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The 2 Crucial Ways A Registered Dietitian Can Help You Meet Your Fertility Nutrition Goals

This image should not be construed as nutrition advice.

Last night, I set a timer for 45 minutes, and wrote down all the fertility nutrition advice I came across while scrolling through Instagram. It was a wild time. Some advice was extremely helpful. Some was true, but unrealistic, and some was absolutely absurd. I'm not trying to point out any one piece of correct or incorrect advice. I'm drawing attention to the fact that for every single piece of advice, there is another piece of advice contradicting it.

Quarrels about gluten-free and dairy-free diets are just the tip of the iceberg. There's so much controversy in nutrition, you'd think it was the 2020 election. So how on Earth is a person supposed to sort through all that overly passionate, condescending nutrition advice without going insane? Also, how are you supposed to relax when you're attempting to completely overhaul your diet? My advice is not to do either. Instead, work with a dietitian.

Am I biased? Absolutely. I am a dietitian. That being said, hear me out before you stop reading. Dietitians have been trained to provide individualized, evidence-based medicine. This means we are adept at helping couples trying to conceive in two main ways: personalization and prioritization.

Dietitians know that diets don't work long-term. One of the main reasons for this is that they are typically unrealistic to adhere to because they don't take individual differences into account, and they eventually become overwhelming.

For example, you may have heard from a coworker that her sister's best friend was able to conceive after ditching gluten. You've heard this a few times other places, so you decide to give it a try. You throw out all your wheat, barley, and rye products and start checking labels constantly. You look up restaurants ahead of time to make sure they have gluten-free options. You buy almond flour in bulk and purchase anything labeled grain free. Your husband "cheated" and ate a chocolate chip cookie last night and you're resentful that he's not supporting you and doesn't seem to care as much as you do. Your mother-in-law is bitter that you politely declined her spaghetti and meatballs. Didn't you know she worked on them all day? After several months of dedication and sacrifice, you're still battling unexplained infertility.

This situation is problematic because the dietary advice you were given was not personalized to you. In contrast, a dietitian would begin your plan of care with a complete nutrition assessment. They would learn your family history, past medical history, and obtain new labs if needed. They would ask you what you eat in a day and learn what foods are most important to you in terms of flavor, ethics, religion, and social situations. They would consider your total energy balance, your macronutrient intake, your micronutrient intake and the medications and supplements you take. They would continue to learn new information about you the entire time they work with you. Then, based on the information you tell them, they are able to use years of nutrition knowledge and knowledge of evidence-based recommendations to help you decide which nutrition changes are necessary and which are not. They would also help you decide which need to be done first, and which are okay to postpone until later. They will give you recommendations that are high impact, that might actually produce physiological changes.

It is vital to remember that our bodies are not all the same. A dietitian may prescribe one supplement to one woman and not to another, or recommend a gluten-free diet to one client and not to the other. There is no single fertility diet that can meet every single person's needs. Personalization is truly key to any effective nutrition intervention.

As previously mentioned, prioritization is also vital. If you were to take all the advice in the image at the top of the article (which would be literally impossible), you would not only be ridiculously overwhelmed, but you might cause other complications like new nutrient deficiencies that could derail your fertility treatment plans. Not to mention, you would 100% not feel relaxed. A dietitian can help you prioritize your dietary goals and help you see which changes are worth the effort and which may be a waste of time.

If you would like to use diet to optimize your fertility, it's important to seek out a qualified nutrition professional. *Soap box moment: nutrition is a science, just like medicine, nursing, speech therapy, and psychology, and I'd like to believe no one would hire a nurse or a therapist without credentials, right? A registered dietitian is the credentialed professional of nutrition.There are dozens of wonderful dietitians working in the fertility field. It does not need to be me. But for the love of all that is good and holy please don't get your supplement advice from your acupuncturist (unless they also happen to be a registered dietitian) Stepping down from soap box.*

If you are interested in working with me to personalize and prioritize your nutrition goals, take a look at my packages here. All packages are an additional 25% off the listed price until December 1, 2021.

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