Why I Eat To Support My Hormones
For the first few years, the focus of ‘following’ the endometriosis diet was solely on my pain, until it became almost easy to manage. If I avoided my trigger foods, my pain was between a 1-3, and if I ate my trigger foods, it could be anything up to an 8 or 9. But I was frustrated that it seemed like the smallest hiccup (i.e. a coffee one or two days before my period) could have so much impact. I still had issues with fatigue, my moods were unstable, and I wanted to do more than just keep my pain under control. I wanted to get to the source of the issues and it seemed to me like I needed to go deeper.
Thinking about estrogen
I began understanding the significance of hormones all at once. I read The Empowered Woman, Womancode, and Code Red pretty much one after the other, and all books touched upon the wonders of hormones and just how pivotal they are to our bodily functions. The idea (as we know so far) that endometriosis is a disease that thrives off estrogen, and that it also makes its own estrogen, I had known for quite some time. I also knew that many with endometriosis have estrogen dominance, but as I said in my article on getting started with the endometriosis diet, I just wanted to feel better first. I wanted to get the pain under control. Now that hurdle was out of the way, I was keen to understand the role that estrogen played in my life.
From what I understand, estrogen dominance is not about having too much estrogen, but it’s about having an imbalance in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone. For those of us with endometriosis, not only does estrogen dominance come with a host of its own unpleasant symptoms (which by the way, are interestingly enough very similar, if not the same, as many endometriosis symptoms), but it also encourages endometriosis growth.
Estrogen & my symptoms
I discovered that so many of my continuous challenges were symptoms of estrogen dominance – decreased sex drive, bloating, severe PMS, mood swings, brain fog, fatigue and insomnia. Estrogen dominance also has other symptoms, which aren’t directly or necessarily linked to endometriosis, such as breast cysts (which I’ve recently developed). So many books and resources stressed that a) I didn’t have to live this way, b) I could minimize my endometriosis symptoms, and c) ignoring estrogen dominance could cause further, even serious, problems down the line. So, I decided to get to work.
Thankfully, there are many ways to manage and minimize estrogen dominance, from the foods we eat to what we put in our bodies. Within a month of following these methods, I began to feel better. I’ll be sharing my tips on reducing and managing estrogen dominance in future articles, but for now, I recommend reading the books I listed earlier and checking out the work of Magdalena Wszelaki, or listening to my interviews with Kate Magic and Food Period.
Have you ever experienced a "weird" symptom and wondered if it was endo related?