• Seasonal Bucket List

    Where has summer gone? Before winter is upon us, make sure to take time for yourself, with your partner, and with your family. Here are some great ideas to get started on your “bucket list”:

    • Did you know that there is still a drive-in in Illinois? Get a double-feature for the price of one with grills, a play area, and concession stand at: cascadedrivein.com . Meet up with others and tailgate until the movie starts! Bonus tip: pack your own cooler of goodies and dress the kiddos in pj’s!

    • When was the last time you went to the museum? Did you know your local library has FREE passes that you can checkout for a whole week?! Find a museum that is new to you or pick up your pass today at: https://www.chipublib.org/faqs/what-museums-can-i-get-passes-for . Whether you want to reach for the stars, check out the new Jurassic Park exhibit, build a masterpiece with Legos, create your own artistic masterpiece, or watch the fish swim—there is something for everyone!

    • Do you want to enjoy a little bit of everything without the hassle of planning? Then Pearachute for Kids ( www.pearachutekids.com ) is perfect for you! If you have never heard of them, go to their site and browse! There are FREE activities in and around the city listed. In addition to a variety of classes for all ages, at times throughout the day, and in locations all over–there are even classes for Mom while the kiddo is taken care of!! They have flexible plans that make for weeks full of adventures with swimming, art, outdoor adventures, and more! You can schedule up to two weeks ahead or just drop-in when the mood strikes.

    • When was the last time you went to Ravinia? They have a variety of shows and concerts for all tastes including shows just for the kiddos! You can drive to Highland Park or venture on the train. Make it your own date night, get-together with friends, or family night. Keep it as simple or get as Pinterest-y as you want! Bonus tip: bring a wagon for all the necessities (works with or without kids) and when you bring the kids along then grab a pop-up kid’s tent to keep the bugs away while giving them a place to crash while you relax. Go to: https://www.ravinia.org to plan your trip and make sure to check out everything Highland Park has to offer!

    • Want to check-out interactive activities with the little ones? Head to downtown Evanston to enjoy Gather ( http://www.meetatgather.com/ ). This unique children’s play place is warm and inviting. It is kept clean and has a variety of spaces/activities available. For the adults, there FREE coffee/tea and WiFi are available. There are allergy-conscious snacks for purchase as well. Kids can take classes then stay all day. They also allow for you to go out for lunch or nap time then return without an extra charge!

    What are your favorite ideas to end summer? What are your favorite activities to start fall? We would love to hear them and share with others!

  • Help for Secondary Infertility with Acupuncture

    Help for Secondary Infertility with Acupuncture

    by Christine Davis, L.Ac., MSOM

    You have your perfect baby or toddler or big kid! You are so happy! It was pretty easy getting pregnant the first time. You took great care of yourself during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated birth. The first year was pretty difficult (sleep is soooo over-rated!), but you made it through ok. You decide it’s time to try for another baby! You start your prenatals, pull out the pregnancy clothes and get busy. One month goes by … and your period comes. Oh well, you must have missed the window. You were traveling, he was traveling, you had that event and were too tired the day you probably were supposed to try…. Three months go by… still nothing. Oh well, you were just unlucky. This time you’ll get an ovulation predictor kit and make sure you hit the window. Another couple of months with negative pregnancy tests….

    Or maybe while trying for your second (or third, or fourth…), you become pregnant, only to suffer loss early on. You know your body is capable of this! You’ve done it once, so easily, and so perfectly before….

    You decide it’s time to see the gynecologist. She runs all the basic tests – well, your AMH is a little off, but not worrisome. Your FSH is a little high, but that’s normal for your age. According to your Gyne, that shouldn’t be a problem. Or maybe everything is “perfect!” What gives?? Why is this happening and what can you do about it? Your Gyne just says “keep trying” and “come back if nothing happens in 6 months.”

    What can you do to just get pregnant?!?

