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8 Facts about Alcohol and Fertility

Reducing alcohol intake for potential mama’s and dad’s can be tricky. I don’t know about you but I find that most social events I go to involve some form of alcoholic beverage, which can make it very difficult to avoid alcohol or avoid attention for NOT drinking. Because there in lies the next question, “OMG you’re not drinking, are you pregnant?” This specific question is especially uncomfortable when you are trying to conceive but have not yet had success.

I’m going to be perfectly honest, I enjoy drinking alcohol! Wine, tequila, white claws, and high noon exactly in that order…not on the same night of course 😉 I have no shame! I am human just like the rest of us. Therefore, reducing alcohol intake for me is a purposeful action and takes some work. This may not be the case for everyone, but for me, it is. For this reason, it can be a huge challenge to be socially happy while trying to reduce your alcohol intake to promote optimal fertility, which led me to ask myself, does reducing or avoiding alcohol entirely really help with fertility? I decided to dive into the evidence and see what the science says.

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Here are the 8 facts about alcohol, fertility, and managing PCOS.

  1. Alcohol intake can affect your quality of sleep, which can ultimately alter your cortisol and melatonin levels making your PCOS worse.
  2. Studies related to alcohol intake and fertility are limited and not always reliable due to the unethical issues with testing this and the retrospective nature of many studies.
  3. Moderate intake of alcohol has not shown negative impacts on semen quality and in some cases, moderate alcohol consumption has shown positive health effects due to the antioxidant content found in red wine. However, excess alcohol intake (>14 servings) has been correlated with decreased fertility.
  4. Excess alcohol intake can increase inflammation in the body. This inflammation can cause worsening gut health and central obesity.
  5. Alcohol intake causes a burden on the liver. If the liver is sluggish due to frequently detoxing alcohol intake, it may not be as efficient at clearing estrogen levels, causing hormonal imbalance.
  6. Many alcoholic beverages are high in sugar due to the simple syrups, sodas, and juices used for mixing. Excess sugar intake can lead to worsening abdominal obesity, which can further deteriorate your insulin resistance. Women with PCOS are also more likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease even without alcohol intake! Drinking alcohol on top of this disease can further worsen your liver function.
  7. Because of the high sugar nature of some mixed drinks, your blood sugar will spike quickly and drop rapidly. This can lead to increased hunger and binge-eating late at night or in the morning.
  8. Limiting or keeping your alcohol intake within the recommended levels is safe. For women, this includes 1 alcoholic beverage daily and for men, 2 drinks or less.

Lime cocktail

What to do with this information?

  • If you like to drink alcohol, drink in moderation! And that includes your partner 😉 If you’re not a drinker, don’t start drinking now.
  • Plan to have your drinks with a meal to avoid low drops in blood sugar.
  • Include high fiber foods in your diet regularly to keep your estrogen levels at normal levels.
  • Avoid cocktails with high amounts of added sugar from juice, soda, or syrups. Utilize diet sodas or flavored water to mix with your alcohol instead.
  • Keep a water bottle or glass of water near you while you drink. This is a good reminder to keep yourself hydrated while you drink.
  • Enjoy a mocktail! A little bit of fresh lime juice with your favorite zero-calorie flavored water and a few sprigs of fresh mint…yes please! Just as refreshing as a regular cocktail.
  • Similar to caffeine, start cutting back on your alcohol intake slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day! This will improve efficacy for longer term behavior change as well. If you normally drink 2 drinks at night, try to set a time limit on when you can allow yourself a drink or have your favorite zero-calorie flavored water on hand to substitute that other drink.
  • Don’t use alcohol as a social crutch. You are more than capable of having a good time with or without the use of alcohol. Don’t depend on alcohol to make you more social or outgoing. Be yourself!

-EAB

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3 Healthy Ways to Survive Wedding Season

There’s nothing better than celebrating the love between two people you care about. It always brings so much joy and I always feel so grateful that those two individuals want me there to celebrate with them. What I DON’T love is the unnecessary stress I sometimes feel leading up to, during, and after a wedding.

“Did I eat enough to hold me over?”

“Did I eat too much?”

Or “I should not have ate that!”

None of these lead to a positive or healthy experience.

