The sugar monster

Hello, my name is Dani and I am a sugar addict. Phew. Glad I got that out into the open now :-s

After reading ‘It starts with the egg’ by Rebecca Fett I decided to give up sugar about 2 months prior our 1st IVF cycle.

It starts with the eggActually what I really gave up was simple/refined carbohydrates.  The science behind it all is rather compelling so I thought I’d give it a go.  It turns out that women who follow a diet of low-glycemic/slow carbohydrates have a much lower rate of ovulatory infertility.  Research shows that high blood sugar and insulin levels significantly decrease egg quality.  This in turn reduces the proportion of embryos that can successfully implant in the uterus, reduces IVF success rates, and increases the risk of early pregnancy loss.  As we have no clue what causes my infertility, I thought it has got to be worth a shot.

Well fat lot of good that did me!  Although, as it was my first time doing both the diet and the IVF, it is difficult to know what would have happened had I not followed the diet.  I mean, it was the first time I ever saw two pink lines, so there was definitely something that helped!! Whether it was the IVF or the diet we will never really know. I’m not willing to experiment.

Chris helped me and we made some general food choice changes.  We swapped out white rice and pasta with the brown and black stuff.  We bought quinoa, lentils and whole wheat cous-cous….all slow release carbohydrates.  Our portions also became smaller because we got fuller quicker.  I bought a bread machine and we made our own whole wheat breads. We got rid of the chocolate, cookies and other bads and replaced them with nuts, fruits and plain yoghurt.

After the news of our unviable pregnancy the comfort food came out and the diet went out of the window.  At first, everything was too sweet and I couldn’t eat much of it!  But it soon became easy to eat the bads, and we treated ourselves to whatever we liked.

Today we are back onto the path of a low glycemic diet and exercise.  I got a call from my nurse co-ordinator who went through some dates with me for our second round of IVF and we are looking at starting Birth Control Pills around my Birthday (yey!  Happy Birthday Me!  Have a BCP!!!), starting stimulation injections around about 7th Jan 2016.  So that is 2 months of healthy eating (minus Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays).

At the weekend we bought a new book called ‘the sugar free kitchen’ and we have stocked up the cupboards with the good stuff.

sugar free

Does it seem ironic that there is ice cream on the front cover of this ‘sugar-free’ cook book??!

Our menu for the week looks like this:


  • Toasted oats cereal with banana and milk


  • Chicken salad (no change this is what we usually eat, we just vary the meat and vegetables week to week)


  • carrots, celery, pistachios, wholewheat cracker bread with butter


  • Avocado, bacon and chile frittata with peas
  • Quinoa, squash and pine nut salad
  • Flat bread pizzas with garlic zucchini ribbons and salad
  • Squash and chorizo quiche
  • Italian meat sauce with whole wheat pasta

Homemade Treats:

  • Raspberry and mascarpone ice cream, frozen yoghurt cups, Ginger and oat no-bake cookies.
Quinoa, squash and pine nut warm salad.  Actually pretty darn tasty and easy to make.

Quinoa, squash and pine nut warm salad. Actually pretty darn tasty and easy to make.

We are generally healthy eaters and cook all our own food from scratch anyway, but the biggest change is the treats.  I get the sugar-low cravings in the mid-mornings and after coming home from work….this is when I typically snack and eat a lot of sugary things.  So for the next week or so my body will hate me as I come off my sugar high.  Hopefully it won’t be quite as bad as last time :-s

We are also getting back onto the exercise.  I was going to be playing dodgeball this winter season, but the league was cancelled.  And our local yoga centre shut down.  So we have to motivate our butts to get moving.  Chris is still recovering from his sprained ankle earlier in the year so we can’t do anything too energetic like insanity….but we will do some P90X again.  We won’t follow the programme religiously, but enough to get a bit fitter than we currently are. So, here we go!

Bodies………………. ready??!?!?! Three….two……one…….*Whistle blows*

(If you ever watched the gladiators you should shout that sentence out loud in a Scottish referee type accent, if you have never watched the gladiators, I am sorry for my randomness but here is a video to help explain it)

NaBloPoMo November 2015

It starts with the egg….

30yr old nothing told me about this book……“It starts with the egg” by Rebecca Fett.  I looked into the excellent reviews and decided to order it from amazon.  I am not going to do a book review here…but I will mention a few things the book has made me think about.  The book has certainly opened my eyes to new things I have not considered before:

  • Adding supplements to your diet such as Vitamin D, Folic Acid and CoQ10.
  • Avoiding toxins that can harm the development of eggs and increase the risk of miscarriage.
  • Fertility friendly diet by reducing intake of simple carbohydrates, sugar and trans-fats.

