I have recently just finished reading this book on infertility. It was pretty interesting and I have a lot of thoughts on it, but that isn’t what I want to write about today. The reason that I bring the book up is that it echoed something that my other (not trying to have a baby) doctors have been pushing with regards to my autoimmune problem – which is to try and eat better. More specifically, try to eat fewer processed foods. This is something that was reiterated in this book and really got me to thinking.
Over time, as my medical problems have continued to stagnate, I have slowly been trying to move both Robert and I away from processed food. But it’s hard. Sometimes you just want an Oreo, you know? But it’s not even just the things that are obviously processed – it almost seems like EVERYTHING is processed these days. And even the “good” processed foods are riddled with other health concerns (like BPA from tin cans). It’s honestly enough to make your head spin. And, for me, it pretty much lead to a small meltdown in my office at work as I felt beyond overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to eat “right”.
For me, a child of the late 70’s and early 80’s it’s hard to know what is right and what is wrong. Almost everything that was fed to me growing up came from a box or a can. One of the things that I wish my parents had done a better (or could afford to have done better) was make sure that we grew up with fresh fruits and (especially) veggies. To this day, I hate veggies and it’s a constant struggle to force myself to eat them. But, growing up poor meant that my parents did what they could. So we had canned soup, and spaghetti-o’s and shit on a shingle. And as an adult, I naturally gravitate towards the things I know – the things that come from a box or a can.
But I’m trying to change that. I’m grown up now and there is no reason I have to keep eating out of a can.
It’s only now that I’m trying to conceive and having so much trouble that the importance of the shit I’ve been feeding myself for the past 37 years is really starting to dawn on me. And it’s only now that I’m realizing that I don’t know HOW to eat well. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not that I’m not trying. It’s simply that don’t have the toolkit (yet) to do it. For lunch, almost every day, I have a frozen meal at the office. I thought “hey, that can of spaghetti sauce has two servings of veggies, it can’t be bad!”. But it is. It isn’t necessarily terrible, but it also isn’t necessarily good.
Even if I had always known how to eat well and had a healthy diet, I would find it challenging to do today when 80% of what you find in the grocery store is processed and contains this preservative or that preservative. Maybe 60 years ago this would have been less of an issue. Then again, I have cookbooks from the 50’s and 60’s and I’m not entirely sure if that is true either.
It’s hard to be told to eat this or eat that and to try to do better, only to discover you aren’t doing as well as you need to be. And to make it worse, I’m super picky about what I eat (probably part of the growing up out of a can problem). I don’t like leafy greens. At all. Which makes salad a non-starter for me. I’ve tried several times in my adult life to change this, but every time it’s come back to the same thing: I simply don’t like it. For me, to combat this, I’m going to try sneaking these types of things into foods that I do like and can cover up the taste of what I’m eating.
I’m trying to incorporate more fruit into my day. I’m trying to add in veggies even though it’s a huge challenge for me. I’m trying to eat the grass fed meats. I’m trying to make things from scratch, even though it’s less time consuming to just open a jar and dump it into a pan. But it’s hard. It’s time consuming. And the task of differentiating what is okay to eat and what you should avoid is hugely overwhelming. I feel almost as if I’ve been asked to summit Mt. Rainier – a task that is neigh near impossible for me.
But, you will never get to the top of the mountain if you don’t take that first step. So Robert and I are reallocating our budget to add more in for our weekly groceries so we can afford to buy all the organic fruit and veggies that aren’t coated with pesticides. And we can buy the grass fed beef. And make things from scratch – that cost four times more than opening up a can. And buying glass tupperware to avoid the chemicals released when hot food is added to plastic storage.
I don’t know if any of it is going to make a difference. But at this point I don’t really see the harm in trying. At the very worst it’s going to make me a healthier person. It’s certainly going to be a challenge – but even if it doesn’t help me get pregnant, it’s going to have a positive effect the way I live my life. And when push comes to shove, not continuing on the tradition of growing up out of a can is probably a good thing.
For added benefit, last night Robert and I cooked dinner together, and it was nice. So in addition to eating “good” foods, we also spent some quality time together, on this little dinner project, and I really enjoyed that. It gave us a chance to be intimate with each other outside of the scope of trying to conceive and that is a very positive thing I think.
I don’t know how much longer this journey is going to take us, or what lies down the road ahead. But I think that even though this change is very overwhelming at the moment, it’s going to have very positive consequences in the long term. And, hey, we are even going to try homemade spaghetti sauce this weekend. With real tomatoes. I bought a food mill and everything. We will probably still use a good quality boxed pasta (for now), but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.