In my previous post, I outlined my plan for changing my lifestyle, according mostly to the standards set in Dr. Randine Lewis’ The Infertility Cure. I’m still researching the many different facets of this new lifestyle, and have realized that I will be constantly tweaking things to make it work for me, but I’m ready to give some further details on what will probably become my focus, at least for the rest of 2013.
For now, because it’s the biggest part of what I’m doing, I will let you in on the dietary changes I’m making.
The Spleen Qi Diet
Based on the questionnaire in Dr. Lewis’ book, a little of my own research, and the “diagnosis” given to me by my acupuncturist back in February, my main ailments in the Eastern world are a deficiency of Spleen Qi and Kidney Yang. I also apparently have some small involvement from Liver, Blood Stasis, and Cold Uterus. These Eastern diagnoses are related closely with Western diagnoses as well, and Dr. Lewis’ previous life as an RE helps her to be able to tie the two together for people like me who need a little science with their voodoo. 🙂
Some of the symptoms outlined in the book that pointed me toward these diagnoses were not things I would have thought had anything to do with my reproductive capacity. Things like “Are you always colder than others around you?”, “Are your feet cold at night?”, and “Do you typically have low blood pressure?” were part of the questionnaire. There were also myriad other questions about my digestion and the appearance of my tongue. Strange, but the inquiries led me in the right direction, toward an apparent problem with my Spleen Qi (pronounced “chee”) and Kidney Yang.
Now, that’s not to say that there is anything physically wrong with these body parts of mine in the Western-medicine sense, but according to Eastern philosophies, certain deficiencies in the body can cause all other systems to derail. “Nourish the soil to grow the tree” or something like that.
If you think about it that way, it makes a lot of sense. If your whole body is not running optimally, then a lack of energy or blood flow in one area could be pulling energy from another area. Since reproduction is not a vital process for survival, the body can pull energy away from the reproductive system to keep the other systems functional.
According to my Eastern diagnoses, I need to alter my diet to help battle the Cold and Damp caused by deficiencies of Spleen Qi and Kidney Yang.
Sooo… what in the world does that mean?
Basically it means that I need to avoid certain foods and dietary habits that may be inhibiting my body from doing what it wants, and needs to do.
Apparently certain foods encourage Cold and Damp. Sugar and dairy, for instance, encourage Dampness. Certain foods and drinks, like salad and iced beverages, encourage Cold (um… duh.).
So what do we do? According to the Chinese philosophies, “What is cold, heat. What is dry, water. What is damp, dry. What is hot, cool.”
Pretty to the point, those ancient Chinese physicians, eh? If you’re making a big pot of soup, you don’t want to slow down the cooking process by throwing an ice cold smoothie in there, I guess. Metaphors are fun.
For me, this means that I’m avoiding cold drinks and salads, citrus fruits and tomatoes, dairy and sugar, alcohol, caffeine, fried or greasy foods, and raw foods. One other food I’m starting to leave out of my diet is gluten. It’s going well so far, but I know that it will get complicated from time to time. It’s a lot of pressure to even say “gluten-free”, so I’m just taking that part one day at a time.
I’m drinking a lot of tea – not that it’s much of a change from before, just different types of tea and herbal blends – and that is supposed to “warm” my system, which helps with digestion and blood flow.
I am loving this Good Earth cinnamon tea; it’s caffeine free, and is naturally a little sweet. It tastes like drinking Big Red! I’m also testing out this Traditional Medicinals ginger tea… Hoo-boy! Ginger is STRONG. I like the way the tea feels after I drink it, but getting it down tastes like drinking chemicals and pepper. I might only have that one occasionally. Cinnamon and ginger (along with nutmeg, cardamom, and clove) are “warming” dietary inclusions, so I try to cook with them when possible as well.
I also get to include lots of foods that I love in my diet. I’ve been able to eat more root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips, and I can have grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats.
Last night, I made polenta for the first time! Not bad!
Proteins are encouraged, but in small amounts, and always organic if possible; the hormones used in most meats is one of the bigger reasons for hormonal imbalance today. One thing I’m excited to start cooking with is lamb.
Many fruits are discouraged because they’re either “cooling” dietary items, or because of the high sugar content; I love bananas, but they are out for now. I can still have yummies like peaches, cherries, and other berries, though it’s better to have cooked fruit than raw fruit for digestive purposes.
There’s a lot to this diet, and if you want to read a more comprehensive list, there are good ones here and here. The biggest thing with the Eastern philosophy is to not let a lifestyle change so dramatically affect your day-to-day that it causes you stress. These changes need to be implemented for at least three to four months to see a real difference, so it’s important that you ease yourself into these changes, and not get stressed out because of them.
Stress, in Chinese medicine, is actually a physical ailment. It can, and does, have an impact on many systems in your body, and there are many, many different ways to battle stress from the Eastern perspective, including acupuncture, massage, acupressure, and breathing techniques, just to name a few.
While I’m making these changes, I’m also trying not to be too hard on myself. Last weekend, I had a few adult beverages. Yes, alcohol is a no-no, but hey – they were gluten free! At lunch today, I ordered hot tea, but all they had available was caffeinated; I drank it anyway because, hey – I’m warmin’ up my uterus, y’all!
Ya win some, ya lose some, right? One tiny dietary misstep isn’t going to derail the whole train.
So there. The long, detailed dietary plan that’s just one piece of getting my “soil” nourished so that my “tree” can grow.
It might sound like voodoo, but if it helps me feel better overall, and possibly gets me pregnant, then I will do it. I already like a lot of what I’m doing, like drinking warm beverages and eating warm foods; I don’t know if you know this, but I shiver like a chihuahua in rooms where most people are comfortable with the temperature. Maybe in time, I’ll notice even bigger changes…
I’ll get into specifics on the rest of what I’m doing soon, but until then –
Namaste, dudes and dudettes.
May the Spleen Qi be with you.