Baby Ian is now 6 months old and I am JUST starting to get my life back in order again in terms of meeting my long term health goals. I promised myself when I first started this experiment that I would not abandon my health and wellness goals once I was no longer seeking pregnancy. I’ve been enjoying reading back through this blog to remind myself all of the wonderful meals I created and lifestyle choices I made to get the fertility results I was after. As it turns out, I don’t think they are all that different from what my new, “post baby” health plan should be. After all, I still have PCOS and Celiac Disease, and will for the rest of my life. It’s time to start thinking about my health for the long term and how to stay trim, healthy, happy, and vital as I age. I recently saw an interview with Deborah Szekely, one of the founders of the health and wellness movement, who just turned 90 years old this week. Not only did she look great, but she was as eloquent and vivacious as someone half her age. What a testament to practicing what you preach, but really, what an inspiration! I’m 35 now, and so I will set my health goals at living to 100+ years old. That leaves 65 years, or 780 months. I hear-by rename this blog, My 780 month PCOS Experiment. To christen the name, I’m going to round-up and share all of the new health/wellness information I’ve come across recently as this passion of mine has slowly emerged in importance again in my post pregnancy life.
1) A more nutritious and PCOS friendly gluten free bread
I’ve often been dismayed at how refined and lacking in nutrition most commercially available gluten free breads are. And when you look at the carbohydrate content, it’s not something a woman with PCOS should be eating either. After some searching around, I came across a woman’s website, http://www.elanaspantry.com/, who has developed many gluten free baking recipes using primarily almond flour. She also uses coconut flour and several types of alternative sweeteners that I’ve grown to like. I’ve taken her “Paleo” bread recipe and adapted it for myself and I’m really happy with the results. It is packed with protein and has almost no carbohydrates. It’s easy to make, nutritious, and filling.
2) Grain Free Diet
The woman I mentioned above, Elana, is a celiac, but she also has Multiple Sclerosis, and has developed her own grain-free, healing diet that keeps her symptom free. I was not aware before reading her website that many people with Celiac Disease and other kinds of auto-immune disease do better with no grains in their diet, in addition to avoiding the gluten producing ones. I also found out on her site that both Celiac Disease and Diabetes have the same gene in common and so it makes a lot of sense that I have insulin problems/PCOS AND Celiac Disease. The diet that I followed at the beginning of this experiment was primarily grain free, as well as low carb and low sugar and obviously I did very well with this way of eating, so I am going back to it, but with renewed vigor as I now better understand the hows and whys. I do want to mention that it is not a “Paleo” diet though. I eat dairy and beans and probably all sorts of other things that are not allowed on the Paleo diet. It’s simply a diet that I have tailored to my own, particular health needs.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is primarily derived from birch trees (and the fiber of other fruit and vegetables). It’s low in calories and carbs unlike sugar and it also does not affect blood sugar the same way sugar does. I’ve been a big fan of agave nectar in the past as my alternative sweetener of choice, but with the recent studies showing a correlation between fructose and high triglycerides, I have decided to limit my use of it, as it is a “high fructose” product. I am REALLY picky about my sweeteners, as I cannot stand that weird artificial aftertaste that many, even natural, sweeteners have. I don’t use stevia for that very reason. Xylitol tastes very much like cane sugar to me. Xylitol has many other health benefits though that I am also very interested in. When ingested, it creates an environment in your mouth that is not welcoming to the bacteria that cause plaque and so it can do wonders for one’s oral health if used in sufficient quantities over time. In fact, it can help remineralize your teeth, virtually healing them from within. It’s been shown to do the same things for bones too. There is also research that shows that it prevents ear and respiratory infections. It’s amazing to me that there is such a product out there that I am only recently hearing much about. My whole family is using it now with great results.
4) Unsweetened, unflavored protein powder
I’ve been looking for a protein powder that I can add to baked goods and smoothies to boost protein without adding a flavor (vanilla for example) or any sweetness (such a stevia). Both hemp and pea protein powders were recommended by Dr Frank Lipman. I found hemp powder at my store, and I can say that so far I am really happy with it. It has a very mild and pleasing natural flavor and I like the green color too – it just “looks” healthy! I use it in my new bread recipe as well as smoothies to replace the yogurt that baby Ian can’t tolerate right now while breastfeeding. I can see lots of ways to use it in the future as the package says that it can be used replace up to 25% of the flour in a recipe.
I mention Dr. Frank above, and for good reason. He’s an MD who practices “Functional Medicine” in NYC, and a wonderful source of health and wellness information. He gives truly sane, well researched, and highly usable advice to stay on the cutting edge of health. After reading his website, I can wholeheartedly recommend him as a valuable guide to health. I love his site and his Facebook presence. The best thing I can say about him though is that I trust him.
6) Misclaneous – Here’s a list of some of the other things that I’m still doing regularly (or have resumed doing recently) to help treat my PCOS:
-cooking with and making salad dressing with organic apple cider vinegar
– having green tea every morning
– having sufficient protein with each meal and snack
– taking a multi-vitamin, B-multi, vitamin C and D, calcium, magnesium, omega 3s/fish oils, and probiotic. I’m keeping my supplement list quite simple right now since I’m breastfeeding.
– deep, mediative breathing any time I can
– avoiding toxins and chemicals in my cleaning and personal care
– eating whole, mainly organic foods
– avoiding sugar, most grains, and things with a high carbohydrate and glycemic load
– eating lots of healthy fats (unrefined olive and coconut oil, pastured butter, avocado, nuts/seeds, fish/sardines)