CRiL reviews: Emma Cannon new book ‘Fertile: Nourish & Balance Your Body Ready for Baby Making’

In a world obsessed with youth & good looks, it’s difficult not to get sucked into the whirlwind & keep focus on the things that truly matter, like our emotional & physical health & wellbeing. When we are in our 20s, the issue fertility remains far from our minds, in fact many of us dread getting pregnant & would rather enjoy freedom, fun & building up professional experiences & career. By the time we reach 30s & 40s, when many women long to become mothers, the subject takes centre stage, but we have to face the fact that our past lifestyle choices might have had a negative impact on our fertile state. A recently published book ‘Fertile’ by the fertility expert & writer Emma Cannon is a knowledgable guide to the state of your body & mind, irrespective of your age & motherhood ambitions. In a nutshell, it will help you be in tune with your feminine force.

Emma is serene & charming. No matter what is going on outside her treatment room, she radiates inner calm that is often missing from modern lifestyle. I have seen her during my pregnancies & every time left her treatment room with a calmer head & body, with the treatment effect lasting for days. Her three previous books have helped several of the women that I know to get pregnant, at times when doctors were shaking their heads. Yet, no matter the rate of success, Emma’s feet remain firmly on the ground, with no airs & graces when it comes to her multiple talents. She is driven by innate desire to help as many couples as she can, as well as women in general, who need to fine-tune the optimal functioning of their bodies.  In addition to her work in the clinic & writing books, Emma publishes a blog, full of practical & relatable advice that is relevant to women of different ages, irrespective of their lifestyle choices. No less importantly, Emma takes responsibility for advice that she gives, so suffice to say that the publication of this book intrigued me.

Fertility – engage in it, yet keep a lightness to your touch

This beautifully photographed hardback, with a cheerful yellow inner cover, offers practical advice & fact- checked information alongside delicious recipes by nutritionist Victoria Wells, who works alongside Emma in the clinic in Chelsea.

Emma’s now classic ‘Baby-Making bible’ came out when times were perfectly aligned for Emma, after she beat cancer & her heart was brimming with joy. In a way it was her love letter to life, to the future, to the women & her own daughters. ‘Fertile: Nourish and Balance Your Body ready for Baby Making’, Emma’s fourth book, is a bit different, as it has ‘hidden depth & deeper meaning’, according to Emma. Her latest book combines many years of experience in the clinic, as well as Emma’s personal journey as a woman, alongside deliciously nurturing recipes created by Victoria & tested by both women, as the importance of food should never be underestimated when it comes to physical & mental well-being.

The book is divided into two part, ‘A Fertile Life’ & ‘Recipies’. In the first part Emma focusses on such topics as fertile living & fundamentals, like a menstrual cycle, examining body-mind-gut connection, egg quality, miscarriage, IVF support & male fertility. I tend to read lots of books, blogs & magazines as part of my own writing research & often coverage of several of the above subjects seems to be lacking, particularly when you read on the subject of female fertility. Somehow, even in our day & age, fertility issues are more often ‘blamed’ on women, as opposed to looking at the subject with a 360 view. Emma is one of those fiercely passionate women who values knowledge & experience above social media followers number and I would rather my own daughter takes advice from Emma in the future, than from some ‘influencer’ or foodie blogger, whose professional scope is limited to say the least.

When you tend to the garden you don’t seek to control it; take the same approach with your body & menstrual cycle. Tend to your body tenderly, without trying to control it. 

There are five ingredients that in Emma’s opinion are invaluable to fertile life: flexibility, creativity, nourishment, transformation & belief. Armed with them you can achieve so much more on your life’s journey, both personally & professionally, but in our constant race for deadlines, we tend to forget to nurture our inner sanctum, which negatively impacts our life overall.

In addition, it helps to remember that our health at the time of conception helps determine the health of our children, so things like overworking, not recovering from illness or stress can only deplete your life force. So, even before you might consider having children with a person you love, talk to your mother, if she is alive, about your medical history, arming yourself with knowledge. Cook nurturing & delicious meals to nurture body & spirit, remembering that our bodies & constitutions are unique and that ‘diets’ don’t generally work. Emma & Victoria effortlessly make the case for such individual approach to lifestyle in this book, making it very different to many books lining bookshops shelves, Amazon bestsellers list or your own shelves. One of Emma’s mantras is ‘develop your self-awareness & go with your gut instinct. Be your own guru!’

