Millions of people living in the United State struggle with infertility, a problem that’s launched a multi-billion dollar industry offering treatments from drugs to aromatherapy. Among them, freelance writer Cindy Bailey and her husband Pierre Giauque, whose project, The Fertile Kitchen Cookbook, appeared on bookstore shelves this month. The couple wanted a child, but doctors gave Cindy an unlikely chance of conceiving, even with the aid of modern and traditional remedies.
After all, they had met later in life, married when Cindy was in her late 30s, and subsequently found that the deck was stacked against them—a woman’s fertility generally declines sharply at 35, not 40 as Cindy originally thought. Impossible, however, was not acceptable for Cindy. She had already made lifestyle changes, particularly to her diet, after researching holistic fertility methods, and now she redoubled her efforts, choosing to believe she controlled her fate.
Aided by Pierre, a physics PhD and gourmet chef, the husband and wife team set about creating and eating meals that adhered to strict dietary guidelines, but were also delicious. Four months later, after the couple had meticulously followed their eating regime, Cindy’s doctor was shocked to discover she was pregnant.
The ultimate fruit of their labor was a son, Julien, but the idea for a cookbook had also taken root.
“At one point, I told Pierre that it’s a shame others with fertility issues don’t have these recipes because they’re really tasty, and really help you stick to [your fertility] diet,” Cindy said. “I realized in that moment, we could share the recipes, the dietary guidelines, and all we learned on our journey with others in the form of a book.”
It required a year of work and many 2 a.m. nights, but that’s exactly what the couple did in The Fertile Kitchen Cookbook, which features about 60 of Pierre’s recipes, accompanied by Cindy’s photos and tips they picked up along the way. It’s a detailed but simple guide because, Cindy says, couples navigating fertility issues already have enough to think about.
And because not everyone is like Pierre. Cindy, a self-proclaimed “kitchen klutz,” admits the task of cooking these meals seemed daunting, but the experience helped her adopt a more positive attitude toward cooking, and pick up a few techniques along the way.
“To my untrained eye, Pierre’s dishes didn’t appear easy to me at first, but on this project, I paid close attention, and then of course I had to test the recipes myself,” Cindy said. “I discovered that they are really easy, much easier than what I was doing before on my own—and with a much more flavorful result.”
Choosing to follow fertility expert advice demanded sacrifices, such as cutting out dairy, wheat, and, most difficult of all for Cindy, restaurant fare from one’s diet, so having a variety of dishes to prepare proved important. That variety, the quality of the recipes, and habit has kept the family eating healthy, although Cindy says they do now eat out sometimes, and Pierre, being Swiss, could not swear off cheese forever.
Cindy couldn’t choose just one favorite recipe from the book, but names the Ground Turkey Mix, Hot and Spicy Prawns, and Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup as near the top of her list.
“I also swear that once you start eating Pierre’s Chile Con Carne (a healthy version), you will not be able to stop,” she added.
For his part, Julien likes the Zucchini Pasta and Pierre is especially proud of his crepe recipes.
There’s no doubt in Cindy’s mind that the taste and simplicity of the recipes makes them useful, but she will be among the first to acknowledge that no diet can provide a guaranteed solution to anyone’s fertility difficulties. No remedy currently on the market can promise that, and indeed for Cindy, her diet was just one part of lifestyle changes made toward the goal of having a child.
In the end, she said, “Reducing stress is the most important thing you can do to help your fertility. I’m usually going 100-miles-per-hour and stressed about something along the way, so taking the time to practice yoga and meditation daily—to force myself to take that hour or two out of my day to do this, was really challenging, as was reducing the intensity of my exercise. What was also extremely difficult was ‘letting go.’ To do all I can to help myself get pregnant, and then to surrender to whatever might happen. In other words, to let go of my expectations.”
For Cindy and Pierre, these practices along with the diet they chose worked, and they hope their cookbook can assist other couples as they try to overcome obstacles to fertility. By following the recipes, Cindy writes in her introduction, “The worst case scenario is that you put your body in the healthiest, best position for conception.”
Currently, Cindy and Pierre run a blog based on The Fertile Kitchen Cookbook, and are planning two additional books to promote healthy living: one for everyone, and one for couples dealing with the sleepless nights and stress that often accompany the joy of a newborn baby. Pierre works as an engineer for Hitachi and is constantly fashioning new recipes, while Cindy, in addition to running her corporate writing business Bailey Communications, is close to shopping a novel to publishers. In their free time they enjoy each others’ company, and of course that of their young son Julien.
Be sure to check out The Fertilce Kitchen Cookbook website for recipes and samples from the book.