A plate of food with healthy snacks

Endo-Friendly Period Treat Hauls

When my partner was on her period this month, she sent me on a mission for snacks. This is a common assignment for partners, confirmed by hauls I’ve seen posted on TikTok and Instagram.

These treats are craved for comfort and pleasure, in a time where discomfort and displeasure are the norms. But for those with endometriosis, might these sugary treats actually be making that time of the month worse?

I want to first say that my partner chooses to manage her endometriosis through diet and nutrition and finds this to be very effective. Everything I’m about to say is therefore influenced by what I’ve learned from her.

If you or your partner don’t find diet particularly useful and don’t think that sugary treats negatively impact symptoms, then please disregard this. But to those who do find what they eat a powerful management tool for endometriosis symptoms, there may be a smarter way to indulge during menstruation.

How can sweets affect your body?

Refined carbohydrates and simple sugars, such as those found in common snacks, enter the bloodstream very quickly and causes blood glucose levels to spike. This causes the body to release an excess of insulin which causes blood sugar to crash shortly after.1

This results in tiredness, irritability, brain fog, and other symptoms that may worsen how someone feels at an already vulnerable time of the month.

High blood sugar also triggers an inflammatory response in the body, which may drive endometriosis growth, and contributes to worsening pain and endo flares.

The high insulin release associated with high blood sugar can cause elevated estrogen levels, which may also contribute to endometriosis growth and cause hormonal imbalance and symptoms such as heavy, painful periods, bloating, and PMS.2

Finally, high blood sugar is seen as a stressor by the body and can lead to increased cortisol levels that can also affect the hormonal balance in the body.

This is all to say that sometimes well-intended treats may be making your partner's period worse, and for those with endometriosis symptoms, this is particularly important.

I do want to repeat, however, that being reasonable and relaxed about your health is important, and seeing certain foods in a negative way can be unhelpful and counterproductive. It’s instead important to be informed so you can make choices and see what works for you.

Alternative healthy period-treats

So here are some tips for creating a more endo-friendly period treat haul:

  • Instead of standard dairy ice cream, go for plant-based or low sugar/high protein options. There is a great protein ice cream where we live that is delicious, caramelly, nutty, and only 2g sugar per bar!
  • Instead of potato chips, go for lentil or hummus chips. These chips will be lower in carbohydrates and therefore will have less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
  • Instead of milk chocolate, go for dark. Dark chocolate contains much less sugar and is sometimes completely plant-based.
  • Instead of sweets, go for sugar-free versions, or dried fruit. This one is tricky because many artificial sweeteners have their own health issues, and some have been shown to still spike blood glucose, but there are options to try and see what works for the individual. Dried fruit like Incan berries or mulberries can be a great alternative to sweets because even though they still contain sugar, they are also high in fiber which slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.

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