By Holly Amarandei
The holidays are stressful for anyone, but they can be downright overwhelming and even depressing for women who are experiencing infertility. This is the time of year when family tends to gather and an infertile woman is often asked “So when are you going to have kids?” or “Why haven’t you had another child yet?” It’s also not uncommon to get unwelcomed advice such as “Just relax, it will happen.” These questions and words of wisdom are enough to send any woman back to the buffet table for another piece of pie or second serving of stuffing. Many of the people making these remarks or asking these seemingly innocent questions don’t realize the impact they have. Many women suffering from infertility are also struggling with another issue… Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the leading cause of infertility in women. It is an endocrine disorder that affects more than 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. In addition to affecting a woman’s fertility, it can also lead to serious conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Eating healthy and in some cases, losing weight, is essential for women who are struggling to manage PCOS or who are coping with the difficulty of conceiving a child. Of course, during the holiday season, when everyone tends to overindulge, it’s even harder for a woman struggling with PCOS and infertility to avoid drowning her pain in the onslaught of sugary holiday treats.
Food is everywhere you go this time of year, and it is way too easy to use food as a coping mechanism or as a way to numb the pain of being childless or having difficulty conceiving. Having a good nutritional foundation all year long, especially when the holidays hit, can keep you from diving into piles of mashed potatoes when the going gets rough. Here are 5 tips that can keep your emotional eating under control this time of year:
1.) Do not start a diet during holiday time. Diets don’t work any time of the year, but the added stress of the season will just put unnecessary pressure on you, and may actually lead to you eating more than if you just set a goal to remain in control and continue your healthy eating plan. Watch portion sizes, especially of anything sweet or starchy, to keep sugar and carb cravings from getting the best of you.
2.) Eat! In other words, don’t starve yourself. Pretend that each day is just like a Tuesday in the middle of March. Begin each day with a healthy, balanced breakfast. Include healthy fats, carbs and lean protein with each meal. Make sure you never get too hungry, especially before arriving at a gathering where food will take center stage. Saving up calories so that you can overindulge later will backfire on you.
3.) Sneak in a little extra nutrition where you can. Add pureed veggies to your banana breads, muffins and cakes. No one has to know! Use mineral-rich homemade bone or veggie broths in your recipes. Put greens in your smoothies or protein shakes. You can even make a Christmas tree out of broccoli and serve it to guests. If you are asked to make a dish for a party or gathering, make your dish a nutritional powerhouse. That way you know that you have a “staple” to go to if the other dishes being served are not extremely healthy or likely to trigger a binge fest.
4.) Do the Jingle Bell Rock. Or anything else that involves moving your body. Exercise is a great stress reliever and it decreases anxiety and depression. It also improves your sensitivity to insulin and helps your muscles ability to burn fat. Do something that you enjoy, or you will be stressing out your body. Yes, this is a busy time of year, but think of it as an opportunity to build activity into your day. Walk briskly through the mall or make it a game to finish your shopping trip within a certain time limit. Dance with a turkey. Lift presents or cans of green beans instead of weights if you have to. Chopping down a Christmas tree is great for strengthening your arm muscles too!
5) Take advantage of the extra calories you consume. Most likely, you will have moments where you consume more calories, carbs or fat than you would on a typical day. You can make these moments work for you instead of against you by incorporating a weekly cheat day into your healthy eating plan. Set aside one day of the week where you give yourself permission to eat anything you want. Don’t go completely crazy (don’t binge) and don’t drink too much alcohol. You can make this day any day of the week that you like, but it can be helpful to make this day one where you know you have a party or a situation where you will be faced with food that is not particularly healthy. Knowing you can eat whatever you like will take away the guilt and shame around eating certain foods or indulging more than you feel like you should. The following day, do an intense workout to take advantage of those extra calories and eat as healthy as you can. You may even increase your fat burning and end up looking better than ever on New Year’s Eve!
Emotions run high during the holidays, and stress is inevitable, but the truth is that eating will not make anything go away (not infertility and not PCOS), and any relief you feel will only be temporary. In fact, overeating will likely make the New Year more stressful when you find that you have extra weight to lose.
So as you get ready to face the family and the feasts, remember these words of advice: Have fun, enjoy times with family and friends, and this time, allow food to be what actually helps to get you through the holidays this year!
Holly Amarandei is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and creator of Yummy Life Wellness. She helps women plagued by PCOS, infertility, anxiety and depression transform their moods and well-being by embracing the power of food. She teaches her clients how to get to the root of their issues and to learn how to feed their bodies in a way that allows them to step out of the dark corner and become healthy and vibrant women with the energy to conquer the world. She can be found athttp://www.yummylifewellness.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Yummylife