After I published my story about how I conquered endometriosis by changing the way I eat, a few of you have reached out to me, sharing your own struggles and asking about some additional insights into what to eat and not to eat.
This is a little snapshot into how my diet looks like in terms of what I eat and why. Which supplements I take and what other activities I do to aid my healing. At the end I will include a short section about what I avoid.
I am a busy person. Trying to juggle a full-time job as a journalist with blogging, creative writing, regular exercise, meditation and spending time with people I like. I am not really keen on spending hours in the kitchen pondering some fancy recipes. I eat for health. I cook simply but I love it. I eat to feel well. Sometimes, when people learn I don’t eat dairy, gluten and most grains, as well as sugar, they think I am left with very limited options. I don’t think so. In fact, I have discovered so much more since embarking on this journey and I regularly eat more types of food than I did before.
I start my day with a table spoon of blackstrap molasses and a table spoon of apple cider vinegar. I learned about these from the endometriosis community as a sure way to reduce period pain. Blackstrap molasses is a great source of iron, calcium chromium and copper. Apple cider vinegar is great for detoxification. Some people don’t like the taste of blackstrap molasses, I personally don’t mind. It’s the only sweet stuff I permit myself to eat.
Breakfast totally is the most important meal of the day. In the past, when cereals used to be my staple breakfast, I would be hungry again as early as 11 am and my energy levels would be low. Having a proper breakfast really does pay off.
My breakfast is very much in line with the Wahls Protocol. I always make sure it includes a good portion of protein. Today I had 100 grams of tempeh, made with purified butter, garlic and a bit of seasoning. For those who don’t know, tempeh is fermented soy and it is the one soy product you actually want to eat. The process of fermentation destroys some of the controversial chemicals that make unfermented soy products such as tofu a risk to your thyroid. Tempeh is by far one of the best sources of plant-based protein and is a great source of many minerals and nutrients.
The green mass you can see on the other plate is a mixture of steamed rainbow chard, pak choi and savoy cabbage. You can steam it or boil lightly. I pour quite a bit of apple cider vinegar and olive oil over it (and add a pinch of salt). The importance of eating enough green veg and sulphur-rich veg is best described by Terry Wahls in her book the Wahls Protocol. It takes me a maximum of twenty minutes to make this breakfast in the morning.
My morning supplements
My morning supplements include vitamin D, high quality Omega 3, vitamin C and evening primrose oil. I take 1000 IU of vitamin D. In the UK, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends everyone to take vitamin D daily. I first learned about problems with vitamin D deficiency after I consulted a trichologist because of my hair loss. My tests came back really low despite the fact it was in the middle of the summer and I had the test done after returning from holiday in Greece. We simply spend too much time indoors. Also putting sunscreen on your skin prevents the skin from synthesising vitamin D. All of my friends living in the UK who have ever been tested for vitamin D were deficient and I dare to say it’s not only the UK. Omega 3 fatty acids are good for pretty much everything. Even though my diet is all about vegetables and fruits, I take extra 750 mg of vitamin C daily. I do it to improve my progesterone levels (found about this in Sarah Gottfried’s Hormone Cure.) But vitamin C can also decrease cortisol levels (if you are too stressed) and is really important for collagen production.
A make my lunch every day to take with me to work. Again pretty much following the Wahls Protocol. This is a salad with lolo rosso lettuce, one ripe avocado, sun flower seeds and flax seeds.
Adding as many types of seeds into your salads (including pumpkin and chia is a great way to add some extra vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids into your meals). I also add kelp powder into my salads. It’s not the tastiest thing ever. Last year, I tested low in iodine despite the fact that I eat fish every day. Kelp is probably the best natural source of iodine.
And again a good portion of protein in the form of canned sardines in water. I choose sardines in water because the sodium content is lower than in sardines in oil. Sardines are the best fish you can eat. It’s small and replenishes quickly unlike larger types of fish (there are huge problems with overfishing of tuna, wild cod and salmon, so it’s an environmentally friendly choice to eat sardines). Sardines are small and have a short life span, which means they don’t accumulate so much toxins and mercury. You can also eat their bones, which are a great source of calcium.
