Not Getting Pregnant – How One Woman Turned Things Around

This is a guest post by Dawnmarie Childs on Not Getting Pregnant – and how she managed to turn things around.

It was about a year ago that I last contributed to Nathalie’s blog about my achievements through a raw food diet. I was not getting pregnant. In 2006, I was fat, tired, depressed, anxious, constipated, separated from my husband, and infertile. At least that is what the reproductive endocrinologist told me. “Your FSH is too high. You need an egg donor. There is nothing I can do for you.” He was right. There was nothing he could do for me. But there was something I could do for myself. Never one to take “No” for an answer, I researched what I could do to improve my fertility… and I found raw foods.

I Was Not Getting Pregnant – Was Food to Blame?

While I couldn’t find anything in the human medical literature about food and fertility, I did find a veterinary article regarding heifers and their improvement of reproduction with dietary changes. That, paired with the information in Gabriel Cousens’ Rainbow Green Live-Food Cuisine, where he reported that hormonal changes can be improved with diet, I decided to give raw a go.

I was strictly raw for three years and in that time, I went from the above with numerous prescribed and over the counter pills, to needing absolutely nothing. My blood sugars stabilized, my anxiety and depression resolved, my cholesterol lowered to about 87, my blood pressure lowered, my weight was in a healthful range, but my FSH continued to rise.

Still looking for answers, I sought other treatment in addition to the raw foods diet. Clear Passages in Florida, through Osteopathic based techniques, helped relieve pelvic adhesions that could interfere with fertility. Colonics improved my bowel health. Supplements helped replace missing enzymes and essential nutrients. DHEA was to help improve “egg quality.” And yoga was added to open the pelvis.

While I was working toward better health, my online friendship turned into romance. Jerry and I were married in March of last year. I moved from one coast to the other to be with him and with his children. Prior to the move, we looked for further answers at a prominent fertility clinic in New York City. After a pelvic ultrasound and lab tests, the prognosis given wasn’t much better. My FSH more than doubled. My AMH was zero. My right ovary was defunct and my left ovary only had one follicle in production. “You need an egg donor,” was the reply that I was given. Jerry was devastated, but I was determined. We enjoyed a lovely meal at Pure Food and Wine and then contemplated the next move.

“I’m going to go back to Clear Passages for a little more work. And then I’m going to see Randine Lewis.” Randine, Osteopathically trained, converted to Chinese medicine after medical school. She holds annual retreats for those who are fertility challenged. Randine put all of my lab data into perspective for me. “Of course your AMH is zero. You are producing only one follicle at a time. The AMH that you do have isn’t measurable. It doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant.” At the retreat, I received acupuncture, an evaluation for Chinese herbal remedies, education regarding fertility, and a lot of support. I left with a renewed hope. I believed that motherhood was going to happen for me.

There Was Hope for Not Getting Pregnant

A few weeks after I returned to my new home, the herbs arrived. They smelled foul. They tasted terrible. After the first packet of herbs, I was knocked out on the couch for two days. I lowered the “dose.” I was getting nauseous. I continued to be exhausted. Something seemed to be very wrong. I felt like I was going crazy. Simple slights made me want to sob uncontrollably. I called my husband at work, very upset. And then it hit us. I was laaaaate (in Dr. Evil ally Frau voice), by 5 days. “Honey, pick up a stick on your way home from work.”

Jerry arrived with the package in his brief case. I ran to the bathroom. The results came back quickly. I wasn’t sick. I was pregnant! Alexander Perry Childs was born the day after my 42nd birthday. He was 7 pounds 7 ounces and 20 3/4 inches long. He is a healthy gorgeous boy who has more than doubled his birth weight at three months and is just growing by leaps and bounds. He is the joy of my life.

How did I get pregnant with the odds against me? Was it the raw foods? The acupuncture? The herbs? The colonics? The yoga?

By the time I met Jerry, my life was in balance. And raw foods helped bring my physical and mental well-being into equilibrium. While there are plenty of pregnancies achieved in dire circumstances, I was only going to get pregnant under ideal conditions. And thankfully, that was so. Motherhood is challenging. I would not have been supported in my first marriage as I am in this union. I also wouldn’t have wanted my child exposed to the medications that I required previously to function. And I likely would have had it more difficult during the pregnancy had I continued my health-less lifestyle I held previously.

