My dieting history is long. So long that you’d better grab a drink and hunker down because we might be here a while (#jokingnotjoking) Food has taken up a lot of my time and energy for most of my life. The first time I became aware that food was a “thing” for me, I was probably about 8 or 9. I still vividly remember my grandparents buying me different post-school snacks than my sister because they were lower calorie. Their hearts were completely in the right place but it brought my attention to the fact that due to my body, I was restricted from eating certain foods. The non-exhaustive list of diets that I followed from about 13-28 includes
  • Rosemary Connelly (fond memories of their line dancing classes!)
  • Weight Watchers (obviously! Where it all began)
  • Slimming World
  • The Atkins Diet (meat fest! By far my favourite)
  • The Harcombe Diet
  • The Cabbage Soup Diet (lasted about 4 hours)
  • The Cambridge diet. (This one I had to get from a pharmacist. Wow just wow!)
  • The Low GI Diet
  • The Food Doctor Diet
  • The 5:2 Diet
Wow, even looking at this list frightens me. The amount of money, energy and time that I spent to make my body thinner. And I bet you can guess what happened.  It didn’t work.  Sure you lose weight initially with the calorie restriction but then you put it all back on plus more! That’s how the diet industry works! That’s why it’s worth over £2 billion a year in the UK and over $66 billion in the US. It took me until I was 31 (about 2 years ago) to finally give up on the whole diet industry. I smashed up my scales and made a promise to myself never to weigh myself or diet again. I had spent way too much of my mental energy worried about what I should eat, what I shouldn’t eat, feeling guilty about what I have eaten. You get the picture. I realised I had much more important things to think about and things to do than worry about food and losing weight. Diet is a very loaded word but actually all it is, is the food that you consume. Food is fuel. It is not inherently good or bad. It’s just food. We are the ones that attach so much emotion to it.  But the problems with all eating plans/diets whatever you want to call them is that they do not take into account the most important thing……YOU Everyone has a different body, live in different environments, have different health histories It makes absolutely no sense that we would need the same foods. You do not need a fertility diet. You need a fertility un-diet. Tools to work out what foods suit your body. Techniques to understand what eating patterns make you feel great and what habits are killing your sleep and energy. Sure it’s easy to follow a diet plan for a while, but it just feeds more and more into the mindset of basing your worth around food. When food is good or bad, you give yourself another stick to beat yourself with.  If you eat good foods then you are good, if you eat bad foods then you are a terrible person, your IVF is going to fail and you are never going to get pregnant*  (*This is not actually true but even this thought is harmful to you) So how can you figure out the right foods for you when you’re trying to get pregnant? What if you need to lose weight? The good news is that our body already know what it need to feel healthy and therefore fertile. Being fertile is not a different level we need to achieve, eating well for your body will naturally get you there.  All we have to do is listen. STEP 1 Write it down – This is not an exercise in calorie counting or beating ourselves up about what we’re eating. Use a journal or even just a notepad and pen  to write down these things:
  • What you are eating and drinking
  • When you are eating and drinking
  • Your energy
  • Your mood
  • Your sleep
  • Any signs and symptoms you experience (eg headaches, IBS, back pain etc)
STEP 2 Look for patterns – Use the information you’ve collected to look for patterns. How does the food your eating affect you energy or mood? How does your sleep affect what food you choose for breakfast? Are there any foods that correlate to particular symptoms? Food has a huge and individual impact on our health so by learning to listen to our bodies, we are in the best position to make positive health choices. STEP 3 Notice how you think about food – A lot of our decisions around what and when we choose to eat are based on beliefs we carry about food.  Do you eat when you are hungry or when it’s mealtime? Do you choose what you eat based on how you feel or what’s easy? Our thoughts and beliefs play a huge role in how we nourish ourselves with food but most of it is automatic – we have no idea it’s going on. Becoming more aware of why we choose to eat is essential so that we can choose whether we want that last piece of chocolate or not instead of just mindlessly ramming it into our mouth. It’s not only about eating avocados, pineapples or chia seeds It’s not only about avoiding gluten, dairy or sugar It’s not only about perfectly balancing your carbs, fats and protein It’s about seeing you as a complex human being who wants to live her life rather than be spend her whole life working out what to eat