Hello! It’s Friyay! Wooooo! I’m looking forward to this weekend – we’re seeing friends and having Nandos tomorrow night, and I’m all about that quarter chicken and chips. Might even double carb and get some spicy rice in there… Mmm.
Today’s post is a bit of an endometriosis themed post. I decided to write about my new ‘diet’ because I thought some people might find it useful. It’s absolutely not a diet in terms of losing weight, it’s more a new method of trying to manage pain, a way to try and manage my endo better, without using hormones. Important to add here, this might not work for all, and I am by no means a medical professional. Talk to your specialist about it, see what they say, if you want to, give it a try, but don’t just cut out food groups unless you are advised to. Everyone is different. Everyone’s endometriosis is different. And this definitely isn’t a weight loss diet. Trust me. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of what it’s been like, so if your doctor suggests it, you know what it’s like.
So, as a way of context, I had my excision surgery last year, but unfortunately the pain started to make a come back about three months after. I ended up going to see my surgeon/specialist privately (long story…) and he recommended trying to manage the pain through a change of diet. I balked, raised my eyebrows speculatively, and then went away to do my research. His advice was to definitely cut out dairy, probably caffeine too due to the history of endo on my bowel, and to eat more turmeric – it has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and I’m all about homemade curry, so that one was fine. Once I’d recovered from the horrible thought of a caffeine withdrawal, I did my research. Yep, caffeine was going to have to go. I looked wistfully at my Nespresso machine, and my brand new bag of Illy caffeinated ground coffee, and sighed. Dairy was also a big one – again, very inflammatory and just apparently not very good for endo sufferers all round. Excellent. No baked camembert for me this Christmas then… – fun fact: I ate a whole baked camembert (with Pete! Not just me… Mainly me…) on our mini-moon and bloody hell, it wasn’t worth it… So much pain. Anyway, what I eventually discovered was this: gluten, dairy, caffeine, sugar, red meat, alcohol, and soya are all bad for endometriosis, apparently. Well, great. What on earth was I meant to eat? (Always the drama queen me…) It was at this point I made a decision – no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t cut out everything. I already can’t eat gluten, due to coeliac disease, but I figured I could probably manage to completely cut out dairy and caffeine, whilst reducing my intake of soya, sugar, red meat, and alcohol. I promised myself I would do it diligently for five week, then go from there and see how I felt. That was at in mid-October, and I’m still going strong. Well, on most of it anyway. So, here’s how each food group went…
Maybe it’s because I’ve given up gluten already, so I know what it’s like to have to cut a large food group from your diet, and read the backs of food labels religiously, but I honestly haven’t found this that hard. Also, thank goodness that veganism has become more mainstream, because without the dairy free substitutes that are now everywhere, I would have struggled. I’ve found a dairy free cheese that is palatable, and tastes like cheese strings, in Violife; I have almond milk on my cereal and use it in cooking where necessary. The only thing I’m struggling with is a replacement for cream – I can’t have soya, and I’m intolerant to oats due to coeliac disease. If anyone knows of one, hit me up. I just want a creamy pasta sauce… I’ve also noticed a real difference when I do eat dairy. I’ve allowed myself exceptions on special occasions – my hen party, Christmas, the wedding – but when I do have it, I do feel more pain again. It’s not an instant thing, but after Christmas especially, when I ate dairy consistently for about 5 days, I felt rubbish. It was actually a bit of a relief to give it up again. Big shout out to Booja Booja for making dairy, gluten, and soya free ice cream and chocolate. You the best. Thanks for getting me through. (Not sponsored but clearly wouldn’t complain… I’m addicted…)
Oh, caffeine, my one true love… Okay, so giving up caffeine wasn’t as horrific as I’d imagined. I had about a week of genuine withdrawal – headaches, really grumpy, super tired. Then, it all eased off a bit. After about a month, I found that I had a bit more energy, and I was able to fall asleep much quicker at night than I had done before. I’ve yet to find a dairy-alternative milk that works in my coffee at home (they all just split or taste grim), so I have decaf cafétiere-made black coffee at home, occasionally treating myself to a caramel decaf almond milk cappuccino at Starbucks or in Lakeside at uni. Costa have brought out their coconut milk, but it has soya in it, so that’s a no. I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss it every now and then though. The other day, I woke up feeling absolutely exhausted. I’d been working long days in a row, and my first thought was ‘oh my God, I need a proper coffee’. I didn’t have one, clearly, but that was the first time, in a long time, where I genuinely craved it. It’s manageable though – I hate it, but it’s doable.
Yeah, so this one didn’t pan out so well. My first mistake was realising, on about day 3, that the strawberry jam I was spreading on my toast did, of course, have sugar in it. What an idiot… Anyway, turns out sugar is in quite a lot, so I’m just reducing it as much as possible, but not worrying too much. It seems to be working out fine.
I’ll be honest, I barely ate red meat anyway, so this wasn’t a huge effort for me. One thing I have started doing, however, is introducing more vegetarian (technically vegan in some cases, although I still eat eggs) meals to our weeks. We’re on a bit of an environment kick too this year, so I try and make sure we only have two-three meat meals a week. Maybe we’ll cut down further, but I don’t think Pete would go for that, so we’ll probably just stick to this for his meat loving ways.
Right, so I had no idea how much food soya was in. Sweet mother of Beyoncé. HOW?! Pom Bears have flippin’ soya in? Again, all I can do here is cut it down as much as possible. I like Pom Bears, I’m still eating them, but I won’t drink soya milk and I’ve found a cheese that doesn’t contain soya. It’s all about balance. Where I can, I don’t eat it, but just don’t ask me to give up the little potato bears.
I don’t drink during the week anymore – this makes me sound like I was an alcoholic before now, but I used to quite enjoy a glass of wine after dinner. I rarely drink on weekends, if I can help it, and I make allowances for special occasions. Do I feel like I’m in more pain after I’ve had alcohol? Not particularly, but I can understand and appreciate the benefits to not having it. Do I miss it? Sometimes I come home and think ‘God I could murder a glass of rosé’, but it isn’t going to kill me to not have it. I’ve become very fond having Shloer in a wine glass. Also, alcohol-free wine is odd, but totally palatable and another good alternative when you realise how much sugar is in Shloer…
Have I felt a difference? Yes. Although ironically, today has been a particularly bad pain day, but I can’t really blame that on anything except my uterus being a bit of a bitch. Will I keep up with it? For now, I think so, yes. It certainly isn’t doing me any harm, lets put it that way. Sure, I miss coffee, brie, camembert, and cream, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s totally achievable and it’s worked for me. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for everyone. But me? I’m in substantially less pain than I was four months ago and I no longer need to take out shares in Nurofen Meltlets. If you ask me, that’s a bonus in itself. I still get pain – today, for example – but it’s not as horrible, generally, as it was. Let me know if you’ve had to give up foods because of endo, or another illness. How did you find it?