• Endometriosis Awareness Month: Decreasing Endometriosis Symptoms

    Diana Zic, RPYT, CHC

    I am extremely empathetic to those women with endometriosis as I used to suffer from pelvic pain, heavy menstrual flow, and at times vomiting and constipation dating back to the age of 12. Although I haven’t been diagnosed with the disease, I’m pretty sure the rupture of my appendix when I was in 3rd grade paved the way for my discomfort around my menstrual cycle.

    For those reading this and are unsure of what endometriosis is exactly, according to Mayo Clinic, “it is often a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus – the endometrium – grows outside your uterus. Often times it spreads to the Fallopian tubes, ovaries and the ligaments that hold the organs in place which may cause trouble when trying to conceive and cause pain.

    Many women do not realize that they have it until they are trying to conceive. As it’s hard to diagnose without laparoscopic surgery  (which I’ve done and it’s not the greatest experience as you can imagine) though it can help clean up scar tissue temporarily which can relieve discomfort and offer a window to try to conceive, but it’s likely to come back if the root cause isn’t found.

    Also, I believe because so many women are suffering from pelvic pain and PMS symptoms it’s become seen as a cliché to have these symptoms so they are brushed off as “normal”.

    The symptoms of endometriosis are typically associated with the menstrual cycle and unique to each woman and may include: Pain during sex, extreme cramps that don’t go away with anti-inflammatory support or that impede daily life, bowel and urinary disorders, periods that last longer than seven days, heavy cycle (changing pad or tampon every hour) and nausea or vomiting. YUCK!

    Good news! There are ways to decrease symptoms in a non-invasive way FIRST!

    • Be mindful. Start to track your symptoms daily: mood, stress levels, diet and exercise to see if there’s a pattern to your pain.
    • Try an elimination diet. Certain foods may be triggering inflammation in your body. Read about some recommendations here from our nutrition team.
    • Balancing your hormones. High levels of estrogen is connected to endometriosis. Studies show when estrogen is dominant over progesterone, or progesterone is too low, it can set a woman up for pelvic pain. Yoga can ease menstrual pain, improve fertility, and aid in hormonal balance.
    • Seek out a pelvic physical therapist with expertise in women’s health and a massage therapist specializing in fertility. This can alleviate pain, symptoms, and aid in hormone balance.

    Do you have or think you have endometriosis and are trying to conceive? Do you want support to help guide you to the root cause of your pain and heal your body?  Join Diana for Yoga for Fertility starting March 6th in Chicago at Pulling Down the Moon or learn about our March fertility health coaching special with Diana at: 312-321-0004 today!

    Be well,

    Diana

  • Can Acupuncture Help Treat My Endometriosis?

    Endometriosis is a condition in which the endometrial tissue that normally makes up the uterine lining, is displaced and found outside the uterus. This can present with an array of symptoms which includes painful periods, ovarian cysts, heavy periods, spotting before the period, and/or even infertility. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be very effective in treating it.
    According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) endometriosis is a condition that is termed as “blood stagnation”, and your acupuncture practitioner will determine the cause of it after your initial consultation. It can arise from the body’s inability to properly absorb the old stuck blood that is lingering in body. There are a myriad of acupuncture points and herbs which help break up this stagnant blood as well as strengthen the body so that it can deal effectively with the problem. The general recommendation is to come in for weekly acupuncture for at least 3 menstrual cycles. Herbs help accent the acupuncture’s therapeutic effect and treat on another level. The most notable changes that are observed, is a reduction or elimination of painful periods, regulate cycles so that there is no spotting before the onset of the period, shrink ovarian cysts, reduce the excessive flow of blood during the period, and helps increase the odds of pregnancy in those trying to conceive.
    In addition to acupuncture and herbs, it is highly recommended that the patient seek a nutrition consultation with us. In TCM we advise patients with endometriosis to have an anti-inflammatory diet, which means avoiding foods that are spicy, deep-fried, dairy, ice-cold foods/drinks, beef, grapefruits, raw foods, and do not over-eat. Include foods like dark leafy greens, chicken, pork, mint or jasmine tea, beets, seaweed, zucchini, asparagus, berries, apples, eat until you feel 80% full, to name a few helpful tips. Please feel free to email me with any questions in regards to acupuncture and the treatment of endometriosis at anna@pullingdownthemoon.com. I am available Tuesdays and Fridays at the Chicago location, but our office is open everyday of the week in the city for acupuncture appointments.  We have Acupuncture, Massage, Nutrition, Yoga available in Chicago, Highland Park, and Buffalo Grove.  Call us to learn more at: 312-321-0004 today!
    Anna Pyne LAc, MSOM, FABORM

  • Vitamin A: Are you getting the right amount?