There are other things talked about in the book which are not relevant to me, but relevant to ladies with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and a little bit about sperm.  The book is supported with lots of scientific evidence.  Certainly the list of supporting research looks compelling.  But to be honest, I have not had much of a chance to read up about it and look at the evidence against it 🙂

The suggestions Ms Fett makes to improve egg quality are generally related to living a ‘healthy lifestyle’, but there are a few things that we may consciously try to adapt into our lives.

First of all, supplements.  I was taking a multi-vitamin gummy that included 400mg of Folic Acid rather than the standard 200mg, which our nurse said was sufficient.  But there are other supplements that I could benefit from when trying to conceive other than Folic Acid that supports healthy egg development.  Including CoQ10 and Vitamin D, amongst others.  So I have purchased these two supplement gummies which provide all the goodies to support good development of eggs (the irony being they are full of sugar…keep reading to understand the irony!!) I chose gummies because my stomach can’t handle the coating of most multi-vitamin pills.


Next, exposure to toxins such as BPA (Bisphenol-A) and phthalates (pronounced THAL-LATES by the way, I had to look that one up ;-)).  BPA is in a lot of plastics such as food wrapping, tupperware, water bottles etc.  There is a lot on the internet you can read about the bad things about BPA.  Among other associated health issues there is evidence to suggest that this toxin can affect egg quality.  Worryingly, even ‘BPA free’ plastics may still be toxic.

Pthalates is another toxin that may impact egg quality and has also been linked to miscarriage, this is found in soft plastic, vinyl, cleaning products, nail polish and fragrances.  Like BPA, phthalates seems to be everywhere.  The CDC has a quick fact sheet on phthalates here.

So how much of this toxic stuff do we have in our household?  Well, all our food goes into tupperware.  We drink from plastic wrapped and packaged food except on occasion when we buy fancy organic items like juice.  To what extent will we be able to avoid BPA?  Well it can be quite hard.  Here is an article about 6 steps to avoid BPA.  I also wear perfume, wash my hair in this stuff and so on and so forth.  Here is an excellent article on how to avoid phthalates too.  We can start making steps towards this, but it will require some lifestyle changes with tupperware and beauty products!!  And this all costs money in the end, quite frankly we are not made of money, so we can try to reduce exposure, but we will not get rid of it completely.

Finally diet.  It is no surprise that poor diet is correlated to fertility issues.  However, there are some interesting facts in this book that made me think twice.  Namely sugar and carbohydrates.

Now, I will admit that I am a bit of a sugar addict.  I generally prefer artificial sweetners in my tea and drinks, but I do have a sweet tooth for gummy sweets such as haribo and other desserts.  If I had to choose between a starter, main or dessert, I’d always go for the dessert.  Having said that, I do eat healthily in general with lots of fruit, veg and healthy main meals.  So giving up sugar is going to be difficult.  I’m not sure I can go cold turkey on it.  For example, having a cup of tea in the morning is my ‘wake up’ tool.  I hate tea without sweetner.  But I could try to give up eating fresh cookies that I buy every other day at work and give up desserts.  Did you know that sugar is even in cornflakes and rice crispies?  Chris and I tend to eat granola or other ‘organic’ breakfast cereals, but even these have a lot of sugar in them.  Sugary breakfasts will also be hard to give up.

Giving up carbohydrates completely would be bad for you.  But giving up simple carbohydrates and replacing them with complex carbs to give a slow release of energy through the day would be a good thing.  You have to read the book to understand in detail why this is good for egg development.  Chris and I eat healthy dinners in general anyway, so replacing white rice and pasta should be quite easy.  However, most brown rice and pasta takes a long time to cook, it will just take longer to prepare dinner.

What’s a girl to do?

To how extreme does one go with this?  How much is too much?  How far is too far?  Is this just another new check list of living a healthy lifestyle?  Is everything OK but just in moderation? What is in moderation?  Should we just go cold turkey and cut it all out?  Should we both do this together?  We will never really know the answer to these questions…but Chris and I will keep talking about these things and try to work together to make any changes we see that will benefit us both in the long run.

Now…what am I going to do with this jar of haribo sat in my cupboard??????!!!!!!

mmmmm haribo

mmmmm haribo