In my journey of managing endometriosis holistically, food became my best medicine. It is amazing to learn firsthand how food can impact how you feel. After learning that endometriosis is an inflammatory disease, I immediately decided to change the way I ate so I could control the painful symptoms. Here are the 8 foods to avoid if you want to manage endometriosis and have a better quality of life.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, health professional or nutritionist. Please consult medical advice prior to attempting any changes to your diet regimen. This is for informational purpose only, to relay my personal experience, which has helped me personally. Results may vary per individual.
- Gluten: Who doesn’t love a good pizza, pasta, a piece of bread or for a Colombian girl like me a good “Buñuelo”. Gluten, unfortunately, causes inflammation, so it is best if you avoid it. Food that has wheat, rye, and barley can be harmful to women like us (with endo). What I’ve found most challenging now is that there are a few gluten-free alternatives out there, but they are not necessarily a better option. Some of the ‘gluten-free’ pizzas, for example, have a bunch of additives and things like guard gum which can cause some digestive problems and make inflammation worse. The best you can do is to take your time to find good gluten-free brands that have more whole ingredients, fewer additives and a shorter list of ingredients.
- Dairy: Cutting dairy was the hardest for me especially ice cream, cheese, and milk. Today dairy is the second most inflammatory food in our diet after gluten and because dairy products have growth hormones and antibiotics, it can also worsen endometriosis symptoms. Dairy can cause digestive problems like bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. The hormones and antibiotics added to dairy can create a further imbalance in our body’s hormones. Almon, oats, and cashew are a few of the vegetable milk in the market that are great alternatives.
- Caffeine: Daily caffeine intake for women with endometriosis can increase inflammation in the body and estrogen levels. Endometriosis is estrogen dominant therefore not a good idea to consume coffee, which increases levels further. I’ve never been a coffee drinker (as good as it smells) because I am super intolerant. As soon as I drink coffee, it sends me straight to the bathroom and gives me very bad cramps.
- Red Meats: They also cause inflammation, therefore, should be avoided. Non-organic red meat can contain xenohormones and antibiotics, which can be toxic to our body. In replacement of the red meat, you can eat leaner protein like chicken, fish, and turkey which are better choices. Remember that it is extremely important to consume lean protein that is antibiotic free, hormone free, grass fed, humanely raised and wild caught in the case of the fish. Quality of the protein is very important because if you are consuming protein that does not comply with the previous specifications, it will create a hormonal imbalance and inflammation.
- Trans-Fat & Processed Foods: Eating trans-fat and processed foods are not only one of the leading causes of cholesterol and diabetes but also of inflammatory chronic illnesses like endometriosis. These types of foods should be avoided at all costs and it should be replaced for whole foods. Eating processed food increases the chances of consuming toxins and chemicals that will make your digestive system work twice as hard to eliminate. We need our gut to work as smooth as possible and without the nutrients that whole foods provide, we make it difficult for proper processing. Our body is a ‘machine’ and the gut is a key component of which we must nurture instead of dumping food that we can’t even pronounce.
- Sugar: We all know that sugar causes inflammation and it should not be consumed but there are many alternatives out there for us. Sweets, in general, are my weakness but once I realized how damaging consuming sugar for my body was, I started to look for delicious alternatives. Stevia is a great way to bring sweetness to food and a great alternative to sugar. I no longer buy sugar in my house and if I need to add something sweet, I use stevia either in powder or liquid form. Cacao is another great replacement for chocolate, and it has many health benefits.
- Alcohol: One of the ways that alcohol makes endo worse is by affecting the hormone levels; it increases estrogen which in return makes your endometriosis symptoms worse, the “PMS”, and the overall menstrual pains. Alcohol disrupts your menstrual cycles as it impacts ovulation and fertility; it makes your liver work double while it processes the hormones and toxins. Also, it lowers your energy and metabolism; it disrupts digestion, impacts your brain health and memory.
- Soy Products: Soy can increase the estrogen levels in your body making the endometriosis and its symptoms worse. Reduce or eliminate soy as much as you can within your diet and look out for soy as an ingredient present, as it is in many of today’s products that we consume.
Remember that life happens and not always do we get to choose the perfect food, the key is to balance everything. Exceptions are still ok and if you are out enjoying a day with your family and you eat ice cream