Client Corner: Unexpected Miracle

My husband and I are like so many couples our age. We were married in our early thirties and knew we wanted to focus on our careers and travel as much as we could before trying to have children. We had heard the warnings from friends and family that we were ‘getting old’ and we should really start a family soon, but we figured we would cross that bridge soon enough. When we decided that we were ready for a baby, I stopped taking birth control pills and we began trying to get pregnant. That first month was exciting and, in the back of our minds, we thought we might be part of the ‘It Happened on the First Try’ Club. After all, I was only thirty-two and we were both in great health!

When the first month passed, I tried not to be disappointed, but I was… we both were. I went straight to the pharmacy and bought the ‘smiley face ovulation kit’ that so many of my friends said was the key to success! The next month, we did everything ‘right.’ I thought that would be the month that I would get pregnant… it wasn’t… and neither were the next several months. I felt like a failure, and each month was harder than the last. To make matters worse, it seemed like everyone around me was suddenly getting pregnant!

I didn’t have any qualms about discussing my troubles conceiving with people. In fact, I started finding that many other couples were having similar problems and were relieved to be able to talk about it. Through a recommendation from a friend, we decided to begin fertility testing to see if we had any medical issues. During that same time, I was interested in trying acupuncture and was given Meg’s information at Pulling Down the Moon. I didn’t know if I believed in acupuncture, but was willing to try anything at that point!

Our fears were confirmed after our tests came back and it was suggested that we would need a doctor to help us conceive. The next day, I had my first acupuncture appointment. Meeting Meg was refreshing – I didn’t feel like a number on a spreadsheet, I felt like she genuinely cared about my challenges and my concerns. She helped put me at ease during a rough week and guided me through my first stab (no pun intended) at acupuncture. I started seeing Meg on a weekly basis, where I would update her on our progress on selecting a doctor and the development of a plan to begin fertility treatments. She was also a sounding board for my day-to-day stories and, on some days, my complete frustration with this process. We were ready to begin the next step in our fertility treatment at the end of the month when the unthinkable happened… I finally saw that elusive second line on a pregnancy test. After all those unsuccessful months, and our low odds, we were able to conceive naturally.

I owe so much to Meg for keeping me calm through an otherwise stormy journey, for listening to my weekly meltdowns, and for showing me the benefits of a holistic approach to medicine. No matter where you are in your fertility journey, take solace in knowing that there are people, like Meg, that will be there every step of the way… to me, it meant the world… and, in that world, a baby boy.

Fertility Friendly Menus

by Meghan McMillin MS, RD, LDN

Meeting up with girlfriends for brunch after yoga class or planning a date night after acupuncture? Worried that you can’t follow fertility-friendly diet recommendations when eating out? Well set your mind at ease, because we’ve taken the work out of it for you! Did you know that located within just a short distance from our Chicago office are several restaurants that feature some pretty amazing looking fertility-friendly dishes?!

These menu items boast local and/or organic products, lean, clean protein, phytonutrient-rich vegetables, high-fiber carbohydrates and good, healthy fats. It is important to keep in mind however that eating out – no matter how healthy the choices we make are – will almost always brings extra calories and that when trying to eat healthy it’s best to cook as much as you can for yourself. That being said, everyone likes to eat out or has to eat out for work, so this guide can help!

If you’re in the mood for all-American cuisine, stop by Farmhouse located at 228 W. Chicago Ave where they describe themselves as ” a farm to tavern concept with a local seasonal focus on craft beer, food and liquor”. Their lunch and dinner menus both feature a grass-fed, pasture raised burger which can often be difficult to find on menus. Sub their roasted seasonal vegetables for the french fries and you’ve got yourself a fantastic fertility meal!

Looking for a place to grab some breakfast? Check out Brunch located at 644 N. Orleans which features many local and organic ingredients including cage-free eggs. Choose the make your own omelet option to load up on fertility-smart nutrients by adding spinach, avocado and broccoli. Thinking lunch instead? Their menu features an amazing looking cranberry pumpkin-seed kale salad that is packed with essential vitamins and minerals!