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for reproduction, vision, immune system function, and embryo and fetal development. There are two main types of vitamin A: preformed vitamin A known as retinoids, which are found in animal products, and are converted to retinoic acid, which regulates transcription of a number of genes. The second type of vitamin A is called carotenoids, which includes beta-carotene and hundreds of others. Only about 10% of carotenoids are capable of being converted to retinol and further to retinoic acid. Beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin are all capable of being converted to retinoic acid, though only small amounts are converted.

    Most women hear about vitamin A in terms of toxicity – that you shouldn’t take too much vitamin A prior to and during pregnancy, as it may cause birth defects, which is true. We recommend limiting the amount of preformed vitamin A from supplements to no more than 5000 IU (which is equivalent to 1500 mcg RAE). RAE stands for Retinol Activity Equivalents and is the standard way of expressing vitamin A requirements and amounts in food, as it accounts for the differential bioavailability of preformed vitamin A and carotenoids. Supplement labels usually use International Units (IU) to list vitamin A doses, which can sometimes make sorting out your vitamin A intake confusing! There is no limit for carotenoids like beta-carotene, as they haven’t been shown to be capable of causing vitamin A toxicity or birth defects. Some prenatal vitamins do contain preformed vitamin A, such as retinal palmitate, which is fine and maybe helpful if you struggle to meet your vitamin A needs, as long as the preformed vitamin A is less than 5000 IU. Make sure to check all of your supplements for vitamin A, as other combination formulas aside from your prenatal vitamin may contain vitamin A.

    The daily recommendation for vitamin A is 700 mcg RAE and increases to 770 mcg RAE in pregnancy. In the US, women are getting on average only 580 mcg per day – in other words, US women are not getting enough vitamin A. So while it’s important to make sure you’re not taking in excess vitamin A from supplements, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A due to its essential role in reproduction, embryo development, and organ formation during fetal development.

    Your best sources of preformed vitamin A include liver, fish, dairy, kidneys, eggs, poultry skin, butter, and dark meat chicken. Your best (plant) sources of carotenoids include: sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, cantaloupe, spinach, kale, collards, and butternut squash. Absorption and conversion of carotenoids to active vitamin A is variable based on the food it’s contained in, and an individual’s ability to digest and absorb it. Because of the variable in absorption, it makes sense to include a mix of preformed vitamin A and carotenoids to meet your vitamin A needs.

    Need some help sorting out your vitamin A intake. Book a nutrition consult today!

     

  • Couples Guide to Holistic Health

    by Elizabeth DeAvilla RD

    While becoming parents as a couple takes two, preparing your bodies is definitely an experience that takes both teamwork as well as some independent actions.

    Know that everyone has different needs

    We all know that men and women have different needs, that’s a given, and we also know that reasons of infertility can be very different as well, I mean, our bodies are built differently, thankfully! Let’s say that we need to increase or decrease a certain hormone, well, in our partner’s case it may be the same story, but with a whole different food group! Being able to understand where certain problems lie, could lead to very different solutions. While there are definitely foods and supplements that work wonders for both, no matter the gender, just know that what one partner is following for treatment may not be applicable, or even supportive of the others.

    Exercise together

    I used to hate running with my husband, he was so competitive, and I found myself trying to race him all the time. I bit the bullet and finally let him in on how I was feeling and he had a great response, “Oh, I thought that was your pace!” It was something that we had never talked about, and never set that game plan. Now we’re able to go out, set a good, (tolerable!) pace and have an enjoyable time. We are able to act as a cheerleader, as well as give accountability when that couch looks oh so tempting as well!

