Endometriosis and Diet? Really?

It’s one of those fuzzy-headed, kleenex-totin,’ pain behind-the-eyes kind of day. Actually, for the past 3 days I’ve been under the weather with a bad cold. So hopefully this little piece of writing will make some (any?) sense. I worry about being able to string together coherent thoughts in writing when I can barely complete simple tasks during times like this.

These past 3 days I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the past 8 months and my health.  It hasn’t been the easiest of times– actually there were many extremely tough days for me. Those who have read more of this blog know that I have had severe endometriosis for over 2 years. Well, I was diagnosed two years ago, but I suspect I’ve probably had it much longer than that. I remember nights at work when I could barely walk, the pain was so bad. And pain, no matter what kind, is never a good thing when it’s chronic. I’ve found you learn a bit about yourself when under the pressures of constant pain. Most of my findings were not pleasant ones.

Fast forward to 8 months ago. I’m on birth control then (my doctor told me I had to be on some sort of hormones to keep the endometriosis from growing back after my last surgery) and dealing with major gut issues — bloating, pain, pain and more pain.  Plus GERD. A lot of symptoms I’d never had before. In fact, my diagnosis for myself was simply that my “gut just didn’t work anymore.” My doctor told me I had IBS and pretty much wrote me a prescription for more stomach medicine. I took the medicine for a time but it wasn’t helping. So my doctor then told me to take it twice a day. This cut out the severe heartburn but all of the other symptoms persisted. After several months of dealing with this, I was so incredibly frustrated and tired of perpetually feeling “stuck” in this cycle of pain. Eating at all was miserable and a lot of nights I had to go to bed early because my belly hurt too bad. In fact, I can remember one day I was at work, and I had to change into larger scrubs because the scrubs I was wearing that day was hurting my belly too much to even sit down. Yes, even my scrubs were feeling too tight! I couldn’t believe it.

A few months later, while I was in Papua New Guinea, I came down with the stomach flu. My gut was seriously messed up after that, and after I got home all my symptoms were much worse. My doctor ordered some tests for parasites, which all came back negative. I had also been tested for H. Pylori and celiac allergy– also negative. In the midst of this, I came across something called the “Endometriosis Diet.” I couldn’t believe it — an actual diet to control endometriosis? How could this be possible, when surgery and strong hormone treatments couldn’t even control it? Heck, having a hysterectomy wasn’t necessarily a guarantee of treatment, either.  But the more I read, the more success stories I read of people who have been able to manage their endometriosis by their diet alone. Since I was pretty desperate to get off of birth control (not wanting to be on it for another 20+ years, or until I reached menopause), my hubby and I talked about it and decided to give it a go.

Now let me tell you — I’ve always been a woman of moderation when it comes to food. I’ve never dieted or been one to try newfangled food ideas. I’m pretty boring when it comes to food, to be precise. I’m also thrifty. I like to buy whatever’s cheapest, unless we’re talking about meat or coffee! So I found it pretty ironic when I learned that the endometriosis diet eliminates all foods that add hormones or inflammatory fatty acids to your body. This means no red meat, gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, caffeine or any other refined foods (and no soy, because soy contains a form of estrogen). This diet didn’t leave much to eat, and forget about ever eating out again! It was pretty overwhelming at first.

I’ve been on the diet for exactly a month today and I’ve started a recipe index with over 40 recipes that I can eat. I’ve been learning to cook with foods I’ve never even heard of before, and I’ve learned to embrace foods that certainly were not my first or even second choice (like fish!).

On the plus side, I am just thrilled to be off birth control! I made it twelve long months on it, and for me, that’s pretty good. So we’ll see how this diet pans out. I feel it’s pretty risky — if it doesn’t work you’ll know because I’ll be blogging about having to have ‘another surgery.’ So we’re praying it helps keep me off birth control AND out of the OR. In the meantime, I’ll be cooking up a storm — because otherwise eating around here will cease to continue. Cooking– and often– is a must to remain on this diet.

If you happen to have any gluten free/dairy recipes you happen to love, please send them my way!

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Filed under Endometriosis, Infertility

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