And, as a physician, what did I learn from all of this? First of all, don’t treat the lab, treat the patient. Secondly, the body has the inherent capacity to heal itself. Thirdly, western medicine doesn’t have all of the answers. And finally, eat a whole food plant based diet, and you can achieve almost anythingnot getting pregnant is reversible.

Top 10 blog posts on Raw Foods Witch

Don’t have the time to go through the whole spellbinding archives? Start by the top 10 blog posts on Raw Foods Witch!

Why It’s Easier to Go Raw Than To Become Vegan

Who knew that going raw could be easier than just vegan? This post clearly explains that choosing a raw diet is not only easier, but also healthier than the common vegan diet.

7 Reasons I have a Love / Hate Relationship with Raw Food

There are always two sides to a medal, and having a raw diet makes no exception. Changing your diet can sometimes have an important impact on your everyday life. Discover the ups and downs of a life in the raw.

The Importance of Investing in Yourself & Your Health Without Giving Up

Changes towards a healthy lifestyle require commitment. By investing in yourself, you’re not only taking the first and necessary step towards a healthier self, but you’re also putting the basis of a sustainable self improvement.

9 Ways Raw Food Changed My Life

More than helping you to look and feel better, incorporating more raw foods in your diet can have surprising other benefits.

Set Yourself Up for Raw Success

Changing your diet can definitely bring some joy, but the road can also get rocky too. Avoid the common roadblocks of your journey to raw foods, and gear up for success with raw coaching. The group coaching session here might be already over, but personalized one on one coaching sessions are still offered.

21 Ways to Sneak More Vegetables Into Your Diet

Whether you’re a long-time raw foodist or just starting to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle, this post give you creative ideas to beef-up your daily vegetables intake.

Healthy Desserts: 28 Healthy Dessert Recipes in the Raw

Why do we love sweet food so much? It doesn’t really matter since you now have 28 healthy desserts you can eat everyday. This means 28 other delicious reasons to try raw food today!

How to Stay Raw When Dining Out at Restaurants

You don’t have to sacrifice your social life when committing to a raw diet. This post gives you great tips and ideas to eat raw at omnivore’s restaurants.

Why Food Allergies for Nuts, Gluten, and Milk are on the Rise and What to do About It

Food allergies and intolerances can silently sabotage your health. This video post clearly explains how food allergy works and what you can do to spot and prevent it to develop.

My Big Epiphany & Why I’m Eating Like a Dog

eat-like-millie

In the last few weeks I’ve been hinting at the big epiphany that has been changing the way I think about health and diet.

My realization came after I adopted Millie (pictured above, sticking her tongue out like she knows more than we do about healthy living). You see, feeding her made me realize how unbalanced our relationship to food can really get.

That’s why I believe we can all learn from dogs. I’m not saying we should lick our butts or chase cars, but that maybe the way a dog’s diet is structured has a lot to teach us.

In the wild a dog or wolf might hunt, eat grass, and find leftover scraps to eat. Domesticated pets have a much more regimented way of eating, and that’s what we can learn from.

Come to think of it, a dog’s life is pretty awesome: lots of chasing of squirrels, long afternoon naps, and dog treats.

Isn’t that what we all want to be able to eat? No, not squirrels but human treats! Having a strong nutritional base with the freedom to treat yourself every now and then.

Just Because Someone Else Eats It, Doesn’t Mean You Should

In my previous post I talked about how you can’t trust your tastebuds. Dogs can’t either, really. They don’t know what’s good for them.

They watch everyone around them eat and think that this food must be good if everyone else is eating it. (Sound familiar?)

Take for example grains, grapes, or chocolate. All toxic or mildly allergenic for dogs. Yet dogs will happily eat these up if you or someone around them are having any.

That’s why as pet owners we need to keep these harmful foods out of a dog’s reach. So why don’t we do it for our own harmful food cravings?

The Pareto Principle

Looking at my dog’s diet, I noticed she was eating about 80% main food, and 20% treats. Now don’t get me wrong, these treats aren’t deep-fried Mars bars, they’re quite in line with her diet. (She’s a raw dog, and you can see what she eats here.)