    Be that Cheerleader

    We all could use that high five every once in a while, and who better to give it than the one working towards the same goal? In fertility journeys there are many hurdles, as well as small successes when you look for them. Following treatment plans, taking our supplements/medications, completing medical/therapy appointments, procedures, positive results for one/both partners are all great ways to celebrate when you can!

    Want to learn more about how nutrition can help you and/or your partner?  Schedule a nutrition consultation today! Save in February with our $99 Wild Card special for an initial nutrition consultation!

    Questions?  Call us at: 312-321-0004.  Elizabeth is available on T/R evenings in Chicago and alternating weekend days including Highland Park.  She is available for phone consults as well for your convenience.

    .  

  • Setting New Goals for 2019

    by Elizabeth DeAvilla RD

    When it comes to setting goals for the new year, especially nutrition goals, there’s some tricks of the trade to keep in mind to help ensure success.

    Making Positive Goals

    When I set out to make goals for myself, I always get excited. it’s a new opportunity to take steps in health, education, fitness, emotional health, all for the better. One thing that I do try to keep in the back of my mind is what can I add to my life. I find that positive goals work best, not deprivation goals. Think of the feelings that you have when you make the goal of exercising for 20 minutes/3 days a week. I get excited about new workout clothes, about positive body image. Now think of the goal of giving up pizza. Not the same warm fuzzy feelings! Even as a registered dietitian, that “goal” sounds awful. Know that while we’re all trying to move in a positive direction, when we talk about giving up things that are commonly staples, even if just weekly staples, this can have a negative impact on our views, especially when it comes to food. If it’s something that weighing on you, maybe change that goal to incorporating more vegetables as pizza toppings, and everyone wins.  

    Making Smart Goals

    We’ve all asked ourselves what can I do to give myself the best chance of achieving what I’m setting out to do? Start with changing the goal you’re setting. When our goals are ones that are commonly called Smart Goals, this can provide us with the structure to make even the most difficult tasks, a bit easier.

    Specific: What is the exact goal that you’re looking to accomplish? When people come to me with the end goal of “being healthy” I have to take a step back. As a practitioner, my ultimate goal for patients is always health, but that is such a broad term. Is it achieving a healthy BMI? Is it lowering a certain laboratory value? Is it to finish a 5k? by setting a specific goal, this will help you and your team of experts devise the best game plan for success.  

    Measurable: Lets go back to the goal of “being healthy.” What does that even mean? Is it fitting into the pants we wore in high school? Bringing our blood pressure down to a healthy number? Take what you would like to achieve and put a number to it, a time line, give yourself some accountability. By this February 28th, I will have incorporated breakfast into my daily meals at least 5 days a week. Small supportive actions such as purchasing a calendar to track all the successes would make your successes even more visible.

    Attainable: I once had asked a small child what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said a unicorn. Now in her head, as a 6 year old, this was totally attainable–in my current lifetime, not so much. When setting goals, we need to make sure that what is desired is actually something that we can accomplish, and do so in a healthy manner. Is it obtainable for me to grow 5 inches and become the next big super model, probably not, but achieving a healthy weight loss goal of 10lbs over the next 3 months? Totally do-able in my case.

    Time Bound: Sometime in the next year, I’m going to run a 5K. We all remember how long a year is, right? 365 days to make a change, and lets be honest, “Tomorrow” is a pretty common date when we’re trying to make some changes. By changing that date to April 30th, this then allows for us to make that plan, and take the steps necessary with respect to time to allow for success.

     

    Making Permanent Goals

    They say it takes 2 weeks to make a habit, right? Well… sort of, first we have to get to where we want to be. In terms of that breakfast goal, yes, after a few weeks of incorporating that first meal of the day, your body will adjust, and you’ll being to feel those hunger cues bright and early. That “being healthy” goal? We’re going to have to establish a new baseline first. By taking the small steps that we outlined earlier, this will have the best chance of becoming a success. Lets start with incorporating more vegetables on our pizza, then maybe adding in those workouts a few times a week, then voila, we ran that 5k in April, and by May, we’re proud of our success! But it doesn’t end there! We need to keep up with our new health(ier) lifestyle, and this means maintenance. Maybe this would be continuing with the workouts (try a FREE Yoga for Fertility community class!) as we would with any other appointment that we make, by adding more vegetables to our grocery list every time we shop. Pretty soon these are all going to be more habitual and for that we all deserve a pat on the back.   

