Fertility Diet Cookbooks

{One of the hardest parts of this traditional Chinese medicine approach to TTC is how little there is written on the subject. I’ve certainly never come across a blog that details someone’s efforts to use diet, supplements and acupuncture to overcome their infertility. For that reason I want to write a few posts on what we’re doing and create a page with links to all of them so anyone can easily access what I’ve learned. I’ll be posting these on the weekends, when no one reads or comments anyway. Hopefully they won’t bore you all too badly). 😉

Our fertility diet is a strange combination of restrictions and allowances; we avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar (this includes processed sweeteners of any kind, including corn and cane syrup), processed foods, wheat, and dairy but we do eat meat, eggs, legumes, nuts and (very limited amounts of) tofu (but no other processed soy products).

Because of this rather strange mixture it can be hard to find cookbooks that have plentiful recipes. Vegetarian recipes have a lot of wheat and diary. Vegan cookbooks cut out the dairy but rely heavily on wheat and meat substitutes (generally made out of processed soy). And of course both of those avoid meat, which we can eat  (though we’re trying to limit meat too and we really only eat poultry, bacon and sushi (on special occasions). The closest diet is the Paleo diet, as you can eat meat and veggies but no wheat or dairy, but it is actually more restrictive as legumes and nuts are not allowed. Beans, lentils and chickpeas are big staples around here and we’re not looking to cut them out of most meals.

So yes, it can be hard to find recipes that fit our diet. Luckily, with sites like Amazon, where most cookbooks are available AND people review them, telling you how much wheat or processed soy is used, it wasn’t too hard to find a few great ones that we rely on weekly.

The Fertile Kitchen

This book is the only one I’ve found with our specific diet in mind. It’s a good foundation for eating this way as it explains the restrictions and includes some basic recipes. One possible concern is the fact that these people have no specific training in reproductive medicine of any kind. If I had just come across this book and needed to trust their judgement on why this diet would work, I wouldn’t follow it. But since I’ve seen many TCM practitioners who have explained the diet and the reasons behind it (sentiments the book echoes) their lack of credentials didn’t disuade me. It’s clear they too were taught these restrictions by others and as the purpose is of the book is ultimately to provide recipes, not to defend the diet, I think it is a good purchase.

12 Best Foods Cookbook

Jjiraffe gave me this and I’m so glad because I never would have found it myself and it is absolutely our favorite and most frequently used cookbook. While it follows no restrictions of any kind, there are plenty of recipes that work for us. I also loved reading about what makes the 12 best foods so nutritious; I always feel great knowing that I’m eating the best of the best that nature has to offer. Also, everything is super tasty.

Quick-Fix Vegan

What I love about this books is how accessible all the recipes are. There is nothing I appreciate more than a short ingredients list! Most of the recipes keep their promise keeping prep time under 30 minutes (there is one section with more time consuming recipes, which I actually like). This author sticks mostly to whole foods and doesn’t rely on meat and dairy substitutes that soy, like many vegan cooks do, which makes the majority of these recipes a good fit for us.

Pure and Simple

Another book that uses whole foods (and cuts out gluten! hooray!) is Pure and Simple, by Tami A. Benton (there are many cook books with that name). While I haven’t made many recipes from this book (I just got it recently), there are plenty that we can eat and they all look good. The couple we have made were also very yummy. The book lives up to its name, with lots of fresh veg and easy-to-execute recipes. (It’s seems this book is only available on Kindle at the time of this post. Not sure if that is a permanent situation).

These books, along with epicurious.com additions (when we need to finish up whatever is about to expire), have been helping us make this diet not only doable but enjoyable. If you know any other books or recipes that we might want to try out, please suggest the in the comment section. Happy and healthy cooking!

{A warning that Cooking to Conceive does not follow the diet AT ALL, in fact it relies heavily on whole milk products, siting studies that show they boost fertility–and has many wheat-based recipes. If you are trying to follow the TCM fertility diet, DO NOT get this book. I learned this the hard way. 😉 }

9 responses

  1. The whole milk thing: one of the longest running and best women’s Health studies we have in the US is the nurse’s study and it found that the women who ate small amounts of whole milk products had the highest fertility rates. I’m so glad you love that cookbook. It’s my favorite too 🙂

    • That’s good to know. The only diary I’m eating now is whole milk yogurt that has exactly two ingredients: whole milk and live cultures. It’s super hard to find!

    • The Cooking to Conceive book relies HEAVILY on diary, especially cheeses. It might be a great choice for some but for this diet it doesn’t really work.

  2. Oooh, thanks for posting the cookbook links. I followed these same dietary recommendations moderately faithfully for a few months (as much as you can through the Christmas season, anyway), but now that I’m on a forced month break, I have let them drop, in part because the stress of following them was getting to be a bit much. (I love dairy and bread like nobody’s business.) But I still want to make sure I’m fixing as many fertility-strong meals as I can, and having a collection like this would help. It sure as heck can’t hurt!

  3. i just recently started following your blog and have enjoyed your posts. I have found a lot of great recipes through Pinterest. I am following a flour-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free diet in the hopes of conceiving a second child. I was also diagnosed with high FSH/low AMH when trying to conceive our son, which we eventually did through IVF. I, too, am hoping to achieve success without going the high-tech route again.

  4. Although it’s not fertility related, the Hungry for Change book/recipes fit your needs for the most part. They do allow some dairy, but always provide a dairy free alternative in the recipes. They’re not complicated recipes, but some of the ingredients might be a little hard to find. I’m also attempting to use diet (and general healthy living) to help me avoid using ART to conceive my second child.

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