As a fertility acupuncturist and founder of Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness, my passion is to empower women on their reproductive journey. One of the first things I discuss with patients is how their diet plays a crucial role in enhancing their fertility and overall health.
When it comes to any lifestyle choice, I live according to what I recommend. Last year, when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, I knew I needed to treat myself as I would my own patient. I started with my diet.
To give you some background, acupuncture is a practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Most TCM practices recommend, among other things, eating animal protein to heal disease.
However, because my Lyme diagnosis occurred in the wake of a family member’s struggle with cancer, I had already immersed myself in research that linked meat and dairy to cancer. Although my discoveries ran somewhat contrary to my training, they kept pointing to how instrumental a plant-based diet could be for treating some of our most common diseases.
I knew that changing my diet would not only inform my own work, but also offer a way for me to cope with Lyme. Though it has only been a year, I am excited to report how positive an experience it has been.
At minimum, I encourage you to eat more plants, a task which I hope you find to be rewarding. If you are inspired, here are some of the benefits and challenges I experienced during the shift.
When you are starting a plant-based diet, don’t expect your diet to be perfect. During the first month, you might feel physically weaker, have strong meat and dairy cravings, or feel hungry more often. These symptoms are okay and experiencing them doesn’t mean the diet isn’t for you. Your body simply must adjust. Extremism will not help you make sustainable changes, so if you want to keep certain foods in your diet as you gradually adopt your plant-based approach, that’s great. It’s all up to you. To supplement your diet, I also recommend adding a B12 vitamin.
Lifestyle changes can sometimes make socializing more difficult. If you decide to alter your diet, your friends and family may want an explanation. In these instances, it is important to communicate your “why.” There is no need to feel self-conscious or self-righteous in pursuing a plant-based diet. If you are humble and honest, people tend to be supportive.
Following a whole foods plant-based diet may feel inaccessible, at first. However, you will be surprised at how easy it is to eat this way. Start by planning ahead, packing snacks for work and cooking ahead of time. My go-to snacks are almonds, or a trail-mix with cashews, coconut flakes, and carob nibs. A great online resource for plant-based restaurants is Happy Cow.
Energy and Radiance
A whole foods plant-based diet includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and legumes. In order to extract the full benefits of the diet, try not to become a junk-food vegan (which is easy!). If you eat properly, you will find that plants boost your energy levels, your immune strength, and the presence of your natural glow.
Animal agriculture alone produces significant greenhouse gas emissions when you include livestock and their byproducts. In an article for Time magazine, Justin Worland reports that if we all followed a vegan or vegetarian diet, we could eliminate these global greenhouse gas emissions by 70%. One of the easiest ways to give back to the planet is by eliminating animal products from your diet.
Leading a plant-based lifestyle has expanded my passion to live life in total alignment with my values. My change in diet has expanded my capacity for compassion and empathy in a way I could have never imagined. Going on this journey with my husband has brought more mindfulness and kindness into our lives.
There are so many reasons why we make certain lifestyle choices, but if I can impart anything from my own experience, it would be this: I believe that trying a plant-based diet is truly a win-win, for your body, the environment, and the people in it. When exploring your options, don’t feel pressure to follow any specific rules. Proceed with openness, knowing that only good comes from trying.
This post was originally published in Beauty and Well Being.