Firstly, why I need to follow an endometriosis diet: In May 2010, after dealing with considerable pelvic pain, I had a diagnostic laparoscopy and was diagnosed with endometriosis. I decided to fight my endometriosis through pregnancy and breastfeeding for as long as possible. My pain improved considerably while I was pregnant with my daughter (E); however, retained placenta following her delivery resulted in two D&C’s and antibiotics for infections. My OB prescribed a high dose of estrogen for a month to help prevent intrauterine scarring and infertility. This caused major pain as endometriosis and estrogen are not friends. During this time I tried an endometriosis diet to see if it really works. And it does for me!
Foods you can eat while on an endometriosis diet
After I finished my month-long regime of taking an estrogen pill typically used on postmenopausal women (I was prescribed a drug called Premarin, if you’re curious), I had some bleeding and a lot of pain. Thankfully once my bleeding stopped and my breastfeeding hormones were allowed to take over, the pain subsided to a manageable level. To undo some of the damage that I’m sure was done to my poor body as a result of this necessary evil, I decided to investigate which foods help and which foods aggravate endometriosis. I honestly believe that diet has a huge impact when it comes to a lot of chronic conditions.
Most of my Internet research told me which foods to cut out as part of an endometriosis diet (non-organic foods, soy, wheat, dairy, red meat, sugar, additives, and preservatives), but didn’t give a lot of information about what I could eat. I found two excellent resources with a lot of information about what to eat if you have endometriosis. Both resources include recipe ideas for women following an endometriosis diet:
1. The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis
I bought this book two years ago when trying to get pregnant with MC after a complicated miscarriage (the book describes different strategies for treating infertility using Traditional Chinese Medicine). I love this book and consulted it again when my endometriosis became very painful following the estrogen therapy (there is an entire chapter devoted to the treatment of endometriosis and fibroids). According to The Infertility Cure, I can eat fish, walnuts, dark greens, root vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, along with a range of other foods that are specific to my personal symptoms.
2. Recipes for the Endometriosis Diet by Carolyn Levett
I downloaded and printed the e-book version of this resource. It’s full of recipes and information as to why/why not certain foods can be eaten. In particular, I found Recipes for the Endometriosis Diet helpful for planning the day-to-day meals and snacks for my family. We have tried (and love) some of the recipes for breads using alternatives to wheat flour along with various side dishes. According to this book (which agrees with a lot of the principles listed in The Infertility Cure), I can eat apples, berries, nuts and seeds, peas, beans, carrots, raisins, dates, decaffeinated green tea, and whole grains (excluding wheat). Plain “live” yogurt with active bacterial cultures is the one exception to the no-dairy rule.
Basically, I’m now eating a high-fibre diet that includes a wide variety of whole grains (quinoa, buckwheat, oats, rice, popcorn, spelt, etc) and is rich in fruits and vegetables. My protein comes primarily from nuts and seeds (with the odd meal of fish). I drink almond milk and add plain yogurt to some recipes for calcium.
But . . .
Is it realistic to stick to an endometriosis diet all the time?
For me, no. Fortunately, I live with a family of health-nuts and this type of diet is not a drastic change for us, so we’ve decided that most of the meals we eat on a daily basis will follow an endometriosis-friendly diet. When out somewhere as a family or having a meal with friends, we eat whatever is available/being served. Thus, I’ve been following the endometriosis diet about 80% of the time. It’s enough to keep the excruciating pain at bay for now.
Will I continue on my endometriosis diet?
Yes, unless my pain becomes significantly worse, I’ll stick to my same goal of adhering to this diet 70-80% of the time. I definitely have an increase in my pain when I eat inflammatory foods, but I like not feeling deprived or as though I’m inconveniencing people with my food needs when out with friends. I wouldn’t say it’s a cure-all for endometriosis, but following the advice of the above resources has made a noticeable difference for me.
If you have endometriosis (or any other chronic health condition),
have you tried an elimination diet?
Has it made a difference for you?