Wednesday, May 18, 2011

cheese-less fiend

So.  We want a wee bun.  We don't need a dozen; we're not greedy.  One happy, healthy bun will do just fine.

So we fart around in the kitchen for a bit, free-style, and when that doesn't quite work out, we decide it's Recipe Time {is the cooking metaphor getting tired yet?}.  So we make a new friend - or frienemy, depending on the day of the week - who really knows it's way around the kitchen and invest in a new cookbook and got serious about baking {yeah, this is getting a little creepy}.  

After a few "more enlightened" cycles, it's becomes relatively clear that our recipe is a-okay... but the ol' oven is, for lack of better phraseology, totally fucked.  


Looking for answers at the beginning of a conception quest is a bit like standing at the entrance to one of those gigantic hedge mazes.  There's a lot of different paths you could take, but you're very likely to get all turned around and confused at least several times before you figure out which way is the "right" way.  And of course Ticking Time, played very convincingly by Jack Nicholson, is chasing after you with a snow shovel {or maybe it's the mini-pilgrim-kid named Jebediah or whatever with a scythe, in which case the maze would be made of corn and AM I EVEN MAKING SENSE ANYMORE?} so that's a lot of fun.  

We are still wandering.  Encouraging Point No.1: In the grand scheme of "Things," we haven't been wandering for that long {although, please, don't remind me of that fact... I'm all full-up on Perspective over here, thankyouverymuch}.  Encouraging Point No. 2:  It's possible that the issues that have been identified won't require treatment further than what we're doing now.  

Of course I could sit here all day and flip those suckers on their heads... There's no guarantee we won't still be in this same place a year from now... There's nothing to say we won't have to get much more aggressive and invasive with treatments, or that another problem won't rear it's ugly head.  

But... blah blah  blah... PERSPECTIVE.  

Anyhoover, enough on that tangent.  Let's get to the Good Stuff.  That being... the fantastical Hippie Asian Knock-Up Diet!  

One reason I love my ob-gyn is that she wears flip flops in the office and often has her toes painted turquoise or yellow rainbow sparkles.  She also told me during my very first appointment that ACL is pretty much her Happy Place.  So you know, BONUS POINTS. There are also a number of "professionally important  (pfffft!} reasons, such as... She struggled with IF for 3 years before conceiving her first child, so she "gets" it.  She's not an immediate "let's pop a pill" type physician, but she understands when I say "we'd like to be Reasonably Aggressive" with this beast.  

All in all, she's totally pickin' up what I'm puttin' down.  

When we first started with the scans and the blood work and the checklists, she suggested that, if I was open to it, acupuncture would be a good supplemental treatment to the Western work we were doing.  

Was I open to it?  Doc, I once paid a lady to shoot color beams into me with tiny light sabers... I think I can handle an actual legitimate form of age-old Eastern medicine.  

And this is how I came to meet my Asian Hippie Fertility Yoda. 

{Well, actually, it was slightly more difficult than that.  Apparently my Yoda is the Fertility Acupuncture Version of Dr. T & the Women...  Not only did she come highly recommended by my ob, but it turned out she was the practitioner behind many-a Dallas urban legend; ie: "My friend's daughter's best friend got pregnant naturally after 2 rounds of failed IVF, all because she went to see this acupuncture guru!"  It took me a good 2 months to crack the top of her waiting list.}

Every week, I dutifully trek up to Richardson and go all human-pin-cushion for an hour or so.  {I actually really like the treatments - I find them very relaxing and there are lovely heat lamps like tanning beds without the cancer, plus the soothing spa music.  Lovely.  No, I have never been afraid of needles.  Yes, there are a lot of needles.  Yes, sometimes they hurt going in, but only for a second.}  Apparently my energy ("Qi") is very "Tired" so we're working on perking that sucker back up.  

