You might have heard that it’s a good idea to be a healthy weight in order to conceive.
Or maybe your doctor has told you that you need to lose weight before you can start fertility treatments.
Why is this?
When you’re overweight or obese, your Body Mass Index (BMI) is higher. If your BMI is too high, it will affect your ability to conceive. A 2008 study by the National Institutes of Health in the United States found that as a woman’s BMI went over 29, her chances of conceiving went down by 4% compared to women with a more normal BMI of 25, and that each point over a BMI of 29 caused an additional decline in success.
How does an elevated BMI affect your ability to conceive?
It can affect your fertility in many ways:
- It can wreak havoc with your hormone levels, which affects your ovulation. Your ovulation could be irregular, or you might not even ovulate at all.
- If you’re given medication to help you ovulate or to regulate your ovulation, you might not respond as well to them if you’re overweight.
- If you’re doing In Vitro Fertilization, you could have fewer eggs retrieved, lower embryo implantation rates, and lower IVF success rates overall.
So bringing down your BMI, even by just a few points, can increase your odds of successfully conceiving.
This means that your weight loss efforts need to focus on decreasing your BMI, or you need to focus on losing body fat more than losing pounds.
And losing body fat is a lot harder than losing pounds. It can be such a daunting task!
And it’s even harder if you have a condition like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, due to insulin resistance, which makes it more difficult for your body to break down sugars in your bloodstream.
I’m really interested in this topic right now because, for the first time in my life, I’m finding myself at a weight I don’t like.
I’m not trying to conceive anymore, but definitely feel like I’m carrying too much weight around. I guess the winning combination of getting older and not exercising regularly save for running after a toddler has brought me to this point.
When I was younger I always had a very high metabolism and was one of those people who could eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight.
Those days are gone.
So I have little clue how to go about intentionally losing weight. I do know, though, that looking at what I’m eating is a great first step.
Even when we think we’re eating healthy it’s amazing what can lurk in some of our food. I’m talking about sugar.
One of the main reasons the so-called fertility diet eschews eating processed or packaged foods is because those foods are usually packaged in refined sugars.
There are other reasons too, but for today we’re focusing on the sweet stuff.
Sugar is a hidden evil. It might taste sweet, but it’s not sweet for your health at all. A diet heavy in refined sugars leads to increased instance of conditions like heart disease, hypertension and Type II Diabetes.
And, as we’ve already stated, compromised fertility.
And sugar is everywhere, even some places where you wouldn’t expect to see it. It’ s really eye-opening when you start to look at food labels and see where sugar can pop up.
Here are a few places you’re bound to found sugar, and I suggest eliminating, or at least minimizing, them from your diet. I’ve given some alternatives you can eat instead.
5 places where sugar hides
- Okay, this one’s not a real shocker, but it’s so important it has to be noted here. Drinking soda is like bathing your mouth in sugar. There’s a whopping 29 grams of sugar in an 8-ounce can. A few sodas a day and, well, you do the math. You can go a long way toward eliminating body fat if you just stop drinking soda.
Drink water infused with lemon or fruit instead.
- So-called “healthy” foods. Yeah, you think you’re doing yourself a healthy favor by eating that yogurt for breakfast or grabbing that granola bar for a mid-afternoon snack. Guess what. That yogurt and granola bar, and other packaged foods like it, actually have sugar as one of the main ingredients.
For a healthy breakfast, try a yummy green smoothie. For a healthy snack, grab some raw nuts and seeds.
- Packaged and dry fruits. One of my favorite things to snack on is organic dried cranberries. Well, I just looked at the label, and the second ingredient listed (after the cranberries) is “organic” cane syrup. Which is basically sugar.
What the what?! I never knew!
Turns out that many canned and dried fruits are often packed in “syrup” which is code for sugar. It’s like eating candy!
Look for canned fruits that are packed in water or unsweetened natural fruit juice, and it’s probably best to avoid dried fruits altogether unless you can verify that they don’t contain syrup. Better yet, eat fresh fruit in season.
- Yes, that favorite condiment has sugar. In fact, most condiments and sauces do. A tablespoon of ketchup has 4 grams of sugar, which is more than a chocolate chip cookie!
I’ve personally never been a fan of ketchup. Some of my preferences, which could be great alternatives for your fries, include mustard, low sodium soy sauce, hot sauce, or hummus.
- Salad dressing . You can totally undo the health benefits of a yummy salad by slathering it with store-bought dressing. Almost all of them contain sugar, especially fat-free ones, because manufacturers rely on sugar to give the dressing flavor that’s stripped away by the fat.
Look for olive oil dressings – they have more calories and fat, but they’re the healthy kind of fat you want. Better yet, make your own dressing. Here’s a great recipe that’s one of my favorites:
Mustard Shallot Vinaigrette
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- ground pepper and sea salt to taste
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
In an airtight Mason jar, combine shallot, vinegar and mustard. Close and shake well. Add salt and pepper and shake again.
Add olive oil, 1/3 cup at a time, shaking well after each addition until smooth and emulsified. After adding the full cup of olive oil, if the dressing is still too tart for your taste, add more olive oil, ¼ cup at a time, to taste.
This dressing keeps in the fridge, in the airtight Mason jar, for up to 3 weeks.
These are a few ideas to help get you off sugar. Give them a try and let me know how it goes! I know I have to stop eating the dried cranberries!
Big sugar-free love,
This post is also available in: Arabic