If food and I had a relationship status on FB it would be ‘its complicated’

All posts in the If food and I had a relationship status on FB it would be ‘its complicated’ category

Are those onions in your pantyhose?

Published May 21, 2014 by Jennie



So today is day 2 of my IUI.  Besides minor cramps and bloating, I feel great.  I am so glad I took Letrozole as opposed to Clomid for this cycle.  I think Clomid is a great drug that works for many people but not me.  It also makes me feel crappy even for weeks after I take it.   Hopefully, insurance companies will soon accept Letrozole  for use as a fertility drug and not just a drug to fight breast cancer (it can be difficult to get some insurance companies to approve it sometimes).

Today I got up early to do yoga and took it easy for the rest of the day.  I am trying hard to relax 🙂 I also spent some time researching healthy options that I can include in my life.  I originally created this blog document my journey to health.  I also consider my blog an infertility blog.  My infertility is still unexplained so for me, health and fertility are the same thing.  There is nothing wrong that I need to address or some diagnosed infertility cause that I need to overcome.  The only thing I can do is improve my mental and physical health

One of my primary health goals is to cut out processed food.  I still have a ways to go but I have made a ton of progress.  One thing I struggle with is finding the best way to store and preserve my food since unprocessed food tends to go bad quickly.  I recently found a great food hack that suggested storing onions in pantyhose.  My husband was a little confused when he saw this and asked me why on earth I would store onions in pantyhose.  While it is strange, it really works and does extend shelf life!

Today I decided to create a pintrest account so I can share and organize the recipes, tips, and information I have found that have helped me make healthy changes.  I also added a pintrest follow button on my blog (I feel so technologically savvy!) and you can also find it here.  Feel free to browse, follow, give suggestions, or share information you have found useful.

I wish all my fellow bloggers currently in the 2WW (as well as those with scheduled upcoming treatments) the best of luck!  Baby dust to all – Jennie



Nutrition Makeover in Progress

Published May 12, 2014 by Jennie

download (4)

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share my successes and failures as I try to make healthy nutrition and lifestyle changes.  It may end up helping me get pregnant and it may not.  Either way, I figured I could stand to be a little more healthy.  In this post, I am sharing some of the changes I have made.  I am in no way a nutrition expert and I know that different people have different nutritional needs.  Even so, I always appreciate feedback and suggestions from my fellow bloggers.  I have made progress but I still have a ways to go.

My Biggest Struggles

In my very first post I discussed my desire to eliminate soy from my diet.  This is really hard.  Soy is in everything!  Any tips on how to avoid soy are greatly appreciated!

When I make food at home, it does not last nearly as long as the processed version at the store (since it is not processed..duh!).  I feel like I throw away a lot more food than I used to.  Also, sometimes recipes call for a small amount of an ingredient but I have to buy it in a larger quantity.  For example, I had a recipe call for half a cup of buttermilk and the rest of it will probably go bad before I figure out something to do with it.

New and Improved Food Choices

This is not a list of everything but I thought I would share some of them.

crystal_light_onthego_icedtea dietcoke        aladdin

Old: Soda and other beverages with artificial sweetener
New: Good old H20

I really never though I could break my diet soda addiction. I ended up having to get rid of all artificial sweeteners to get it out of my system.  I love my new ninja water bottle (see picture).  It is BPA-free and also opens up in the middle so you can add ice or clean it.  I take one with me everywhere I go.


50FD8CC4-D194-E146-440E-8DA592682AAE    oatmeal-500x350

Old: Quaker Oats Oatmeal Variety Pack.  IngredientsMaple & Brown Sugar: Whole grain rolled oats, sugar, natural and artificial flavor, salt, calcium carbonate, guar gum, caramel color, naicinamide, reduced iron, vitamin A palmitate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid

New: Homemade oatmeal from 100 Days of Real FoodIngredients: Milk, plain rolled oats, honey, cinnamon, pure vanilla extract, toppings (fruit, chia seeds, nuts, etc).