{If you're interested in learning more about fertility types and cooperative medicine, I cannot sing the praises of this book loud enough.  It was recommended to me by a friend, and I was so pleased to find that the information in the book almost identically mirrors the information I am receiving from both my Western and Eastern doctors.  Okay, Plug Over!}

A big part of Operation Re-Energize Kate is nutrition.  The idea is that, since my body is already all tired and brokedown, I want to make it as easy as possible for all of my other systems to function so that my repro organs can benefit from the leftover energy.  Thus... the large-scale dietary changes, cutting out everything that is difficult to digest.  Additionally, carbs and sugar are no bueno for ovarian function. And finally, my body temperature is extremely low {averaging at least 2 degrees below the normal 98.6}{I recognize now would be a mildly appropriate time to return to the "faulty oven" metaphor, but I'll refrain}... hence the seemingly bizarre kibosh on cold food & drink. 

{I apologize if this is mind-numbingly boring to everyone but me who is completely, utterly, and super-nerdily fascinated by this crap!}

We started slowly, but have now worked our way up {or down, as the restrictive case may be} to the following guidelines {which I will affectionately / stab-ily refer to as KU Eating}:

- no gluten
- no diary {2 oz of cheese, one time per week, as a treat}
- no processed sugars {this essentially leaves honey & fruit}
- low caffeine {I am allowed one 6oz cup of regular coffee per weekday}
- no soda {duh}
- low alcohol {2-3 small glasses of red wine per week}
- low carb* {1 serving of whole grain per day - obviously GF}
- minimal raw veggies
- 1 gallon of water per day
- 1 hard boiled egg per day
- no cold or cool food or drink {everything must be room temperature or hotter}
- obviously nothing fried or packaged or processed 
- no processed soy products {edamame: good / tofu: bad}
- voodoo herbs** {prescribed by Yoda} in the morning and at night

*When I say "carbs" from here on out / in the future, I mean grains and super starchy veggies {potatoes, corn, etc} - obviously fruits and some non-super-starchy veggies are carbohydrates but they are not restricted.

**probably an unnecessary aside but still important to note: Not What They Are Actually Called / Don't Go Down to Chinatown Asking for "Voodoo Herbs"

voodoo herbs

It looks like a lot.  It looks like a whole helluva lot.  My first thought after perusing the entire list was "I'm either going to get REALLY PREGNANT or REALLY SKINNY."  So far, neither has magically occurred, but I have lost weight, and this week, I feel really, really great. {I didn't notice much difference as I slowly made some changes, but felt very tired when I first completely eliminated Diet Coke, sugar, and gluten}.   

I do miss cheese.  I miss more than a tiny glass of wine at social engagements.  And my Recipe Board on Pinterest is quickly morphing into "Things I Shall Cook Immediately Upon Completion of a Successful First Trimester" {oh yes! the fun doesn't stop at conception!}. But, oddly, the cold food / beverage thing is the worst.  Room temperature water is not very satisfying when you live in Texas and summertime is just around the corner.  Some days I feel like I'm living on fruit but it would surely be more tasty if I didn't have to let it sit outside the fridge for a few hours before consuming it.  And it won't do me any good to microwave my favorite all-fruit Popsicles.

E says I'll probably be the only pregnant woman to crave ice water.  I think he might just be right.

BUT!  Shockingly {to me}, it's not as difficult as I anticipated.  The Chinese like to say "80% is perfection" {which, um, someone might want to tell that Tiger Mom about}... and while I think Yoda has me firing a couple of cillanders higher than 80%, the small bit of wiggle room I do have {the 2 oz of weekly cheese, the small bit of wine, the coffee}{you should see me makeout with that coffee in the morning... it's like animal sex a la travel mug} really helps me from going batty. 

The overview of my daily menu will have to wait as this post suddenly became ridonculously long.  

Until then... Peace out, brussels sprouts.


ETA / CYA: These nutritional guidelines were prescribed by my acupuncturist who is a licensed, board certified practitioner specializing in reproductive health.   They were also approved by my ob-gyn.  They are tailored to my specific fertility issues and needs, and are not appropriate for everyone struggling with Repro Junk {technical term}.  Talk to your doctor before starting any sort of drastic dietary plan.  Or, you know, don't sue me if you try this one and it doesn't work.  