So what can we learn from eating by the 80/20 rule?

My big realization is that if we all adhere to an 80/20 way of eating we won’t fall off the wagon, beat ourselves up, or feel deprived.

I also think that it’s important to recognize that 100% percent raw is not ideal for everyone. So this is a much better way to regain your health and vitality, without feeling like a loser if you eat something cooked.

Preparedness Trumps Spontaneity

I don’t look at my dog each morning and wonder what to feed her. She would probably starve if I didn’t have a plan and some prepared food on hand at all times. That, or she’d get all kinds of human food “leftovers” that aren’t any good for her.

So why do we fail to have planned or prepared food for ourselves?

When we don’t have a plan or any prepared food in the house, we reach for instant food and take out… which we know isn’t good for us. (This is different from treating ourselves, by the way!)

Everything starts with having a solid plan and foundation in place. Without proper grocery shopping skills or a nicely varied menu plan, you’ll start reaching for all those unhealthy instant meal fallbacks. And that would just skew the 80 to 20% balance.

What’s in the 20%?

Let’s look at what’s in the fun 20% food category. I recommend keeping to a gluten-free diet, so if you are going to have baked goods then keep them gluten-free.

Ideally you will want to eat raw desserts since they taste so good and are so low in sugar.

So what’s left to treat yourself with? You can treat yourself with some of the savory dishes that you miss. Think of including some cooked veggies, warm soups, steamed sweet potatoes, or cooked grains of the gluten-free variety.

These might not sound like treats to you, but it’s such a nice way to balance out an otherwise high raw diet that you’ll feel a lot more grounded and fulfilled.

If you’re coming from a conventional diet you can also use your 20% for meat, fish, or dairy products you aren’t ready to let go yet.

This doesn’t mean you can run out and buy doughnuts, chow down on doritos, and eat peanut butter sandwiches on white bread everyday.

The 20% is meant to give you more flexibility, in a way that doesn’t hurt your progress and health.

What’s in the 80%?

In the 80% food category we want to include lots of green juice, green smoothies, green salads, and some seasonal fruits like berries, apples, or peaches.

The trick here is to be honest with yourself about how much of the “treat foods” you’re really eating. So if you’re just having one apple per day and the rest of your meals are processed, then this is not going to work.

I’m not recommending that the 80% be uber healthy, while the 20% is completely unhealthy. Rather, both are healthy foods but you just don’t want to overdo the 20% ones.

What’s Does it Mean for You?

Well it means that this winter you can enjoy some warm soups, cooked squash, or warm millet, and still feel amazing in your body and mind.

It means you can be more inclusive with friends or family members who don’t quite get the whole “raw” thing.

It also means that you can be nice to yourself and stop all those longing looks at what other people are eating.

It means you can finally stop obsessing about food and live a little.

You might also wake up really early and ready to go for a walk in the park every morning. Maybe.

How I’m Going to Help You Do This

I never thought I’d say that I’d help people eat like a dog, but here goes! After asking you and other readers what would help you stay on the healthy eating path, and in line with my big epiphany I’m creating something free to help you.

I know you’re looking for simple & quick meals that are nutritious, presented in a way to save you time. You might also like a produce guide that focuses on the changing seasons.

So that’s exactly what I’m putting together, and you’ll be able to get your copy free if you’re on my newsletter.

If you’re not yet on the newsletter, click here to sign up for free. Expect some goodness in your inbox next week!

Woof, woof.

Love, Nathalie

How Your Tastebuds Will Betray You & Why It’s Not Your Fault

Your tastebuds will betray you
Photo by Andrew Hill

Look from side to side to make sure no one’s reading over your shoulder. Is the coast clear? Good.

As I write this I’m leaning in, because what I’m about to say might shock some people.

“You know how you automatically react when you see someone attractive?”

“Um.. yeah, I guess?” you shrug, shifting uncomfortably.

“Sometimes it’s the flush of your cheeks, or a less obvious rush of blood in more obvious places.”

You nod quickly, “Get to the point Nathalie, what’s this got to do with healthy eating?”

