Does the Endometriosis Diet Exist?
As a Nutritional Therapist and endometriosis sufferer I am always looking at different conversations about endometriosis.
The one common question that regularly comes up is:
“What is the endometriosis diet and should I be on it?”
The endometriosis diet basically a form of elimination diet which is typically designed to reduce inflammation. It involves removing all foods from your diet, which may be aggravating your symptoms. This usually involves removing all wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol and processed food. This isn’t a prescriptive list. I’ve seen various versions of the same thing that all involve eliminating a lot of foods from your diet.
Is there anything left to eat I hear you say? Well yes of course and there are some benefits to the endometriosis diet if women make a switch to a largely unprocessed whole foods diet.
This approach, however treats us as if we are all the same which just isn’t the case.
Some problems I see with the so called Endometriosis Diet are:
1. It focuses on removing foods
The endometriosis primarily focuses on what to remove from your diet. Most women I meet need to focus on what to add to their diets. Eating enough fruit and vegetables is a prime example. Most women I meet are not consuming enough good quality protein and Omega 3 healthy fats, which are really important for the production of healthy hormones. Additionally fibre is nearly always under consumed which is equally as important to ensure the excretion of excess oestrogen which is associated with the symptoms of endometriosis.
2. It involves setting prescriptive rules
Diets are a struggle! The mere mention of the word “diet” is enough to make us all break all out in a cold sweat. Diets quite simply mean hardship. The main issue with the endometriosis diet is it’s still a diet. It treats us as if we are all the same. What is a trigger food for one woman quite simply won’t be for the next. This is why working with a professional to help tailor a plan for you can be very powerful.
3. It doesn’t tell you what to do after
So you’ve managed to remove these foods for 6-8 weeks? Congratulations…it’s no mean feat. But what now? Can I introduce these foods? Can I never eat them again? What the endometriosis diet does not offer is help or support about how to introduce back these foods, which can lead to confusion and a lot of stress, something that we really want to be avoiding when it comes to endometriosis.
4. They miss the number one factor
The one common denominator I see time and time again in clinic with women who have endometriosis is stress… and lots of it. Elimination type diets as a first port of call are not always going to help, as it can (in some cases) put even more stress on the body. Stress management, self care and lifestyle strategies are just as important as what you are eating when it comes to managing your endometriosis and unfortunately the endometriosis diet doesn’t offer much to address these.
So is the endometriosis diet all its made out to be? Well it can have some benefits (if you switch to a largely unprocessed diet) but it also has some downfalls.
A form of elimination diet may form part of your arsenal when it comes to addressing your endometriosis symptoms but lifestyle strategies including stress management and quality sleep are just as important.
If you want to learn more, our podcast with Lauren Healy “Living with Endometriosis” is available now on iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud.
Want to learn more about how to improve your gut health, check out our “Digestive Wellness” course available now for a limited time only.
Lauren Healy is a Nutritional Therapist specialising in working with women who have endometriosis. She has a special interest in endometriosis having discovered she had it at age 26 after experiencing years of symptoms that she thought mostly related to I.B.S.
She is passionate about sharing the knowledge she has accumulated over the last 8 years through her professional education but also through the many methods she has tried herself to help manage her own endometriosis symptoms.
For more join Lauren’s Endometriosis Facebook Support Group.
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