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to post all this! I am in the research stage of finding an acupuncturist and all that... I have done quite a bit of research about this diet plan and I'm starting to make some of the changes now. I can't wait to read more of your posts on this. Good luck!

  2. This is absolutely fascinating; I'm glad you posted about it. I hope this works for you =) Keep us (as) updated (as you feel comfortable with)!

  3. wow what a list! Sending positive vibes your way!

    It took my husband and I a yr to get prego. I know that isn't a long time, but it was much longer than any of our friends. It took my sister 3 yrs to have her 1st, 5 yrs to have her 2nd, and only a few months for her 3rd. It will happen! Keep a positive attitude.

    Good luck!

  4. I love you.

    I need to go to your doctor. Mine just has me on Clomid and Estrogen which is making me a fat, bitchy, crampy NON PREGNANT lady.

    This makin' babies shit ain't for wimps.

  5. All I can think about is the episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte goes to see Dr. Mow for accupuncture and all the women in the waiting room are talking about how they heard so and so got pregnant after two visits with him and had been struggling for years. I hope it is successful for you!!

  6. That is so interesting! I have heard great things about dietary changes and acupuncture!

  7. Oh if only we had been going through this at the same time, the nerd filled discussions we could have had over yang deficiencies! I was in a very similar situation and am pretty sure I could recite entire passages from Making Babies to this day. I've never eaten so much quinoa and mustard greens in my life! The acupuncturist I saw through my whole process is actually moving to NYC next month to work with Jill Blakeway, who to me is now the equivalent of an granola crunchin' rock star. So happy that you've found this path. It took me awhile, but it works! (Weird side note - I now can't stand ice cold water, even pregnant)

  8. I absolutely loved acupuncture! I went for migraines but my woman told me that many people see her for fertility issues. I'm so glad you are able to go this route and I'm hoping it works out well for y'all. You are so committed. I'm impressed!

  9. I find it totally fascinating! Please keep the info coming! No fertility advice as I'm still in the No! Babies! Yet! phase of life but diet-wise, a couple of offerings.

    Brown rice, brown rice pasta, brown rice everything-if it's approved by your doc. Lentils-delish. And nutritional yeast as a cheesy taste substitute. Check if it's ok with the yoda but I can't rave about the deliciousness of nutritional yeast (plus salt & garlic) enough. Also, squeeze of lime or lemon in your water to help it go down? I'm a big fan of cool mint tea to help with water consumption.

    Also a big fan of ginger-cardamom tea-boil chopped ginger (maybe a 1/2 C), couple of crushed cardamom pods, and about 3-4 cups water. Add honey to taste afterwards. Drink hot or cold. Stores for a long time in the fridge. Super great for you.

  10. This is almost to the letter precisely what my sister did after over a year TTC. Her regular OB sent her to the eastern medicine lady as a last resort, straight on the heels of the "you should consider adoption or find an egg donor" super awesome convo. Two things: 1) we have adoption drama in our family, so this did not go over well and 2) I felt like there was a giant egg shaped target on my forehead as the only logical egg donor in the room. Let's just say it was a weirdsy situation. Anyway, my father is a physician and said he absolutely thought she should go the eastern medicine route (we make no medical moves in this fam without consulting Daddy MD). We called it the "Jesus Diet" and she got the super special tea that my brother-in-law described as "sweaty gym socks", but by god, she drank that sweaty gym sock tea everyday as prescribed. She also did accupuncture which, like you, she really enjoyed and wanted to keep going once she'd finished the prescribed sessions. She went back to her regular OB about a month later and he was all WHAT THE?? It worked. Everything about her, uh, lady plumbing had suddenly sprung to life. I am pleased as punch to be waiting on my niece or nephew to arrive any day now. Trust. This will work for you. I just know it. I don't know you personally but good juju is coming your way from someone who has watched a love one go on the same journey with great success!

