Katie Sidhu is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Lactation Consultant and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor helping women nourish their bodies for fertility, pregnancy and beyond with non-diet approaches and intuitive eating.
I have always had an interest in pregnancy and maternal health. While I was in school, I was also interested in finding the “perfect diet” which led to my education in nutrition & dietetics. I quickly learned, however, that there is no “perfect diet” and our relationship to food and our bodies is so much more impactful on overall health.
Because of my interest in maternal health, I pursued extra education and training in fertility, pregnancy and postpartum nutrition as well as breastfeeding. And now, I combine this training with an intuitive eating/weight-neutral approach to help folks nourish their bodies for fertility, pregnancy and beyond. I absolutely love working with folks around their perinatal journey!
Intuitive eating is a weight-neutral self-care framework developed by two Registered Dietitians, Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch. It helps folks get back in touch with what their body needs, physically and mentally. Intuitive eating is not a diet or weight loss plan or even a food plan as it rejects diet and weight loss culture. There is no right or wrong way to “do” intuitive eating. It relies on the essential premise that YOU are the expert on your own body.
Intuitive eating is based on 10 basic principles (which can be found here: http://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/). All of these principles are important and I typically start with rejecting the diet mentality and honoring hunger when I’m working with clients, especially for fertility.
A big part of intuitive eating work is rejecting dieting and diet culture. This process can take a lot of unlearning as diet culture is SO ingrained in our day-to-day lives. This work helps our fertility health by ensuring that our body is getting enough nutrition overall for our reproductive system to do what it needs to do.
Intuitive eating emphasizes honoring hunger and meeting our body’s needs. In diet culture, we are taught to suppress or ignore hunger. But hunger is our body’s way of telling us that it needs something. Recognizing and honoring hunger and fullness cues helps us give our bodies what it needs to be able to function properly.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in this work are folks not eating enough throughout the day. When our bodies are not getting enough energy, then it will make adjustments to keep important things like our brain, heart, and lungs functioning. If our body is not getting enough, then one of the systems that it will turn off first is the reproductive system. So we usually start there - focusing on honoring hunger and eating consistently throughout the day.
From there, it’s important to focus on eating a variety of food groups with meals and snacks to give our bodies a balance and variety of nutrients - carbs, protein, fats and vegetables. For meals, aim for a carb + a protein + some plant food (fruits and/or vegetables) as well as some fat. For snacks, aim to include a carb + a protein to make it satisfying.
Fat plays a key role in fertility and egg health so we also look at including regular sources of omega-3 fats like fish and seafood but also foods like full-fat dairy, avocados, nuts/nut butters, etc.
There are also some important labs and supplements to consider for fertility health - that looks different for everyone.
First, I would make sure basic nutrition needs are being met. Are you eating consistently throughout the day and honoring hunger? Are you including a carb, protein and some fat with each meal? How about snacks? Sometimes our cravings can help us identify something we’re missing in our diet.
I would also reframe the language that we use around food - instead of referring to foods as “unhealthy vs. healthy” or “bad vs. good,” we can try to use more neutral language that doesn’t put food into black and white categories. This can help folks feel less out of control around foods they consider “bad.”
Adopting an “all foods fit” mentality is helpful - remember that eating a variety of foods is the most important thing and that including desserts and other fun foods IS part of a healthy diet overall. I always tell folks “Stressing out and feeling guilty about eating dessert is much worse for your health than eating dessert every day.” With intuitive eating, all foods are included and enjoyed in a healthy diet - which ultimately decreases stress.
Self-care looks different for everyone! Eating regular meals and snacks is definitely a form of self-care, especially when you’re planning to grow or currently growing another little human. Enjoying your favorite comfort or nostalgic meal can be so lovely. Outside of food, I find reading a good book and taking a warm bath to be my favorites!