From how to maintain a healthy weight to thoughts on general exercise & why Emma is not a huge fan of running herself, from alcohol consumption to dealing with stress, Emma gives not popular, but sensible advice that works. She also helpfully points out that most couples aren’t infertile, but sub fertile, so improving diet & lifestyle consciously can help improve your chances of conceiving a much longed for baby when you are ready to.

‘This book is as much for your heart, as it is for your body’

In the book Emma also touches on the subject of detox & cleanse, but not in a way that we came to view it due to press coverage. Emma’s Fertile Cleanse should be viewed as a diet cleanse, rather than a detox, but it isn’t just about what you eat. Emma also talks about rituals that might seem simple, yet have been proven to work no less effectively than modern scientific advances – we all are constantly tempted by new beauty & wellbeing launches, yet things like oil pulling, acupuncture, abdominal massage, as well as ‘fish & chips bath’ – and no, it has nothing to do with eating them while having a relaxing bath, – prove that some ‘tried & tested concepts’ are here to stay, untouched by passage of time.

When it comes to recipes, you have chapters dedicated to breakfasts, soups, condiments, fish/meat & poultry, vegetable dishes & salads & sweet treats & drinks. Emma loves food & cooking, so each recipe, appealing to vegetarians, as well as carnivores, was created in Emma’s London kitchen, as well as in France, alongside an experienced & sensible nutritionist Victoria Wells. Interestingly enough, both food & advice in this book are built on the unique alchemy of ancient Eastern & traditional Western medical principles, thus appealing & applying to very different women.

In order to feel well, you need to eat well, enjoying textures, flavours & colours of your food, sitting at the table & chewing, not just swallowing your food mindlessly. Delicious food can be savoured on your own, offering a break from commitments & routine, or in the company of your loved ones, off the social media grid, when conversation flows 7 there is no tie in the background, diverting your attention. Irrespective of your own dietary preferences, each recipe starts tempting your eyes with simple visuals, when you are leafing through the book. My favourites are Amaranth, spiced pear & pumpkin seed porridge, as well as Mixed Grain Porridge with blackberries, hazelnuts & flaxseeds, but Black sesame porridge with roasted saffron peaches is as exotic, as it is nurturing – I just wish someone brought it to me in the morning to bed. Well, maybe when I am older & school runs will be things of the past….Or maybe your taste buds will be tempted by the sweet flavour of the Chestnut Compote? Lunch calls for Celeriac & Chestnut Soup with Chestnut & Herb Pesto, but I also like to make myself some pasta with variations of pesto, like Chestnut & Herb – easy, fragrant & nurturing. Or maybe you will be enticed by sourdough bread smothered with Chickpea & Date Hummus?

With the recent gloomy weather akin to autumn rather than spring, while reading this book I was drawn to the comfort of Moroccan-spiced Chicken Livers or Pork & Chicken Liver Meatballs with Creamy Polenta – ultimate comfort food. Almond-crusted Salmon with Cauliflower Puree got thumbs up from my girlfriends for dinner, as will Sweet Potato & Chickpea Gnocchi.

Another appealing thing when it comes to this books recipes is their practicality. Take energy balls, for example – easy to make, then store in a jar in the fridge (not they they last for long in my household!) or  & taken to the office & eaten as healthy snack (I favour Spiced date & almond cannon-balls for a brain kick). Cooking is a form of self-love, a ritual that was practised by many generations of women before us – this book so wonderfully reminds us of that! I was intrigued by Avocado Kefir Lassi, which when I made it, reminded me of one drunk at the spa in the Maldives a few years ago. I also tried making Beet Kvas, which is nice, but I prefer wheat one when I am in Moscow – some old habits are too dear to be changed, as traditional taste reminds me of my childhood.

In essence, this book is for any woman who wants to look after her female power force. Whether we are girly or boyish by personality, our nurturing nature can’t be bypassed & deserves to be looked after. I think women in their 20s might be inspired by knowledge & recipes that won’t be too taxing on their time, as will older women, who have, want to or don’t want to have kids. I have two children & don’t plan to add to my brood, but my femininity is no less important to me now, as it was in my youth because I want not just to look good, but feel good as well. This book offers you wisdom when you feel like expanding your knowledge, whether you read it or skim through pages & try a recipe or two. At your own pace, listening to your own inner voice & getting what you need from the book when you need it. It’s like a wise & light-footed friend who has your best interest at heart but never preaches or forces things on you.

Emma Cannon with Victoria Wells ‘Fertile: Nourish and Balance Your Body ready for baby Making‘ is published by Ebury press & is available from book stores & Amazon, £20

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