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Eating for Endo as a Couple – Part 1

Jessica has endometriosis, and Chris is her partner. Together, they find ways to manage the condition and support each other through its challenges. Here they answer questions about eating to manage endometriosis symptoms, and how they navigate this diet together.

When did Jessica begin eating for endometriosis and how did that impact you both?

From Jess:
My journey started when we were travelling in South Africa. I’d had my intolerance tests come through showing that I was severely intolerant to dairy and gluten, and as these two groups are inflammatories and have been linked to worsening symptoms in some people with endometriosis (and chronic pain conditions), I knew it was time to start addressing the issue. I started researching more and more and firstly cut out some of the foods that were key triggers for my pain levels, like sugar and caffeine, and triggers for my endometriosis bloating and stomach complaints, like dairy. It was quite hard at this time to cut out both diary and gluten, as most places offered one or the other in terms of meals or ‘free-from’ type foods.  I should also state here that we’re both veggie, so that also limited me at that time (5 or so years ago).

However, we’re both foodies and I think we enjoyed the challenge of finding new places and healthy places to eat. It was always a bit of a thrill for me to find something on the menu I could have. As this time, it wasn’t hugely affecting Chris. He still had what he wanted most of the time; I would just have my meal without cheese, for example. I think it was such a relief to me and I hope, both of us, to see the dramatic change in my pain levels by the end of that month that we knew it was worth pursuing.

From Chris:
Yea, it was definitely a drastic change, even at the end of that month. And seeing Jess in the pain I had done previously, it was definitely something worth pursuing, even if it got difficult.

It was also well timed in that we were in a new place, so we didn’t have all of our old eating habits as baggage, and were therefore willing to experiment with new foods and dietary choices. Plus, our money went a lot further than it did back in London so we had that freedom too. It didn’t really affect my own diet much to begin with as, like Jess writes, it was as simple as skipping a coffee or foregoing cheese in a meal.

How has Jessica’s approach to nutrition changed and how has that evolved your eating habits and lifestyle as a couple?

From Jess:
It’s changed quite a lot really! I now not only eat an anti-inflammatory diet, but I also eat to regulate my blood sugar (as unstable blood sugar negatively affects our hormones) and I eat to support my hormones at every stage of my cycle. This has allowed me to have much better periods, and work on other symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog.

It does mean that every week we have a shopping list that is essentially dictated by my hormones! As my phases change, so does our food shopping. It’s always things we like, but it has thrown our cooking routine a bit. We used to have some great recipes and go-to meals, and we’ve now had to change these to fit in with the phases and to be blood sugar friendly (so no grains in the evening!) – we haven’t quite got into a rhythm with it yet, but every time we develop a new recipe that we love, we write it down.

Our food shopping is always a pretty reasonable price, especially being a vegan shop. We spend about £30-£40 (as a couple, not each), but I do have supplements and protein which I pay for on top of that. On a practical level, how does this affect your own eating habits, Chris?

From Chris:
It can sometimes feel quite limiting, having a list of specific foods for each week of the month, but other times having this structure in place makes deciding what to eat way simpler. There is also a fun, problem-solving puzzle in working out what and how many meals you can make with a specific set of ingredients.

I still eat what I want for breakfast and we are often apart for lunch anyway due to work, so evening meals and weekends are the main point of change. I definitely complain sometimes about the restrictions, but this is probably just my hungry-self talking at the time, as the dietary changes are healthy and sustainable, and can only be doing my body good as well.

Read Part 2 here

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