“Well the way your body’s reaction betrays you when you’ve got the hots for someone is exactly how your body will sabotage your healthy eating efforts.”

Stick with me for a second while I explain.

Your Tastebuds React Whether You Like it or Not

Just like our basic human biological reactions to an attractive person, our body reacts to certain types of “attractive” food.

Why do our tastebuds and bodies seem to crave foods that we know with our minds aren’t good for us?

Just like we know that bad boy with the motorcycle isn’t going to stick around after he gets what he wants… we know that donut isn’t going to make us feel good in an hour after we’ve had our fun.

It comes down to a little evolutionary device that was actually put in place to help us survive.

Back in the day we wanted the tough alpha male so our babies would have strong genes. (Reverse this for men and having many beautiful offsprings.)

Similarly, back in the day it was hard to find foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. These were scarce resources that we weren’t able to get our fill of, so we evolved to seek them out for survival.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) today we’ve got more than enough sources of fat, salt, and sugar. In fact we’re practically drowning in them.

So that evolutionary pull that our tastebuds create for foods that contain lots of fat, salt, and sugar is an antiquated tool.

Taking This Analogy Further

If we just listened to our bodies all the time we’d end up in a sex-crazed, overpopulated society.

(Okay, you might say that we’re there already, but I’m an eternal optimist.)

Add to that the fact that the foods we crave so much are now highly available. Vending machines, street vendors, and refrigerators mean you’ve always got unhealthy foods at your fingertips.

I often hear that we “should just eat what tastes good to our bodies, in moderation.” And although I believe in the concept in general, I think that it doesn’t apply in our world of caffeinated beverages, salty crackers, and sweetened dried fruit.

Alas, our body’s natural “balance” mechanism has gone completely out of whack. Some studies were done on young kids, where the kids could choose what they could eat at will. At first all of them went for the “bad” foods that were sugary, salty, or fatty.

Confused?
Photo by Dan Foy

But eventually the kids balanced this out by eating vegetables and fruits. By choice. It was natural for them to want to eat something different.

The problem began when they started testing older children, who didn’t feel the need to balance out their consumption of salt, fat, and sugar.

Sound familiar? It’s not your fault, it’s all in the body’s mechanisms.

Our Bodies Are Just As Confused As We Are

We are constantly being bombarded with information regarding nutrition: you should avoid these foods they are bad for you, and you should eat more of these foods they’re good for you.

We get so gosh darn confused with all this conflicting information!

If you think our minds are confused, what about our bodies?

After eating a diet of standard American fare, our bodies lose their ability to recognize foods that it can digest.

As a child, our bodies know that fruits and vegetables are easy to digest. They also know that pop tarts and diet coke are not normal: we experience different side effects when they’re ingested.

The more processed food you eat growing up, the more confused your body gets. As you grow up, you loose your ability to trust your body’s original balanced instincts about food.

Everything Has Salt, Sugar, Corn, or Soy

All of the different packaged and processed foods contain certain ingredients: salt, sugar, oils, corn, or soy.

Manufacturers used these ingredients because they are addictive, make things taste good, and are cheap fillers.

Of course what makes good business sense for manufacturers, doesn’t necessarily make good health sense.

What about when moderation means that manufacturers put sugar, salt, and other “additives” in just about every since store bought product?

It’s much harder to eat these substances in moderation when they’re in pretty much everything you find at the store. Except produce, of course.

Trust Your Eyesight

It would be a bit cynical for me to say “trust no one”. But, there is someone you can trust, and that’s you and your eyesight.

Read the labels.

If there’s something you can’t pronounce, or where the first ingredient is one of the main culprits (salt, sugar, hydrogenated oils) then step away. You don’t have to buy these products, you can buy fresh produce or an organic alternative that doesn’t include all of these tricky ingredients.

Good luck, we’re all in this together.

Stay Tuned…

Next week I’ll be back with something that people have been asking me for a lot. I’ll be sharing my big epiphany, which goes hand in hand with this article.

Love, Nathalie

7 Tips for Eating Healthy On The Road (Or in the Air)

A lot of our conditioning around food comes from living a hyper-busy life. Think about it: if you had 12 hours per day with nothing to do, you might start making new types of food from scratch instead of reaching for fast food and instant meal solutions.

