Monday, 7 March 2011

The Fertility Diet...China Doll-style

As mentioned in earlier posts, I'm currently on a 2-3 month break from treatment before starting IVF. In that time, I'm exploring other options for improving our fertility and giving us the best chance at IVF, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, primarily acupuncture and herbs. After the trauma and then hilarity of my first appointments with Dr F, he emailed me over the weekend with some promised diet recommendations.  In my last appointment, he recommended 'The Infertility Cure' (which I haven't ordered yet because I think I'll need to get it from the UK or US and the postage is as much as the book itself) and we discussed the Zita West book which I have on Kindle.*  Both include a lot of diet information and recommendations and I've been finding it hard to trawl through, process and put them into practice.

So I was looking forward to Dr F's personalised suggestions.. which are:

  • pineapple - apparently it contains bromelain which helps the endometrium and implantation. As it happens, I've been chaining pineapple smoothies since an online Fertility friend recommended it so I'm up to speed on this one :)
  • asparagus, black beans, adzuki beans, red beans, mung beans, eggplant, beets, bean sprouts - Ok, the asparagus and bean sprouts I can do although I don't eat them very often, but the rest?... My bloke hates eggplant (aubergine to my UK friends) so this might involve me eating large quantities of Baba Ganoush at lunch times... And the beans?!... I come from a home where I only ate pasta for the first time (not including spaghetti) in my late-teens. I thought my best friend's family were incredibly sophisticated because they regularly ate pasta shells! The only beans that I know how to cook are baked beans. In chili con carne dishes, I pick out the kidney beans because I don't like that mushy texture. I have no idea what to do with these beans and even my frantic Google recipe searching hasn't turned up much for the mung and adzuki varieties). Of course, this hasn't stopped me raiding my imported food supermarkets for all bean varieties I could find (black, red and mung beans so far). And are beets the same as beetroot?
  • seaweed - Haven't admitted this one to my bloke yet.. he's from an Irish family and my mother-in-law actually posts him packages of Irish seaweed every year after they've been back home to the Emerald Isle for their summer holiday. I, of course, refuse to eat it... I will never hear the end of this once I tell him...
  • shellfish--clams, oysters, mussels - No. Just can't do it.
  • yams, pumpkins, pumpkin seeds - What exactly is a yam? Is it the same as a sweet potato? At least the pumpkin seeds are easy to get here in China.. now I just need to perfect the 'shove into the mouth, chew, then spit out the shells' maneuver that the locals have down to a tee.
  • cherries, coconut, dates, figs, molasses, berries (as opposed to 'energetically cold' fruits: mango, watermelon, pear, cucumbers) - Berries & cherries, OK, though I'm not sure I've ever eaten an actual fresh cherry - btw, does summer fruit crumble count? I have a fab gluten-free recipe which is delicious :). Dates and figs... will I be able to buy these here in China? And what do I do with them once I have them? Need to look into this further... Molasses - ok now, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that just sugar? What's the difference between that and black treacle? I ask, because I have a jar full of that in the cupboard after a disastrous ginger cookie experiment.
  • turnips, watercress, dark leafy greens, potatoes, mushrooms - These seem more doable, once I get round the fact that bloke doesn't like mushrooms. Hopefully I can sneak them in without too much trouble. I don't think I've ever eaten turnip, but I know I can find it here. Not sure about the watercress, but I've already expand my dark, leafy green intake with my first purchase of Chinese kale and baby Swiss Chard yesterday (added to a chicken stir fry and used as salad leaves on a sandwich respectively... very nice).
I think it's worth remembering here that I'm already under diet restriction due to my Coeliac disease .. apparently my new TCM diet also needs me to cut out refined sugars and carbs, but at least that's easier because I can't eat most of them anyway. Though I am mourning the loss of my gluten-free baking/desserts which seem to use huge quantities of sugar and butter to compensate for the gluten-free flours :(

So how am I feeling about these suggestions? I guess if I can add any of these things into my current diet, whilst cutting down on white rice and sugars then I'll be moving in the right direction. Will I be able to incorporate all of these things into my diet on a regular basis? It seems unlikely, but I think I can live with that...

*is this coming across as an advert for Amazon? Other online book sellers and e-book readers are available..
PS - all recipe suggestions welcome!


  1. Actually, pineapple is more known to cause contractions in the uterus, thereby preventing implantation and there is actually no proven benefit to bromelain. Just a heads up!

  2. Can you get all that stuff easily in Shanghai? It would be really difficult, and expensive, to live on that diet in Korea. However, with inflation here being 5+% at the moment, all fresh food is expensive :-(

  3. @eggsandsperm - thanks for the heads up. I did a bit more research and there are certainly lots of contradictory reports and recommendations out there. This is why this stuff is so hard.. I never know who to believe and what recommendations to follow!

    @Kate - some of the stuff is easy to get (dried beans, basic veg), others not (dates, figs). I think I'm just going to try some new things that are on the list but not get too carried away with it.
    Didn't realise inflation was so high there.. it's so crappy when you have to worry about the cost of basics, like fresh food.

  4. What's inflation in china like right now? Even though I have a lot of students who work with china I have no idea what the economy is like.

  5. Wow! That's a lot to deal with. I read The Fertility Diet, The Infertility Cure, and What to Consume When You Are Trying To Conceive, as well as the handouts from a fertility nutrition seminar I attended. No one agrees! Is pineapple good or bad? Is full fat dairy essential or does it cause the blood to be come stagnant and cold (TCM speak for infertility)? I gave up and decided to just try to incorporate more healthy foods (which everything you named is) into my diet. I never ate beans before, and now I love them. Kidney beans on salads are great. Black beans go well on all things spicy. And beans can be cooked in the oven for a little while, before you eat them, if you like them harder. (Sorry...I'm on a bean rant). Anyways, good for you for tackling the food end of this. I can't wait to see it all work out for you.

  6. @Kat... not really sure about inflation, I'm afraid! The cost of food has definitely been going up but I don't know the figures.. doesn't seem as bad as Korea though.

    @Princess... it's so confusing, isn't it? I'm also trying to eat more healthily in general and hope that helps!