If you spend any length of time searching for information on what to eat to better support yourself with having endometriosis, you’ll eventually find that information contradicts itself and you are simply not sure what to believe anymore. One website says you should totally eat a Paleo diet for endometriosis, another says to avoid meat at all costs and then a third says you should go 100% vegan. What is a girl to do?
I want to make this easier and simpler for you by focusing on 3 key areas to look at and to help you direct your focus towards the things that actually matter.
1. Look at the goal you are trying to achieve
Within the REACH beyond Endo program, we specifically look deeper at triggers for pain with having endometriosis. One of the key reasons for pain is a heightened inflammatory response by the body. This can show up for you with elevated pain levels, high amounts of bloating, puffiness around the face and arms, an intolerance to certain foods and allergy symptoms.
So, our first goal with our diet is to attempt to lower this inflammatory response by the body. Therefore, your diet needs to have a strong focus on avoiding things that trigger more inflammation and also ensuring you eat enough foods that reduce inflammation.
When looking at our example above on whether to avoid meat or not, we need to look at the scaling of meat in terms of how inflammatory it is on the body. When your body processes meat, it will use much more energy resources to break down that meat. This means, your body will produce far more metabolic reactions and waste just to break the meat down. High levels of these metabolic reactions could be a contributing factor leading to oxidative stress on your body. The more oxidative stress, the more of an inflammatory response you will experience.
We can apply a ranking scale towards most foods and you will find that typically the most favourable foods to eat, which lower that inflammatory response are your dark leafy greens, plenty of fruits and vegetables and anything that is really fresh and close to nature. You can also assess the inflammatory levels of your foods by looking at an acid/alkaline charting of foods to give you a good indicator on which foods to have less of – even if they are a healthy food choice. For instance, nuts which are a great source of heaps of valuable good fats, are still considered reasonably acidic on the body and should therefore only be eaten in moderation.
2. How do you feel?
This is a fairly obvious question but one we seldom consider. We often get swayed by what someone else has said or what is perhaps trendy at the moment but the reality is, we are all different and certain foods appeal to us, certain foods make us feel better than others.
I’ll give you an example. For months I had been trying to come up with a good breakfast to eat. I had been told by an Osteopath that I should avoid fruit as it was simply too high in fructose and that it wasn’t good for my liver. So, I avoided fruit of any kind for months. I tried all sorts of other weird and interesting breakfasts but most of them left me feeling more hungry, slightly deprived or just tired after eating them.
We recently moved house and for the first few days it was just too challenging to try and prepare my fancy breakfasts that had by now evolved to require a stove, heaps of crumbing ingredients, frozen fruit etc. etc. *I’ll share that recipe with you soon ;). It was far easier to just pop down to the shop, by a few varieties of fruit and top it with a few nuts or some mixed muesli. So, I did and I instantly felt different. I had more energy, felt fuller for longer, didn’t feel super tired after eating and also felt more satisfied somehow.
This, of course, may not be the case for everyone who eats fruit but ultimately we need to eat what makes us feel good.
I do just need to mention a caveat though. I don’t mean “feel good” on an emotional level. Because, we have all had those cravings for biscuits or a tub of ice cream when we’ve had a bad day and yes, at that moment it does fill some kind of emotional void but ultimately, it doesn’t make you feel good on a physical “body level”.
Tuning in towards what makes you feel good on a “body level” is about listening, acknowledging what you ate and how it made you feel and connecting to dots between what you eat and how you feel both physically and mentally. Then, go out and eat the foods that really make you feel good – regardless of what the current diet trends might tell you!
3. Does it really address endometriosis?
One of the most common diets out there is the Endo Diet. The purpose of the endo diet is to give us guidelines to follow on what to avoid and eat with having endometriosis. The problem I have found with this diet is that most of us tended towards focusing on the “things to avoid” list and didn’t give enough thought to what we were eating instead.
Within my REACH Technique©, the first step and focus is on truly replenishing your diet with the right amounts of nutrients and in the high doses that your body needs. With women with endometriosis, I have found that certain minerals and vitamins tend to be low, such as selenium, magnesium and the Vitamin B group. What we need to do is ensure we are amping-up the number of nutrients we can possibly get from our food.
So, to give you a simple example of how this looks different.
If we were simply following the endo diet, we might choose to have some gluten-free toast with peanut butter for breakfast. Though this is an ok meal and it certainly avoids some of the inflammatory culprits like gluten, butter and sugar (peanut butter instead of jam), it doesn’t truly nourish or replenish what might be missing from your body nutritionally. So, instead, we could opt for a smoothie made with a frozen banana, barley grass powder, some cacao powder, almond milk, slippery elm powder and a dollop of nut butter. We could have a bowl of fruit to go with our smoothie such as blueberries, strawberries and cut up apple. We are still full, we are still satisfied but with option 2, we have avoided inflammatory culprits but also loaded the body up with heaps and heaps of anti-oxidants, liver cleansing nutrients and supported our bowel health at the same time. See the difference?
With having endometriosis, we want to focus on how we can use our food as medicine. What foods, powders, phytonutrients, spices, superfoods etc, can we add in, to truly nourish and support our body to feel better? Our key focus here is to find foods that are high in anti-oxidants, high in specific vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, B, iron, selenium, zinc and foods that aid and support our liver health. Not a small task but totally possible. Get the total picture within the REACH beyond Endo program.
This is your journey and only you can determine what really helps you feel better but there are also fundamental considerations with having endometriosis that can be better supported by what you eat. Food is a great source of medicine and we have it accessible to us, each and every day.