While the recipe instructs you to cook this on a stove top, I sometimes pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds when I am in a hurry. Raisins make a yummy topping but they have a lot of sugar so I have tried different things.  It is really good with vanilla almond milk.  This breakfast will keep you full way into lunchtime.


cheezeit   cheese crackers

Old: Cheez-Its Reduced Fat. Ingredients: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, vegetable oil (soybean and palm oil with TBHQ for freshness), cheese made with skim milk (skim milk, whey protein, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, annatto extract for color), contains two percent or less of salt, yeast extract, paprika, yeast, paprika oleoresin for color, soy lecithin.
New: Homemade Cheese Crackers from Tidy MomIngredients: Sharp cheddar cheese, butter, salt, flour, red pepper flakes, milk.

Ok so yes I know that cheese crackers are not a health food.  Even so, I love them and eat them as occasional treats.  I used to think the processed version was okay because it is reduced fat but I know realize that this is misleading.  To make my own, I use Cabot Seriously Sharp cheese that contains no dyes (Ingredients are pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes).  I also use whole wheat flour (I like King Author 100% Whole Wheat).  I never have regular milk so I use almond milk.  These crackers are a little darker and not bright orange but they are delicious!

speck    kind      5-Ingredient-Granola-Bars-MinimalistBaker.com_

Old: Special K Protein Bar. Ingredients: Soluble corn fiber, rolled oats, isolated soy protein, cereal (rice, whole grain wheat, sugar, wheat bran, soluble wheat fiber, salt, malt flavoring, vitamin b [thiamin mononitrate], vitamin b2 [riboflavin]), sugar, vegetable oil ( partially hydrogenated palm kernel, palm and canola oil), fructose, corn syrup, inulin from chicory root, rice, roasted peanuts, roasted almonds, dextrose, contains 2% or less of sorbitol, glycerin, calcium carbonate, nonfat yogurt powder (cultured non fat milk [heat treated after cultured]) nonfat milk, whey, salt, soy lecithin, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, niacinamide, bht (preservative), vitamin b6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), iron, riboflavin.
Middle: Kind Bars.  Ingredients: Mixed nuts (peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts), dried fruits (raisins, apricot [apricot paste, glycerol (vegetable based), pectin, apple fiber, citric acid], dates), honey, chicory fiber, non-gmo glucose, puffed rice, flax seed, soy lecithin.
New: Homemade Granola Bars from the Minimalist BakerIngredients: Dates, honey, peanut or almond butter, rolled oats, anything else you want to add (fruits, nuts, chocolate, vanilla, etc).

I don’t want to speak badly of an entire brand but it seems that a lot of Kellogg’s products are highly processed.  I switched over to Kind Bars but then realized that it is easy to make them at home.  You do not even need to bake them!  Once they are made you can keep in them in the refrigerator for about 5 days or freeze them.  It is fun to experiment by adding different stuff to them.  All of these bars do have a considerable amount of sugar (added or natural) so I usually only eat these before a workout as opposed to a regular snack.

I wish there was an instruction manual for all of this!  Thanks for reading 🙂 – Jennie


Published April 30, 2014 by Jennie

images (2)

For those of you not familiar with my story, my husband and I decided in December to resume fertility treatments in May.  In January, I decided I would do everything possible to improve my physical, mental, emotional health.  I have worked hard and have made some significant changes.  Things were going great until a few weeks ago.  I have kept many of my good habits (no soda, artificial sweetener, limited added sweeteners, etc). Even so, I have let a lot of things slide.  I’ve been cooking less and relying more on quick meals which are more likely to be processed.  I have also not been to the gym as much and when I go, I have been focusing mainly on cardio (I know that it does not do me much good unless I balance it with strength and flexibility training).

I should also say that this time correlates with the end of my last semester of doctoral classes.  I have telling myself I have just been to busy to be healthy.  Logically, I know my reasoning is full of crap.  Being healthy is a lifestyle, not just something you do when you have time.  Life will always be busy.  I can not just be healthy when its convenient.  I am really disappointed with myself.  I also have this crazy thought that maybe I am sabotaging myself.  It would be extremely difficult to accept that I did everything to prepare myself for fertility treatments and I still failed.  I feel like I may be setting myself up to fail because I can not handle being let down again.  Why is it so hard for me to stay positive?  I get so tired of trying to be perfect.  I just want to hide in my closet and eat ice cream. – Jennie

download (3)

I’m So Smooth!