    Secondary Infertility, the inability to become pregnant or maintain pregnancy in women who have previously carried to full term one or more pregnancies without using IVF or other assisted therapies, is much more common than is often thought. While there may be measurable issues (thyroid problems, endometriosis / painful periods, etc) that could contribute, many women find themselves in the “unexplained” category. But guess what? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM, including acupuncture, herbs and associated modalities), there is no such thing as unexplained!

    In TCM, there are many ways to evaluate and explain what is going on to cause difficulty conceiving. We go through your whole history – your pregnancy/pregnancies, periods before/after pregnancy, all other physical, mental or emotional symptoms you may be experiencing. We also look at your tongue and feel your pulse as primary diagnostic tools. All of this information together determines your TCM diagnosis. We categorize imbalances in terms of excess (inflammation, pain, swelling, etc) or deficiency (slow/low function, anemia, fatigue, etc). Treatment with acupuncture can help to balance the body and create health by strengthening areas that may be weak or clearing areas that may be stuck.

    Acupuncture is also has a kind of “adaptogenic” effect, meaning that it can help to reduce the effects of stress on the body. Regular treatment can help you to cope with anxiety, worry, and most other emotional challenges, especially while struggling to become pregnant.

    Things in your body can change (A LOT!) during and after pregnancy. Sometimes so much that it could be affecting your ability to conceive. You may have shorter or longer periods and cycles, you may have gained weight or struggle with a sluggish metabolism, and many other changes. Acupuncture therapy can help to get you back on track and find your healthiest self to not just become pregnant, but to sustain a healthy pregnancy and you!

    And don’t forget about your partner/husband! Of those couples who struggle with fertility, there is almost a 50/50 split between male and female areas of concern. If he is resistant to trying acupuncture, remind him that it’s also great for that knee pain / back pain / allergies / heartburn / headaches / etc he has! We will do a full assessment and treatment for him, too.

    Try Acupuncture with us at www.pullingdownthemoon.com

  • Man in the Moon?

    Man in the Moon?

    by Meredith Nathan, LMT

    A man and a woman walk into a fertility center (I know, this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but please bear with me). Both get tested. Both check out normal. The man is told that he is ‘fine’. The woman is told she has ‘unexplained infertility’.

    Does it seem a little sexist? Perhaps, especially when you consider that roughly half of fertility issues are male factor. And yet the burden of treatment, especially when dealing with ART, tends to fall on the woman. Furthermore, there is a misconception running rampant that men with fertility issues only have one course of action: IVF. And there again 95% of the work of IVF will fall on his partner’s shoulders, even if she had no fertility issues at all. It does seem a little lopsided…

    But it takes two to tango – creating a healthy baby requires two ingredients: a healthy egg AND a healthy sperm. So whether optimal health and a proactive pre-conception strategy is the focus, or whether his swimmers need a fertility fix, healthy lifestyle choices and holistic treatments can go a long way towards increasing your odds of conception. And remember, the lifespan of a sperm is 60-70 days, so any positive changes made can increase your chances for conception for the following two or more months! Here are some top tips to keep those sperm in tip top shape:

    • Make healthy lifestyle choices; habits like smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and sleep deprivation can all negatively impact sperm quality.
    • Turn down the heat! Saunas, hot tubs, and steam baths can warm the scrotum and negatively impact fertility. In addition, laptops on laps and cell phones in pockets are not only warming but also may emit unwanted radiation.
    • Get a nutritional boost; vitamin deficiencies can negatively impact sperm production, and sporadic, inconsistent meal times can create blood sugar spikes and crashes, throwing the hormones off balance.
    • Keep stress in check! Stress also creates hormonal imbalance and interferes with sperm production. So bring on all relaxation activities, whether going on walks, prayer, meditation, fishing, golf, or getting massaged.
    • Moderate exercise is healthy and good, but overly intense workouts can draw blood away from the core and deprive the reproductive organs. On the flip side, blood building acupuncture & massage techniques can help to rebuild reproductive circulation and provide a fertility boost!

