Did you know that nutrition impacts fertility and reproductive health? If you are trying to have kids, nutrition is definitely something to pay attention to. To talk more about this topic, please welcome McKenzie Caldwell, a renowned Fertility Nutritionist featured on NBC, New York Post, Good Housekeeping, and other prominent platforms.
Disclosure: This sponsored interview brings to light the importance of nutrition on fertility and reproductive health and brings awareness to infertility issues to help those trying to conceive.
Interview with McKenzie Caldwell
In our discussion, McKenzie explains the role of nutrients and dietary changes in enhancing fertility. There were more than a few times I found myself impressed by the depth of knowledge of the online dietician.
To start the dialogue, I asked the Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN) about her professional focus and background to better understand her inspiring career. Among the highlights of our conversation are when she explains how fertility nutrition is not only a “woman’s problem” and partnering with Eu Natural (pronounced “you”) for their Bouquets of Hope campaign to raise awareness for infertility issues.
Optimizing fertility and pregnancy through nutritional guidance is your specialty. Is that correct?
Yes! I specialize in fertility and prenatal nutrition for individuals and couples. I see clients in 1:1 and couples coaching sessions, and also offer group coaching and online courses for fertility and pregnancy through my programs Fully Nourished Pregnancy and The Insulin Resistance Mini Course.
Wonderful! What is your background in fertility nutrition?
I completed my undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University and the Master of Public Health/Registered Dietitian Training Program at UNC Chapel Hill.
While at Chapel Hill, I completed additional training and research in maternal nutrition. I have continued my education as a working professional through mentorship, workshops, and trainings in eating disorders and reproductive health. I have been working as a dietitian in the fertility and prenatal nutrition world since 2019.
The famous saying is, ‘We are what we eat’ – Is this accurate?
While nutrition is absolutely impactful, it is definitely not the end all, be all of our health. There’s a lot of aspects to our health that are outside of our control, including our mental well-being and social determinants of health.
So, instead of “we are what we eat,” I like to reframe to a more positive mantra like “my body deserves respect” or “nourishing my body helps me achieve my goals.”
You are vocal about how nutrition can affect fertility. Is this a new finding, or is it only now gaining attention in the health and wellness field?
Nutrition science as a whole is still a relatively new area of research, so fertility nutrition, in particular, is definitely a more emergent topic in the field of reproductive health. While we have some studies dating back to the late 60s, most of the research on fertility nutrition has come out in the last 15 years.
That might seem like a long time, but it takes a while for the science to be implemented in medical practice and even longer for it to become common knowledge in the population.
What do you hope more people begin to learn about nutrition as it relates to fertility?
My hope is that more people come to understand that nutrition for fertility does not have to be complicated or restrictive. When we focus on adding nutrient-dense foods to your eating pattern versus cutting them out, your eating pattern becomes sustainable, enjoyable, and truly nourishing.
When it comes to fertility and nutrition, it’s not just a ‘woman’s problem.’ Can you speak to that?
Yes, absolutely. Fertility nutrition is important for male partners to pay attention to as well.
A lot of the principles are the same for both partners, like eating more produce, eating consistent balanced meals and snacks, and getting plenty of omega-3 fats. Correcting nutrient deficiencies and focusing on antioxidant-rich foods can greatly improve sperm count and quality.
You’re partnering with Eu Natural to fundraise. Can you please explain a bit about the campaign?
I’m partnering with Eu Natural for their Bouquets of Hope campaign, which is seeking to raise awareness about and destigmatize infertility. As part of the campaign, Eu Natural is also raising funds for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Organization to support their efforts in empowering and educating people struggling with infertility.
To participate in the campaign, post a picture of orange flowers to social media and tag @eunatural and #BouquetsofHope – for every picture posted with these tags, Eu Natural will donate $100 to RESOLVE.
Such a great campaign! I’m curious, what is an example of a dietary change that can benefit reproductive health?
While fertility nutrition is sometimes dependent on each individual, one thing that everyone can do if they’re hoping to conceive is start a high-quality multivitamin at least three months prior to conceiving, like Conception for Her or Conception for Him from Eu Natural.
It takes about 90 days for sperm and eggs to fully mature, so this gives your body plenty of time to get the nutrients it needs to support your reproductive health before conceiving.
Terrific. I’m curious, what does your average workday look like, McKenzie Caldwell?
Every day is a little different as a business owner! On an average day, after coffee, breakfast, and the New York Times Mini Crossword, I’m jumping into sessions with my 1:1 coaching clients. I will have between 3-5 clients per day, and each appointment is around an hour long.
Between client appointments, I’m doing some behind-the-scenes work like answering emails, creating client meal plans, billing insurance, reviewing labs, providing food log feedback, posting on social media, checking in on my group programs, and working on consulting projects. Somewhere in there, I make sure to take care of my body with a balanced lunch, plenty of fun hydration and nourishing snacks as well.
I like to wrap up my workday by taking my dog for a walk in the neighborhood. Wearing a lot of different hats as an entrepreneur keeps me on my toes, so my self-care routine keeps me grounded.
What do you hope clients take away from a fertility nutrition session with you?
My hope is that my clients always feel empowered from their sessions with me. I want them to walk away with simple, actionable steps that don’t feel restrictive.
My clients are usually a little nervous when they come into their first session with me but end up feeling relieved to know that I’m always going to listen, and will never judge them.
How does your approach differ from other nutritionists?
I take a body-positive approach to my work that is eating disorder-informed. What this means is that I don’t focus on weight with my clients.
Weight loss diets are ineffective for the vast majority of people and can be damaging to mental and physical well-being. Instead of a more restrictive approach that can be very triggering for people with a history of disordered eating, I like to focus on full nourishment, no matter the size of my client’s body.
We work on using evidence-based nutrition science to add foods for fertility and pregnancy, not cut them out.
What is one myth about fertility nutrition that you want to dispel?
A big myth in the fertility community is that gluten and dairy are inflammatory. This is not true at all!
While some folks with celiac disease do need to cut out gluten, or those with a dairy allergy do need to cut out cow’s milk, there is zero evidence that they are inflammatory for everyone. In fact, whole grains that contain gluten and full-fat dairy products can actually be very nutritious and serve to boost fertility for people who can tolerate them.
Wow! Where can we connect with you further, McKenzie Caldwell?
My website is www.feedyourzest.com, where you can find my blog and join my email list in addition to getting more information about my services. I’m also on TikTok as @fertility.prenatal.rd and Instagram (and now Threads!) as @fertility.prenatal.dietitian
Thank you, McKenzie Caldwell and Eu Natural
Thank you for being here to raise awareness about the role of nutrition in fertility and reproductive health, McKenzie Caldwell! You are helping individuals and couples increase their chances of conception and achieve their dream of starting a family. Your partnership with Eu Natural for the Bouquets of Hope campaign is inspiring, supporting fertility and healthy conception.