  11. Sending good vibes your way! Also, be sure to save this list...that little snot (when it comes, and it will) needs to know how much his/her Mama loves gave up cheese for Christ sake!

  12. So fascinating. I changed my diet, too, when we were trying to conceive. And now, of course, I'm careful what I eat while pregnant. Makes you think, though, shouldn't we all be more conscious of what we put into our bodies -- pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, or otherwise?

    Keep it up, lady!

  13. You are such an amazing writer. Seriously, only you could make fertility dieting an informative, hilarious, honest, and all around enjoyable read. I'm on a similarly restrictive diet for medical testing and I feel your pain with pinterest...gravitating mostly to cheese over here. Good luck with this experience & diet, I wish you well!

  14. This is really fascinating. I started acupuncture in August for my 3L year-my anxiety had gotten out of control and was causing chaos with my digestion. It made a WORLD of difference, even through 2 rounds of finals. I was the biggest skeptic ever, but it really has made a huge difference. Plus, I love walking in and telling her whatever random problem I'm having that week like, "I'm feeling emotional and I can't sleep." and she's always tells me, "Let's work on that today." BAM. Huge difference. I'm a believer now.

    The next few months are going to be a big test (hee, literally) as I study for the bar, but I'm convinced she can help me get through it without me tearing my body to shreds.

    I really hope it is as effective for you. The diet does sound intense, but even if you end up having to step up the invasive stuff, I think you'll always be so glad that you know you tried everything before you went that way. I'm crossing all my fingers and toes for you.

  15. Does it make me a bad person if my first thought was, "Dang yo, Kate is going to get tiny!" Ah, I try to disguise my superficiality but it always comes out. My only step so far is trying to stick to organic, but I will be bookmarking this as we go down the road.

  16. How nicely would I have to ask for you to email me the name of your acupuncture practitioner? Please with feta sprinkles?

    I'm dealing with another host of hormonal issues. And, between my general practitioner, my endocrinologist, and by OB, I get 3 different opinions, suggestions, and speaches...and I'm about looped. With thoughts of fertility concerns looming in my heart, but yet not TTC, I could use a silver lining.

    I have a guess as to who you're seeing from online research. Throw another local Kate a bone?

  17. @kgrutty - Kate, I'd be happy to send you her info! I tried to reply to your comment but it doesn't look like you have auto-reply set up. Leave your email in the comments or shoot me an email by clicking that button above!

  18. Thanks so much! Just emailed. You're a gem!

  19. @kgrutty - if you haven't heard from me by tonight, let me know via comment. Sometimes the gmail account I have set up for EA is reeeeeeally slow.

  20. Will do! Side note - I'm not sure I know how to setup auto-replay via le comments?

  21. All of this is interesting, since I have absolutely zero knowledge about any of it! I appreciate your honesty. It seems like everyone I know is pregnant and that it was simple for them all, but I know that isn't always the case. I hope all of this pays off for you very soon!

  22. "This makin' babies shit ain't for wimps."

    Best. Quote. EVAH.

    This is really interesting because I'm going to start trying for baby #2 here soon and I know I have to be better to myself than eating the garbage I did last time. I find the part about limiting raw veggies interesting. Thankfully I won't have to skip ice water because I'm ALWAYS running a slight temp.

  23. Oh, lord. I hear you on this, right down to the lukewarm water. My acupuncturist said my kidneys were tired, and my body temp is way low, and I happen to have PCOS (awesome. just....fantastic.), so: no sugar, little to no dairy, green tea by the gallon, and -- I love this -- a steak every now and again, for iron. I would have appreciated a heads-up on just how insane getting pregnant can be in, oh, I don't know, 8th grade health class. Women should know this stuff before it actually happens, especially since our generation is waiting longer and has been exposed to all sorts of toxins for most of our lives. I just think the more knowledge the earlier is power.

  24. I think this is so, so interesting. The no cold drinks thing would be very, very hard for both normally, and during pregnancy. Also, it's a wonder that I ever conceived given my carb/sugar consumption.

  25. Wow Kate, thank you so much for sharing this, FWIW I devoured every word. Right now I'm stuck in this vicious cycle of depressed/anxious about TTC -- > eat my feelings --> fail at TTC --> rinse/repeat. I think there are a lot of negative consequences to my diet and I'm finally starting to admit that to myself.

    I'm so looking forward to starting acupuncture and hoping that I can learn some things about myself that will help me turn a corner in that department. I really hope this winds up working for you, and please keep us posted! Hugs!

    p.s. Just saw that Making Babies is available for the Kindle. I'm all over that.

  26. ALSO, Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point recently wrote about Acupuncture 101 for anyone who wants to learn more, as her husband is a Doctor of eastern medicine.

  27. Grrr, apparently my first comment didn't go through!

    What I said, basically, is that I am FASCINATED about all of this and I love that you wrote about it, and I want to hear anything you are willing to write about it. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Appreciate that you are sharing this info on the blog for your "readers who might need this info in the future". Hang in there. I do think it's a good sign that you are feeling better this week!

  29. Kate- if you haven't discovered the Whole Foods Recipe app for iPhone already it is GREAT! You can find recipes by what ingredients you already have in your kitchen and sort by like fifteen different special diets. Gluten free, dairy free, vegan etc. I've made quite a few of the Vegan recipes (due to my body's total rejection of all things dairy and meat, sad panda for me!!) and they are actually really good! I usually add a little more salt cuz they don't usually have you add any. It's been a great resource and makes it really easy to plan meals. I know that can be daunting when you're trying to make a drastic diet change! Good luck with everything!

  30. thank you so much for posting this! If I don't get a positive this month (after 3 months of trying but not being TOO serious about it), I will definitely be ordering the book you mentioned. I honestly haven't really given that much thought to how much my diet may be affecting TTC, as my Dr. never mentioned this when I said we'd be TTC soon. Grr, probably time to look for a new one!

  31. so my first thought was " kate is going to be so, so skinny!!!". my second thought was that all this sounds like so much.. wow. i never had issues getting pregnant (just keeping it) so i never dealt with any of this... i so hope it works. get to work! ;)

  32. impressive regime! you've probably already discovered 'em but i recommend Lara bars. 100% raw, 100% vegan, soy-free, gluten-free. tasty, tasty too!

  33. I don't know if someone else asked this, so if so ignore me...

    What's up with the limit on raw vegetables? Maybe I'm reading it incorrectly?

  34. Hi I'm back! I just finished reading Making Babies after seeing your recommendation. I loved it, it was just what I needed to read/hear at this point. Wondering if you and I are the same "type" (Tired), since it sounds like a lot of the recommendations they made in the book are similar to the changes you're making. I'm sort of overwhelmed with where to start implementing all of these changes though, so I'm eager to read what you HAVE been eating if you plan on posting about that. Yay thanks for the suggestion!

  35. Your writing is so honest and refreshing. Wishing you all the best with everything! Even with new food limitations, your recipes and cooking inspiration is amazing. Good luck with the new eating plan and I hope you get your wee one!

  36. Thank you so much for this. I've had two miscarriages since August and am working with my very own Yoda who gave me the same diagnosis--a "cold uterus" and tired pulses (and a low temperature, too). The dietary recommendations she gave me weren't QUITE the same--I can do gluten and reasonable amounts of carbs, because my ovarian function is fine (I can get pregnant easily, just can't STAY that way), but still...very limited dairy, no cold foods, yada yada yada. I am easing into it now, but plan to go full force with my next grocery trip. Fingers crossed! Congrats to you and THANK YOU for posting--your story gives me so much hope!

  37. I am so right there, Kate. Still struggling with whether to talk about it on my blog, but finding comfort in re-reading these posts if yours and knowing that you have L now. Thank you for writing about your experience.


happy little comments!