Disclaimer: Because of my background in eating disorder recovery, I’d like to first preface this post by saying that when I use the word “diet,” I don’t refer to a “diet” intended to help you lose weight or pursue “wellness.” These tips are not intended to help you lose weight or change your body in any way.
In this case, I’m using the word diet to refer to “what you eat in a given day” — and how these anti-inflammatory nutrition tips can aid in the medical management of endometriosis. However, please note that I am not a doctor, so my post is based solely on my experiences as a patient!
When you hear the words “anti-inflammatory diet,” what do you think of? If you’re anything like me, the first thing you hear is “restrictive.”
I have a history of an eating disorder, so I am immediately wary of anything that requires me to alter or limit my food intake in any way. But done right, the anti-inflammatory diet isn’t about what you “can” and “can’t” eat. Instead, it’s about filling your plate with foods that make you feel good — while still leaving space for the rest!
Most importantly, however, an anti-inflammatory diet can be a helpful tool for managing the symptoms of endometriosis. This makes sense, considering endometriosis has long been considered a disease of inflammation. These gentle nutrition tips can help you eat to decrease inflammation, and thereby the pain of endometriosis.
Fruits and Vegetables
Do you experience constipation or diarrhea with your endometriosis? A high-fiber diet can help eliminate gastrointestinal distress and decrease inflammation. If you focus on any nutrition tip from this blog post, I encourage you to gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet — starting with eating more fruits and vegetables.
Like I said before, the anti-inflammatory diet for endometriosis isn’t about what not to eat. Instead, it’s about adding whole foods into your diet — and that includes fruits and vegetables. The following types are especially important to incorporate:
- Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are rich in iron, which you may need if you suffer from heavy periods due to endometriosis.
- Fruits & veggies like artichokes, cabbage, kale, carrots, lemon and lime support the liver in detoxifying excess estrogen, which can contribute to endo symptoms.
- Loading up on antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies like berries, citrus, onion and garlic can reduce stress in the body, and therefore endo pain.
Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds
As I mentioned previously, high-fiber foods help regulate the GI symptoms of endometriosis. These include whole grains and legumes, like beans and lentils, which keep the GI tract happy and healthy.
Another important nutrient for people with endo? Omega-3 fatty acids, which work to decrease inflammation in the body. Certain nuts and seeds, including flax and walnuts, are high in omega-3s, making them a positive choice for endometriosis.
Meat, Fish and Dairy
Reducing your exposure to estrogen-producing foods containing artificial hormones might help you manage endometriosis. That’s why it’s important to consume organic meat and dairy whenever possible: conventional may contain growth hormones like growth factor-1 and rBST.
Remember those omega-3s? Fatty fish like salmon also contain high doses of omega-3 fatty acids, making them a positive protein choice for someone with endo.
And finally, if there’s any food I’d tell you to limit for your endometriosis (note: NOT eliminate!), it’s red meat, since it’s been found to increase inflammation. If you are going to have a burger, try to choose organic, grass-fed beef whenever you can!
Drinks and Sweets
Alcohol and caffeine are thought to be inflammatory. There’s no need to eliminate your daily latte if you don’t want to, but you may try skipping your afternoon coffee to help you cut back.
When it comes to alcohol, try not to exceed the daily recommendation of one drink per day for women. Alisa Vitti, author of WomanCode, also suggests swapping plain wine for a wine spritzer (half wine, half sparkling water) to cut back on alcohol in a tasty way.
As for sweets, a delicious choice is organic dark chocolate, since the flavanoids in cocoa decrease inflammation. Anything 70% or above is dairy-free, too, making it suitable for vegans or anyone looking to cut back on dairy for their endo.