Jessica Murnane on Living with Endometriosis
Endometriosis and Diet with Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant
Jessica Murnane is one hell of an endosister. Five years ago, endometriosis had left her in continuous pain, bedridden and depressed. Fast forward to today and with the help of a diet change, Jessica is now happy, in control of her disease and even has a cook book on the horizon, One Part Plant. She is the driving force behind the One Part Plant movement, which we get to read more about later on and her incredible podcast, One Part Podcast, is inspiring people across the globe. Jessica has taken her experience of endometriosis and diet, using it to not only change her body, mind and career, but also to support thousands of other people in positively changing their diets, one meal at a time.
Can you give us some background on your endometriosis story?
I have Stage IV endo. I’m sort of the poster child for endometriosis symptoms… I’ve had them all – killer cramps, lower back pain, diarrhea, urinary urgency, excessive bleeding, nausea, fatigue and painful sex. It took me over ten years to be diagnosed. Five years ago, I wasn’t able to make it out of bed some days. I was severely depressed and in constant pain. I was told I had IBS, bladder issues, and one doctor told me that I “needed to relax more in bed” when I told her it hurt to have sex.
I’ve had two surgeries, one that turned into a laparotomy to remove two large cysts that had grown to the size of an orange. The more I research and the more advances in surgery that have happened, I’m not sure that my surgeries were done properly. I’m currently researching an excision surgery. Even though I have an awesome diet, feel happy, and 80% pain and symptom-free. I still get extremely bloated. I just want to button my damn pants! I’m curious if an excision surgery can help with that.
You have mentioned on your site, that the endometriosis diet/healthy eating transformed your experience of endometriosis and turned your life around. What are the key changes you made and what impact did they have on your life and health?
Before I started eating a whole foods plant-based, I was eating so many inflammatory foods – dairy, processed meats, packaged meals, and soooo much candy and sugar. I didn’t know just how much inflammatory foods and endo didn’t get along. I slowly started replacing those with whole foods. It was gradual and didn’t happen over night. But the better I felt, the more I wanted to try. I actually like vegetables now…which still shocks me.
What was the inspiration behind starting your business?
Changing my diet was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It wasn’t just about the actual food on my plate, it was the relationship I had with food too. I was really angry at first about changing my diet, because I thought I was losing a bit of myself. I also had no idea how to cook.
But as I started to feel better, I had to embrace the change and let go some of the old me. I started my website and the One Part Plant (eating one plant-based meal a day) food movement because I wanted to help other people eat more plant-based foods without all the anger, frustration, and confusion that comes with changing your diet. I do this by creating recipes that are easy and try to never make anyone feel that it has to be all or nothing.
One Part Podcast is hugely inspiring and uplifting to listen to. What motivated you to start it and what do you hope your listeners get from it?
Thank you! Through all my different careers and adventures, I’ve met so many incredible people. I wanted to figure out a way to share them and their stories and an intimate and less edited way. The podcast format really made sense for that. It’s my goal for my listeners to get one new lesson from each episode – it might not apply directly to their life, but maybe they share it with someone they know who needs it. We have to look out for each other more. That’s why I love your blog… you’re doing that.
You’ve just finished writing the One Part Plant cookbook – huge congratulations! What was the journey from website to book – what made you decide to take the leap and what can we look forward to seeing in it?
It comes out February 21st! The book focuses on eating one-plant based meal a day and also dives into my journey with endo. You can see a glimpse of the cover here.
Really, the book was a pretty big surprise. I was actually pitching a completely different book at the time (not even related to cooking). Publishers weren’t interested in that book AT ALL, but were interested in my other passion, One Part Plant. So, I put together a proposal, met with a bunch of publishers, and landed the deal with my dream publishers (Harper Wave in the US and Bluebird in the UK). It was crazy. I do want to point out that I have an amazing agent who believed in me from day one. She helped make it all happen. That’s my biggest piece of advice if you want to write a book: get an awesome agent.
You’re clearly a busy woman - you have the site, podcast, book, newsletter, etc! How do you manage these with a chronic illness?
I am going to say something that I hope you don’t get mad at me for saying… most days of the month, I forget I have endo. Which if I would have heard a woman say that five years ago, I would have told dropped some F bombs on her and told her to shut it. With that said, I work VERY hard at forgetting. Meaning, I make sure that I always have whole foods, get in my exercise, and meditate-ish. I also know that stress makes my endo the worst. So I really work on managing my stress levels too. It’s a full time job, but it’s worth every minute I invest to “forget”.
I’m not perfect, I’ve had a few bad periods here and there over the years, but it taught me that cannot take a break from caring for myself. Sometimes you need to slip up a little to know just how far you’ve come.
Endometriosis is with us for the long haul and it is easy to see all the negatives that come with that, but you’ve managed to turn your experience into something incredibly positive. What is the attitude and approach that you take towards living with the disease and how has it changed your life?
What a great question. When I got my book deal, one of the first things I thought was… thank you, endo. She has been a constant in my life since I can remember - one of my longest relationships. Without this disease, I wouldn’t have ever learned how strong I am, learned the healing power of food, or met such incredible women.
I also know that I’m a more empathetic because of my endometriosis. When you experience this type of pain and the emotional toll that comes with it, it opens your heart to other people suffering too. That’s not a bad thing.
You’ve mentioned previously your experience with depression, brought on by endometriosis. Is this something you still live from time to time? What keeps you positive, strong and happy?
When you live with chronic pain for so long, depression can definitely creep into your life. It didn’t just creep into mine, it was a very present force. There were days that I just wanted to fall asleep and not wake up for a day or two. I didn’t want to die, but I also didn’t want to be awake. Being awake meant pain.
When I changed my diet, my pain started to fade. And because of that, I was able to exercise more. That exercise helped me have a clear head. And that clear head made me so much more positive. That positivity, allowed me to be open to new things like meditation, Kundalini, rebounding. It’s one big chain reaction – but the first step is figuring out a way to manage your pain. If you’re feeling depressed or have “not wanting to be awake” or suicidal thoughts, I really encourage you to talk to someone about it. It’s a great first step and not feeling alone can really help.
For those who’d like to start following a more endofriendly diet, which of your recipes are good starting points?
Nicole Franzen, Eva Deitch and Simply By Suzy
Pecan cookies by Jessica Murnane