Published March 16, 2014 by Jennie

Last week I went home to spend time with my parents.  It is crazy to think that when I was a teenager, I could not wait to leave home and now that I am adult, I wish I could spend more time there!  While at home, we made whole pumpkin spelt muffins (which are addictive beware!).  We had some leftover pumpkin purée which we used a few days later to make pumpkin pancakes (I used pumpkin spice mix instead of nutmeg).  These were also delicious and idiot proof to make which I often need.  I am not under any delusion that pancakes are healthy but who really wants to live in a world without pancakes?  I decided to look into the ingredients and see if there was any room to make healthy changes.  Please note that food pictures and nutrition information are from Fooducate.com (one of my favorite websites!).

In the past, we used to use Bisquick Pancake & Baking Mix.


Here is a list of the ingredients: enriched flour bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), corn starch, dextrose, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), canola oil, salt, sugar, datem, distilled monoglycerides. contains wheat ingredients.

If ingredients are not your concern, it is easy (and cheaper) to make a Bisquick equivalent at home (see recipe here from another great blog).

I also like to top my pancake with cinnamon and a little bit of butter. At the grocery store, there seems to be countless varieties of butter and margarine to choose from.


Ingredients: Liquid Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Whey, Salt, Vegetable Mono- and Diglycerides and Soy Lecithin (Emulsifiers), Sodium Benzoate (to Preserve Freshness), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Colored with Beta Carotene (Source of Vitamin A), Vitamin D3.

The Mayo Clinic says that compared to butter, margarine is healthier because it does not contain cholesterol. This is a valid point for consideration. My health goal, however, is to try my best to stay away from processed foods.

I used to buy I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter

Ingredients: Vegetable Oil Blend (Liquid Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Liquid Canola Oil), Water, Natural Sweet Cream Buttermilk (Adds a Dietarily Insignificant amount of cholesterol), Salt, Vegetable Mono and Diglycerides, Natural Soy Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate, Calcium disodium EDTA (used to protect quality), Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (for Color)

This does not look good. I decided to look into actual real butter.

Trader Joe’s Butter Quarters

Ingredients: Pasteurized cream.
This product is high in saturated fat so should be consumed sparingly. For me, though, I prefer to consume the real thing on a rare occasions compared to processed alternatives. I have also found good substitutes for butter.


So ghee is technically a class of clarified butters (read about it here) but for my purposes, I use the terms interchangeably.
Ingredients: unsalted butter, contains milk

I LOVE this stuff. It is also shelf stable and lasts a really long time unrefrigerated. You can actually even make ghee at home. I have not yet done so but I did find a recipe that I think I could handle without messing things up too bad. Also, for your viewing pleasure, I included a picture from the same site of the part of butter that is removed when making ghee.
tumblr_lx7llhv1ic1qdei8m (1)
Looks appetizing right 🙂

There are also good substitutes for butter including applesauce, olive oil, coconut oil, Greek yogurt, and fruit purée. For me, butter substitutions are okay sometimes when baking. If anyone has other substitutions or input I would love to hear them. I have actually gotten lots of good tips from other people’s comments (both to my blog and others I follow). Happy eating! – Jennie


Published March 14, 2014 by Jennie



Happy Pi day everyone!  I am a self professed math freak so geeky stuff like this brings me joy.  I usually celebrate this occasion by baking a pi pie (I did not create the pie pictured in this post but you can click on it to see its origin).  This got me thinking about one of my nutrition/fertility goals which is to cut down on sugar.

First I would like to give an update on one of my previous posts that discussed my decision to give up all artificial sugar and soda.  This was a hard one but I am so glad I did it.  I had given up soda before but always craved it and I think it was because I was still consuming other sources of artificial sweetener such as Crystal Light.  Giving both artificial sweetener and soda did cause me to go through some unpleasant withdraw symptoms such as headaches and moodiness (I had actually started this process before my previous post).  I am thrilled to say that not only have I given both up but I do not crave them like I used to.  I never thought I would say this but now I actually crave water.  I did drink water in the past when I also drank soda but I would just do so since it is healthy.  A few days ago I went out to eat with some friends who ordered soda and I did not have any urge to order one which still feels kind of crazy.

Now I am focused on cutting down on sugar.  Initially, I had no idea how much sugar one person should have in a day so I did some research.  Numbers do vary of course, but the USDA recommends that women on a 1600 calorie diet limit intake to 24 grams of added sugar.  This does not include naturally occurring sugar in foods such as fruit.  I know it is important to also monitor your intake of naturally occurring sugar but in this post I am focusing on added sugar.

