After Two Years On An Endo-Diet, Here's What I've Learned
In the past, it's like my brain had its own taste-buds. I'd start planning dinner early morning, and spend most of the day thinking about the contents of my kitchen, wondering whether I had enough chocolate to bake some cookies. But since my endometriosis diagnosis, I was forced to think about my food differently. Instead of being driven by what I fancied eating, I had to focus on what made my body feel good, and give up what hurt me.
Eating for endometriosis, means making conscious decisions about what goes into my stomach. I have made many adjustments, given up completely on some favorites, and regulated the consumption of others. After two years of giving the endo-diet a go, and a lot of trial and error, I have learnt two important lessons.
Lesson #1: Some changes will work, others fail miserably
Because so much of endometriosis pain is derived from inflamed tissue and adhesions, avoiding anything that could worsen the discomfort has proven to be a great rule of thumb.
Inflammatory foods include red meat, sugar, dairy, gluten, and caffeine amongst others. In my case, pasta and bread are especially tough to digest, and will always result in abdominal pain soon after a meal. Sugar, on the other hand, tends to affect me the day after I overdo it. Additionally, my period pains worsen severely if I succumb to my premenstrual crave for all of the sweet foods.
One change that did next to nothing was cutting out coffee. I spent six months avoiding my favorite morning drink, only to find it made no difference to my digestive troubles, nor to my period pain. In fact, a cup of coffee helped me with my chronic fatigue, allowing me to feel more awake. Now, I only drink it whenever my energy levels take a dive around midday. Some days I even avoid coffee completely and drink matcha or make turmeric lattes.
Lesson #2: Patience and self-love can go a long way
Frustration will kick in pretty fast on days when all I crave is comfort foods. Reducing things that are tasty, but ultimately damaging, is a practice that takes time. Namely because results won’t happen overnight, and it's tricky to make wise decisions when hungry and cranky.
Additionally, letting things slide once in a while, can be the healthiest approach. When traveling solo last year, I struggled to find meal options that ticked every box of my endometriosis diet. I worried so much over this, that I ended up losing my appetite and a lot of weight. I had to accept that in order to enjoy eating, I needed a more relaxed approach. And as long as I didn’t over do it with the veggie paninis, I felt mostly fine.
Whether a particular dietary change works is down to each patient
There is no quick solution, nor a one-size-fits-all diet. Finding what works is a complicated, personal journey, one that could benefit from speaking to a doctor, or a dietician specialized in endometriosis.
But one thing is for sure, no matter how long it takes to find what works, it is worth giving it a go. Focusing on my diet gave me back a sense of control, and it reduced many of my painful symptoms. And on the special occasions on which I get to eat pizza, I don't feel like I'm on a diet, but on the life-long process of taking good care of myself.
Do you know someone that has made a difference with endometriosis advocacy?