Last week I shared my personal struggle with my period and PMS (namely, debilitating cramps) and how a plant-based vegan diet relieved my pain and suffering.
Having experienced ‘radical relief’ myself, I want to communicate this message to others, which is one of the many reasons I am so passionate about Dr. Barnard’s new book (RELEASED YESTERDAY!), Your Body in Balance.
Several other women have experienced life-changing results following Dr. Barnard’s dietary protocol and he shares their incredible stories and testimony in YBB.
Today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of the women from Dr. Barnard’s book, Alison.
A little bit about Alison: Alison is an oncology dietitian that specializes in helping individuals with cancer. (She has always found that diet changes can be enormously helpful for her patients.) You can learn more about her private practice, Wholesome LLC here.
HH: Neal [Dr. Barnard] told me you and I have similar medical histories, at least in our early years.
Alison: Generally, my health has always been great. I maintained a healthy weight and was athletic. However, from the moment I hit puberty and got my first period, I was never regular. I would go for five months without a period, and when it did arrive, it was very heavy.
HH: Yikes! That was my experience too. If I had a period (months would go by without one) it was incredibly heavy, lasted 10 days or longer, and was so painful. That’s why I started on birth control so young. Did you have any other “PMS” symptoms or related issues?
Alison: In college, I noticed I had developed some dark facial hairs. Other women in my family have it too, so I assumed it was our Greek ancestry. I also had acne.
HH: When did you realize you had a “problem” or when did your irregular period become a problem for you?
Alison: I married my husband when I was 23 and after a few years of marriage, we were excited to start a family. We were settled, out of school, the timing was right. However, my cycle would not cooperate. In a year’s time, I only had 1 or 2 periods.
HH: That must have been so frustrating. I know a lot of women use their period cycle to predict their “fertile window” and strategically plan baby-making time. Were you able to do any sort of tracking?
Alison: I carefully tracked my body temperature and other parameters to identify my fertility window, but it didn’t make sense. Even my doctor could not make heads or tails of the numbers. There was no trend at all. Eventually, we learned I was not ovulating.
HH: Did your doctor diagnose you with anything specific?
Alison: My doctor diagnosed me with PCOS, which is a hormonal condition. The diagnosis also explained some of my other symptoms.
HH: What do you mean?
Alison: PCOS tends to manifest with symptoms such as irregular periods, acne, and changes in hair growth—either unwanted body hair or hair thinning. All of which I had been experiencing.
Note: “Reversing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome” is a chapter in YBB!
HH: Considering your health was otherwise great, were you surprised by the diagnosis?
Alison: I wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis. Other close family members had been diagnosed before me, and I had the typical symptoms.
HH: Does PCOS affect fertility or your ability to conceive?
Alison: PCOS is a common cause of infertility. Without a regular cycle, pregnancy was not likely.
HH: What did your doctor prescribe? Is there a treatment for PCOS?
Alison: My doctor prescribed metformin, a medicine used to treat type 2 diabetes that is also used for PCOS. But it did not improve my fertility at all. After another year of “trying” my doctor prescribed fertility medications. They did not seem to work, either. I was still not getting pregnant.
HH: This is all so heartbreaking.
Alison: I felt as though this was all my fault. I felt like I was letting my husband down. After all, it was my body that wasn’t cooperating. I remember crying and asking Patrick, “If I can’t give you children? Will you still love me?” I knew he would, Patrick is a wonderful and supportive husband, but it was really hard.
HH: *Spoiler Alert* Alison has a beautiful baby daughter today. But this begs the question, what changed? How did you get pregnant?
Alison: All along I had been prescribing healthy diets to my cancer patients. And suddenly, it hit me: maybe a diet overhaul would help me, too. I stopped eating meat and started weaning myself off dairy products. Eventually, I was off all animal products and I decided to keep sugar and processed foods to a minimum. Basically, I tried follow as healthful a diet as I could.
HH: That is awesome. I assumed it helped?
Alison: Three weeks later—to the day—I ovulated for the first time in a year.
HH: You’re kidding! That is remarkable! How long did it take for you to get pregnant?
Alison: That is what is really remarkable. About three weeks after I had ovulated, I learned that I was pregnant!
HH: Get out of town! That is incredible! How was the pregnancy for you?
Alison: I had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful seven-pound, nine-ounce baby girl.
HH: That is so wonderful. Did you experience any other benefits? (Not that anything could compare to finally getting your baby!)
Alison: I noticed several other changes, too. My acne cleared up and my GI troubles drastically improved. I also lost the few pounds I had been wanting to lose but previously couldn’t.
HH: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today Alison.
Get your copy of Your Body in Balance right here. NOW AVAILABLE
A little bit about YBB: Dr. Neal Barnard’s latest book, Your Body in Balance: the New Science of Food, Hormones, and Health, tackles a whole new side of health. From menstrual cramps to menopause, from thyroid problems to depression, it explores how foods can change your hormones and all the mischief they can cause.
This amazing book provides step-by-step guidance on how specific foods can help with infertility, cramps, endometriosis, PCOS, hot flashes, and erectile dysfunction, as well as breast and prostate cancer through healthful diet changes. It also discusses how foods affect our weight, mood, and overall health. Your Body in Balance includes meal-planning tips and 65 delicious recipes by Lindsay S. Nixon.
Foods for Fertility
A New Approach to Cramps and Premenstrual Syndrome
Tackling Cancer for Women
Tackling Cancer for Men
Reversing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Curing Erectile Dysfunction and Saving Your Life
A Healthy Thyroid
Healthy Skin and Hair
Foods that Fight Moodiness and Stress
Avoiding Environmental Chemicals
TOMORROW I'll be interviewing Katherine, whose story is also featured in YBB. Don't miss it!