diet

All posts tagged diet

Sweet!

Published March 14, 2014 by Jennie

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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

To IVF or not IVF

Published February 15, 2014 by Jennie

This post is a plea for advice.  I completely understand that all women are different when it comes to infertility. However, I am kind of at a crossroads right now.  I love writing this blog because it allows me to connect with other people are are going through similar experiences.  I have been overwhelmed with the encouragement and support I have received.  No one understands infertility like someone who has gone through it (although I am lucky to have have additional support from my non-infertile friends).  So here it goes.

For those of you who may be new to my story, I have undergone an incredible amount of medical testing and procedures to obtain the coveted label of unexplained infertility.  You can read more about this journey here.  As a result, I have began to take a more holistic approach with a new focus on health.  I understand I can not do everything (no one can!), but here is what I have done so far.

* Gave up soda
* Eliminated caffeine
* Eliminated artificial sweeteners
* Read food labels to cut down on processed food
* Eliminated any food that have been modified to be reduced fat, low sugar, etc.
* Eliminated fast food
* Avoid foods that could possibly have listeria
* Avoid soy when possible
* Switched from cow’s milk to almond milk
* Switched to organic meat. This means they have not been feed antibiotics or growth     hormones. You can read more about it here.
* Sometimes switching to organic when I think it is worth it. I do not buy a food just because it is organic. I research it and then make a decision. For example, when I buy berries, I make sure they are organic but organic junk food is still junk food.
* Drink a lot of water. I recently learned about the multitude of benefits of lemon water. You can read more about that here and here.
* Make foods at home as opposed to buying them at the store when possible
(for example, I make pizza from scratch now which actually tastes a lot better)
* Exercise 4x a week (I am lucky to have an awesome workout buddy)
* Maintain a healthy weight. I have never been overweight but I have been underweight.
* Trying to get into yoga (I have a friend who is a yoga instructor and she
is willing to work with me on this one)
* Started acupuncture
* Started a blog (huge benefits here!)
* Actively trying to maintain an positive attitude.

We are currently scheduled to start IVF in May.  I am now starting to have second thoughts.  I do not know if all this stuff I am doing can actually make a difference.  Even so, it may be worth trying on our own for a while with these changes to see what happens.  Also, it may be worth trying another IUI. We previously did two and had great numbers both times (our doctors really thought it would work). Additionally, I think I am a little scared of IVF (is that strange to say?). I have seen other people go through it and it is a lot to take on. I know it can be worth it but I want to make sure I am prepared and I am not sure if I am quite there yet (if that makes any sense). I am 31 now which I know does not make me a spring chicken but I do feel we have a little bit of time to explore options. I sincerely appreciate any feedback that people would like to give. I do not judge and I am open to considering different options. As always, thank you so much for your support! xoxoxo

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.

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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.

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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.

http://getpregnant.org/featured-right/the-truth-about-aspartame-and-infertility

http://www.fertilityauthority.com/articles/aspartame-and-infertility

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.