Navigating the Holidays While Trying to Conceive

Nov 23, 2020

Holiday Episode: How to navigate the holiday season- emotionally and nutritionally, when you’ve been trying to conceive?

Remember to be gentle with yourself and prepare for what’s coming. You can rehearse your responses to common pregnancy questions and social situations and have a game plan for whatever might be coming your way. While during COVID, these situations might come up less than in previous years, it’s still helpful to prepare for if they do come up. 

  • Find ways to experience the holiday joy even when there is a lot of pressure around getting pregnant. This is a time of family and celebration!
  • Remember that your feelings are valid no matter what! You don’t need to feel guilty about anything that you feel. Sad, stressed, overwhelmed- that’s all OK. We are here to give you support! You aren’t alone- lot’s of women are feeling these things. While you might be the only person in your family who has had a hard time getting pregnant or the first person who is changing their diet, other women are going through similar things.
  • Thanksgiving- what comes to mind when you think about this holiday?
  • Cooking all day, being with family, feeling busy? Feeling bored and hungry all day and then starving when you finally sit down to eat?  
  • Thanksgiving food classics: Protein (ham, turkey, prime rib, tofurkey), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, stuffing, corn break, dressing, green bean casserole (fresh, frozen, canned? Pick your poison). 
  • Navigating the Thanksgiving menu
  • There is a lot of food, which can feel overwhelming. Do you love all the foods? How do you enjoy what you love when you’re trying to conceive? Remember: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO RUIN YOUR CHANCES OF TRYING TO CONCEIVE WITH ONE MEAL! Maybe it will delay your ovulation for a little bit but it’s not going to derail your plans for months if it’s only one or two days of holiday eating. If you love it, go ahead and enjoy it. It’s just one day!
  • Food is not just energy- it’s an experience. Remember that you are celebrating family and love and community. 
  • Nutrition tips for thanksgiving: How to find balance when fertility is your goal: 
  • Eat high carb foods (pumpkin pie) with protein, 
  • Remember how important getting good sleep is, 
  • Don’t “save up” your calories for one big meal (this will help you not overeat when the big meal starts)
  • Take care of yourself- going into the day hungry, tired, hungover, etc. can really make it more stressful and might cause you to make further unhealthy choices: set yourself up for success. 
  • Start with a high protein breakfast, lots of veggies. 
  • Feed yourself appropriately through the day. If you haven’t fed yourself, your blood sugar will drop (hint: don’t get “hangry”!) 
  • What if you’re drinking? Make sure to eat! Alcohol might make it more challenging to be around certain family members in an emotionally charged situation. 
  • Making choices about food
  • Consider dessert- just because it’s available and “traditional” doesn’t mean you need to eat it. If you like pie, eat pie. You don’t like pie? Eat something else. You can say “No, thank you!” That’s totally valid. 
  • Don’t worry about your meals being judged. You make your own choices and you don’t have to validate them to other people. 
  • If you don’t want to go to a gathering- that’s valid too. Especially during this COVID year. 
  • Get some additional help if you feel like you need it! Absolutely go see a therapist and get some tools for navigating the holidays. It helps to just talk it over sometimes. 
  • Holiday drinks- Pumpkin spice lattes, eggnog, peppermint lattes, gingerbread lattes. 
  • Having these drinks day after day can seriously impact your hormones, sleep, blood sugar, and cravings. All these drinks are super sugary- basically a hot milk shake. 
  • You can have them but consider it a DESSERT, not a beverage or a breakfast. There is nothing wrong with enjoying them but consider when and how much you are having. 
  • Tips: choose decaf, get a small, eat it with or after a very protein rich  meal or snack. You can change the order by asking for fewer pumps of sweetener.
  • You can make your own! Add spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, all spice)  to whole milk in your coffee and 1 teaspoon maple syrup. You are familiar with all these ingredients AND they are great for you. 
  • Experiment: when you have one of these drinks, really pay attention to how they make you feel? How did you sleep? How is your energy later in the day? Did you get a headache or stomach ache? 
  • Ideas for using leftovers
  • Turkey pot pie, turkey chili, turkey enchiladas