    Set yourself up for success and support with the ART Recovery Prep ProgramStart in January and save!

  • Rethinking the Cleanse

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    The New Year is here and it’s one of the most popular times of the year to do a “cleanse.” This often comes from wanting to “detox” after eating too much or too many sweets during the holidays. For many, it’s a way to try to jump start some quick weight loss. For women trying to conceive, any type of restrictive cleanse or eating plan truly isn’t appropriate. Fertility and pregnancy are “metabolically expensive” processes for your body, meaning that you really need adequate calories, protein, and nutrients for optimal function. Here at Pulling Down the Moon, we focus on a nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates certain foods for a period of time in order to determine if certain foods are negatively impacting your health, but also to give yourself a period of time away from foods that aren’t serving you, which may help to reduce cravings in the long-term.

    Here are few things we focus on:

    1. Modify the food coming in. Start by looking at the quality of food you’re taking in. Reducing/eliminating added sugar is a great way to help balance blood sugar levels and reduce cravings for many people. Eating more organic food is also important, as one study showed that eating more high pesticide fruits and vegetables was associated with lower likelihood of pregnancy and live birth when doing fertility treatments. In addition, higher intake of fast food has been associated with longer time to pregnancy. Choosing organic minimally processed meats, fruits, and vegetables, when possible, is a helpful component for a cleanse.
    2. Don’t focus solely on food. There are a number of chemicals in food packaging and personal care products, such as BPA, parabens, and phthalates that are hormone disruptors and thus may adversely affect fertility. It’s important to educate yourself about these sources, and start choosing more natural alternatives. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database is a great place to start.
    3. Support digestion. A healthy digestive system is a foundational part of good health and fertility, as our digestive system helps us digest and absorb our food optimally. In addition, our gut can have a profound impact on the rest of our body. Supporting healthy digestion ensures regular elimination of hormones like estrogen that can play a role conditions like fibroids and endometriosis, when in excess. Drink plenty of fluids, include probiotic foods regularly, and include at least 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day. These vegetables provide food to nourish your gut bacteria, which may have a profound impact on our digestion, immune system, and health.  

    These are just a few aspects that we discuss during the ART Recovery/Prep cleanse at Pulling Down the Moon. Schedule an appointment today, if you’d like to discuss how a cleanse program might be helpful for you.  Try it this month and save with our January special!

    Remember that changes to diet and lifestyle are a lifelong process that last beyond a few week cleansing period. A cleanse or reset period can be a helpful jump start for more lasting change!

  • Fertility Friendly Holiday Recipes!

    by Margaret Eich MS, RDN & Elizabeth DeAvilla RDN

    The holidays can be an especially challenging time for eating healthy. It’s easy to get off track even with the best of intentions when we’re constantly surrounded by sweets. We created this recipe packet to help you have some healthy go-to sides, desserts, and beverages to help you continue to eat nourishing and also delicious food during this time of year. All recipes are gluten free and dairy free or have a dairy free option. Before you dive into the recipes, here are a few tips to help you enjoy the holidays while still enjoying the foods you love:
     

    • Focus on adding instead of taking away. Instead of focusing on cutting back on sweets or on deprivation, focus on adding. For example, eating fruit after lunch and dinner would be a great habit to focus on, or filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. When we add in lots of healthy foods, it’s helps to crowd out some of the less healthy stuff.

     

    • Have other “treats” that are unique to the season like citrus and pomegranates or walnuts or hazelnuts in the shell. These are fun treats that are nutrient dense and delicious. Of course, you’ll still have some other real treats, but swapping these in some of time helps.

     

    • Choose some lower sugar options. Sweets and desserts are meant to be indulgent, so I don’t recommend “healthy” sweets that are modified so much that they don’t feel satisfying. Even cutting the sugar by a third or half in many recipes still results in a delicious and indulgent treat. Try making treats with fruits like dates and bananas, which are whole fruits with fiber and nutrients and can help cut the amount of sugar/sweetener you need to add. Cocoa Coconut Balls in this packet are a great example!