There are some foods and drinks that I expect to have high levels of sugar.  For example, a can of Coke has 33 grams, a Krispy Kreme doughnut has 10 grams, and a regular sized snickers bar has 30 grams of sugar (I obtain my nutrition information from Fooducate).  In other foods, sugar is much sneakier.  A 10 oz glass of Tropicana orange juice has 28 grams, a carton of Yoplait original low fat strawberry yogurt has 26 grams, and a serving of Prego pasta sauce has 10 grams.  On a side note, I also noticed that reduced fat/reduced calorie etc foods have lots of sugar.  Early on in my quest to change my eating habits I decided to avoid any food that has been modified to make it reduced calorie, sugar, fat, etc.  I am not focusing on these foods since I avoid them but I found an interesting article that reveals that these type of food often have (sometimes disturbing) higher sugar levels than their original counterparts.

Unfortunately, identifying added sugar is not as easy looking for the word ‘sugar’ on nutrition labels.  Sugar has many personalities and it can be difficult to identify.  The US Department of Agriculture and Harvard School of Public Health have identified some (not all) of the code words for sugar as follows:

agave nectar, anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane juice, confectioner’s powdered sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, fruit nectar, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), glucose, honey, invert sugar, lactose, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maltose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar), pancake syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar, sugar cane juice, syrup white granulated sugar

I also rely on food labels to tell me which ingredients are most abundant (ingredients are listed in order of their amount) but this may also be misleading.  Manufacturers can divide their added sugar into different types (such as maltose, dextrose, etc) so each ‘type’ appears further down the list making it appear that the food has less added sugar (if consumers even know that these terms actually mean sugar).

Overall, I feel like I know a lot more about sugar than when I began this journey to eat healthier.  Even so, I am still confused.  It is frustrating that food manufacturers are allowed to mislead consumers and make it difficult to make healthy choices.  If anyone has any feedback, advice, or tips to help cut down my sugar intake, I would very much appreciate it 🙂  As always, thank you for your interest in my little blog.   – Jennie

Lost in the yogurt aisle

Published February 28, 2014 by Jennie

Today I continue my quest to change my eating habits.  I initially did this to prepare for IVF, but I am starting to view this process as a lifelong change.  Even so, one reason I decided to look at yogurt is because it is recommended by the Harvard Fertility Diet.  There are so many benefits of eating yogurt.  Yogurt is high in calcium, contains good bacteria that helps manage digestion and control yeast in the body, and can be high in protein.  It can be difficult to find the best yogurt among the countless options at the grocery store.


Here is what I am looking for in my yogurt

* No artificial sweetener
* Low in sugar. Plain yogurt does have the lowest sugar and I will use that to make smoothies. However, it is hard for me to eat it without adding a bunch of stuff to it. Later I may try to adapt to plain yogurt by initially adding a lot to it and tapering off. Right now, I will focus on vanilla or strawberry flavored yogurt.
* High in protein
* Minimally processed
* Calories are not my primary concern but I will keep them in check.
* Note I get my images and nutrition information from fooducate.com

To start things off, this is what I used to get.


This yogurt has 80 calories, 12 grams of sugar, 5 grams of sugar, contains aspartame, and is highly processed.
Check out the ingredients: cultured grade a nonfat milk, water, cherries, fructose, modified food starch, contains less than 1% of modified corn starch, kosher gelatin, natural and artificial flavors, aspartame, malic acid, potassium sorbate, acesulfame potassium, sodium citrate, sucralose, vitamin a palmitate, vitamin d3, red 40, caramel color, blue 1, active cultures.
Yikes! It is time to look for other options.

While I have dismissed Greek yogurt as a fad in the past, I decided to make the switch after reading about the multitude of benefits including higher levels of protein. After trying it, I realized I also prefer its creamier constancy to traditional yogurt. Next, I looked at a few popular options.

Calories: 100, Sugar: 7, Protein: 13.
Ingredients: cultured pasteurized grade a nonfat milk, water, sugar, contains 2% or less of: corn starch, natural flavor, lemon juice concentrate, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, vitamin a acetate, vitamin d3.
This brand is highly processed and contains artificial sweeteners.

Calories: 120, Protein: 16, Sugar: 13
Ingredients: cultured pasteurized nonfat milk, evaporated cane juice, natural vanilla flavor, locust bean gum, pectin, live and active cultures.
This could possibly work.