  • Shepards pie with extra mashed potatoes
  • Bone broth: use the carcass for bone broth- bone broth is great for your gut health, your skin, your fertility. 
    • Pick off all the meat and simmer the bones and skin, add veggies, and a little lemon or another acid source (ie: 3 tablespoons vinegar)  to pull out extra nutrients. 
    • You don’t want to use raw bones- make sure they are cooked. You can even bake these first to make sure they are fully cooked. 
    • Cook low and slow (12 hours on low heat) or do it in your pressure cooker for about an hour for a similar result. 
    • Pick out bones or strain to get out additional sediment 
  • There is nothing wrong with throwing away what you aren’t going to eat! It’s OK to toss it! 
  • Alcohol and mocktails
  • Can you drink alcohol when you’re trying to conceive?
    • It really depends on the person. Can you drink in true moderation and leave it at one drink or does that lead to having more and more drinks? Consider your personal habits around drinking.
    • Alcohol can affect your estrogen levels and your cycle but one drink is not going to be the difference between getting pregnant or not. 
    • If you’re going to drink, pick the drink that you really actually love and not the one that you think is healthier. 
    • If it gives you anxiety, it’s fine to skip! You can decline a cocktail. 
      • TIP: Declining a cocktail carries a lot of meaning (“are you pregnant??”)- you can rehearse and prepare an answer that takes the pressure off of you, like “it really hasn’t been agreeing with me lately.”  
  • Questions from instagram:
    • How do you get around the “when?” questions?
      • Consider who is asking and how much you trust them. Some people you can share the truth with. Other people you might be a little more protected around because you don’t trust them as much. You can give short answers or longer! Totally up to you how you respond and what you feel comfortable with. This question can really hurt, especially if you’re been trying for a long time and it might be helpful to rehearse answers that you feel comfortable giving when this comes up. 
    • How do you handle stress in the holiday season, especially during a COVID year?
      • Take care of yourself; make sure you are exercising regularly, exposing yourself to light, prioritizing sleep, checking in with your mental health. Consider all the things that you normally do for your mental health and double down your efforts to keep up with those things. 
      • What is sometimes extra stressful about the holidays is being off of your regular schedule (like your regular breakfast and your movement routine). Focus on what you can do to stay in your normal routines and stick to some sort of regular routine as much as possible (remember to eat!).
      • Serve someone else! If you have the mental space to do so but are feeling lonely and discouraged or stuck, find ways to safely reach out and serve someone else. This can be very healing and relieve stress, and loneliness. Ask yourself: what gifts do you have to serve other people? 
      • If finances are tight and gift giving is hard this year, consider giving other types of gifts; make something, write a letter, send a card. If you do have the ability to give gifts, consider buying off of etsy to support a small business that might be struggling right now. 
    • We are thinking about trying to conceive during the holiday season? Is this a good time, especially during COVID?
      • Do what feels right: There is no right or wrong time to start your family. If you feel comfortable with it, go for it! Consider if you’ll be ok with some potential changes like going to ultrasounds alone. There is really no research that shows that being pregnant comes with additional COVID risks. Trends show that a lot of people do conceive during the holidays because it’s often a time of relaxation (lots of September babies!). 
      • How are you defining “trying to conceive”: Depending on how you are planning to conceive might also impact this decision. If you are going down the path of making major changes or using medical interventions, this might be a stressful time to do it. If you are planning on stopping birth control, that is much less stressful and it might actually take some time to get in touch with your fertility and ovulation signs. 
  • Holiday Parties: 
    • Eat a nutritious meal before you go! It’s not going to work well to make your whole meal out of cocktails and appetizers when you arrive hungry. You will not feel good and there might not be choices that fit with how you want to eat. 
    • Skip the stuff you don’t care about! You don’t have to eat it.

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