Endometriosis: adapting my diet allowed me to have less pain

Endometriosis is a chronic pathology that causes lesions on different organs of the body. In France, two million women have been diagnosed, and 190 million people worldwide. When we talk about crises, we are talking about the inflammation of one or more of these lesions. Associated with this is a hormonal imbalance and various symptoms: digestive, muscle pain, bleeding, etc. Although endometriosis is not curable, diet, particularly anti-inflammatory, can limit or alleviate some of these symptoms. Ninon, 27, diagnosed a year ago, had to relearn how to eat, “differently and in a more rational way”.

What is the role of diet with a pathology like endometriosis?

Diet plays a very big role. Especially since I am also affected by the digestive system. For several years, before I was even officially diagnosed, I lived with a series of symptoms, without really understanding what triggered them. It was like navigating a constant fog of fatigue, discomfort and pain. As time passed, I realized that these symptoms were directly related to my food choices. Coffee, milk and cheese were among the main culprits.

“Every time I ate these rich foods, it was like I flipped a switch to trigger an attack of endometriosis.”

Since endometriosis is particularly subject to and influenced by gut health, foods and substances that can weaken the intestinal barrier, such as sugar, tobacco, coffee, trans and saturated fats, as well as gluten, worsen endometriosis symptoms. endometriosis. Certain foods, on the contrary, are antioxidants and allow your body to produce less effort when digesting.

How to adapt to these difficulties?

It takes time to successfully identify disruptive foods. You obviously have to listen to yourself and find out as much as possible. At the same time, I also learned that certain foods could disrupt my hormones, amplifying the hormonal fluctuations associated with endometriosis. For example, I thought that soy-based products were a good alternative to meat, particularly red meat, which should be avoided. It turns out that my body reacts very badly to it. Soy is actually rich in phytoestrogens, and was making my symptoms worse by influencing the estrogen levels in my body.
We know that endometriosis has a physical and psychological impact. The risk of focusing only on foods to avoid is making meals sad and frustrating. Especially since there are plenty of solutions to continue to enjoy eating and not fall into meal apprehension. But I quickly realized that I also needed to focus on foods that made me happy and nourished both my body and my mind.

How to have fun when eating becomes a challenge?

I tried to find healthier alternatives that would allow me to fully enjoy these moments while taking care of myself. For a homemade burger evening, for example, I choose gluten-free breads, with little sugar and salt, and preferably wholemeal bread, which I digest better. I learned to change the cooking method, choose healthier seasonings, and opt for better quality products. For example, instead of frying fries, I started baking them. I also experimented with homemade sauces made from natural ingredients rather than commercial versions, which are high in sugar and salt. I season my dishes differently, with anti-inflammatory spices: cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, garlic and thyme which have antioxidant properties. I avoid chili, even though I love it, which is a little frustrating. I generally switched to a more plant-based, raw, and above all sustainable diet. By identifying and avoiding food triggers that make my symptoms worse, I found that my attacks were less frequent and less intense, with improvement in my bowel habits.

What are your new eating habits?

I try to cook as much as possible to promote good products. But sometimes it's a little complicated, because endometriosis causes chronic and daily fatigue. So, to avoid relying on prepared meals, when I'm feeling well, I take the time to cook in large quantities and freeze portions for days when I feel less energetic. It allows me to always have homemade meals on hand, and ultimately it gives me relief.

“Anticipation and planning are really crucial to alleviating eating anxiety.”

I've also noticed that eating smaller meals throughout the day rather than large meals will be easier to digest and better suited to my body, especially during periods of flare-ups. This requires a reorganization in the way I consume meals, but I find that it provides relief in terms of digestion and discomfort.

Is it possible to completely change your diet?

I would say it is achievable, even if it is not simple. For me, it has been a constant learning and adaptation process. The key lies in education and listening to your own body. Taking the time to learn, become informed about foods and ingredients, and knowing how to read product labels is crucial. It takes a little more time when shopping, but it's necessary to make informed decisions about what we consume. For those considering rethinking their diet, especially if they're coming from afar, I recommend starting with simple changes. If you already eat fresh, healthy produce, this is a good place to start. You can then gradually identify inflammatory foods and replace them with more “neutral” alternatives, while seeking to please yourself. You can help yourself by keeping a food diary to note the foods that trigger attacks and better understand how your body reacts to different foods. Finally, don't underestimate the power of support from those close to you. Talking openly about your challenges and goals with those close to you can provide valuable support and help you feel less alone in this process. By paying close attention to my diet and cooking with quality ingredients as much as possible, I was able to reduce food triggers, improve my symptoms, while having fewer attacks, more energy, better sleep, and finally regain a better quality of life.

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