     

    • Use nuts and nut “flours.” Nuts contain healthy fat and are nutrient dense and provide your treat with flavor and the feeling of decadence without the refined carbs in white flour.

     

    • Focus on the treats you really love and forget the rest. You don’t have to try everything, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a polite “no thank you,” when offered a dessert or drink you’d rather skip.

     

    • Rethink your drink. Instead of overdoing it with pumpkin spice or gingerbread lattes or heavily sweetened hot chocolate, make your own at home. Combine warm milk or almond or flax milk, cocoa powder and/or cinnamon, vanilla, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Better yet, buy a milk frother to make your homemade beverage really feel like a treat! See the Healthier Hot Chocolate recipe.

     

    Table of Contents

    Side Dishes

    Cooked red cabbage with apples

    Red cabbage slaw with pecans

    Roasted root vegetables

    Black bean dip

    Roasted cauliflower

    Desserts

    Cocoa coconut balls

    Broiled grapefruit

    Candied pecans

    Beverages

    Healthier hot chocolate

    Peppermint nettle tea

    Side Dishes

    Cooked Red Cabbage with Apples

    This antioxidant-rich dish and is a great accompaniment to a holiday meal or just an easy side dish to reheat along with the protein you’re having during the week. Cabbage is fiber-rich and is in the fertility-friendly cruciferous vegetable family.

    Serves 6

    1 small head (or 1/2 larger head) of red cabbage
    3 medium apples
    1 medium onion
    1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons water

    Cut red cabbage in half and remove the core. Coarsely chop and place into a large pot. Peel, core, and slice apples, dice onions, and add to pot along with cabbage. Stir to mix with a wooden spoon. Add apple cider vinegar and water. Heat over medium heat with cover on the pot until you hear the liquid boiling – about 5 minutes.  Turn heat to simmer, and cook for 1 hour or until vegetables are cooked down and soft. Enjoy!

    Red Cabbage Slaw with Pecans


    The gentle sweetness of the pecans nicely balances the flavor of the red cabbage. This is a great salad to make on Sunday and eat throughout the week. It’s also great for parties and potlucks. Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables are rich in indole-3-carbinol, which may have a beneficial effect on hormone balance. Cruciferous vegetables are especially beneficial if you struggle with estrogen dominance, endometriosis, PCOS, or fibroids.

    3/4 cup candied pecans (see recipe below)

    1/2 medium head or 1 small head of red cabbage
    juice of 1 lemon
    1/4 cup olive oil

    Make the candied pecans first following the recipe below. While the pecans are cooling, cut the core out of the red cabbage and shred using the food processor shred attachment. You can also finely chop my hand. Finely chop the pecans, and add to the cabbage and stir until evenly distributed. Add lemon juice and olive oil, and stir until cabbage is coated with dressing. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

    Roasted Root Vegetables
    Serves 6-8


    This nutrient-rich side is loaded with beta-carotene, which is a vitamin A precursor and potent antioxidant. Butternut squash and carrots are also a good sources of vitamin E.


    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.

    Black Bean Dip
    Adapted from “Hurry-up Black Bean Dip” on epicurious.com

    Use this flavorful dip for vegetables, or spread on whole grain or nut-based crackers. Black beans are rich in folate, which helps prevent neural tube defects.

    15-oz. can of black beans (preferably organic beans in BPA-free cans), drained
    1 tablespoon onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, pressed
    2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 tablespoon minced chopped cilantro
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Roasted Cauliflower

    Adapted from allrecipes.com. Herbs and spices contain potent antioxidants that may help protect eggs and sperm from free radical damage. This dish is also a great way to load up the holiday table with non-starchy vegetables. Emphasizing vegetables is a great way to optimize digestion and gut health.

    14 cup butter, softened, or ghee, or olive oil
    1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
    12 teaspon ground cumin
    14 teaspoon sea salt
    14 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
    1 head (large) cauliflower, leaves trimmed

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix butter, ghee, or olive oil, dill, garlic, lemon zest, cumin, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Cut the cauliflower stem flush with the rest of the head so it stands upright. Spread seasoning mixture evenly over the top and sides of the cauliflower, place in a casserole dish, and cover with foil. Roast cauliflower until tender and cooked through, about 1 1/4 hours. Transfer to a platter and spoon any liquid in the casserole dish over the cauliflower.

