Center for Endometriosis and Female Pelvic Pain – Patient Education and Resources
Living with endometriosis can be painful and isolating. These resources can help you develop positive coping strategies, so you can stay as healthy as possible — physically, mentally and emotionally.
Dietary strategies and healthy living
Do your homework before trying diets or supplements. Not all “endo diets” are for everyone. Find a dietary plan that you feel could be incorporated into your daily routine, and look to your health care team for guidance. Don’t try any new diets, herbs or other supplements without consulting your health care team.
Avoid trigger foods. Foods like alcohol, processed starches, sugar and fried or fatty foods may correlate to increased pain for some women. Keep a daily log to identify foods that trigger your pain.
Drink water. A healthy, emptied bowel can be the difference between feeling pain and feeling normal. Drinking water can help move the body’s waste and eliminate pressure in your abdomen.
Enjoy “cheat days.” Unless they cause you severe reactions, you can enjoy a special treat occasionally.
Make it a lifestyle. Eating to help reduce your symptoms is not a diet, fad or quick fix. Take your time as you form new, healthy habits.
Stay positive. If your current plan isn’t working, don’t get discouraged! Reach out to your nutritionist, doctor or support groups to talk about additional strategies.
Expand alternatives. Honey is a delicious substitute for sugar. Choose organic, raw, local honey over grocery store honey. Bananas and apple sauce can replace oils in baking. Try quinoa instead of rice. Consider your options rather than dwelling on limitations. Have fun trying new dishes, and expand your horizons.
Get moving. Challenge yourself to an appropriate amount of exercise for you. Depending on your condition and lifestyle, that could mean taking a walk, running or even training for a marathon. Gradually incorporate being active into your life to make you stronger and better equipped to cope with fatigue and pain.
Paleo nutrition plan: Enjoy real, whole food
Eat: Grass-fed meats, fish and seafood, fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, nuts and seeds, healthy oils (such as olive, flaxseed and coconut), whole cereal grains (such as steel-cut oats), legumes, sweet potatoes and honey (in moderation).
Don’t eat: Cereal grains, legumes, dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, processed foods, salt, refined oils and fats, artificial sweeteners, dyes, artificial preservatives, foods with lots of chemicals or additives.
Pros: May facilitate weight loss if consumed in moderation. Reduces processed foods, which may be linked to inflammation. Fewer restrictions may make this plan easier to cook for families than some “endo diets.”
Cons: Does not eliminate all foods linked to inflammation like gluten and dairy fats.
Other dietary tips
Eat a high-fiber diet (25 grams of fiber a day). Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens, beans, peas, legumes, whole grains (no wheat or rye), brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal and nuts.
Eat a high-protein diet (75 grams/day). Sources include meat, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products. Also include nuts, seeds and legumes (such as beans or lentils).
Limit saturated fat. Eat mostly plant-based foods, low-fat dairy products and lean meats.
Eat plenty of omega 3 fats. Try fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), fish oil, canola oil, flaxseeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Eat mostly anti-inflammatory foods. These can include green leafy veggies, celery, beets, broccoli, blueberries, salmon, pineapple, bone broth, walnuts, coconut oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, turmeric and ginger.
Add immune system boosters. Try carrots, garlic, ginger, beans, peas, lentils, green tea or rooibos tea, leeks, live yogurt, onions, rhubarb and seeds.
Consider avoiding or drastically reducing:
- Alcohol. Depletes vitamin B and compromises liver function
- Caffeine. Increases abdominal cramps and estrogen levels
- Refined carbs. Includes bread, refined flour and anything made from refined flour
- Dairy and sugar. Causes inflammation
- Fried foods and fats. Promote negative prostaglandins, which can increase pain
- Red meat. Promote negative prostaglandins, which can increase pain
- Gluten. Found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains, including breads, pasta, pastries, sauces and more
- Gluten-free substitutes. Often highly processed, high glycemic index and pro-inflammatory
- Additives and preservatives. Increase the chemical load on the system
You are not alone! Many women live with endometriosis. Join a support group — your “endo sisters” can help support your progress. Talk with friends or family about your dietary changes. Build a support system of friends and family, and find strength in networks. It helps to have someone to share with and ask questions.
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