself to respond to stress in a whole different way, which I admit, takes practice.
Here are ways I’d try to resond to the stress:

Deep breathing - in through the nose, out through the mouth slowly, ten times.
Meditation - try 20 minutes a day.
Yoga – I loved Brenda Strong’s Yoga 4 Fertility. I’d do it two or three times a week because every day was not realistic for me.

Also take a look at the root of your stress. I stress over tight deadlines because I worry there’s not enough time to do a quality job and I want to look good in front of my clients. Can I give up trying to look good?

If these don’t help, eliminate the stress. Stress is fertility’s worst enemy. When I was trying to conceive, I worked only minimally. Sure, we suffered financially for it later. But I needed to have that oasis of time to focus on my healing and fertility—until either I had a baby or needed a break from the trying. I realize not everyone is in a position to do something like that, but in some way you have to put your health and well-being first. You deserve it.

Now if the diet itself is stressful, that’s understandable, but don’t let that be an excuse to cheat. Think about what Dr. Angela Wu, acupuncturist and author of Fertility Wisdom, would say to fertility patients who complained about following her strict, traditional Chinese Medicine-influenced diet. If a patient said they follow the diet 70% of the time, she would respond by gently reminding her that she cannot be 70% pregnant.