    Desserts

    Cocoa Coconut Balls

    These low sugar treats are a great way to keep the added sugar low, while still getting to have a treat. Nuts are a great source of satisfying healthy fats and cocoa powder provides an antioxidant punch!


    Makes about 20 one-inch balls

    1 cup pecans
    cup pitted dates (about 8 deglet noor dates)
    2 tablespoons coconut oil
    ¼ cup cocoa powder
    ¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
    1 tablespoon maple syrup
    ½ teaspoon salt

    Add all ingredients to the food processor or blender, and process for about 30-60 seconds until mixture sticks to the sides of the food processor. Roll into about one-inch balls. Store in the refrigerator.

    Broiled Grapefruit
    Adapted from williams-sonoma.com. Desserts don’t have to be all about sweets. Winter is a great time for citrus, and adding cinnamon to grapefruit provides a warming quality and may help lower blood sugar levels.


    Serves 1-2

    1 grapefruit
    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

    Turn on oven broiler. Cut grapefruit in half and remove any seeds. Loosen grapefruit sections by using a small knife. First cut between the fruit and peel and then cut alongside each segment to loosen. Sprinkle cinnamon over grapefruit halves, and place under the broiler for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

    Candied Pecans


    Makes ¾ cup candied pecans

    1 teaspoon coconut oil
    ¾ cup raw pecan halves
    teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon maple syrup

    Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a small pot until melted. Add pecans and stir to coat pecans with coconut oil. Sprinkle salt onto pecans. Add maple syrup, and mix to coat pecans in maple syrup. Immediately remove from heat. (If you leave the pecans on the hot burner, they will likely burn.)

    Beverages

    Healthier Hot Chocolate

    This easy homemade hot chocolate recipe cuts the sugar from about 12 grams per packet of cocoa mix to 4 grams. This is a great way to keep the caffeine very minimal and still feel like you’re having a beverage that’s a treat. Higher caffeine intake has been associated with longer time to pregnancy among women trying to conceive.

    3⁄4 cup water


    1⁄2 cup whole milk or non-dairy milk

    1 tablespoon cocoa powder


    1 teaspoons maple syrup

    Combine water and milk, and heat until almost boiling in the microwave or on the stove. Stir in cocoa powder and maple syrup. Enjoy!

    Peppermint Nettle Tea

    Here’s another nourishing caffeine-free tea option.

    Dried nettle leaf

    Dried peppermint

    Mix nettle and peppermint in a glass Mason jar with 1:1 ratio for a supply that will last from weeks to months. Cap tightly and shake to mix. Use about 1 tbsp of tea leaves per cup of tea. Adjust based on flavor preference.

    We hope you enjoy these recipes these season! If you want to learn more about how nutrition can aid your journey, call us at: 312-321-0004.

     

  • Managing Your Sugar Intake Over the Holidays

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    The onslaught of sweets usually starts at Halloween and doesn’t stop until the New Year. Going into the holidays, it’s helpful to have a game plan for how you’re going to manage healthy eating. Without a plan, we may end up falling down the slippery slope of excess sweets despite the best intentions. (This is true with all goal setting. It’s important to move beyond wanting to “eat healthier” or “be more organized,” and instead have a plan in the form of specific habits that we work on in order to achieve these goals. No judgment here. I am definitely been guilty of this in many areas!) When determining your own plan, try out some of these actionable habits to help you manage your intake of sweets over the holidays.

     

    • Focus on adding instead of taking away. Instead of focusing on cutting back on sweets or on deprivation, focus on adding. For example, eating fruit after lunch and dinner would be a great habit to focus on, or filling half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. When we add in lots of healthy foods, it’s helps to crowd out some of the less healthy stuff.

     

    • Have other “treats” that are unique to the season like citrus and pomegranates or walnuts or hazelnuts in the shell. These are fun treats that are nutrient dense and delicious. Of course, you’ll still have some other real treats, but swapping these in some of time helps.

