Friday, March 29, 2013

For me, gluten-free is the way to be

Corny title, I know, but it got your attention.  So, now that I have your attention, I'll tell you about how I arrived at this place of being gluten-free and how it has been so far.

As you may have read in my first blog, "My fertility journey became a journey into the green revolution" I had been gluten-free while trying to conceive my first child, April, seven years ago.   After I became pregnant, someone asked me if I would stay gluten-free, and I said no.  It was too hard to find a variety of good gluten-free products.  Plus, I'm Italian and we love our pasta.  Well, fast forward seven years and gluten-free  food products are not hard to find.

In the last year or so, I have been trying to find ways to calm down.  I'm raising two young children who are six and three years old.  Clearly, they can be trying at times but, for the most part, they are great kids.  However, there had been times when I became upset with them over the "little things."  When I would think about how I reacted later, I would become upset with myself that I had been so harsh. Once I became gluten-free, the answer to calming down became clear.

Becoming gluten-free happened by accident.  Almost two months ago, I made my very first smoothie for breakfast.  Since I had a pineapple in the house, I decided to try a pineapple-carrot smoothie recipe that I had pinned (Pinterest is great! My Fertile Lifestyle has some boards which include this recipe as well.  Check out the boards.)  It was fabulous and so easy.  I wondered why I hadn't thought about having a smoothie for breakfast sooner.  Mornings were so chaotic, trying to get two children off to school at different times.   Who had time for breakfast?  I realized that smoothies were a healthy breakfast that I could take with me, i.e., from room to room, in the car, etc. They were better than the piece of toast I forced myself to eat, just to avoid low blood sugars from not eating since the night before.

Several days later I thought to myself, "wait a minute, when was the last time you had a piece of bread or some pasta, or any other food with gluten in it?"  I realized that I had been relatively calm with my kids for several days.  My blood sugars seemed to be more level, rather than dropping so low that I became MEAN, MONSTER MOMMY!  Don't get me wrong, there have been times since I have become gluten-free that Mean, Monster Mommy has surfaced.  The difference now is that I am yelling less.

I have been gluten-free for about almost two months now.  I don't think it is as hard as people think it is. With all the gluten-free products on the market, there is more choice. It means eating more organic fruits, vegetables and meats. For pasta, I use a corn pasta from Trader Joe's.  Since I have been drinking smoothies in the morning, I don't eat breads.  And don't forget the 80/20 rule which says that if you are in a place that doesn't serve gluten-free, eat as best as you can.  Gluten-free living should not stress you out.

I recently learned that not all gluten-free foods are the same.  Check the package and if it doesn't list a whole grain, such as brown rice flour, as the first ingredient, move on to the next package.  For more info, go to this link, that I also posted on My Fertile Lifestyle's Facebook page:  Seven Foods You Think Are Healthy But Aren't.

This is not something I am recommending for everyone.  It is certainly something that you have to think about and decide for yourself.  It could be that you start it, drop it and then come back to it later, as I did. It's your journey in life.  I'm letting you know what is working for me and my fertile lifestyle.

If you have any questions, feel free to go to My Fertile Lifestyle's Facebook page and post them there. I'd love to hear from you if you have decided to try a gluten-free lifestyle.  I will also be pinning some gluten-free recipes onto My Fertile Lifestyle's Pinterest boards.

Here is a related article about cross-reacting which is when the body reacts to a food that it thinks is gluten but is actually not:

  1. Are You Not Healing Because Your Body Thinks Coffee, Chocolate & Cheese Are Gluten?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Coconut oil is my new best friend

Recently I discovered the wonders of coconut oil. Have you heard about it?  It’s my new go-to product in my fertile lifestyle.    

One day I had mentioned to a friend that I was going to start using coconut oil for cooking.  She said that she was also using it as a moisturizer.  So I took a look at what the Internet had to say about that.  I found there were so many uses for it.  I started using it as a foot cream, twice a day, in the morning after my shower and at night, before bed.  I would put socks on over my feet and wake up with oh, so soft feet.  And it was during the summer when you want your feet to look their best because you are wearing all of those cute sandals and flip flops.  My feet have never looked so good in the summer.  It was like having a great pedicure every day! 

Next I decided to try coconut oil on my face since I am now in my mid-40s.  I was starting to see those wonderful (said sarcastically) lines around my mouth and eyes.  Again, you want to use it twice a day.  Most days I use it alone but on the days that you are going to use it under your make-up, I suggest waiting an hour for it to soak into your skin.  I won’t lie.  It is a little greasy.  But if you let it soak into the skin, the foundation goes on smoothly.  And another tip for you is that if you are in your 40s, throw out the powder that goes over the foundation.  It gets caught in the lines and shows them even more.  Who needs that?  Between the coconut oil and the two bottles of lemon water that I drink a day, my lines have faded, even the ones on my forehead, if ever so slightly but I'll take it.    

Recently, I started using coconut oil as a styling product in my hair.  Since I have very curly hair, I have to use something so that it doesn’t look frizzy.  Not only does my hair not look frizzy, it is so soft to touch.  If you must know, I keep a jar of coconut oil in my bathroom with a spoon.  I scoop a little out for my feet, my face and now my hair.  What a versatile product coconut oil is.  Who knew? 

The best part of using coconut oil is that a 16 oz. jar from Trader Joe’s is $5.99.  Oh, and did I mention it is organic?  Where are you going to find a 16 oz. organic moisturizer for $6?  It makes me happy to put something on my skin that is not full of chemicals that I can’t pronounce.  Do you know how many ingredients are in an organic jar of coconut oil?  One: coconut!   Happy shopping! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

My fertility journey became a journey into the green revolution!

