In supporting women through their fertility journeys, I sometimes see client with complex medical histories who have already seen many doctors and naturopathic practitioners, as well as read many books on fertility or any diagnosed conditions they may have. Often they will be taking a lot of supplements, being quite strict with their diet and tracking their ovulation religiously. Recently I had a similar client, and whilst taking her case history, I noticed that stress was underpinning her whole health journey, and believed that this was the most important point to address to aid her fertility. I wanted to go back to basics with this client, and focus on minimising stress in her life, which was showing up in her life in the form of sub-optimal sleep, constantly worrying about everything, bouncing from one protocol to the next and getting caught up in the minutiae of her health journey. She seemed slightly disappointed with this approach, as she was expecting a complete diet overhaul, more supplements and a detox/ cleansing protocol. But my experience as a Nutritional Therapist who specialises in women’s health and fertility has taught me about the power of simplicity.
Does this sound like you?
I get it, as I’ve been there too. I spent years researching fertility, trying to figure out what was wrong with me and why I was unable to get – and stay- pregnant. I saw medical doctors, miscarriage specialists and functional medicine doctors. I read book after book about fertility and autoimmunity, listened to podcasts and webinars on the subject. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s imperative that we take responsibility for our own health. My own fertility issues spurred me on to change my career and become a Nutritional Therapist, so I am grateful for what I have been through. However, when we have been on a health journey for a while, it can be easy to become fixated on our diagnosis and specific supplement protocols or restrictive diets and lose track of the bigger picture. What is our life load like? How are we sleeping? Are we focusing all our attention on our health and forgetting about other things in our lives that bring us joy?
Why it’s important not to overlook the basics
Let me explain why sometimes, it is better to go back to basics rather than delve deeper down the rabbit hole of diagnosis, protocols, elimination diets and cleanses. This is the approach that I have come to after years of educating myself, working with numerous clients and being on my own health journey.
Naturopathy, the system of healthcare I have been trained in, believes that the body has the ability to heal itself if we give it the correct resources. One of the naturopathic principles is about the healing power of nature, and I interpret that to be that sometimes we just need to get out of the way and let our bodies do what they know how to do. Even if we are doing ‘all the right things’, we may still be overloading our bodies.
In today’s society, we have been taught that the harder we work, the more we achieve. That is not necessarily the case when it comes to healing, or fertility for that matter. When I was on my fertility journey, I used to feel so frustrated about the fact that I was ‘doing everything right, and still not getting pregnant’: being very strict with my diet, not drinking alcohol, taking all the supplements, tracking my temperature, doing ovulation tests, timing intercourse etc. And whenever I heard about women getting pregnant when not even trying, it would drive me insane. Why them and not me?! What I realise now is that perhaps I was doing TOO much, and overburdening my body, when really I just needed to focus on the basics – optimal sleep, optimal nutrition and absorption, daily movement and mindset work (you can read about why that is so important here). It may not sound as fancy functional testing and elaborated detox or supplement plans, but they can be pivotal to improving health and fertility.
Health is so much bigger than what we put in our mouths. It cannot be found in a bottle of supplements or in a 3-day cleanse. Health encompasses our thoughts, beliefs, our relationships, how we talk to ourselves. If we are spending every minute of the day worrying whether the food we are about to eat is health promoting or not, if our restrictive diet prevents us from socialising with our friends and family, if we are more focused on pinpointing ovulation than connecting with our partner, we will never truly be healthy. Even the WHO defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’
Now, let’s be clear – I am NOT saying that you should not care about what you eat – I am a Nutritional Therapist after all, so food for me is foundational. I do use functional testing in my practise to get to the root cause of my clients’ health issues. Supplements are often necessary to correct nutritional deficiencies. However, when I take my clients’ case, I look at the whole person – not just their symptoms but their whole environment, and often the thing that is holding them back from healing is outside of their diet. And when it comes to dietary changes, sometimes the simple changes can be the most effective. Many of us feel they need to implement complicated protocols to improve health, but simple strategies are often even more effective. I wrote about one of my clients in a previous blog post who had spent years trying to address her poor sleep with supplements, herbs and medications. A simple change of having some warm milk and honey before bed improved her sleep dramatically.
Nourishment, rest, movement, mindset. It might seem like it’s not complex enough, but trust me, it works. Some of my clients already have all of this dialled in (although it’s rare!) and need more specialised advice and testing. Others are so deep in the rabbithole of their health journey, they are neglecting those basics. This is where I can help – I have helped hundreds of women on their fertility journeys and I can spot the underlying theme to your case history. I can identify whether you may be overcomplicating your health journey, and what needs simplifying, or whether there truly is a need for deeper investigations.
Of course, sometimes more complicated protocols and investigations are required, and that is what I am here to help identify and navigate with my clients. I will always make sure the fundamentals are in place before we proceed further. And though it may sound simple, to achieve them you may need some support. This is where I can help.
If you’re ready to feel empowered and back in control of your health, click here to book a free discovery call and let’s chat about how some simple diet and lifestyle changes can help you flourish.