It is my intention to only have light supper every day. I sleep better when I don’t eat too much in the evening and it has been proven that your body produces the most growth hormone (or youth hormone) when you don’t stuff yourself before bed time. Today I had some strawberries with cinnamon. You can’t go wrong eating your fruit with cinnamon. It’s really nutritious and great for so many things. It also helps women with polycystic ovaries and heavy periods.
Of course, I don’t forget my evening protein. This time a mixture of sprouted lentils and sun flower seeds. Sprouting lentils is really easy and there is no need to buy overpriced sprouts from health food shops. I always buy organic lentils, which is still pretty cheap considering how much you can get out of it. Soak it in water for at least 12 hours. Make sure its fully submerged. Remove the water after those 12 hours but continue rinsing one to two times a day for three days. If it’s not too hot you can keep it on the kitchen counter, otherwise keep it in the fridge so that it doesn’t get mouldy or start rotting. After three days, when the sprouts are about 1cm long, it’s ready to be eaten. Definitely keep it in the fridge afterwards to slow down the sprouting process and consume within three days. The sprouts get less tasty as they grow longer. Sprouting is totally the best way to eat your lentils. The germination process eliminates some of the harmful compounds and releases beneficial enzymes. You can even use them in cooking but that defeats the purpose.
As I am completely caffein-free, I like to relax with a comforting cup of warm full-fat coconut milk with a tiny little bit of organic honey to improve the taste. Take it really easy with the honey, quarter a tea spoon is more than enough for a small cup of coconut milk. It’s still sugar and sugar is not your friend. Also start slowly with the coconut milk. It’s all healthy and beneficial fat but it’s still fit and it might irritate your stomach.
In the evening I also take broccoli extract DIM to help resolve my fibroids. DIM is great for balancing oestrogen. I have only started recently so can’t vouch for its effects just yet.
I snack on nuts, a lot. Cashews are my favourite (great source of zinc but highly addictive), but I am trying to include as many types of nuts and possible. One of my favourite guilty pleasures is peanut butter. Organic crunchy peanut butter from Meridian is my favourite. It’s only peanuts, no palm oil or other shit, just a bit of salt. I am trying to limit myself to one 290g jar per week. There were times when I used to run through a 1kg tub in a week – that was way too much peanut butter. Moderation sometimes is my problem but I am working on that.
What I avoid
I have a no dairy, no gluten, no caffeine, no alcohol and no sugar policy. Dairy increases inflammation in the body especially if it’s not organic. The only dairy I use is purified butter for cooking. Vegetable oils such as olive oil tend to oxidise and create free radicals when heated. Saturated fats such as butter, lard or coconut oil are apparently better. I don’t really enjoy the taste of coconut oil in my food that much so I chose purified butter. I don’t drink alcohol because I can have fun without it. It messes up my brain chemistry and makes me depressed the day after. It’s also toxic for liver even in low quantities. Caffeine is the one thing everyone with disrupted hormones should avoid. Caffeine increases cortisol production and that messes up the whole hormonal system. I managed to quit coffee easily. Green tea is still a challenge and I sometimes have a cup. Dark chocolate, one of the few sugar-low sweets I can eat, is actually not great in this regard either because it does have quite some caffein. I am struggling to give up this treat but getting there. There are millions of reasons why to avoid sugar and it would probably take a separate post. It’s not good for anything and it even makes you age faster.
If you think I eat a lot, you may be right. But I cycle everyday to and from work (45 minutes each day). And I also try to do an extra workout for my upper body every day. I am not going into the importance of exercise, everyone knows about it. But if you are less physically active than I am than you may need less food.
I firmly believe that no healing journey will ever be successful if we don’t address the mind and the underlying stress, which has contributed to you developing all those issues in the first place. It may be the chronic every day stress or some old long suppressed emotions and traumas. I am doing transcendental meditation, twenty minutes twice a day and it totally changed my life. I will write about this in future.