Having endometriosis doesn’t mean that you have to give up freedom around food. But it can be more of a journey to get there.
Food freedom with endometriosis
You may currently feel free around food and want to hold onto that feeling while you make changes to what you eat. Or you may not feel free around food but would love to get back there, even whilst making changes to what you eat. Either way, the following tips can help you make dietary changes without sacrificing your freedom around food.
1. Dietary changes should be individualised. There is no one “endo diet”. Endometriosis is a condition that can show up differently for different people. People can have endo in different places in the body, and experience a variety of symptoms and varying levels of severity. Not to mention, have different preferences and possibly co-occurring conditions. It can be helpful to seek support from a nutrition professional who has a special interest in endo and is ideally also eating disorder informed.
2. Your preferences matter. When deciding which dietary changes to make, evidence and clinical experience are important, but so too are your preferences. If something doesn’t feel right, its ok to ask how it can be made more suitable or whether there’s an alternative option.
3. Don’t overlook the basics. More often than not, the foundation of endometriosis nutrition is eating REGULARLY and eating ENOUGH. All systems in the body work better when you are well-nourished. Especially the gut and nervous system. This will usually look like 3 meals and 2-3 snacks, approximately every 2-4 hours. Although this should be tailored to what’s realistic for you.
4. Go gently. There is very often a sense of urgency in trying to heal. Unfortunately, doing too much all at once can be overwhelming for our mind and body. Not to mention, if you’re trying many changes or supplements all at once, you won’t know which of them is working! It can help to get guidance to prioritise which 1-3 changes to begin with and go from there.
5. Changes can take some practice while you get used to them. But, if changes continue to feel hard or cause more stress long-term, they may not be worth it!
6. Bodies are dynamic places that change with time and support. As long as you don’t have an allergy or a condition that warrants the strict elimination of a food (such as coeliac disease), it’s unlikely that you will have to cut out a food or foods entirely forever. You might find in time that how your body responds to food evolves. Go into food changes with a mindset of flexibility rather than rigidity. Try to tune in to how your body feels. Notice how the world around you impacts your symptoms. With time, you might find you can let go of an old way of eating or try something new.
7. Know that you can change your mind. Once you make a dietary change, there is no failure in changing back or re-routing.
Wishing you all the best on your well-being journey!
Nadia Maxwell, non-diet dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor