The endometriosis diet can seem pretty overwhelming when you're just starting out, or even when you've been doing it for a while! It can be difficult to know what foods to eat, and if you don't know where to shop or what to replace your favourite foods with, it can also be pretty miserable. A couple of years a go I went gluten-free to manage endometriosis, and yes, sourdough bread certainly sneaks its way in every couple of weeks, but on the whole, I'm largely gluten-free and my body is thanking me for it.
So I wanted to share with you why I actually went gluten-free for endometriosis. It can be confusing if you're trying to read about the endometriosis diet and all the changes in one go, so in a recent column for Endometriosis News, I've written not only why I went gluten free and the scientific reasons behind it, but also how I started changing my diet, and where I shop for gluten-free foods. And yes, my diet is still full of bread, wraps and pancakes! You can read the piece below:
Going Gluten-free to Manage Endometriosis
I’ve just eaten a sandwich for lunch. It was that kind of sandwich that is so stuffed that bits drop onto your plate and down your front, but you don’t care because it’s so darn good — and it was on gluten-free bread.
Yeah, I know. Gluten-free bread or sandwiches aren’t usually enjoyed to the level that I described above. In the past, I’d actually tried to convince myself that sandwiches weren’t anything special because what was the point? Most gluten-free options from the supermarket are dry, crumbling, and full of chemicals and additives, which make you think that the gluten option is probably healthier.
But the truth is that when you’re on the endometriosis diet, sometimes you find yourself fantasizing about a grilled cheese toastie. I’ve been trying to figure out this gluten-free game for a couple of years now, and I’m ecstatic to say that I think I’ve cracked it.
But how do you make gluten-free living a part of your endometriosis management without making life miserable?
If you’re not familiar with the endometriosis diet, read more on it here. The basis: People with endometriosis are pretty inflamed, and inflammation heightens pain, so the aim is to get inflammation levels in our bodies down (inflammation links to depression). So, the endometriosis diet is largely about cutting down/out inflammatory foods and replacing them with foods that can really support our bodies. Gluten, sadly, is one of those foods that can increase inflammation and can also cause digestive issues such as bloating and constipation, which many with endometriosis suffer from.
Going cold turkey on gluten can leave you feeling pretty sad, and it can also leave you wondering what to eat. I personally started slowly. I began noticing how gluten makes me feel and cut down on eating it at times when its impact was worse, such as before and after my period, during work time, and at social events.
I then began working out which types of gluten made me feel the worst, and I noticed in moderation, I had less obvious symptoms after eating sourdough. So for a while, I just ate sourdough on the weekend. Once I got more used to it, I tried to eliminate it from my diet completely, and the differences in my pain levels were incredibly noticeable.
Do your research
It can take a while to find gluten-free brands that suit you, that you like, and that aren’t so full of junk you’re going to feel worse than if you ate gluten.
In the United Kingdom, most of the supermarket chains have their own gluten-free range, but the products get packed with sugars, gums, thickeners, chemicals, eggs, soy, milk, additives, and flavorings. Many of these can have adverse effects on the digestive and hormonal systems or are not healthy for the endometriosis diet.
So, have a look at what’s available to you in the supermarket, do your research into the ingredients, and get clear on what you want to stay away from. Also, don’t be too harsh on yourself if sometimes you want one of those options. For example, once or twice a month, I have pizza, which I make with BFree Pizza Base. It’s hands down the best gluten-free pizza base I’ve had, and the ingredients are really good, too, except that it has a little guar gum in it. Guar gum has been linked to causing stomach issues and could potentially cause some unwanted digestive distress symptoms if you already get those with your endometriosis. Yet, I don’t have it often, and I don’t find myself very affected other than feeling a bit bloated. So for me, it’s worth it to enjoy a good pizza now and then!
Read the rest on Endometriosis News