Calories:120, Sugar: 15, Protein: 12
Ingredients: Nonfat Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk), Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei, Strawberries, Evaporated Cane Juice, Pectin, Natural Flavors, Locust Bean Gum, Fruit and Vegetable Juice Concentrate (For Color).

dab Calories: 120, Sugar: 18, Protein:12
Ingredients: Cultured Grade A Non Fat Milk, Water, Sugar, Fructose, Modified Corn Starch, Contains Less than 1% of Natural Vanilla Flavor, Malic Acid, Potassium Sorbate (to Maintain Freshness), Sodium Citrate, Vitamin D3.
This brand is highly processed.  I’m gonna pass.

fruit Calories: 140, Sugar: 18, Protein: 13
Ingredients: STRAINED YOGURT [ Grade A Pasteurized Skimmed Milk, Live Active Yogurt Cultures (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei)], Cane Sugar, Water, Corn Starch, Pectin,Natural Vanilla Flavor, Ground Vanilla Beans, Lemon Juice Concentrate.
Next up is their strawberry flavor.
ooCalories: 120, Sugar: 16, Protein: 13
Ingredients: STRAINED YOGURT: Grade A Pasteurized Skimmed Milk, Live Active Yogurt Cultures (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei). STRAWBERRY FRUIT PREPARATION (20%): Strawberries, Cane Sugar, Water, Corn Starch, Contains 2% or less of: Strawberry Juice Concentrate, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Xanthan Gum.

Calories: 150, Sugar: 21, Protein: 9
Ingredients: lowfat yogurt (cultured pasteurized grade a nonfat milk, sugar, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, kosher gelatin, modified food starch), strawberries preparation (strawberries, sugar, water, glucose-fructose syrup, pectin, citric acid, locust bean gum, natural and artificial flavor, guar gum, sodium citrate, carmine).
Moving on
download (1)Calories: 110, Sugar: 12, Protein: 15
Ingredients: Cultured pasteurized organic nonfat milk, organic sugar, organic vanilla extract. Live active cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei
This looks good.  Let’s look at the strawberry flavored version.
strawberry-0-fat-greek-yogurt-5p3oz_0Calories: 120, Sugar: 17, Protein: 12
Ingredients: Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Organic Nonfat Milk), Strawberry Fruit Preparation (Organic Strawberries, Organic Sugar, Organic Corn Starch, Natural Flavor, Fruit and Vegetable Juice Concentrates [For Color], Organic Guar Gum). Live Active Cultures: S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus, Bifidus, and L. casei

I decided to get Stonyfield Organic Greek Vanilla yogurt. The sugar is low, it is minimally processed, it has a decent amount of protein, and lots of good bacteria. It is a little expensive but thankfully, you can create an account on their website and get some good coupons. I also found that it is cheaper at Harris Teeter vs. Whole Foods and Harris Teeter sometimes puts it on sale.

All of this was just my preliminary research. I have said before that I am by no means an expert on nutrition and I do value input. Please feel free to share thoughts on these or any other brands of Greek yogurt. It is difficult to choose among all the options!

A Cheesy Post

Published February 9, 2014 by Jennie


So cheese is one of my favorite foods.  Nothing is more comforting then curling up with a grilled cheese (and maybe some tomato soup) especially when it is rainy or cold outside  Cheese is not something I will ever give up so I wanted to learn how it may impact my fertility and overall health.  Here is what I found.


As I researched cheese, I kept seeing warnings about listeria.  I had heard about this in the past but was not really sure what it is.  According to WebMD, consuming listeria can increase the chance of miscarriage.  According to foodsafety.gov, the following foods can become contaminated:

  • Ready-to-eat deli meats and hot dogs
  • Refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and dairy products
  • Soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk, such as queso fresco, Feta, Brie, Camembert
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Raw sprouts

It looks like avoiding soft cheese may be a good idea (especially if I ever do become pregnant).  While I have never taken a pregnancy test, I think there may have been times I was pregnant and lost it very early.  My cycle is usually like a clock but a few times I was a week late and felt several pregnancy symptoms.  Even though I love cheese, I rarely eat soft versions so for me this will not be to difficult to avoid.  There are other foods on this list that I plan to deal with later.