With a healthy lifestyle, we should be able to bob and weave. Meaning life is going to throw us curveballs and we need to equip ourselves with the skills to adjust as needed while maintaining our physical and mental health. It’s a fine line. Sometimes what makes my heart happy, doesn’t always equate to optimal food choices. Sometimes I like a good ole’ bowl of regular cookie dough ice cream, but that doesn’t always make my waistline happy. Finding the balance between both is what living a healthy lifestyle means and that is different for every single person.

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These are 3 tips that I have found helpful during wedding season, but you may need to tweak as needed to fit your lifestyle and that’s perfectly fine!

1. Don’t skip meals. I know, I know. You think it’s necessary to skip breakfast or lunch leading up to a big event where you’re likely to consume more calories than your normal dinner. However, skipping meals will only lead to binging and overeating. In addition, your body’s metabolism slows down when you skip meals and rob it of the essential nutrients it needs for daily activities, especially when you skip breakfast.

2. Bring a snack. The anxiety that starts to creep in if you don’t see food for a couple hours…oh wait, that’s just me? Oh well. But seriously, if you’re worried about how long it might be before you eat dinner, pack a snack, such as a granola bar or ziplock of mixed nuts, to hold you over. There’s no shame in knowing your body…only you can know what it needs! Plus it’s always good to be prepared when your Chardonnay-sloshed body needs that snack after hitting the dance floor all night.

3. Eat the cake. Those who avoid, obsess. Girl, if you want to eat the cake, eat the damn cake! Trying to avoid it will only lead to the cake being on your mind for far too long. This extra time spent perseverating about whether you should eat the cake or not would be better spent dancing the night away with your significant other or catching up with old friends that you haven’t seen in eons.

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Yep, that’s me…eating cake because it’s damn delicious!

Although this isn’t included in the 3 tips, the last takeaway is just to move on the next day. Relish in the fact that you had a great time! Remind yourself that when Monday rolls around, you are headed back into your healthy lifestyle again, or maybe not, maybe that’s for Tuesday. Either way is A-OK! Living a healthy lifestyle is a give and take.

-EAB

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Monday Morning Detox Smoothie

Woof. How does that alarm come around so soon? It’s Monday morning. You’ve had a wonderful weekend with friends and family but with the ever-so-subtle pounding in your head reminds you that maybe you had a little too much fun. We’ve all been guilty of it. There are weekends I eat well, exercise, and go to bed at 9pm. And then there are other weekends where family or friends are visiting, weddings are celebrated, and long nights grilling on the back patio transpire. That’s just life. The healthy lifestyle ebbs and flows.

But after those not-so-healthy weekends, I find myself come Monday morning wanting some type of a reset button with my diet. Something to jump start my Monday on a positive note. This detox smoothie is my go-to! Now all my fellow dietitians don’t get your panties in a bundle. This smoothie will not completely erase or “detox” your body of all the harmful things you did to it over the weekend (that’s what your liver is for!), but the smoothie does have some serious antioxidant power that will help start your diet back on the right foot for the week.

Studies suggest that turmeric, in particular the active ingredient curcumin found in turmeric, has many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, the absorption of curcumin is not always the best when consumed alone. Research has found that piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper (also found in chili powder and cayenne pepper), can significantly increase the absorption of curcumin in the body when consumed together. As a result, the health benefits of curcumin are enhanced when taken in combination with black pepper.

Turmeric

I know what you’re thinking. Black pepper and turmeric in a smoothie? Does that even taste good? I’m here to tell you it does. The black pepper is nearly untraceable in the flavor of the smoothie. And trust me the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power house that this smoothie packs is well worth trying the recipe.

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This smoothie aids in getting my digestive system back on track, helps tame some of the inflammation caused from my weekend activities, and gives me a great boost of energy on a Monday morning, which who are we kidding, we all could use 😉 Enjoy!

-EAB

Monday Morning Detox Smoothie

Course Breakfast, Snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 smoothie

Ingredients

  • ½ tbsp pickled ginger (fresh works well too)
  • 1 handful fresh spinach (frozen can also work)
  • ½ frozen banana
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ¼ avocado
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (or milk of choice)

Instructions

  1. Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Add more/less milk to your desired consistency.

