Last updated on July 29th, 2020 at 01:57 pm
The Endometriosis Diet – Hot to Get Started?
When you have endometriosis, you should always keep in mind what foods to eat and what to avoid… There are so many trigger foods out there. When I started with the diet, I was not sure how to create an endometriosis meal plan? There are no rules. But yes, it’s important to understand which foods to eat with endometriosis. There are lots of diets out there. Doctors and nutritionists have spent years debating the best diet for overall health. There’s so much information that it’s hard to find a single theory that everyone can agree on.
But one idea remains pretty consistent in every camp: inflammatory foods are not our friends, especially for those with endometriosis.
When talking about the endometriosis meal plan, you should understand that you can eat whatever you want. But if inflammatory foods are making your symptoms worse, it might be worth making some changes. A lot of people with endometriosis experience a significant decrease in their pain and symptoms by ditching inflammatory foods and adopting a whole food plant-based diet. The key component when starting the diet is to understand what foods to eat with endometriosis and what your triggers are.
What is the endometriosis diet?
Firstly, to understand the endometriosis diet, we must understand inflammation. Acute inflammation is a healthy response our body makes to protect us from something like an infection. But chronic inflammation is the constant, unfocused immune activity that flares or causes disease.
A typical endometriosis meal plan is an anti-inflammatory diet focuses on eating more fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. Likewise, a reduction in alcohol, caffeine, dairy, refined sugar and carbohydrates, red and processed meat, toxins (pesticides and chemicals), and unhealthy fats.
Because we don’t know what causes endometriosis, it’s hard to understand why changing your diet would improve symptoms fully. But eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is a great place to start.
I appreciate that different people have different relationships with food and that cutting out some things will be incredibly hard (coffee was the hardest for me). Be kind to yourself – this is just as important as trying to embrace the diet – getting stressed will cause havoc with your body and could heighten the symptoms of endometriosis.
My experience with a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods
When I started my endometriosis meal plan, I frankly didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was starting from scratch, and there was little information to be found on the subject.
I started with blogs, websites, and going down rabbit holes on the internet about inflammation, dioxins, and all things menstruation while I got what I needed.
Over the past two years, the endometriosis diet has worked well for me – I’ve noticed reduced pain symptoms, much more energy, and less digestive aggravation. I learned how to diet without following someone else’s program. A make-your-own-rules diet might be more appealing and more effective. I’m proud that I have my endometriosis meal plan.
But in the end, every diet for endometriosis is focused on reducing your symptoms, boosting your immune system, and helping you to obtain healing from this disease. Yes, endometriosis affects the immune system, and sometimes the diet is not enough.
For better results, you should consider adding also some supplements to your diet. If you don’t know where to start, check out my favorite supplements for endometriosis.
Many women see fast improvements in their symptoms of the disease by using an endometriosis meal plan and proper nutrition. Some of them are seeing results within a matter of 2 to 3 weeks, with a huge reduction of the symptoms of pain, a reduction of inflammation, reduction of pain with their periods, less intestinal problems, and an increase in energy levels.
In my case, I can say that I’ve only had one operation so far and though I need another now, it seems to have progressed at a slower rate. However, we are all different and endometriosis varies in severity and I appreciate that in this case, I am very lucky.
Endometriosis meal plan – I am a big believer in a holistic approach
It was in January 2018 that I saw a homeopath in Italy. She works only with women with endometriosis. She was the first clinician I’d seen in years who wanted to do something about the pain rather than just cut it out of me. I was excited, giddy almost. I wanted to do something proactive about the aching and cramping, the terrible IBS symptoms, something more than just making doctor’s appointments and picking up prescriptions. I mentally steeled myself for bad news, prepared to face the reality of cutting some foods out—alcohol, sugars, dairy, pasta in any form.
As I sat down in the cushioned chair, I silently chanted to myself, You can live without wine. You can live without bread. No wine, no bread, no wine, no bread.
She made an endometriosis meal plan only for me. It turned out I was severely intolerant to legumes and some sorts of dairy products, which didn’t come as too much of a surprise. That gave me the push I needed to begin understanding what triggered me, but it still took some time. Experts suggest that cutting out or at least reducing these foods can help manage endometriosis, so experimenting with this could potentially reduce your pain levels and your IBS symptoms and stomach issues.
Since that visit to the Italian homeopathic doctor, I’ve learned a lot about anti-inflammatory diets and the Mediterranean diet (a type of anti-inflammatory diet), and the impact they can have for those with a variety of diseases and conditions, including endometriosis.
There are lots of doctors that don’t discuss nutrition with their endo patients, so this might be new to you. It might also be hard to make the switch at first. It took many years to “perfect” my understanding and approach, and I’m still learning now. As you experiment and make changes, you’ll notice what triggers an upset stomach, fatigue, pain, etc. and you can begin to know how to tailor the diet to suit you. Having an endometriosis meal plan is a long process.
Eating more leafy greens, healthy fats, and whole grains has been widely recommended to reduce the inflammation associated with chronic conditions that cause increased pain, low-energy, IBS symptoms, and even irritability. Sugar, on the other hand, has the opposite effect of leafy greens for inflammation.