    I’m often asked if I see a lot of men at our center. I know the power of having both partners come to table as healthy as can be. On a personal note, my husband and I struggled to conceive for 18 months until I decided to include him in my wellness plans. And so whenever people ask me how many men I see at Pulling Down the Moon, my response is always the same, “I wish I saw more.”

    Click here to schedule

  • Optimal Egg

    Shawna Schwalb, MS, LDN, Fertility Nutrition Specialist

    Optimal Eggs

    I remember when I was in my 20s, hanging out with my friends, and one of my friends was excited about freezing her eggs. This was kind of revolutionary for the time as this was around the year 2003 and most of us were just a couple years post college, thinking about what to do with our lives. Now, as a fertility nutritionist at Pulling Down the Moon, I often have clients looking to freeze their eggs and searching for an optimal diet, lifestyle and supplement regimen to support this. The world has sure changed in 14 years! Improving your overall health may improve your egg health. Here are some foods to eat to obtain the best quality eggs if you are thinking about freezing them. If possible, it is best to start this regimen three to six months prior to freezing your eggs.

    Eat local and seasonal and organic when possible. Organic meat and dairy products contain significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than their conventionally raised counterparts, which may provide a benefit for egg quality. This article discusses some of the differences between organic and conventionally raised meat, dairy, fruits, and vegetables: http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/18/467136329/is-organic-more-nutritious-new-study-adds-to-the-evidence

    Emphasize a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which provide antioxidants that may help protect eggs from free radical damage. Choose local when possible. Fruits and vegetables that have traveled far on a truck may have lost some nutrients along the way. Locally grown foods may be grown according to organic standards, but smaller farms sometimes can’t afford the certification. It’s important to ask local farmers about their pesticide use and growing practices. Your pesticide, hormone, and antibiotic exposure is likely higher when eating conventionally raised meat and dairy, so it makes sense to prioritize organic meat and dairy over fruits and vegetables when deciding where to spend the extra money. The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen lists the foods with the highest pesticide residues, thus these would be the foods to prioritize buying organic. Here is a link to a current list: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php

    Eat healthy fats. Now is the time to make sure you’re including quality fats in your diet like low mercury fish, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, wild salmon, nuts, and seeds.

    Finally, don’t forget to eat all the vegetables and fruits your heart desires. Leafy greens are the highest in folate, the form of b9 that your body can best absorb. Citrus fruits are great sources of folate and berries are one of the lowest glycemic fruits out there, full of antioxidants as well. Try to get a serving of something green at most meals.

    Don’t forget, these changes will help you sustain a healthy egg and may even lead to healthy life for you and your future family.

    Click here to scheudle a nutriton consultation!

  • Summer Nutrition – Recipes

    Summer Nutrition Webinar recipes

    Roasted Root Vegetables
    Gluten free/Dairy free
    Serves 6-8

    ½ onion, chopped
    2 medium-sized beets, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
    6 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
    2 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    Salt and pepper
    Herbs (optional)

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add all vegetables to 9×13-inch pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and your favorite fresh or dried herbs, if desired. Roast for about 45 minutes, tossing every 10 to 15 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.

    Collard Greens with Cannellini Beans
    Gluten free/Dairy free
    Serves 2

    2 teaspoons olive oil
    1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
    1 medium bunch of collard green, stems removed
    1 cup cooked or canned cannellini beans
    1 teaspoon dulse flakes

    Boil water in a medium-sized pot. Submerge collard greens in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until leaves are bright green. Pour into a collander to strain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze excess water out of collards, and chop finely.

    Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add collard greens and beans, and cook for 2 minutes. Add dulse flakes and cook for about 3 minutes longer.

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts
    Adapted from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert
    Gluten free/Dairy free
    Serves 2-4

    2 cups Brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    Salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine Brussels sprouts, olive oil and garlic in a medium bowl, and mix to combine. Transfer to large roasting pan and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes or tender.

    Click here to schedule an appointmnt with our nutritionist