     

    • Choose some lower sugar options. Sweets and desserts are meant to be indulgent, so I don’t recommend “healthy” sweets that are modified so much that they don’t feel satisfying. Even cutting the sugar by a third or half in many recipes still results in a delicious and indulgent treat. Try making treats with fruits like dates and bananas, which are whole fruits with fiber and nutrients and can help cut the amount of sugar/sweetener you need to add.

     

    • Use nuts and nut “flours.” Nuts contain healthy fat and are nutrient dense and provide your treat with flavor and the feeling of decadence without the refined carbs in white flour.

     

    • Focus on the treats you really love and forget the rest. You don’t have to try everything, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a polite “no thank you,” when offered a dessert or drink you’d rather skip.

     

    • Rethink your drink. Instead of overdoing it with pumpkin spice or gingerbread lattes or heavily sweetened hot chocolate, make your own at home. Combine warm milk or almond or flax milk, cocoa powder and/or cinnamon, vanilla, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Better yet, buy a milk frother to make your homemade beverage really feel like a treat!

    Want to learn more on this topic? I hope you will take advantage of the $75 Wild Card special this month to meet with our in-house Registered Dietitian, Elizabeth DeAvilla, for an initial nutrition consultation (save $50)! She can set-up a plan for you for the holidays and through the New Year whether for fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, or just wellness!  She can provide this support in-person (Chicago, Highland Park), by phone, and/or video consult.  Call us at: 312-321-0004 to learn more today!

  • The Importance of Healthy Hormones

    by Diana Zic, RPYT

    I spent most of my life under the impression that my body contents all lived and operated on separate islands: Boy, was I mistaken! Let me explain, before my training in anatomy and hormone health with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) along with my yoga training programs I assumed if something was going on in my body it was isolated to that particular area in my body. For example, leading up to my menstrual cycle my breasts were almost always tender; therefore, I would assume there was something up with my breasts; when my digestion would fluctuate month-to-month, I would assume it was solely my gut to blame (which was partially the problem, that’s another blog); when I had pelvic pain during my menstrual cycle, I would assume it was isolated in my pelvis; and once I began trying to conceive a child, I assume it was solely my uterus to blame, but learned there was much more to it!  

    In other words, I had no understanding on how the body functioned and what can trigger these symptoms that I was having.  Many years later, I’ve learned how the endocrine system the glands that comprise it and produce the hormones in our bodies play an intricate role in how we feel.

    Quick anatomy lesson in case you were like me and unaware of the endocrine system: the endocrine system is a collection of glands and a few glandular organs (pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries in women, testes in men and pineal – see picture – being a yogini I shared the picture where it shows our 7 main Chakras.  It’s said that these energy centers pair with an endocrine gland and govern it’s function) that produce hormones that control our metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood. Woah! These hormones release messages via our bloodstream to carry to our organs and tissues to perform their job.

    Our hormones are not loners; instead they work together like the conductor and the orchestra to create a harmony in our bodies.  So, if one hormone is out of tune, it throws off your other hormones and even other body systems.

    Below I have shared the eight major hormones in the body and a very brief description of their roles:

    1. Estrogen – plays an important role in sexual reproductive health – there’s more than 15 forms of it that have been identified!;
    2. Progesterone – health of our nervous system, prepares the lining of the uterus for potential pregnancy, protects the brain from damage, breast health and cardiovascular health;
    3. Cortisol – mobilizing energy from the body, reduces inflammation and allergies, helps maintain mood and emotional stability to name a few;
    4. Thyroid hormones – T3 and T4 work together as a team, T3 is the active form. Together they help regulate metabolism, heart function, digestion, and brain development;
    5. Pregnenolone – known as the master hormone because it’s the precursor from which almost all other steroid hormones are made, including progesterone, testosterone, the estrogens, DHEA, and cortisol;
    6. Testosterone – known as the male hormone typically, but it plays a critical role in having a healthy libido in women, turns fat into muscle, keeps skin supple, increases bone density to name a few;
    7. DHEA – used in the body to make sex hormones; and
    8. Androstenedione – is a precursor of testosterone and other androgens, as well as estrogens in the body.

