What I Eat in a Day with Endometriosis

Even before I had to start paying attention to what I eat for my endometriosis, I’ve always been obsessed with food. I’m constantly fascinated by new combinations of flavors and always looking for unique new ways to eat my veggies and whole grains. Cooking and baking are two of my favorite pastimes, and I love experimenting with new recipes — often using David as my guinea pig!

When I’m not blogging, reading, or pinning new recipes to my Pinterest boards, I’m usually cooking or eating something deliciously gluten- and dairy-free. Eliminating gluten and dairy for endometriosis was something that felt incredibly intimidating and restrictive to me at first, so I turned to a lot of “What I Eat in a Day” blog posts and YouTube videos for inspiration. Soon, I found that people were enjoying variations on a lot of the same foods I love and enjoy, without experiencing an endo flare afterwards. I decided to try the gluten- and dairy-free diet for myself.

What sold me on the gluten- and dairy-free diet for endo was the way it made me feel. I used to experience endo belly every. Single. Day. Not anymore! Eliminating gluten and dairy keeps my bloating at a minimum, which means my pants still fit at the end of the day and I’m comfortable enough to stay focused throughout the workday. I’m not saying this solution is going to work for every endo babe, but I do think it’s worth trying to identify if you have a food intolerance that could be contributing to your endometriosis symptoms.

My doctors advised me to try eliminating gluten and dairy — and I recommend you consult with your own doctors before making any dietary changes yourself! You never know if you might have a deficiency or complication that would make a gluten- or dairy-free diet dangerous for you, so turn to the experts who know the human body best. That being said, I want to be a part of showing people that gluten- and dairy-free doesn’t equal a death sentence. You can still enjoy delicious foods without experiencing an endo flare — here’s how I do it!

pasta dish on white ceramic bowl

Throughout the day: I am making a conscious effort to drink more water and water-based liquids, as opposed to running solely on coffee! As a result, I always keep the fridge well-stocked with lemon Polar Seltzer, lemon or raspberry Hint water, and Health Ade Pink Lady Apple kombucha to sip on throughout the day.

9:00 AM: I start every morning with cold brew coffee from Califia Farms, alongside a full breakfast. Breakfast is my FAVORITE meal of the day — I would eat bacon and eggs all day, every day if it wouldn’t kill me — so it’s naturally one that I never skip! Lately, I’ve been loving Simply Elizabeth’s Maple + Almond Butter granola on top of some vanilla almond milk yogurt, with a side of strawberries. I also like to fry an egg over-hard with gluten-free avocado toast (my favorite GF bread is Canyon Bakehouse), or even make a green smoothie with spinach, pineapple, mango, and almond milk.

11:30 AM: For lunch, I usually am throwing together a mix of frozen veggies with protein. A lot of the time, I eat vegan by coincidence, though one of my favorite animal proteins is chicken sausage. One of my favorite lunches is a chopped and seasoned sweet potato fried up with chicken sausage and kale in a bit of olive oil. Another is sauteed cauliflower rice (I like the blends from Cascadian Farm) with a side of black beans simmered with onions and spices. Something I used to eat more of that I haven’t had since moving is sushi — we had a great local grocery store with delicious, freshly-made veggie rolls back in Cleveland (which I would dip in gluten-free tamari sauce from home). Often, I top off lunch with a cookie, like Nothin’ But’s Granola Cookies or Emmy’s Chocolate Macaroons, for just a touch of something sweet.

3:00 PM: I’m typically hungry in the afternoons, so I reach for a snack. I keep things like GoGo Squeez cinnamon applesauce packets, Skinny Pop popcorn, and single-serve packs of gluten-free pretzels (which I eat with hummus) on hand for occasions like these. I also like to bake, so sometimes I snack on dessert; recently, I made a gluten-free, dairy-free strawberry shortcake that I ate with So Delicious Coconut Whip (mmmmm….). A lot of the time, this is when I hit my afternoon slump, so I might also treat myself to an iced coffee at Dunkin’ — a medium iced coffee with extra almond milk when I’m feeling healthy; a medium iced caramel swirl with extra almond milk if I need a pick-me-up on a bad day.

