If there is something that I have learned during this health journey is that there are no “for sures” as to what is right and wrong about what to eat if you suffer from endometriosis. We are all so different that what might work for me, might not work for you. Despite this, I believe that there are a few strong recommendations of foods that you should consider removing from your diet. The following five inflammatory sensitivities are: dairy, gluten, soy, sugar, and artificial sweeteners.
When I first started my endo journey, I was extremely confused because of the amounts of information that was out there, but I was also very scared because I knew I was going to make harsh life changing decisions and more importantly ACTIONS to change the way that I was feeling. The first thing that I started to do was to write down everything that I was eating in a day and how that was making me feel. This allowed me to make a better connection of the foods that I was eating and how they were making me feel which helped me greatly mentally. With this information, I made a list of foods that were making me feel bad, that I knew were inflammatory and that gave me flare ups (dairy, sugars, and process food for sure were here). Once I had the first preliminary list, I used it as a draft of the foods that I was first going to eliminate.
How do you stop eating foods you have been eating your entire life? This was hard but truly there is no trick to it, you just commit to your health and decide to just stop eating them. At first, I had them here and there to tell you the complete truth but then I started to notice that when I did have them, I was bloated or was not my best self. I started to reject them when I was being offered them and slowly but surely, I eliminated them from my diet. I have a long-term goal of having a great quality of life and when you focus on this huge goal then it starts to reflect on your daily choices.
Another goal of mine was to start incorporating organic vegetables a day. Oh my, this was so hard! I was someone that hated fruits, vegetables, and legumes prior to starting this journey and just the thought of adding any of those to my daily meals used to give me chills. As I am writing this, I cannot believe I had been so unhealthy prior to this, how I was so uninformed of how food was a key component to my health and how bad I ate my entire life. Ok going back to my goal, I started with eating organic vegetables at least in two of my meals a day, as well as incorporating fruits in the morning and legumes in replacement of meat in one of the meal servings in the day. I was someone that was consuming an animal product on each meal of my day and I was not aware of how that was causing inflammation in my body.
The first year was hard but I learned new recipes, got closer to new types of food, and limited my meat intake while only eating chicken and fish. This worked pretty good for a while, but it got me to a point that I wanted to feel even better than what I was feeling. My entire life I had suffered of constipation and the changes that I was making was helping me go to the bathroom daily because of the daily fiber intake which was a huge relief for me. If you have ever suffered from constipation, you know how much anxiety and frustration it can cause. As I started to feel the effects of eating healthier, I decided to go above and stop eggs, chicken, and fish from my diet. I think it is important to highlight that it is a process and that it is better to work your way up, giving your digestive system time to adjust and letting your central system downregulate along the way. My aim became to ensure that I was on my way to a healthy informed plant-based diet.
On my second year of this journey, I decided to eat only plant-based food and it was not from one day to the other. By this time, I already had a lot of knowledge on how to cook and I had learned to love different legumes, fruits, and vegetables. I will tell you of some of the mistakes that I made because I believe it is important, when I first replaced the meat for legumes, my serving portions were off, and it caused a lot of gases which were painful and if you have bowel endo you know how it can be. A bowl of legumes a meal is not the solution, be mindful of the serving sizes. Another trick that I learned is to soak legumes, nuts, and seeds and this will help to neutralize the enzymes, igniting the germination process, and helping you digest them better. Fats are also very important but the healthy kind, avocados, olive oil, nuts, etc. With grains, I am tolerant to them, so I decided to keep them in my diet, so I eat quinoa and rice. I avoid gluten as much as I can but believe me when I say that there is gluten almost everywhere just like sugars.
I was lucky enough to have a husband that decided to jump in the plant-based wagon with me and it allowed me to be more focused on my plan as I was not tempted to sit at a table with unhealthy options, I suggest that if this is not your case, you should talk to your family and explain why you are doing it. It is a hard journey but not an impossible one and, in my case, it made all the difference in how good I feel today. Little things like eating organic produce, washing your vegetables, taking the proper time to chew, taking the time to sit at a table without distractions, and connecting with the food that is nourishing you is powerful. Where am I in this journey? I mostly eat a plant-based diet; I say mostly because once a month or so I eat fish when I am out socially. How do I feel? After almost two and a half years of eating a plant-based diet, my blood work just came back with a positive review. My levels are optimal and the only deficiency that I have is vitamin D3 but I think that is because it was an ongoing issue that I brought from when I was living in Canada. More importantly, I am feeling great! I can truly say that I am in control of my health because of my lifestyle changes. Eating a plant-based diet opened the door to other aspects of my life like exercising, meditating, reading more, learning, and overall being a better version of myself.
I hope my nutrition journey can inspire to start yours, it is never too late to try something new especially when there nothing to lose!
Feel free to comment and share in what stage of your nutrition journey you are on. I am interested to hear if something different has worked for you.