Intense, sometimes unbearable cramps. Monthly bleeding that is so heavy, you don’t know how you’re still a functioning human. Exhaustion, frustration, and confusion. This is life with Endometriosis.
If this is you, first of all- we’re with you, and you’re not alone. You may have gone years without proper diagnosis, and even with a diagnosis, you still may not be getting treatment that feels truly healing.
Whether you find yourself struggling to handle the symptoms of Endometriosis, or you have found some relief, but are looking for the next step- it may be time to take a look at your diet.
You are what you eat. By now, we’re all well aware of the significant impact that your diet has on your health, especially when it comes to treating chronic disorders.
While every individual body has different needs and nuances, there are some general guidelines when it comes to diet and endometriosis.
Feeling at a loss? Dig your fork into these nutritional recommendations.
Here’s The Deal
Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition, much like many other chronic pain disorders. Inflammation is the body’s natural protective response as a means to fight off any foreign invaders. The body responds to endometriosis as one of these foreign invaders, causing painful inflammation in the pelvic area.
Many of the standard foods seen in conventional industrialized nation’s diets are incredibly inflammatory. Between high levels of animal products, packaged foods devoid of nutrition, large amounts of sugar, and refined carbohydrates like white bread- it’s no wonder that so many people are walking around in a constant state of inflammation.
In order to cut out this inflammatory response, you have to give the body the right fuel that counteracts this. While also trying to avoid ones that provoke it like some of the foods listed above, as well as beverages high in caffeine and alcohol.
Have Fun with It
I’m sure you’re tired of being told what not to do, so let’s take a look at what you can do. Food is fun, and being able to look at it as a medicine, opens up a world of medicinally culinary possibilities.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Keep it Whole-y
You may be hearing the term ‘whole foods’ being thrown around left and right, and are still wondering what it means. Remember- typically the fewer ingredients, the better. Fewer ingredients usually means less processing.
It also makes it easier to pinpoint what foods may be causing inflammation, if you’re only eating a few at a time, and tracking your body’s response.
Plant based foods (although this doesn’t necessarily mean vegan) are usually a safe bet. Not only do plants have to go through minimal processing, if any, to be eaten, they are also high in antioxidants and all sorts of other vitamins and minerals that helps the body stay in a balanced state.
The more meals you’re able to make at home, especially if they’re from scratch (mostly), the easier it is to monitor the ingredients going into your body. While this can be an adjustment if you’re used to eating out, it is well worth it when it comes to your health.
If it’s in your budget, and is accessible to you, organic is the way to go. Food products sprayed with pesticides and other environmental pollutants can potentially increase estrogen levels- a culprit of endometriosis. While also flooding the body with toxins that make it difficult to stay regulated.
Fats are Fuel
The necessity of healthy fats in a diet is becoming more and more common knowledge. Try to minimize trans fats, like those that come in many processed foods, are typically a no-no, especially when fighting an inflammatory condition.
Omega- 3 fatty acids on the other hand, are essential in a healthy diet, especially for those with endometriosis. This brain and nervous system boosting fats can be found in many seafood products like salmon and mackerel, as well as plant based sources like flax and chia seeds, walnuts, and spinach.
Wondering What to Eat?
Here’s what a solid day of endometriosis friendly foods may look like:
Breakfast: Savory Quinoa oatmeal
- Prepare quinoa the night before then reheat 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid (can use water, vegetable, or nourishing bone broth). Season with salt, pepper, and fresh immune boosting herbs like oregano and basil. Bring quinoa to a boil, then cover and turn to low, allowing it to cook until it turns into an oatmeal-like consistency (around seven minutes).
- While that is cooking, quickly steam or saute some veggies to put on your oatmeal like fresh organic mushrooms, leafy greens, and seasonal squash.
Lunch: Superfood Salad. An easy way to eat healthy on the go is to prepare different ingredients to keep on hand so that you can throw them together into a bowl or salad before running out the door.
- Start with a base of leafy greens and/or a grain like brown rice or your oatmeal from breakfast.
- Prep a variety of nutritionally rich toppings to choose from like shredded carrots, spiralized zucchini, roasted beets, weedy dandelion and mustard greens, roasted salmon, and probiotic rich sauerkraut and kimchi.
- Finish off with a healthy fat rich dressing like mixing tahini sauce with extra lemon and herbs, or a simple dousing of extra virgin olive oil and your favorite citrus.
Dinner: Kitchari is a classic Ayurvedic dish that supports the body in detoxifying, while nourishing it with immune-boosting ingredients. Feel free to add in extra veggies, and swap out basmati rice for another gain such as brown rice, quinoa, or barley.
It’s easy to make large batches of this to plan ahead or freeze.
Finding the right diet that works for your body and your specific needs, may be a matter of trial and error. It can take time to find the right rhythm, especially in something as personal as food and reproductive health.
As with anything health-related, it is beneficial to try a new food protocol under the guidance of a professional.
Naturopathic doctors, functional medicine nutritionists, and chiropractors with nutritional training are all valuable resources to turn to when looking for a more individualized dietary care plan.
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.