How a Couple Eats to Balance Blood Sugar in an Endo-Friendly Way
Jessica has endometriosis, and Chris is her partner. Together, they find ways to manage the condition and support each other through its challenges. Below they discuss how they've started to eat to balance blood sugar, while also eating in a way that manages Jess' endometriosis.
Why is balancing blood sugar important for endo?
From Jess: A lot of reasons! Blood sugar is essentially the amount of sugar in the blood, which comes from carbohydrates when they’re broken down in our gut. In response to sugar entering our blood, a hormone called insulin is released and this hormone goes around picking up the sugar and delivering it to where it’s needed in the body for energy.
When we eat too many carbs or sugar, or we eat refined carbohydrates, we experience a spike in blood sugar. The body releases a lot of insulin very quickly to deal with the spike, and as a result, the sugar is taken from our blood very quickly causing a dramatic drop in blood sugar, leaving us shaky, hungry, dizzy, and craving some kind of fix in the form of caffeine, sugar, or carbs.
Now at the same time, the increased insulin levels also cause a rise in cortisol as well. These two hormones in high amounts have a negative effect on our sex hormones and tend to result in issues such as low progesterone and excess estrogen or estrogen dominance. We know that estrogen can encourage endometriosis growth, so we certainly don’t want more than we need in our bodies, and the symptoms of low progesterone and excess estrogen are no fun either! (Think low moods, PMS, painful periods, missing periods and heavy periods.)
Does it conflict with how you were already eating for endometriosis?
From Jess: Yes, I’m afraid! As vegans, we used to eat really carb heavy meals. Literally I would have a lunch of sweet potatoes, rice, salad and other veg, with beans or falafel and hummus on the side. I’d end up crashing an hour later and have no idea why. Now we balance our blood sugar levels by aiming for 50% fiber from veggies, 25% proteinm and splitting the final 25% between fat and complex carbohydrates.
From Chris: We had to do a pretty big reshuffle of our go-to meals when we started eating to balance blood sugar, and I’m still getting used to it and making regular mistakes with what I put on our plates! We had a lot of easy and quick meals in our minds that we’ve had to adapt. Like Jess said, we’d eat rice all the time with other starchy veg and carbs, and while these were often anti-inflammatory and nutritious foods, they were affecting us in other ways.
What challenges does eating this way pose and what benefits do you feel?
From Jess: It’s generally harder being a vegan to balance blood sugar, because our diet is predominately veggies, beans, pulses, and complex carbohydrates. We’ve gotten into the hang of it during the week, but I still struggle at the weekends to get the balance right. Having said that, my energy levels are more stable than they’ve ever been (maybe in my life) and I wish I’d done it sooner!
From Chris: The challenge for me is trying to remember what foods are complex carbohydrates, what vegetables are high in starch, etc. It’s a whole new vocabulary that I’m still learning. It took me a while to get used to our endo-friendly diet, but now I don’t think twice so I’m sure that will come with this too.
Even though the blood sugar balancing was primarily for managing endometriosis fatigue and symptoms, I feel great eating this way too. Similar to Jess, my energy levels are much better throughout the day, and I don’t get random cravings for sweet food in between meals as much!
Have you ever experienced one or more of these side effects from your hormone therapy?