5:30 PM: The earlier I wake up, the sooner I find myself ready for dinner. Lately, I’ve been ready to eat around 5:30 or 6:00 PM most days, which is early for me! I start cooking when I get hungry, which takes me anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. I love experimenting with new recipes — some of my current favorites are coconut curried lentils and spinach, rice cooker Spanish chickpeas and rice, and, for an easy meal, a concoction I created of Banza chickpea cavatappi, Rao’s tomato herb sauce, sauteed chicken sausage, and steamed broccoli. We also make baked chicken in a Greek marinade about once a week, which we keep in the fridge for making salads or Buddha bowls.

8:30 PM: Nighttime is when I start to get snacky! I don’t follow food rules, so I let myself eat when I’m hungry, as long as it’s not so close to bedtime that I’ll get a stomachache. If I need something sweet, I like So Delicious Cookie Dough Ice Cream made with coconut milk. Or, for something savory, I might pop a bag of Skinny Pop pocorn to share with David or eat some Garden Veggie Good Thins made from rice — which are now, thankfully, gluten-free! On cold days, I usually end my day with a cup of black tea and almond milk, but those days are getting fewer and farther between now that it’s summertime.

What to Eat When You Have Endometriosis

Disclaimer: Because of my background in eating disorder recovery, I’d like to first preface this post by saying that when I use the word “diet,” I don’t refer to a “diet” intended to help you lose weight or pursue “wellness.” These tips are not intended to help you lose weight or change your body in any way.

In this case, I’m using the word diet to refer to “what you eat in a given day” — and how these anti-inflammatory nutrition tips can aid in the medical management of endometriosis. However, please note that I am not a doctor, so my post is based solely on my experiences as a patient!

When you hear the words “anti-inflammatory diet,” what do you think of? If you’re anything like me, the first thing you hear is “restrictive.”

I have a history of an eating disorder, so I am immediately wary of anything that requires me to alter or limit my food intake in any way. But done right, the anti-inflammatory diet isn’t about what you “can” and “can’t” eat. Instead, it’s about filling your plate with foods that make you feel good — while still leaving space for the rest!

Most importantly, however, an anti-inflammatory diet can be a helpful tool for managing the symptoms of endometriosis. This makes sense, considering endometriosis has long been considered a disease of inflammation. These gentle nutrition tips can help you eat to decrease inflammation, and thereby the pain of endometriosis.

Fruits and Vegetables

Do you experience constipation or diarrhea with your endometriosis? A high-fiber diet can help eliminate gastrointestinal distress and decrease inflammation. If you focus on any nutrition tip from this blog post, I encourage you to gradually increase the amount of fiber in your diet — starting with eating more fruits and vegetables.

Like I said before, the anti-inflammatory diet for endometriosis isn’t about what not to eat. Instead, it’s about adding whole foods into your diet — and that includes fruits and vegetables. The following types are especially important to incorporate:

  • Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are rich in iron, which you may need if you suffer from heavy periods due to endometriosis.
  • Fruits & veggies like artichokes, cabbage, kale, carrots, lemon and lime support the liver in detoxifying excess estrogen, which can contribute to endo symptoms.
  • Loading up on antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies like berries, citrus, onion and garlic can reduce stress in the body, and therefore endo pain.

Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds

As I mentioned previously, high-fiber foods help regulate the GI symptoms of endometriosis. These include whole grains and legumes, like beans and lentils, which keep the GI tract happy and healthy.

Another important nutrient for people with endo? Omega-3 fatty acids, which work to decrease inflammation in the body. Certain nuts and seeds, including flax and walnuts, are high in omega-3s, making them a positive choice for endometriosis.

Meat, