As I walked through a nearby park this morning, I had the impression of seeing only two kinds of people: either very fit ones who were typically jogging and working on becoming even skinnier, or obese ones, simply passing through the park.
This reminded me that the holiday season is about to begin and that soon, I will be making efforts every day to not gain weight around my waist by not being able to fight off the unhealthy snacks and sweets.
When we become parents, chocolate, cookies and sweets of all kinds seem to be thrown right at us from everywhere through kids birthdays, welcome and farewell kindergarten parties, and other countless celebrations.
Even when kids are sick, what they get in every pharmacy are sweets to keep their moods up, and trying to hold to your principles as a parent while taking sweats away from your fevering child is tough, to put it mildly.
Most snacks are terrible for weight loss
Wishing to get pregnant while being challenged with infertility can be the hardest time that a woman can face.
However, there are many things women can do in months before conception in order to improve their chances of getting and staying pregnant such as
- quitting smoking,
- eating organic, nutritious, and fresh food, and
- taking the right supplements (here is how you can adjust them to fit your own hormonal profile)
All this in addition to living a generally healthy, and stress-reduced lifestyle can help drastically.
But, THE simplest lifestyle intervention that is scientifically proven to increase chances of conception is bringing weight to the optimal level and achieving a BMI (body-mass-index) that is in a range as to best support fertility.
Recent studies like this one have found that overweight and obese women, especially those diagnosed with PCOS, may have a greater chance of becoming pregnant if they lose weight before beginning fertility treatment. So, for women who are obese and have PCOS at the same time, it is advisable to delay starting fertility treatment to spare themselves of almost certain disappointments and heartbreaks till they regulate their BMI.
- Bailey AP, Hawkins LK, Missmer SA, Correia KF4 Yanushpolsky EH. Effect of body mass index on in vitro fertilization outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Aug;211(2):163.e1-6.
- Jungheim ES, Lanzendorf SE, Odem RR, Moley KH, Chang AS, Ratts VS. Morbid obesity is associated with lower clinical pregnancy rates after in vitro fertilization in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil Steril. 2009 Jul;92(1):256-61.
Lately, I have also seen more studies investigating how preconception dietary interventions (meaning the foods women eat before they get pregnant) influences the early development of their embryos during IVF treatment.
In one of the studies, 187 obese and overweight women were given medications that induce ovulation, while the other group of 142 women prior to treatment began a weight loss program consisting of lower caloric intake, exercise, and anti-obesity medication. Women treated with medications inducing ovulation had an ovulation rate of 44.7 percent and a live birth rate of 10.2 percent, while women in the other group who received medication after the weight loss program had a 62 percent ovulation rate and a 25 percent live birth rate. Thus, this significant difference undoubtedly favors weight loss prior to conception.
What is it about BMI that you need to remember?
Firstly, you need to know what your BMI is, and in case you don’t know, you can calculate your body-mass-index here.
Being too thin and having a BMI less than 18.5 is, in terms of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy, as bad as being overweight and having a BMI of 28 or more.
Both being thin and being fat will affect your ability to conceive, and yours as well as your baby’s health.
So, before you start working on a baby, it is advisable to first reach a BMI between 20-25. If you are not seriously under or overweight this is not hard to achieve.
How to achieve healthy weight for fertility?
Whether you have a few pounds more or less than the ideal, it is a good decision to turn to the Mediterranean diet which I have written about several times. Please follow this post.
Perhaps even more important than the diet, are the snacks.
It’s become very hard to avoid unhealthy snacks considering that fat and sugar are all around us.
Calories have never been so cheap in the history of mankind.
Additionally, it’s not just that we live in an age where all food is accessible 24/7, there is no longer a need to hunt, run, dig, or share.
This is an entirely new and experimental situation for our genes.
I sometimes walk for hours through the streets of Berlin before I find a healthy snack to bridge the time between two meals. Five years ago (the time in my life when I was outside for most of the day with my first-born), it really was a challenge to find any street-food that was not heavily-loaded with carbs and fat.
I know that you will now say, why don’t you pack your healthy snacks and bring them with you? To this, I can tell you that the moment you have a baby, you will understand how much effort it takes to leave the house with all the necessary equipment. Once you become a mom, your own needs lose priority.
But, to come back to my question of the day: which snacks are tasty, healthy, easy to get, and are supportive of your fertility?
Here are some ideas of my own favorite snacks from about 100 to 300 calories that are easy to find, very tasty, and in line with everything that science knows about foods that support fertility in women.
Hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, popcorn, or tortillas (with humus and tomatoes for example).
Apples (with 1tsp of honey and cinnamon), chia pudding, fresh fruits with cottage cheese, a handful of dried fruits and nuts, berry smoothies, green smoothies (I often have to push myself to prepare those), and oatmeal (with dried fruits etc.) are all fantastic. I recently even found a blog dedicated only to oatmeal breakfast recipes!
I also love vegetable sticks as well as meat snacks (we’re lucky to live close to the place which sells wildgame meat snacks).
But, I didn’t know this before I searched hard for the alternatives to the snacks commonly offered on the streets and malls. The most important thing to always keep in mind is to try to eat food that has undergone as little processing as possible.
By bringing your BMI to the recommended level will not only helpyou to improve your overall health, but you will also be one step closer to a healthy pregnancy.
See you again soon! Much love,