In October of 2019, I committed to one year and a half of no sugar, no alcohol, no meat, and a veggie-heavy diet.
During that period, I ate a lot of fish and drank a lot of green tea. I had no sugar (but I did have a little caffeine). It was a tough one year and a half, but I honestly felt better. My pain was less frequent and more manageable, and I was finally convinced that diet could affect my endometriosis symptoms.
Every time I choose ingredients for a dish, every time I enter a restaurant and pick up the menu, I search for the least offensive foods—the ones that will heal, not hurt.
Will my endometriosis meal plan completely stop all the endometriosis symptoms?
Will it eventually stop the pain? Right now, there’s not enough research or resources to really, factually know what provides relief, much less a cure.
There’s a whole host of foods recommended for reducing the symptoms and the development of endometriosis, and a range of other foods that improve general wellbeing, which is so important when fighting endometriosis or any illness. Suggested food groups and great alternatives are.
Fruits and vegetables
Grains like quinoa, gluten-free oats, buckwheat groats, amaranth, polenta, and wholegrain rice
Goods fats found in cold-pressed coconut and olive oil, nuts and seeds
Pulses and legumes (soaked and in moderation)
Herbal teas such as green tea, raspberry leaf, ginger
Dairy-free kinds of milk such as almond, oat, and hemp
But that doesn’t work for me…
Diet for Endometriosis and Bowel Symptoms
Endometriosis symptoms can vary and be unique to each of us. But one thing I’ve noticed is that many of us, including myself, deal with IBS symptoms, often daily. This can not only interfere with our daily activities but can also cause embarrassment when eating out and being social. It can be exhausting not knowing what’s triggering these symptoms, and, eventually, these complications can take a toll on your confidence and mental health. If your intestines suffer like mine, so you have a big problem with your endometriosis meal plan.
My main struggles were upset stomach and irritable bowel syndrome. I’d often go to bed feeling sick and find myself absentmindedly commenting that I felt nauseous that day. I got to the point where I was scared to eat out because I’d often have food poisoning-like symptoms afterward.
Foods to eat that may provide symptom relief (home remedies and others) for some people:
- Dietary fiber supplements
- Low-fat foods
- High-carbohydrate foods (such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, and wholegrain bread)
- Probiotics (containing Lactobacillus acidophilus a and Bifidobacterium) and prebiotics
Some people report kefir or Aloe Vera juice helps symptoms. Talk to a doctor about these home remedies
Foods to avoid or limit if you have IBS
- Dairy products, including milk and cheese (Lactose intolerance symptoms can be similar to IBS symptoms.)
- Specific vegetables that increase gas (such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts) and legumes (such as beans)
- Fatty or fried foods
- Alcohol, caffeine, or soda
- Foods high in sugars
- Artificial sweeteners
- Chewing gum
Quitting coffee was the most difficult part of the endometriosis diet for me. You can read the full article about my fight and the reasons why caffeine is bad for you here.
PIN THIS FOR LATER
My endometriosis meal plan
- Cut out meat and dairy products
- Once per week, I eat goat cheese or an egg
- Once per week, I eat fish (but not fatty fish, prawns, seashells, calamari)
- No peanuts or any other kind of nuts
- Only plant-based milk (prefer almond)
- No yeast
- No legumes (beans, green peas, lentil)
- Only decaf coffee only (no more than twice per day)
- Starting my day with green tea (before breakfast)
- Pizza or pasta once per month (only gluten-free)
- No alcohol
I found that milk, cream, and soft cheeses were the worst culprits for me and almost inevitably caused me to fall ill. While goat cheese and other forms of milk didn’t cause as bad a reaction. But knowing which ones were the worst meant I could make informed decisions when I was out and had limited options to eat. In my case, I cut all kinds of meat and animal products, sugar and dairy products. I don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat sweets and I drink only one decaf coffee. I decided to go also gluten-free.
I eat this way 75 – 80% of the time – there are days when I follow the diet completely, others, when I have bread or some Bulgarian banitsa.
Starting the endometriosis diet is a long and difficult process
When you start with the endometriosis diet, you need to experiment and make changes. Give enough time to your body, and slowly you will notice what your triggers are. It’s essential to know how to tailor the diet to suit you. Because not all the time you can control your diet. If you are out for dinner and there aren’t any 100% endo-friendly options on the menu, what are you going to do? My advice is to choose something which will have fewer reactions. For me, I have noticed meat is always a disaster for my intolerances.
It’s a long process, so it’s better to start tuning into your body and working what you react to most strongly and cut those bits out first. Make attention to what foods are going to increase the growth rate, like soy, possibly.
* The majority of these dietary guidelines are shared on the internet, as well as found in ‘Recipes & Diet Advice for Endometriosis’ by Carolyn Levett and ‘Take Control of Your Endometriosis’ by Henrietta Norton.
*Recipes & Diet Advice for Endometriosis by Carolyn Levett