I was bopping around my Facebook groups tonight when I encountered a post by a woman who was lamenting the abundance of “lifestyle” suggestions that accompany infertility advice. Her comment inspired this blog post because it really pulled at my heart strings.
As an eating-disorder clinician and an infertility specialist, I can’t help but see the way that diet culture infuses these “lifestyle” tips.
If you’ve ever googled “tips for trying to conceive” or “ways to improve fertility,” you’d be made to believe that if you exercise daily (but not too much!) and eat “clean” (a phrase I despise), that little blue line will magically arrive. And if you’ve been on this path for a while, you know that if this were true you would have been pregnant time and time again, because you’ve tried it all. I know I did…
It’s not enough that, as those who identify as women, we are bombarded by lifestyle “shoulds” through social media, tv ads, magazines etc. on a daily basis, but if you are a woman trying to conceive – forget it. You are low hanging fruit. They know that you would do anything and everything if it could just help you create that baby you’ve been dreaming of for so long.
So I am here to tell you, f*ck ‘em. Rebel, my dear. It’s the only way.
Every time a well-meaning friend, yoga instructor, or article tries to tell you to drink red raspberry tea, cut out carbs, eat high protein, do yoga every day, remove sugar from your diet – you look that person or font straight in the proverbial eye and say, “Not today, diet culture!” Because that’s what it is. It is society’s disturbing, insidious way of trying to keep us small and using our deepest desires as a method to do so.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t strive for a healthful lifestyle, what ever that means to us as individuals. Physically and mentally, it is important to joyfully move our bodies every day if we can. And we should eat a healthful diet that is appropriate for our physical make-up and specific medical conditions. But diets that cut out foods or components of foods willy nilly and label them “bad” and others “good” are not going to serve anyone. And they certainly will not convert one line to two on that dreaded monthly test.
I wish I could tell you what it would take for you to get pregnant. I don’t know because it’s different for all of us. For me, it was science and luck.
But I promise you, perfection does not get you pregnant.
So be kind to yourself, eat foods that make you feel good, dance to get your spirits up. I guarantee, that will serve you better than any “fertility diet” out there.
Dr. Martine Jones (formerly Martine Luntz) is a clinical psychologist who serves clients in North Carolina, Florida, and internationally by providing support for relationship concerns, stress and anxiety, infertility, prenatal and postpartum distress, and life and role changes.