One thing you'll hear me talk about on here a lot is the fact that the traditional food restrictions most diet plans push aren't really necessary. You don't have to count calories and cut out all "junk food" to lose weight and improve your reproductive health. It isn't about carbohydrates, fat, or whether or not you had pizza this week. Believe it or not, you can make some of the most notorious "junk food" weight loss and fertility friendly by making a few key changes in how those foods are made and what ingredients they're made with.
Now, I'm not going to act like transitioning to the diet I follow is easy or effortless. It definitely takes some time and there's a transitional period, but once you get the hang of it it's amazingly stress free. Basically, you swap out a few key items for better alternatives, and that's that! No logging food daily, no counting calories, and no agonizing over if you can have a bowl of ice cream or not.
Leave Behind "Cheat Day"
So, how can you make your favorite junk food into a fertility and weight loss friendly option? One of the most important rules to follow, especially if you're looking to help your fertility, is no dairy. I know that sounds horrible to some of you, but there are plenty of amazing alternatives out there that taste just as good and will honestly help your weight, your overall health, and your reproductive health and fertility. After I got pregnant and started researching how I'd healed my PCOS after being deemed infertile, I found other women who had also healed illnesses like PCOS and clinical infertility, and one thing we all had in common was getting rid of dairy.
The second rule to follow when you're turning a traditional "junk food" into something fertility and weight loss friendly is: no meat except for fish or seafood. Another thing you can have are eggs. Yes, a lot of people count eggs as either meat or dairy, especially if you're talking to a strict vegan or vegetarian, but the truth is they aren't either. Just like seafood and fish isn't the same as steak or chicken, eggs aren't the same as dairy or meat products. They don't react the same in the body, and they don't pose the same problems as the other foods I recommend staying away from. These basic guidelines don't just apply to making your favorite junk food fertility and weight loss friendly, but they're the basis to everything I'll be talking about on the blog in regards to food, health, and fertility.
In one of my next blog posts I'll be going more in-depth into the reasons why these particular food restrictions are necessary and what following them does for your health and fertility. But, today we're talking about making some delicious, healthy, fertility-friendly junk food! So, now that you know the basic rules, lets talk about how to enjoy some of the most well-known "junk foods" without having to worry about it ruining your weight loss or fertility journey.
Pizza is something I see people talking about wanting to eat more of ALL the time. I see pictures of it on Instagram along with #cheatday and blog posts citing pizza as a "guilty pleasure." Pizza doesn't have to be reserved for cheat days (which actually don't even exist in my diet plan, but we'll talk about that another day), nor does it need to be something that you feel guilty about eating. All you have to do is make a few changes to what's considered a traditional pizza, and you're good to go. You can either make a pizza like this at home, or find one like this at one of your local health food stores or specialty pizza shops.Guilt-Free Pizza
- No meats: Opt for tofu, shrimp, or just veggies instead of something like pepperoni or sausage on your pizza.
- Don't hold the veggies: You want a lot of delicious veggies on your guilt-free pizza, so choose a few of your favorites and add some color, flavor, and fertility-boosting power to your pizza!
- Dairy-Free ONLY: Choose a cheese alternative for your pizza. Luckily, being vegan and dairy-free are becoming increasingly popular, so there are plenty of options for dairy-free pizza. Health food stores usually carry ones made by Amy's, Tofurkey, and a few other brands, while many specialty pizza shops offer at least one type of vegan cheese. Places like Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Little Cesar's haven't quite jumped on the bandwagon yet, but I bet they will sometime in the near future! Plus, you can also grab some shredded dairy-free cheese from your local grocery store and whip up an awesome guilt-free pizza at home!
- Fresh is best: Can you get organic sauce on your pizza or locally-sourced organic veggies? Do it! The more fresh, natural, and organic your pizza ingredients are, the better it is for you, your weight, and your reproductive health!
Ice cream has always been associated with desserts and fattening foods, because most traditional ice cream is filled with artificial flavors, sugars, a TON of dairy, and a lot of other crappy stuff. Luckily, there are plenty of super amazing alternatives that don't have any of that crap in them and still taste just as good! You can easily make your own ice cream alternative, or you can find good options in your local grocery store.Healthy Ice-Cream
- Dairy-Free: Choosing a great, fertility-friendly ice cream that won't leave you feeling gross and bloated is easy. You can either make your own "nice cream" with simple recipes like this one, or you can grab a dairy-free option from your local grocery or health food store. Ice cream made with coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, and bananas are all fantastic alternatives, and you can generally find one or more of these options from companies like So Delicious and even Ben & Jerry's!
Pop-Tarts are notoriously fattening, full of processed sugars, and every artificial color and flavor you can think of. They come in packs of two, with a suggested serving size of one, basically guaranteeing you'll eat more of them than you should. While name-brand Pop-Tarts aren't the best for you, there are other companies that make better toaster pastries that have real fruit and organic ingredients in them.Natural Pop-Tarts
- Go Organic: Pop-Tarts are a notorious junk food filled with things you probably don't even want to really know about, and while there isn't really a healthier option when it comes to the name-brand, other companies do offer guilt-free options that you can enjoy without feeling like you're ruining your diet. Nature's Path makes my favorite organic pop-tarts that are made with whole grains and REAL fruit. You can generally find these at a health food store, or on sites like Thrive Market for just a few dollar per box!
Paninis & Grilled Sandwiches
Images of golden brown, grilled paninis piled high with cheeses, meats, and a variety of other tempting toppings are all over. And, while these images probably look delicious, the food itself can be terrible for your health and fertility. The good news is, you can have your own stuffed, grilled sandwiches piled high with good, healthy ingredients that won't hurt your weight loss or fertility goals, and won't taste like cardboard.Good Grilled Paninis
- Substitute Cheese: Use a dairy-free cheese alternative, like these amazing options from Go Veggie! Simply cutting dairy from a meal can make a world of difference as far as your health, fertility, any weight you're trying to lose, etc.
- Fill it With Veggies: Grill up some delicious, fresh veggies to fill your panini with. The more fresh veggies you have, the better the meal is for you.
- Use a High-Protein Meat Substitute: Tofu, jackfruit, or even a little shrimp can give you some protein without the downfalls of traditional meats.
It's as Simple as Eating Real, Clean Food
Today, when I look back on my days of counting calories and freaking out over eating a little bit of ice cream or a piece of pizza, I'm amazed that I put myself through that hell for so long when there were easier, better options out there that I didn't know about. I know cutting out dairy and meats is still hard, but once you've done it and you don't have to think about every little thing you eat anymore, it's incredibly freeing.
Plus, when you start actually seeing results and becoming healthier by simply following a new way of eating, you realize that going dairy-free and cutting out most meat is a small price to pay, and is definitely preferable to a lifetime of trying to log every meal and count every calorie. So, don't stress over sweets or feel guilty every time you eat a piece of pizza, just eat the better, cleaner versions of those things and eat reasonable portions. Put away your calorie-counting journal, stop obsessing over your fitness app, and stop making food a chore!
Coming up this week I'm going to be talking more about what I've deemed my personal health and fertility meal plan, as well as what I'm going to be putting together for others to use for their own health and fertility journeys. I'm also going to be posting the next section in my From Infertility to a Healthy Pregnancy series and a few recipes I've been working on, so keep an eye on my Instagram for blog updates and other fun stuff!