Eating with Your Cycle
Preparing for pregnancy and curious to know what foods to eat when trying to conceive? Don’t fret, this isn’t a blog about restricting calories or skipping meals! In fact, quite the opposite. In Chinese medicine we look at food differently. We speak about food’s energetic properties, like temperature, taste and color, and how these aspects balance the Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang in our body. Food is medicine and the choices we make during each phase of our cycle can promote (or hinder) our body’s ability to nourish the processes necessary for growth and implantation. Want to further support your body for fertility? Come visit us for acupuncture!
In this phase, we want to ensure the proper shedding of the uterine lining to provide an optimal environment for implantation in your next cycle. The pain and symptoms you may have during this time are caused by Qi and Blood stagnation. In Chinese Medicine, we encourage warm, clean, nutrient-rich foods to help rebuild and circulate Blood. Free flow of Qi and Blood = Happy Period!
Foods to eat during this time are: grass-fed red meat, eggs, fatty fish, shellfish, beets, mushrooms, dark leafy greens, seaweed, lentils, beans, broccoli, kiwi, melons, oranges, peppers, lemons, garlic, ginger and turmeric spices, and tea.
Avoid: greasy and processed foods
During that last phase, your body lost substances needed to ensure healthy conception. According to Chinese medicine, this first half of your cycle is the Yin-phase which focuses on building Yin, to support the development of follicles, while nourishing Blood to rebuild a thick and receptive uterine lining.
Foods to eat during this time are: Dark green leafy vegetables, dandelion leaf, asparagus, artichokes, sprouts, beetroot, yams, cabbage, celery, mushrooms, kelp, wheat grass, apples, apricots, avocado, grapes, blackberries, raspberries, raisins, dates, figs, oats, rice, barley, corn, aduki beans, black beans, kidney beans, almonds, legumes, black sesame seeds, mussels, octopus, oysters, omega-3 rich fish and essential fatty acids, organic meat and poultry, bone marrow soup, liver, tofu, eggs, nettles, parsley, black strap molasses, micro-algae and royal jelly.
Avoid: Heavy, greasy, spicy and pungent foods, ice cold drinks and carbonated beverages, ice cream and dairy, excessive soy products, raw foods, refined sugars and processed foods.
Yin to Yang ~ In Chinese medicine, your Yin energy is at its peak during this phase and your Yang energy is beginning to rise. To help trigger this transformation, our Qi needs to be flowing smoothly. Ovulation is all about movement and the foods below will encourage that smooth flow of energy and help that little egg on its journey through the fallopian tube towards the uterus. Pomegranate is actually the Chinese symbol for fertility and the antioxidant properties can help increase blood flow to the uterus!
Foods to eat during this time are: Chlorophyll rich foods and pungent vegetables and spices such as onions, leeks, garlic, basil, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, chive, clove, coriander, dill seed, mustard leaf, orange peel, peppermint, radish, rosemary, spearmint, star anise, tangerine peel, thyme, and turmeric. Small amounts of vinegar can also be added in dressing or water.
In this phase it’s important to build up the warming and active aspect of your cycle. Your Yang energy is at its peak and we want warming foods to support it. To sustain healthy levels of Qi and Blood, all foods, including fruit, should be cooked.
Foods to eat during this time are: Anchovies, shrimp, chicken, adzuki beans, black beans, whole grains, wheat germ, walnuts, vegetables such as mustard greens, winter squash, turnips, cabbage, leeks, onions, beets and kale spices like anise, basil, black
pepper, caraway, cayenne, chives, cinnamon bark, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, star anise.
Avoid: Ice cold drinks, ice cream and other cold foods.
Eat Mindfully: Turn off the tv, phone and computer and focus on slowly eating your meal, chewing each bite fully. This quiet eating helps to reduce stress on the digestion process and get the most nutrients out of your food.
Eat a Rainbow of Foods: A meal containing a variety of colors, including white, yellow, orange, red, purple/blue and green, helps ensure that your body is getting all the antioxidants + phytonutrients necessary for optimal body functioning.
Avoid Processed Foods, Refined Sugars and Alcohol
Reduce Dairy: One serving a day of full fat organic plain yogurt or high quality artisanal cheese is fine… but too much can stagnate the body’s energy. Eliminate milk and ice cream.
Eliminate or Reduce Cold Raw Foods: In order to break food down into usable nutrients, foods must be digested or “cooked” within the body. This process requires metabolic heat. Eating cold raw foods uses more of the body’s metabolic resources for digestion and leaving less for other essential body functions, including raising the body temperature during the luteal phase and aiding in smooth flow of the energy in your body.
Switch from Coffee to Green Tea: While coffee constricts vessels, green tea has antioxidants that actually relax blood vessels and increases blood flow.
Why Add Fish?… and other sources of essential fatty acids (EFA) or a supplement. Essential fatty acids help to promote ovulation by increasing blood flow to the uterus. Try: Deep-sea fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, flaxseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and their oils, eggs, dark-green and winter vegetables.
Important Note: This is a general list of recommended foods that help with fertility. Please make choices from the list below taking into consideration food sensitivities and individual constitution. The additions should be used as a part of a complete and healthy diet.
Find Acupuncture Near Me for Fertility!
If you are in Grand Rapids or West Michigan we are here for you. However, if you’re located outside our area and looking for a great acupuncturist, the Acupuncture and TCM Board of Reproductive Medicine (ABORM) is the ideal resource for specialty trained acupuncturist in the field of reproductive medicine.
If you don’t have an ABORM fellow in your area, the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is another great resource for highly trained acupuncturists.
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