Fertility-Friendly Tips for Eating & Drinking During the Holidays
The holiday season is quickly approaching, and we often associate this time of the year with comfort food, large meals, lots of sweet treats and a whole lot of leftovers. Specifically, the increased sugar intake that is often associated with holiday foods can play a role in insulin resistance, something that may go hand-in-hand with fertility issues.
It can be stressful to navigate mealtimes during the holidays and unfortunately, produce unnecessary anxiety that can be harmful to one’s health. Eating well-rounded meals is important year-round with the holidays being no exception. It takes a bit more planning, but going into meal situations with some easy strategies, can help alleviate the anxiety and set you up for success.
Here are some fertility-friendly tips for eating and drinking during the holidays:
Don’t Skip Meals
It may seem like a no-brainer to save all of your calories for the big event, but eliminating a meal or two just gives you an excuse to pool all of your calories in one meal and make you more likely to go for the sugary, carbohydrate-rich, high-fat foods. This can take a toll on your hormones and metabolism. Instead of eating excessively at night, make sure you eat a protein-rich breakfast and lunch (try eggs, seafood or chicken), including some non-starchy vegetables (like asparagus and spinach) that will help fill you up and prevent you from being ravenous by dinner.
Bring Your Own Healthy Options
Instead of solely relying on what your family or friends will be serving at the holiday meal, bring some healthy options that you, and the other guests, can enjoy. Ask the host ahead of time what he/she will be serving and if there is a healthy hors d’oeuvres or a side dish you can bring. Some great options include shrimp cocktail, crudité or fruit platter, sautéed green beans, raw Brussel sprout salad, cauliflower rice, roasted sweet potatoes or other roasted vegetables.
Holidays are not a time for deprivation, but indulgences should be mindful. Instead of the all-or-nothing approach to eating, enjoy small portions of the food you really want. Go ahead and choose one or two portion-controlled indulgences during a large meal and be sure to make it well worth it. Choose what you know you like best AND what you can realistically have in the right portions – whether it’s the cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, marshmallow-topped sweet potato or a small slice of pumpkin pie. Make sure to savor each bite, eat slowly and enjoy your meal and the social experience.
For fertility, it is less about the type of alcohol you consume, and more about the quantity. Excessive drinking (considered 14 + drinks per week) may negatively influence female fertility. Consuming alcohol in moderation is key and more importantly, remember to drink water in addition to the alcoholic beverage. If you can, try and avoid alcohol, and the excessive liquid calories that come with it.
Added bonus – water can help your hormones travel to the places they are needed throughout your body and may also improve cervical mucus. Water also helps flush out waste that can build up in the body. So to help cut your food cravings and keep you hydrated, aim for two glasses of water before any meal, especially during the holidays!
Unless you plan on taking home some green veggies and turkey, avoid keeping or taking home leftovers. If it is more of an insult to turn the food away, give the leftovers to someone who would appreciate it.
People tend to gain weight during the holiday season not only because they are indulging more, but also because they are less active. Take advantage of family time and time off from work and get moving. Take a walk after mealtime or put on some holiday music and dance!
Focus on Fertility Supporting Foods
Some of my favorite foods over the holidays that may also support fertility include:
- Sweet Potatoes – One of the most common foods associated with Thanksgiving is also one of the healthiest to help boost ovulation and fertility. This tuber is a great source of vitamin C, which can help maintain healthy immune function and possibly help with ovulation. The beta-carotene and complex carbs in these potatoes can stabilize blood sugar levels and aid in menstrual regulation. It is a good source of antioxidants which can help prevent against inflammation in the body. Bake or roast them to make sweet potato fries.
Added bonus - add some pomegranate seeds to your sweet potato dish to further boost your vitamin C intake!
- Brussel sprouts – These winter veggies are loaded with folate (the form of folic acid found naturally in food), which may help stimulate ovulation and prevent spina bifida, a birth defect in babies. Eat them raw in a salad or roasted them with some garlic and olive oil to make a tasty side dish.
- Chestnuts – These nuts contain many fertility-boosting properties. It is super high in dietary fiber, which can help stabilize energy levels. It is also packed with vitamin C, which can enhance sperm quality and boost your immune system. It is also an excellent source of beta-carotene which is crucial for egg fertilization.
- Vegetable Soup - Soups are warm, filling and often nutrient-dense. They are a simple way to help you get your daily dose of veggies in a cup or a bowl as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals such as folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium. Choose broth-based or pureed soups such as minestrone, asparagus, tomato, and mushroom.
The holidays are a time to enjoy your friends and family so try not to stress too much about making the smartest or best decisions when it comes to eating. Keep in mind the tips and tricks presented here, and you’ll be sure to have a very happy and healthy holiday!