Friends! Today we are talking all about Endometriosis. It’s Jeni Hollifield, your HGG Registered Dietitian Nutritionist here to share with you another blog post! I’m so excited to be sharing on this specific topic. This is one that is personal to me because I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and work daily to support and heal my body. Did you know that 1 in 10 women have endometriosis? It can be an overwhelming, emotional and painful journey, but you are not alone! We are here to talk about it and support you! Know when reading this post that is was written by someone who not only is an expert in health and nutrition but has personally experienced endometriosis and has empathy for others who do too!
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a disorder where the tissue inside your uterus grows outside of your uterus and can grow over your fallopian tubes, the lining of your pelvis and in some severe cases, up into other organs. This tissue overgrowth can be extremely painful because it is not released and shed during your menstrual cycle. Endometriomas are cyst that form around your ovaries and are normally filled with tissue and blood. Along with pain, endometriosis may cause infertility issues with some women. The exact cause of endometriosis is not known, but may be from hormones, starting your period at a young age, an immune system disorder, producing higher levels of estrogen, or scars from a previous surgery.
Some common symptoms of endometriosis include heavy and painful periods, pain with bowel movements, pain with intercourse, fatigue, bloating, constipation and infertility. These symptoms vary among women depending on the severity of their condition.
Solutions / Treatments
Luckily, there is plenty of solutions and treatments for women with endometriosis. This condition has become more well known over the past few years and more research is going into treatment! Nutrition is a great place to start and we will get there in a bit! Medically, your primary care physician may suggest taking an over the counter pain reliever for temporary relief, hormone therapy, laparoscopy or fertility treatment. One of the most commonly used medical treatment is laparoscopic excision surgery. This is where a surgeon makes a small incision and looks into your pelvis. This gives them a full look at the severity of your endometriosis and they would be able to removal as much as possible. This treatment has been shown to help with fertility in some cases and ease pain, but has the potential of growing back later on.
Nutrition plays a big role in endometriosis with alleviating pain and not exacerbating tissue growth! The most researched diet to help with endometriosis has been an anti-inflammatory diet. This diet is one that avoids specific foods and even some that are considered healthy, but give you trouble. Nutrition is not one size fits all and taking time to discover which foods work best for you is going to be crucial for your journey! Below I’m going to list the most common foods to avoid and best food to enjoy! Again, be in tune with your body and tailor your needs with what works best for you. Take some time to experiment and keep a food dairy to record which foods help or hinder your pain.
Foods To Avoid
Some foods you will want to avoid on an anti-inflammatory diet include:
Foods high in sugar / sweets
Gluten (has varied effects on people)
Dairy (some people can handle limited dairy such as yogurt or goat cheese)
Alcohol and caffeine
Try to purchase organic as much as possible to avoid chemicals, additives and hormones
Eat and drink these items sparingly and experiment with each to see how your body responds. Take out one at a time and slowly add back into your diet after a couple of weeks to see how you feel. You may notice that your body feels great with a few or potentially horrible with all. I have noticed that my body does not respond well to most of these! I enjoy these items on occasion (I love coffee and tea), but generally avoid them as much as possible.
The worst part about any condition is hearing someone tell you all these things you cannot eat. The great thing about this specific diet is that there is plenty of foods to eat and incredible substitutes available to still enjoy all your favorite foods!
Foods to enjoy on an anti-inflammatory diet:
Beans, legumes (2-4 servings a week)
Cold-pressed oils such as olive or avocado
Whole-grains (gluten-free if necessary)
Nuts and seeds (1-2 servings per day)
If not vegan, 3-5 servings of lean meats / fish each week
If gluten and dairy are problematic, there is plenty of substitutes for you! Try some gluten-free flours, grains, and bread along with dairy-free cheeses, milk, yogurt or even a homemade cashew cream sauce. Make sure to read ingredient labels to find the cleanest possible brands. Remember, try to avoid products with tons of ingredients you cannot pronounce.
HGG Recipes To Enjoy:
We want this transition and healing process to be as painless as possible. The majority of HGG Recipes are compatible with this diet, which is amazing and easy for you to navigate! Below are 15 recipes that I personally love and add regularly into my weekly meals!
For more nutritionally balanced plant-based meal plans, check out the Healthy Grocery Girl Membership here!