Fast food, planes, travel
Photo by Brian Wallace

One of the most busy times is during travel, when food is either an inconvenience or turns into a massive drain of energy.

If you plan on traveling this summer on vacation, for work, or to visit friends and family then this article is for you.

Here are my tried and true ways of staying healthy (and not getting sick!) while you’re traveling.

1. Drink lots of water

I’ve written at length about how much water you should drink every day, and how to drink more water. But drinking water becomes exponentially more important when you’re traveling.

That’s because we tend to be more rushed, to be thrown out of our routine, and to forget to hydrate. It also happens that you never know when you’re going to have access to a source of drinkable water, so always carry a reusable water bottle with you.

2. When in doubt, eat less

One thing I noticed when I travel is that people seem to eat more. Either because the plane / train is trying to sell lots of snacks, or because there’s nothing to do.

I’ve been there before: between a long flight, a never ending bus ride, or a 10 hour car ride… there’s not much to do unless you’re the one driving. So you dig into the snacks in an effort to stay awake or keep your energy up.

What does all of this increased snacking lead to? First, it causes major stomach traffic jams because you’re eating different foods in quick succession. It also leads to major bloating and constipation. It’s no wonder travel messes with our regular bowel movement schedules.

That’s why I recommend you keep your snacks and meals to within a few hours of each other. Bring a book or take a nap instead of entertaining yourself with food.

3. Research juice bars and restaurants

One thing I love about the internet is that you can research the restaurants and juice bars before you even set foot in a place. Make sure that the local listings are accurate, since restaurants and stores open and close without necessarily updating their sites.

I love “Happy Cow” for vegetarian and raw-friendly restaurant reviews. You can search by location and drill down from there.

If you end up at a restaurant that you didn’t research then check out my article on how to eat raw when you eat out.

4. Bring something you can eat on the go

One thing that is predictable about travel is the uncertainty. You never know when you’re going to get a chance to refuel (your car or your body) and that means preparation is key.

Although I recommend keeping snacking to a minimum, it’s better to have your own snacks on hand than to react to your hunger and eat something really unhealthy.

Here are some travel-friendly foods to pack:

  • Baby carrots
  • Sliced veggies: celery, cucumber, bell peppers
  • Dried nuts and seeds in a trail mix
  • Larabars
  • Dehydrated green smoothies
  • Fruit: apples, berries, citrus

5. Go to the grocery store

As soon as you arrive to your destination, make a trip to the grocery store. Most of the time you can grab a few staples, something green, and be on your way in less than 20 minutes.

It makes a huge difference when you have your go-to fruits and veggies for breakfast or snacks. If you can get your hands on a blender or juicer, then all the better. If not, don’t worry – you can always get back on the wagon when you get home.

6. Sleep and rest generously

This isn’t so much about food as it is about giving your body what it needs, but it does tie in to what you eat.

You see, if you don’t get enough sleep then you’re going to be reaching for something sugary or caffeinated to kickstart your body. That’s not the way to go, because it leads to a vicious cycle of sugar ups and downs and will definitely not leave you feeling refreshed.

So make sure you get some good shut eye while you’re traveling.

7. Focus on water rich foods

If you’re going to be veering off your usual way of eating, make sure you’re compensating with lots of water rich foods.

That means if you’re having something a little dehydrating like some wine or coffee, then follow it up with some fresh coconut milk or a green juice. (Both are great hangover cures too!)

Instead of having something salty like salted peanuts, reach for sliced munchable veggies.

Are you counting your miles?

Frequent Flyer?

Remember to stay grounded and take some time for yourself when you’re traveling. If you want to see someone who knows how to keep a regular schedule even when he travels, check out my friend Chris Guillebeau.

He’s on a mission to visit every country in the world, and he’s keeping to a vegetarian diet while doing it. He’s also got a great guide for anyone who wants to get lots of frequent flyer points without the flying.

Where are you off to?

Now I’m really curious about where everyone is going. Personally, I’m going to Miami, then Ottawa for the Healthy Living Festival, then back to Quebec to visit my family.

Family is a theme that runs throughout my travels this time, what about you… why are you traveling and where to?

Love, Nathalie