Managing Endometriosis Naturally
Endosister Meredith is The Healing Yogi. Her website and Instagram feature beautiful nourishing recipes that help ease the symptoms of endometriosis and aid healing. She uses yoga to strengthen her body and is currently studying a BHSc in Nutrition and Dietetics, so she can further support women with managing endometriosis naturally.
Can you give us some background on your endometriosis story? What were your symptoms, how long did it take until diagnosis and what surgeries have you had?
I was officially diagnosed with endo in Jan 2014 but believe I’ve had it for many years, it was misdiagnosed by many doctors. I was diagnosed via laparoscopy in 2014 with stage 4 disease with adhesions on my reproductive organs, my bowel and ureter. In 2015 I had major excision surgery including a bowel resection and had a ureter resection.
You run The Healing Yogi, can you tell us a little about it? What do you hope to achieve through the blog and what was the inspiration behind it?
The Healing Yogi started as more of an outlet, a way of sharing what I’d been experiencing, also with the hope that perhaps I could help someone along the way. A healthy lifestyle has certainly helped my healing journey so I wanted to share my learnings with others. It’s also a creative outlet, I love writing new recipes and photography.
What are the key changes you made and what impact did they have on your life and health?
The main changes were reducing my intake of alcohol to 1 or 2 drinks occasionally and cutting out processed food. I mainly eat a wholefoods diet now and supplement with vitamins and minerals as I need to (such as iron).
Endometriosis is with us for the long haul and it is easy to see all the negatives that come with that, but are there any positives that have come out of living with this disease?
Absolutely! It’s forced me to change my perspective on pretty much every aspect of my life. I now take care of myself (as it’s necessary for my ability to function), I have developed a passion for nutrition and yoga which is taking me down a new career path to become a qualified nutritionist. I also have developed more compassion for myself and others.
You have your site, are studying and working. How do you manage these with a chronic illness?
Yes I’m very busy, it’s a juggling act to manage both when you have a chronic illness. I work part time and study part time, it’s something I am constantly considering; at the moment it is feeling like a lot for me, so before the 2017 study year begins I might make some changes to my schedule. I have to make time to look after myself, if I don’t - I feel it, I become worn out, pain settles in and I look like I’m about 5 months pregnant! Something I’m sure all endo sufferers can relate to!
You went through some major surgery in 2015, is there any preparation or aftercare tips you can offer to help women have a smoother recovery?
Yes so prior to surgery be mindful of what medications and supplements you are taking, tell your doctor everything as they could have adverse effects on your surgery and recovery. Post-surgery eat soothing cooked food like soup. Talk to a naturopath if you can about supplements to assist your healing process; vitamin C and zinc are excellent for your body recovering from surgery.
Are there any simple foods/supplements/lifestyle choices you recommend for some of the following endometriosis symptoms?
I would suggest to keep things simple, especially when it comes to your diet, what works for one person may not work for another so try things and see how your body responds.
- Pain – Anti-inflammatory diet helps with pain, so healthy fats are important, such as Omega 3’s, magnesium is a great muscle relaxant and I find it helps with sleep too.
- Fatigue – I find iron and vitamin B supplements help a lot, always get your blood tested by a doctor though.
- Digestion problems – This is very tricky but try a low FODMAP diet, also consider seeing a naturopath to get tested for SIBO (you’ll see a bit about this on my blog), definitely cut out sugar and processed food, drink plenty of clean water, about 2 litres a day. I also find yoga helps a lot here as well because it switches on your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Doing an occasional cleanse is helpful too – I use Epsom salts.
- Depression/anxiety – If you can, see a psychologist, I’ve been seeing one for years and it can take time to find the right one but if you find a good psychologist they can provide so much emotional support as dealing with a chronic illness can feel isolating. Yoga / meditation is a huge help with this as well and has helped me shift my perspective.
Do you still suffer from flare-ups? If so, how do you get through a challenging day with endo pain etc?
Yes but not where near as bad pre excision surgery. I take magnesium, incorporate restorative yoga and slow down. I use a lavender heat pillow which I love!
What keeps you positive, strong and happy, despite living with the challenges that endometriosis can bring?
It can be hard but I try to incorporate the things I love into my life and continue to pursue them such as nutrition and yoga. When I am feeling down I try to accept that I am not my feelings, that they come and go, it’s just a moment in time. I think the key to happiness is to celebrate the small joys in life – like eating a meal, or watching the sunrise, I try and savor it and fully appreciate the moment.
For those who’d like to start following a more endofriendly diet, which of your recipes are good starting points?