I am happy you are here and curious about learning more about Fertility and Nutrition. The approach I am taking on this topic is probably not what you are expecting. Most often, the information provided about Fertility and Nutrition focuses on what is essential to eat and what to avoid eating. The nurse and childbirth educator in me can and will provide you with that information in my online courses, social media posts and some of my blogs, but today I choose to write to you from my health and wellness coaching lens.
If you prefer to read something more about the 'what to eat and not to eat', or you want to learn more about why healthy nutrition before conception is important, I will be getting to that soon. So stay tuned!
For those curious about my twist on the topic and want to know how self-compassion plays into it, keep reading!
I believe it is safe to assume that most of you already suspect that consuming a healthy diet makes for a healthier pregnancy, which leads to birthing a healthier newborn. And You probably have a general idea of what makes a diet healthy.
But did you know that a healthy diet before conceiving is also just as important?
Pregnancy is demanding on the body, so how we prepare for it makes a difference. For example, did you know that once you are pregnant, your little one developing inside will take precedence and take your nutrients, leaving you with what is leftover? Did you know that taking steps to improve your diet before getting pregnant reduces the chances of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes? Or that low levels of folic acid pre-pregnancy may cause neural tube defects?
Ok, you get it. A healthy diet before conceiving is crucial to investigate.
Sometimes the hard part with making changes to your diet is making it happen and following through to get the outcome you desire!
While some of you are eager to get started with your healthy eating, some of you may feel a little hesitant, overwhelmed, or doubtful about your follow-through. Of course, these fears when approaching a change are normal; who wants to fail and fall back into the poor eating habits we are trying to avoid. I want to touch on how our mind does play a part in our nutrition and how self-compassion may be a better start for some people making the transition to healthier eating. I also want to share how to practise self-compassion, and of course, like a typical health coach, I will leave you with an action step to do this work.
Let's get started.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
Two weeks, maybe five weeks, of starting a new healthy eating regime, you begin sneaking in your old destructive eating habits.
Or perhaps one fateful night you crumble, you are exhausted with being 'good' with your healthy food intake, or you are tired of eating what you 'should' eat, so you go for the fast food, eat an entire bag of chips, or down that bottle of wine.
Whatever your go-to is, it typically comes back into your life, making you feel like a failure. You get discouraged and start to believe that healthy eating is never going to happen for you.
The voice inside your head tells you, 'I can't do this, 'I will never be the weight I want' or 'once I do get pregnant, it will only get more difficult to lose.' You want to have a baby and a healthy pregnancy, and you know it is vital to make this change, but these old habits are getting in your way of doing it.
A wise woman told me once, "your brain is a scary place; don't go there alone." I laughed hard! It is so true!
This is where we need to start first, right here, with that voice in your head. Seriously, it is creating more harm and challenge than you realize.
So how do we tame this, and how will it help you with eating healthier?
First, let us take a step back and start practicing some self-compassion around how you think about your ability to eat healthily. Your mind is where you should start if you have a habit of not following through with your getting healthy plans. You are human, so it makes sense that this retreating back to old habits occurs because our brains are wired to naturally, habitually do what is easier, more comfortable, more familiar, and require less energy from us. This is not a you thing; this is a neural pathway thing that we all struggle with.
So, let's get you thinking differently about food and how it affects your current eating habits.
Self-compassion plays a crucial role in starting this journey because the voice inside our heads tells us every day how to feel and behave, which becomes our belief system. Some of these beliefs are known as limiting beliefs, which are thoughts or opinions that one believes to be their truth and impacts negatively one's life because it prevents them from moving forward, growing and making positive change for themselves. So, to tie it back in with what I wrote earlier, when you tell yourself 'I can't do this' or 'once I do get pregnant, it will only get more difficult to lose,' you believe this is true for you and it is the only way you can be. But, when we start replacing our thoughts with self-compassion, we begin to train our thoughts to be different. When our thoughts are different (and kinder), we begin to feel more confident, optimistic. This new optimism creates energy and motivation, and confidence. With this energy and motivation, you will find that you will increasingly start making better, healthier choices, and it will be because you want to. Eventually, it is the new way you view food. It does not happen overnight. Your mind is like a muscle, not literally, of course, but you do have to spend time working on it to strengthen this new way of thinking. If this sounds like something you do not have the patience for, that is fine. However, if you have been doing the yo-yo thing and never really grasping the healthy intake you want, then you might want to try this approach.
My tip to practice self-compassion around food is to ask yourself how you would respond if you talked with a loved one and said that to yourself instead! So, if you're dealing with this yo-yo habit of eating healthy, then not eating healthy, then eating healthy again, start becoming aware of what you think about food and practicing self-compassion together. It will be a great way to start this journey differently than before and possibly be more effective.
Now, it is time to take some action. I want you to commit to yourself today and become aware of your thoughts when around food over the next five days.
Simply notice and observe your thoughts, do not judge them or try to fix them. Just notice, and you will start to have more clarity on how your mind is creating your experience and how it makes you feel and then you will see how it leads to your choices and behaviour. This new awareness which requires practicing mindfulness, creates a new way of thinking. Then new choices occurred followed by a new behaviour that you repeat, which creates a new neural pathway and becomes your new way of eating. Consistently!
So go for it, ladies, practice awareness and self-compassion, and if you need help and want some coaching, don't hesitate to book a 'Time to get pregnant Health Check strategy session.'
And one last thing! If you want to test where you fall in self-compassion toward yourself, click on the link, https://self-compassion.org/test-how-self-compassionate-you-are/