Another fertility friendly breakfast spot in the area is Beatrix at 519 N. Clark (they also have a location in the Streeterville neighborhood). Their breakfast menu features an amazing sounding dish called quinoa cakes with poached eggs that includes a tomato basil sauce and fresh herbs. On their brunch menu look for the three grain arugula salad with chicken that features fertility-friendly grains such as freekah, millet and quinoa. Additionally, they offer several recipes of anti-oxidant rich, fresh squeezed juices!

In the mood for seafood? Head on over to GT Fish & Oyster Bar at 531 N. Wells. Their menu boasts fresh oysters on the half shell which are low in mercury and rich in iron, magnesium and zinc – essential for when you are trying to conceive! Other smart menu options include their five grain salad or shrimp bruschetta.

Tapas is also a great option for finding fertility-friendly menu items. There are two great tapas restaurants nearby including Cafe Iberico, which is literally across the street from us at 737 N. LaSalle and Nacional 27 located at 325 W. Huron. The key to doing tapas right is to choose plenty of vegetable dishes, select low-mercury fish and seafood and avoid any fried items! At Cafe Iberico look for the aceitunas alinadas which are marinated Spanish olives, the ambos al ajillo featuring shrimp with olive oil and garlic or the grilled tilapia served with white beans and rapini called Tilapia a la Plancha con Alubias y Grelos. If heading over to Nacional 27 try the shrimp and scallop ceviche with avocado, the jicama salad, or the grilled salmon with salsa verde.

So, the next time you are at Pulling Down the Moon for a class or treatment, be sure to check some of these places out for breakfast, lunch or dinner! You can be sure that you can find something both delicious and fertility-friendly to eat. Stay tuned for another upcoming post that widens our search for fertility-friendly menus throughout the city!

Getting Started with a Clean Eating Program in 2016

by Meghan McMillin

Feeling sluggish or bloated after the holidays? Feeling run-down and needing to recharge? Have you recently suffered a loss or failed ART cycle? If so, this may be the perfect time for you to make changes to your diet and reset your hormones and metabolism by turning the focus to “Clean Eating” in 2016.

How is clean eating different from a regular diet? Well, on some level it is related to its trendier relative the “cleanse.” But when most people hear the word cleanse, they think of deprivation; eating only cabbage soup, drinking water with cayenne pepper or juicing. When you are trying to conceive, these drastic programs are a no-no. It is essential to consume adequate calories and vital nutrients, including healthy fats, lean protein and high fiber grains. Clean Eating blends the “new leaf” feeling of a cleanse with the ultra-nutrient rich diet recommended for optimal health and fertility.

At Pulling Down the Moon we have been at the forefront of drawing the connection between fertility and nutrition, and as more and more research is published, we continue to target the specific ways in which our diet affects fertility outcomes. Four of the main objectives of our program include improving liver function, limiting inflammation, improving gut health and strengthening blood sugar control.

Our Clean Eating program begins by eliminating (or incorporating) foods that target each of these four objectives. During your cleanse you will be asked to avoid all sugar, caffeine, gluten, eggs, shellfish, processed or corn-fed meats, artificial colorings and flavorings, dairy, soy and peanuts. Simultaneously we turn the focus on towards foods that you should consume. You will be encouraged to enjoy lean protein such as chicken, salmon and grass-fed beef. You will add healthy fats including avocado, almonds and olive oil. Include fertility friendly, gluten free carbohydrates like quinoa, millet and brown rice. And of course, lots of vegetables! A typical Clean Eating jump-start lasts about two weeks, after which you will begin to add foods back in to your program with the advice of your nutritionist. During the Clean Eating period your nutritionist may also recommend a rice-based protein shake to help curb cravings, balance blood sugar and improve digestion. She will also review your current nutritional supplement program to help determine what should be added or eliminated. Clean Eating does not mean you will never eat gluten, eggs or even sweets again – many women find they are able to return to these foods in moderation while others find they feel better limiting or eliminating them on an on-going basis.

How do you know if our fertility Clean Eating program is right for you? If you have recently had a miscarriage or a failed cycle, or need to jump start weight loss, have unexplained infertility or inflammatory conditions such as IBS or PCOS our program can help prepare your body to continue on the journey towards motherhood.

Please contact Pulling Down the Moon to speak with our Fertility Nutrition Specialist to see if a Clean Eating program is right for you. In the month of January our Initial Nutrition Consultation is just $35, our New Year’s gift to you!

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