While information sources do not always agree, many claim that for women, cheese is ok for fertility.  Some sources recommend it due to its calcium (of course in moderation!).  Other sources state that it can aggravate conditions such as PCOS and Endometrosis.  I have unexplained infertility and testing indicates these conditions are not an issue for me.

I did learn that cheese may impact male fertility.  Men who eat 3+ serving of full fat dairy may have poorer quality sperm (You can read more about this here and here.  Lucky for me, my DH is not big on dairy.  He has also had several tests which indicate his swimmers are super healthy.  I know that these tests do not tell you everything but this is still good news.


As I have said before, one of my health goals is to cut out processed food by paying attention to food labels and ingredients.  I took a look at a few of the cheeses I sometimes buy.

Shredded Cheese 


Shredded Cheese is so convenient!  Unfortunately, I found that it may not be the healthiest option.  According to Fooducate, here are the ingredients

Vermont White Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Nonfat Milk and Milkfat, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Nonfat Milk and Milkfat, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto [Color]), Mild Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Nonfat Milk and Milkfat, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto [Color]), Potato Starch, Cellulose Powder, and Calcium Sulfate Added to Prevent Caking, Natamycin (a Natural Mold Inhibitor).

Um, this looks a little scary.  Lets check out a few of the ingredients

Annatto: This is a seed or extract primarily used to give cheese its yellow/orange color (apparently, cheese is not naturally bring yellow/orange).  The FDA states that certification of this food additive is not necessary to protect public health.  Some sources suggest that there may be issues with annatto but overall, it does not look that bad.  Even so, I do like to avoid food dye and additives when I can.

Cellulose Powder: health.com states that cellulose is derived mainly from wood pulp and cotton, is used in paper ­manufacturing—and sometimes added to food.  Humans can’t digest it(this does not mean it harms us).  The FDA says it is safe but I am thinking this may not be the best thing to consume if my goal is to focus on avoiding processed foods.

Natamycin: This is also used to treat fungal eye infections.  It has a C rating for pregnancy which simply means that one can not rule out a risk (it does not mean that it is dangerous for sure).  The European Food Safety Authority  also says it is safe to consume and I could not find any FDA warnings.  One concern I did find is that it can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Sliced Cheese

I often use sliced cheese to make sandwiches.  This helps me with portion and calorie control.  While those are not my primary health concerns, it is good to keep them in check.  Using a slice prevents helps me control my serving.  One cheese I like is Trader Joe’s sliced provolone.  It has a 100 calories per slice.


According to Fooducate, here is the list of the ingredients: pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, animal rennet, salt.

Animal Rennet: Rennet is a complex of enzymes found in the stomach of baby mammals that allows them to process mother’s milk (consumethisfirst.com).

According to , here are some things to know

What you need to know:

1. Cheese has been manufactured using rennet for thousands of years, mostly in Europe.

2. Indeed, rennet is extracted from the lining of the inside of the stomach of mammals, and most commonly from the fourth stomach of young calves.

3. Rennet contains enzymes that cause milk to become cheese, by separating it into the solid curds and the liquid whey.

4. Different animal rennet are used as well to create other types of cheese.

5. Most cheese in the US is NOT manufactured using rennet, mostly due to the availability of cheaper alternatives.

6. Vegetable rennet is made from certain vegetables that have coagulation properties as well. Thistle is the most common form.

7. Microbial rennet is derived from molds. Yum. A side effect is a slightly bitter tasting cheese.

8. Genetically engineered rennet is derived from plants that have been injected with cow genes.

What to do at the supermarket:

9. Companies are not legally required to disclose the source of the rennet, so unless the product specifically states a non-animal source for rennet, you won’t know.

10. Another way to verify that the rennet is not from an animal source is to look for a kosher symbol. According to Jewish dietary laws, milk and meat ingredients cannot be mixed or eaten at the same time.

Overall, animal rennet does not look awful and may be hard to identify.  It does though have a pretty big ick factor.  If I had a choice, I would choose cheeses that did not contain it.

Block Cheese

Here are a few I sometimes buy


Ingredients: Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Nonfat Milk and Milkfat, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto (Color)), Natamycin (a Natural Mold Inhibitor).


Ingredients: cultured pasteurized milk, salt, enzymes, annatto.

Cheese from Walmart actually looks better.  Even so, for many reasons, I am trying to shop less at Walmart.  Next I looked into other options.


Ingredients: Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes. Contains No Animal Rennet.

