READ ME: Why there is no such thing as the endometriosis diet
In my bid to learn more and more about endometriosis I've been looking at lots of different conversations happening around endometriosis.
Questions abound on Facebook groups and Instagram posts and there seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to what you should eat when you have endometriosis.
"What’s the endometriosis diet? Should I eliminate eggs? Should I eliminate dairy? Am I allowed to eat red meat?
In a survey I conducted myself on a number of women who have endometriosis 75% of the respondents said they were confused about what to eat and astonishingly 12% said they didn't believe that the food they ate had ANY impact whatsoever on their endometriosis symptoms.
Something I see that frequently comes up is the "endometriosis diet".
The endometriosis diet involves removing all possible allergens from your diet. It usually involves removing all wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol and processed foods. This is not a prescriptive list. I've seen many variations of the same thing but all involve removing a number of foods from your diet.
There is obviously a benefit to doing this for some people. You are removing a huge amount of food from your diet so overall your diet will probably improve the caveat of course being that you choose to replace the above said foods with lots of unprocessed foods...i.e. fruits, veggies organic meat and fish and wholegrains.
I say A benefit as to be honest this is probably the only one.
The drawbacks in my opinion really do outweigh the benefit in this case and here's why.
We are focusing on what to take out of our diets. Quite often what we actually need to concentrate on is what to get into your diet. That should always be the first port of call. Are you eating enough fruit and vegetables? Good quality fats full of Omega 3’s to help you produce healthy hormones? Fibre to help eliminate excess oestrogen?
The "endometriosis diet" is a DIET just like all other diet. Atkins, Keto, Low carb, Paleo, Endometriosis diet.... its still a diet. We can't apply standard rules, as quite simply we aren't standard people. We are all completely biochemically unique. Removing all of these potential trigger foods for one person might do lots to help their endometriosis symptoms...in another person it may do nothing. In the person it may do lots for chances are adherence to the diet in the medium to long term will unfortunately still be an issue.
Endometriosis is linked to inflammation and certain foods can trigger inflammation in certain individuals. Inflammation is a good thing...its for example what keeps us from bleeding to death when we cut ourselves. Its where inflammation gets out of control that we have a problem (which is a potential theory for why endometriosis occurs). Wheat for example may be a trigger for inflammation in one person whereas gluten may be a trigger in another.
Yes there may be a need to remove wheat from your diet for a period of time but the chances of you needing to remove wheat, gluten, dairy, soy and everything else would mean you are quite an unfortunate human being. I'm not saying it doesn’t happen...it is just quite unlikely. If you are following the endometriosis diet when will you know its ok to introduce these foods back in? Yes there are guidelines but what works for someone else may not work for you.
If we need to remove all of these foods from our diet quite simply is there much left to eat? Do we really have any chance at all of adhering to this kind of diet?
If you do believe there are foods that are causing you an issue the easiest and CHEAPEST WAY to figure this out is to keep a food diary. This is important because we may not experience digestive discomfort for example until after a few days after digesting something. It will also help you identify patterns of foods that may be potential triggers for you and also identify other lifestyle factors for example stress that may be affecting your digestion and subsequently your endometriosis. Ever notice that you can eat whatever you want on holidays? Is that because you are feeling less stressed?
This is the best way to figure out what foods you may need to eliminate for a period of time. The endometriosis diet often suggests that you will never be able to eat these foods again. That really should not be the case in the majority of people.
As a final note it is so important to listen to your own body. If there are foods that you don't feel agree with you do try cut them out for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. No one knows your body as well as you do. After a period you can try reintroduce these foods and see how you react to them
Any kind of elimination diet can be difficult to implement so as always it is good to work with a professional to ensure you get the best results and stay safe during the elimination period.
Have you tried the endometriosis diet? How did it go? What were your successes and challenges with it?
If you've any questions about it drop me a line.