    So what’s a gal to do to be sure their hormones are in check so we can feel our best? First, I would recommend speaking with your doctor (a functional medical doctor, if possible) to get your hormones tested. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I described above, or if you’re not feeling well in your body, which include: lack of energy, not sleeping well majority of the time, not maintaining a desired weight, poor digestion, PMS symptoms, dull hair, problematic skin, and a poor sex drive to name a few.  

    In the meantime, you can benefit from cleaning up your diet a bit. Poor nutrition is often a big culprit to our hormone imbalances which can be a great place for most of us to start. 

    Clean protein: grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, Non-GMO fed, organic, cage free free-range eggs (certified humane raised and handled is my preference), organic lentils and beans

    Healthy Fats: Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grass-Fed Organic Ghee, Animal fats from grass-fed meats; Avocado, Nuts and Seeds

    Organic Fruit: Berries, Pomegranate, Pears and Melons

    Organic Vegetables: Greens of all kinds; Cruciferous vegetables , Beets and Carrots.

    Learn more at Yoga for Fertility and/or with an Initial Nutrition Consult today!

    Be well,

    Diana

     

  • Stocking Your Fertility Friendly Kitchen

    By Margaret Eich, MS, RDN

    When you’re working on making changes to your eating habits to support fertility, it’s important to set yourself up for success by making sure you’ve got healthy foods on hand. Often the best of intentions can awry, because we’re short on time or mental space or energy for planning. Stocking your kitchen with healthy nutrient dense foods helps ensure you have healthy options on hand. No need to overhaul everything at once, but pick your step to take to help you move forward. Here are some tips for getting started:

    1. Keep only fruits and vegetables out on the counter. Everything else should be put in the fridge, freezer, or cupboards. We tend to reach for what we see. Have you ever walked past a cookie sitting out and been tempted to eat it? Of course! We all have. Out of sight, at least helps to keep it out of mind. Conversely, when you see fruit and veggies out, you’re more likely to reach for them for snacks or when planning a meal.
    2. Buy versatile vegetables. If you have trouble with vegetables rotting in your fridge, you’re not alone. To combat this, focus on vegetables that you can use for a variety of recipes. For example, organic power greens are a combo of baby kale, chard, and spinach. These greens work for salads, adding to smoothies, and for cooking. For cooking, add to a veggie egg scramble, stirfry, chili, or sauté with mushrooms.
    3. Stock your freezer with organic frozen fruits and vegetables. Of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are great, but we all get busy and frozen are super convenient and nutritious. Pick your favorite vegetable blends. Alternatively, broccoli and cauliflower rice are always good options when you need to add a quick veggie to a meal. Thaw out frozen fruit, and add to plain yogurt or to a smoothie for breakfast or a snack.
    4. Stock your freezer with high quality meats and fish, like wild salmon, grassfed beef, and organic chicken. A common barrier to preparing dinner is not having a protein source on hand. It’s so helpful to just be able to open the freezer and have something to cook.
    5. Keep nuts and seeds on hand for snack, smoothies, and salads. Choose raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds, but skip those roasted in oil. Great choices include walnuts, almonds, hemp hearts, and pumpkin seeds, but most nuts/seeds are nutrient dense and contain healthy fats, so you can’t go wrong.
    6. Keep eggs on hand. A veggie omelet/scramble works great for breakfast or for dinner on a busy night. Boil some eggs on the weekends that you can grab for snacks or breakfast during the week.
    7. Keep beans on hand for a nutrient dense protein source. Beans are packed with fiber, iron, and folate. In order to avoid BPA in canned beans, either buy beans in BPA free cans, glass jars, or cartons, or make your own from dried. You can freeze portions of cooked beans, so that you have them on hand when you need them.

    Now that you have gotten started, schedule a nutrition consult for the next steps!  Purchase a Wild Card in November and save with an Initial Nutrition Consult for only $75 (save $50)!  Must be scheduled before December 31st, 2018. No promo code needed to book today!

    Don’t forget Supplement Prenatal Packs are only $12 in November for a full month’s supply (save $56.50)!! Use promo code FALL12 to save online or in-center while supplies last!