I've been thinking recently, a lot of the stuff I write about is emotional and from the point of view of someone already on this endometriosis healing journey, especially when it comes to the endometriosis diet. I don't want to beat myself up (because hey, it's hard to work a day job, keep up a blog and battle endo symptoms), but I want to provide more practical information for those just starting out or just those looking for more support on their path.
So, as I was super enthusiastic about this place over the weekend, today I'd like to talk about Delicously Ella's latest addition to her MaE Deli empire - The Kitchen Counter in Herne Hill. Ella Mills is a pretty big deal these days, but in case you're not familiar with her work, she started out as a healthy food blogger, who like so many of us, was suffering from a chronic condition which was not responding to medication. I think many of us endo sisters can relate to parts of her story, and that's why she has always resonated with me:
"To give you a little history on me, the blog and why I do what I do, this whole journey started as a reaction to an illness that I was diagnosed with in 2011, called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. The illness had a pretty devastating effect on my life, both mentally and physically. Physically, my autonomic nervous system struggled to function properly which meant that I couldn’t control my heart rate and blood pressure properly (my heart rate would go from about 60 when I was sitting to 180 or so as soon as I stood up!), I also had a whole host of other issues from terrible stomach problems to constant headaches, lots of allergic reactions and chronic fatigue – so I spent almost all my time on my own in bed. I had just turned twenty at this point, and I felt so alienated from my friends, I really struggled to get my head around what was happening and I cut myself off from everyone and allowed myself to sink into an incredibly unhappy place. I was taking a lot of medication, but sadly it didn’t do much for me."
I am aware that Ella has got a bit of stick recently from the press, but that's not what I want to focus on right now, because for me, her recipes and food has been truly inspiring and helpful, especially when I first changed my diet. After the success of her blogs and book, Ella Mills opened The MaE Deli, a joint business venture with her husband, Matthew. Her first two cafés are in central London, but I am thrilled this third one has been opened so close to home.
My brother's wedding is a mere four weeks away, and just last week I had a really bad period (I think, weirdly enough, aggravated by the acid in tomatoes, which I ate lots of in the lead up). If my body stays regular, I'll be due on on the actual day, and if it's anything like last week's, I don't know how I'll cope. I generally stick to the endo diet 5 days a week and I tend to slip up more at the weekend, a sourdough breakfast, a coffee, that kind of thing. It's brunches that I just can't let go of and it's been hard to find endofriendly menus in my area. Anyway, after talking to Jessica Murnane and Heather Crosby, I've been motivated and spurred on by the fact that their consistent diets have left them symptom free and I think it's because I'm fairly inconsistent that I'm going one step forward and two steps back. I felt ready to give the endodiet a real solid 4 weeks of my time, but not enjoying a weekend brunch kinda broke my heart.
And then? I saw The Kitchen Counter pop up on Instagram. So, you know when you go to a café and there's like one dish on the menu that might be endofriendly, if you just took that thing out and swapped the other bit with something else? Well, this is like the reverse, there was pretty much nothing I couldn't eat (but check first! The banana bread has spelt in it, for example) and being so close to home, it felt like such a luxury. I've eaten at The MaE Deli and lots of 'superfood' type cafés in central, but sometimes I just want to stay local and eat well. So on Saturday, I indulged - I had a creamy green smoothy, a mixed lunch bowl with cauliflower dahl, followed by a mint tea and a really really dreamy almond cake with a coconut topping. I left so full, so satisfied and in zero discomfort. I also felt mentally really good, because I had eaten food that was good for my body and that I enjoyed.
I enjoyed it so much in fact, that I dragged my boyfriend down there on Monday, because I'd missed the brunch cut off on Sat (which is 12pm, btw). We had gluten free toast with avocado and spiced beans and yet another green smoothie, because, I kid you not, I was craving this thing. Then we got a fudgey chocolate brownie (which was really fudgey and gooey) and a peanut cookie (which basically amazing, but I'm a PB fanatic so yeah...). Though, gluten free toast is admittedly not sourdough and just as an FYI, I would probably ask them to ease up on the chilli next time, as I find that can trigger me a bit, it was so satisfying to be able to order my favourite brunch option and enjoy without pain!
So if like me, you love eating out, and live in South East London, I wholeheartedly recommend The Kitchen Counter. Whether or not you're ready for the endodiet, the food is lovely, the staff are friendly and it's one more option that'll help you manage your endometriosis.