Managing Endo Belly with The Low-FODMAP Diet: Part 3

Read Part 1 here
Read Part 2 here

The low-FODMAP diet not only reduced my bloating, but it helped me pinpoint one of my main menstrual cramp triggers: soy additives. Many doctors and endo specialists have told me that ingesting soy, an often highly processed phytoestrogen1, can activate endometrial tissue. It can make you feel like you're having a mini-period, they said.

But I'm vegan and soy is everywhere. Avoiding it completely was overwhelming.

I stayed away from obvious offenders like soy milk and fake meats. But when I stopped eating my daily snack bar — it had some high-FODMAP ingredients — my midday cramps got better. While it seems obvious now, I hadn't thought about a protein supplement being problematic. But there it was, right on the ingredient list: soy protein isolate, roasted soybeans, and soy flour. I immediately switched to soy-free, nut-filled Clif bars. (The regular Clif bars still have soy.)

Find where soy is hiding

During my soy purge, I ate a Biscoff cookie on an airplane. I immediately got cramps. When I looked at the ingredients, both soy flour and soybean oil were on the list. I also found soy additives in almond-based vegan ice creams, which I ate regularly. The cake from my favorite restaurant, also soy-based. After I figured out that soy protein isolate and soybean oil were trouble, I started looking at all of my food to see where it was hiding. I found soy lechitin in everything from chocolate chips to vegan cheese.

I've since switched to items that use sunflower instead of soy, and I just make desserts myself.

The soy I'm keeping

Firm tofu and fermented products like soy sauce and tempeh are low-FODMAP. After my soy cleanse, I was afraid reintroducing these soy proteins would cause me pain, but nothing bad happened. While I don't go overboard with any soy products, I do make sure they are organic.

While soy ingredients creep in every now and then, mostly avoiding them has helped relieve much of the chronic pain not associated with my period. Since my body stays mostly processed-soy free, that means when I do have a little soy ice cream from the parlor down the street, I can enjoy it.

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