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.
Here are the 8 facts about alcohol, fertility, and managing PCOS.
- Alcohol intake can affect your quality of sleep, which can ultimately alter your cortisol and melatonin levels making your PCOS worse.
- 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.
- 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.
- Excess alcohol intake can increase inflammation in the body. This inflammation can cause worsening gut health and central obesity.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
OCTOBER! How the hell are ya?! I’ve missed you so! By this point, my husband is already wondering when I’m going to stop cooking with so much pumpkin. But after he tastes whatever I’m making, he quiets down and remembers how delicious pumpkin really is. I have no idea why I don’t cook with it more throughout the year, but I guess that’s what makes it so damn special.
Y’all know my kitchen is a no-baking zone when it comes to desserts so this is another easy frozen dessert that can be made pretty quickly with some no-fuss ingredients. Much of what I used I already had in my pantry or fridge. These little babies will satisfy your sweet tooth while offering a powerful nutrition punch.
These bars are very PCOS-friendly! Here are some reasons why:
- Low in added sugar: no huge spikes in blood sugar and better insulin sensitivity
- High in dietary fiber and healthy fats: aids in satiety and weight management and reducing cravings and estrogen dominance
- Loaded with antioxidants and important vitamins/minerals from the pumpkin and cocoa powder
- Vitamin C: aids in improving progesterone levels (for women with low progesterone) in the luteal phase to improve chances of pregnancy
- Vitamin A: supports the immune system to help fight inflammation
- Flavanoids: reduces inflammation in the body to improve egg quality
- Magnesium: relieves PMS symptoms, improves mood and insulin resistance
- Good source of tryptophan: may aid in improved sleep quality
A common misunderstanding with PCOS is that we have to completely eliminate desserts or sweets because of the sugar or refined carbohydrate intake, but remember the key is enjoying desserts that are lower in added sugar AND offer nutritional benefit. As you can see, this sweet treat offers so many nutritional benefits! Not to mention, it’s so yummy! I hope you guys enjoy!
Dairy-free, Gluten-free Chocolate Pumpkin Dessert Bars
raw cashews, soaked overnight or for at least 2-4 hours
pumpkin pie spice
100% pumpkin puree
coarse sea salt
Handful of dark chocolate chips, chopped
For the base, pulse the walnuts in a food processor until finely chopped.
Add the cocoa powder and pulse until evenly combined. Next, add in the dates and pulse until dates are completely blended.
Using a 9 by 9 freezer-friendly dish, spread the date mixture along the bottom of the pan and press firmly down covering the entire bottom of the pan. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.
While the base is freezing, add the cashews, coconut milk, coconut cream, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, cocoa powder, pumpkin pie spice, and sea salt to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Add additional salt as needed.
Pour the filling over the frozen crust and sprinkle the chopped chocolate chips on top. Freeze for 2-3 hours.
Remove from the freezer about 30 minutes prior to eating. Cut into squares and enjoy!
Hey cysters! This past weekend, my husband went on a wonderful long weekend getaway to northern Michigan for our 1-year wedding anniversary. Travel can sometimes stress me out with all the planning, packing, and prepping, but one of the many things I’ve learned from my lovely husbands’ type A personality is that planning ahead does pay off.
Having certain things, such as healthy snacks and my supplements from home keep me on track and honestly allow me to have a better time on vacation. When I plan to have my favorite healthy snacks available to me, I don’t stress about when and where I’m going to find healthy snacks if I get hungry between meals or if we have to hit the road around mealtimes.
Although my cravings and insulin resistance have improved, I still am a cyster who generally needs a snack or mini-meal every 2-3 hours. For me, I’ve found that if the right snacks are in my purview, I tend to do a better job with making sure my snacks are PCOS-friendly and overall healthy.
Now what does it mean when I say “PCOS-friendly” snacks? This means I try to keep the snacks high in protein or as a kick-ass combo of nutrients. The best option is to pair complex carbohydrates with protein or fat. This combo allows for a slower rise in blood sugar and ultimately better insulin control. Not to mention, these snack combinations generally keep you full for longer and helps avoid overeating or binge-eating at your next meal.
Here are some of my favorite PCOS-friendly snacks!
- Fresh fruit (apples or bananas) with individual nut butter packets. If you’re traveling by car, you can also pack your own nut butter of choice in a small tupperware if you don’t have the individual packets.
- Trail mix with dark chocolate (I like mixing dark chocolate with cashews and pumpkin seeds)
- Biena dry roasted chickpeas
- Chomps or other grass-fed beef jerky
- Hummus with veggies (broccoli, carrots, cucumbers) or whole grain crackers
- Half PB sandwich with sliced bananas on whole grain bread
- Seapoint Farms dry roasted edamame
- Individual (low-added sugar) yogurt topped with pumpkin seeds and cocoa nibs
- Hard-boiled egg with handful of pistachios
- Protein bars, such as Kind bars or RX bars, or homemade energy bites (check out my Matcha energy bites or pumpkin carrot energy bites!)
Be sure to comment below with some of your favorites!