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Blogging: Easier or more challenging than a healthy lifestyle?

For some, blogging and writing comes easy to them. For others (i.e. me), writing can be quite challenging. In particular, I find it difficult to get my personality to translate into writing. The more I have been writing, the easier it has gotten however.

The saying “write drunk, edit sober” could not be more true. Some of the best writing I have done was after a couple glasses of wine 😉 Seriously though. Writing off the cuff without allowing your brain to wander and think about how people might construe what you say in a million different ways leaving you dazed and confused. Meanwhile, my computer screen is now on my screen saver because I’ve been daydreaming too long. This can be my biggest pitfall when trying to write for my blog. I’d like to think I’m a fairly confident person but my writing is something I am not overly confident about (at least not yet).

Other barriers that often impede my blog writing:

  • It takes too long to write a blog post
  • I think a blog post has to be “x” words or paragraphs long to be considered a “successful” post
  • I forgot to take enough “quality” pictures for the post
  • I don’t have time to edit my photos today
  • And so on and so forth

See how this can easily spiral out of control and ultimately leading to no writing at all? The mind can truly f*** you some times.

As I was discussing this issue with my cousin over the phone, she bluntly pointed out, “this must be what your clients feel when it comes to eating better or participating in physical activity”. She hit the nail on the head. As an athlete growing up and having a mother who showed us the importance of cooking from scratch (most of the time), eating healthy and staying active has come relatively natural to me. Don’t get me wrong, as I age, it’s not always as easy, but nonetheless I have never really felt like exercise or eating fruits and vegetables was some unfathomable feat. I have always been that person who really can’t go more than 2-3 days without exercise mainly for my mental health.

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However, my cousin is right. I often find that my clients and patients are so overwhelmed by all the nutrition and exercise information in the media and not quite sure how or where to start, let alone stay consistent with it. My cousin worked me through my struggle with blogging how I often work my patients through improving their diet or lifestyle. She asked me relatively simple questions to reflect on…

  • What are your goals for blogging?
  • Are your goals/expectations reasonable and attainable?
  • What do you think is feasible to do on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis to get closer to your goals?
  • What are some strategies to keep yourself accountable?
  • How do you get back on track if you’ve fallen off the bandwagon?

After asking myself these questions and answering them truthfully, I was able to set more reasonable goals for myself. All these questions above apply to cultivating a healthy lifestyle as well, whether your focus is on diet or exercise. Although writing and blogging continues to be a work in progress for me, starting by setting SMART goals and remembering why I started blogging in the first place made all the difference. And at the end of the day, it’s truly about the content and making sure all of you get evidence-based nutrition information. Now let’s really quickly review what those SMART goals are. You have heard me talk about these types of goals before and trust me, you’ll hear it again! 😉

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable
  • A: Attainable
  • R: Reasonable
  • T: Timely

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In other words, start by figuring out what your goals are for improving your healthy lifestyle, whether that be diet or exercise-focused. Be reasonable about how you can achieve or get closer to attaining those goals on a day-to-day, weekly, or hell even a monthly basis. We all have different starting and end points so stop comparing yourself to others and JUST GET STARTED.

I often find we are our own personal mind blocks. Many of my patients don’t participate in regular physical activity because they can’t afford gym memberships or they don’t have 60 minutes of time to dedicate (who are we kidding, even 30 minutes!). I try to remind clients that different strokes for different folks, meaning find what’s going to work for you. Even finding time for 2-3 ten-minute time periods to do exercise throughout the day 2-3x/week is better than doing anything at all. The same goes for cooking healthy meals…start by focusing on 1, 2, or even 3 nights a week, build your confidence, and adjust from there. I personally find that healthy meal planning for 3 nights a week works well for my life right now…one day of leftovers, weekend night of eating out, variable eating schedule on the weekend, you get the picture.

It’s easy to constantly get down on yourself when you see fit individuals appearing to eat these beautiful, amazing meals EVERY meal. But keep in mind, things aren’t always what they seem on social media and people have different levels of what they are willing to sacrifice or change for their desired quality of life. Therefore, any small step towards a healthy lifestyle is an important and good accomplishment that should celebrated, especially if you find it’s something that you know will be sustainable for YOUR life. So do you!

XO,

-EAW