HOORAY!  It has no dyes (annatto) and specifically states that it has no animal rennett!  For some reason though, I had a hard time accepting that it is not yellow/orange.  I don’t know why this was an issue but it was.  After trying it, my concern subsided.  It is delicious!  It is also not crazy expensive.  An 8 oz block at Harris Teeter (a common grocery store in my area) costs $3.49, Kraft costs $3.89, and Harris Teeter store brand costs $3.19.  Of course this is not the only cheese I will ever eat.  Even so, I now have a lot of information I can use when buying one of my favorite foods.

I am now ending with a cheesy quote 🙂 (Get it?  I know I’m awful)


Me Versus Artificial Sweeteners

Published February 2, 2014 by Jennie

In a previous post I wrote about my efforts to ditch diet soda.  In the past, I have reduced/eliminated it but always went back.  During these times, I would substitute drinks like crystal light for diet soda.  I figured that since they helped me drink more water they were harmless.  My game plan has since changed.  Like diet soda, crystal light (and countless other things) have aspartame in them.  I am trying to learn as much as I can about aspartame which is difficult.  I know I can not trust everything I read (especially online!) and different sources say different things.  To start, I visited http://www.aspartame.org/.  Here are some things I found on this site in a section called expert opinions.

The Good  (pulled directly from the site)

aspartame_expertsAspartame is one of the best food ingredients exhaustively studied and it has been tested in more than 100 scientific studies prior to FDA approval in 1981. The studies were conducted in laboratory animals and humans, including infants, children, healthy adults, lactating women, diabetics, obese people and people with the rare genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU). In addition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Scientific Committee Food (SCF) of the European Union and regulatory agencies of more than 100 countries have reviewed aspartame and found that its use was safe.

There is a plethora of information on this website that asserts the safety and benefits of aspartame.  Of course, aspartame is not the only artificial sweetener out there.  The Mayo Clinic lists the primary types of artificial sweeteners and discusses their pros and cons.


The Mayo Clinic states that some of the benefits of artificial sweeteners is that they can help with weight control, they do not cause tooth decay, and they may be a good alternative for people with diabetes.

The Bad

Many sources claim that aspartame “(is) by far the most dangerous substance added to most foods today.”  Some of these negative effects are summarized in a video.  I also listened to  a segment on NPR where researchers discuss the negative effects of artificial sweeteners.

There is an insane amount of information out there that will attempt to convince consumers that artificial sweeteners are the root evil and must be avoided at all costs.

die die2 die3diet


Based on what I have read about the pros and cons of artificial sweetener, I am still not sure what to think.   When it comes to fertility, I do think that it is important to consider how they could impact babymaking.  Several sites highly recommend avoiding aspartame when trying to get pregnant.



It is easy to get caught up in all of this come to the conclusion that any amount of artificial sweetener kills your chance to conceive.  On the other hand, I had difficulty finding scientific research that backs up these claims.  I have even researched peer reviewed journals and can not find much (one of the benefits of being a doctoral student is that I have access to a multitude of academic resources).  One might then ask why I am attempting to eliminate artificial sweeteners from my diet.  The primary reason is that not consuming them makes me feel better.  I did feel pretty bad for the first week after I gave up Diet Coke and Crystal Light (do not even get me started on the headaches and irritability) but now I am feeling better than I did when I consumed them.  I feel less sluggish (I know it could be a placebo effect or due to another cause).  Water is now my primary beverage of choice which I think helps me get through my workouts and has even helped me become more regular (sorry if that is tmi!).  I am now trying to identify other foods that have artificial sweeteners hidden in them and see if I can find substitutes.  I am not sure if artificial sweeteners have impacted my fertility or if getting rid of them will make a difference in this department but I am willing to at least give it a go.  If anyone has any information on this topic, I would love it if you would share.  I have said before that I am not qualified in any way to give nutrition advice.  I am just sharing my journey.

Milking it!

Published January 29, 2014 by Jennie


I never though that choosing milk could give me a mild panic attack but it totally did.  There are so many options it can make one’s head spin.  To start with I will share my original milk status.  For as long as I can remember, I have purchased and used skim milk.  I rarely drink it by itself but I do cook with it and have been known to make a mean hot chocolate every once and a while that calls for milk.  I decided to investigate milk options to enhance fertility and improve my overall health.  My primary nutritional goal is to find foods that are minimally processed which usually means I can pronounce all the ingredients.  Here are the contestants.