Many women think of their infertility issues as a struggle.  Having lived through the “struggle” twice and survived, I have come to realize that I was on an incredible journey.  I just didn’t realize it at the time.  My journey began in the spring of 2004 when I was 37, married for 6 months and trying to conceive for the first time in my life.   The first month we tried, I became pregnant.  Wow, that was easy!  Then at 5 weeks pregnant, I began bleeding.  I was shocked, confused, disappointed and every other emotion you can be when you miscarry, especially the first time you are pregnant. 

After the first miscarriage my husband and I tried again for several months but we were once again disappointed when I miscarried the second time I became pregnant.  Now my feelings included “what did I do to cause this to happen?”  I was a healthy woman with no medical issues and now I had had 2 miscarriages in less than a year each time I had been pregnant.  Somehow this must be my fault.  Miscarriage is not a topic that many people discuss so I had no one to talk to about it.  I was becoming increasingly despondent.  If I wanted to feel better, I knew that I needed to take action.

Being 38, I realized that my eggs were not getting any younger so my husband and I decided to visit our local fertility doctor.  The next thing I knew he was telling me that I had a little problem called high FSH and that I had a less than 1% chance of having a “take home baby.”  I was going to need his help and quickly.  So we started fertility treatments.  I was put on the highest dosage of fertility drugs that anyone could possibly take and then felt like I had PMS for 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week.

Between the high dosage of fertility drugs and the emotional roller coaster that I was on, I became depressed.  If someone looked at me the wrong way, I would start to cry.  Holidays didn’t help either.  The worst was having to go to the hospital to wait for someone else to give birth.  I spent most of the time in the bathroom crying until the baby was wheeled up to the nursery glass window.

After 6 months of roller coaster emotions and only being able to go through 2 IUIs, we did not get pregnant.  Although I desperately wanted to have a child, I hated all the medications that I was on so I began to explore other options.  And where do you turn to when you need alternate solutions?  The Internet, of course!  That’s where I started to read about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.   The idea behind it is that “infertility” happens when a woman’s body is not in balance.   I never realized that so many things in our bodies need to happen perfectly for conception to occur.  When a woman’s body is not in balance and it’s trying to have a baby, then either (a) conception won’t happen, or (b) as in my case, it will happen, but a woman won’t stay pregnant.  

I then discovered a book called “The Infertility Cure” by Dr. Randine Lewis.   What a great title!  Who wouldn’t want a “cure” for their infertility, as if it is a disease?  I quickly ordered one.   Here’s a link to find out more about her at The Fertile Soul.   Dr. Lewis also holds retreats so I found out where her next retreat was being held and headed out to Austin, Texas.  By this time it was January 2006.  What a life altering experience the retreat was.  It lasted for 5 days.  Along with Dr. Lewis, there were dynamic speakers, classes, spa treatments, and group healings.  Dr. Lewis herself claimed in her literature that I “would enter a lifestyle path that [I] won’t ever want to leave.”   One of my favorite sessions of the retreat was on nutrition.  She stressed the importance of eating whole, natural and organic foods and especially not eating foods that are processed.  She also stressed eating gluten-free and dairy-free.  Before I knew it, I had lost 7 lbs.

When I came home from the retreat, I felt like a changed person.  Although I had a back-up plan to start IVF a few months later, I believed that I was going to get pregnant without medical intervention.  Dr. Lewis referred me to an acupuncturist, Michael Berkley of The Berkley Center, who performed acupuncture and prescribed herbal teas from a pharmacy in Chinatown called Kamwo.   And sure enough, one month after I came home from the retreat, I was pregnant!   As I continued on my pregnancy journey, I realized that Dr. Lewis was right and that I wanted to continue on the path that had helped me to have a child.  I made some changes in my life that I had learned at the retreat which would also be beneficial for my unborn child.  My husband and I continued to eat more natural and organic foods.

When my daughter April  was born in 2006, we decided that she would be breast-feed for 1 year and eat organic baby foods when she began to eat solids.   Later, as I was cleaning the house and April started to crawl around, I realized that I did not want her to breathe in the fumes from the cleaning products that I was using.   This made me change my cleaning products to more eco-friendly ones.  My fertility issues and experience at the retreat made me aware how important it is to know exactly what is going into your body, no matter how it goes in.

When we tried to have a sibling for April, we again went through the same struggles.  April was nine months old when I had my third miscarriage after 5 weeks.  We again decided to try acupuncture and herbal teas.  Mike referred me to Yaron Seidman of Hunyuan Fertility.   He made some further, individualized dietary suggestions such as eating more liver.  (That wasn’t much fun.)  The next time we had a miscarriage, I had not been using acupuncture long enough.  That’s when I knew it was time to give my body a rest.  We took three months off from acupuncture and trying to conceive.  When we began again, I started going to acupuncture and brewing and drinking herbal teas.   This time it worked and my son Cody was born in July of 2009.

And now, seven years and two kids later, I am doing things that I never thought I would do.  For the past three years, I have joined Sport Hill Farm’s Cash Crop program, so that my family can enjoy farm fresh vegetables.  We now eat mostly organic foods from meats to breads to cookies and jellies.  We recycle as much as we can. I use cleaning solutions that I make myself.  My fertility struggles led me on a journey to where I eventually became a part of the “green revolution.”  Who knew that would happen but I think it is incredible!