Skim Milk (Of course nutrition facts can vary from brand to brand).


I did not realize how much protein was in skim milk and it is also low in calories.  Calories are not my primary focus but I do want to make sure I do not get too many or too few throughout the day.  Unfortunately, several sources say that skim milk is not good for fertility.  Apparently, it can actually be worse for you fertility wise than higher fat milk (who knew?),

2% (I know I am skipping a few)



This one has the same amount of protein about and more calories.  I also really do not like the taste of 2% (it tastes like cream to me and I can not even consider switching to whole milk).  Additional studies also this low fat milk can lead to fertility problems.  Specifically, it can interfere with ovulation.  According to my many many medical tests, I have no issues with ovulation but I am starting to think that these tests do not always give you a complete picture and if there is a risk, it is probably best to stay away from this.

Coconut Milk (again there are many varieties!)



I am going to stay away from milk with flavors but I though I would keep the nutrition information in there for fun.  Calories look good but I am not sure where all the protein went :(.  I also know there are about a bazillion health benefits of coconut and coconut oil.  It can also help enhance fertility (although I am not sure if that applies to coconut milk but I would think it would).  This could definitely be an option.

Soy Milk (Going to skip this one because I am avoiding soy since many studies suggest it can mess with your hormones and fertility).

Hemp Milk (Unsweetened of course!)


Nutrition appears similar to coconut milk and I did not find anything negative about it fertility wise.  I saw a lot of sites that could show you how to actually make it at home but I do not think I will try that.

Almond Milk (Nutrition is from almond breeze milk)



Looks about the same.

There are also other kinds I did not look at (like goat and raw milk).  Overall, it looks like traditional milk has the most protein but may negatively impact fertility.  I did not see much of a difference between the alternatives.  I decided to pick up some unsweetened almond milk at Trader Joe’s.  I actually really like it!  I also like that it lasts much longer than traditional milk.  Since my husband and I do not drink much, we often end up throwing a lot away even when we buy half gallons.  I may try coconut milk next or take advice from someone who can give me a little direction and good information.  I very much appreciate suggestions and feedback!  Who knew that something as simple as milk could be so complex.


Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Published January 21, 2014 by Jennie

In this post I look at what is good for me to drink and what is good to avoid.  My RE suggested I stay away from caffeine and alcohol which is not news to me.  This part will be easy.  I have never drank coffee and have no plans to start.  I do like tea but I rarely drink it and there are non caffeinated options.  Avoiding alcohol is easy for me.  Like coffee, I have never had wine (minus a few sips when people force me to try some because they think there is no way someone can simply not like wine).  I also do not like beer.  In fact, I only tried it once back in 2003 and decided then that it was not for me.  I do drink liquor occasionally (maybe once or twice a month if I am out with friends).  I primarily stick to vodka and watered down mixed drinks that young kids with fake ids often order.  As a student, people often ask me how I live without coffee and alcohol.  Unfortunately, I have formed a very close relationship with Diet Coke.  I love it and could drink it all day.  Diet Coke is double bad because it has not only caffeine but also aspartame which I try to avoid.  In the past, I have made efforts to decrease my soda consumption and have gone long periods without it.  Now I am committed to giving it up completely.  Unfortunately, this does not leave me many beverage choices.  Even before this whole fertility thing, I have always drank water frequently but I think I need to increase the amount a little (I am sure not to go overboard).  It is difficult to figure out how much is enough but not too much.  I have a 24 oz water bottle that I will try to fill at least twice a day (not counting extra refills during workout sessions).  I felt very proud of myself for switching primarily to water but apparently for babymaking, this may not be enough.   Water bottles can contain BPA which some studies show can negatively impact fertility.  You know what else contains BPA?…EVERYTHING!  I am also supposed to stay away from tap water.  This is getting a little intense and I am only adopting changes I can live with.  If I am at the gym and need more water, I am going to fill up at the drinking fountain which may or may not be tap water.  I also fill up a lot at school.  For now, I am going to just continue using my regular water bottle and focus on finding a good amount to drink.  I may try to find a BPA bottle but I am really not sure if it is worth it (if anyone could shed light on this I would appreciate it).  Sometimes I feel like for every good thing I do, I learn about ten thing I am doing wrong.  Oh well, all I can do is try my best!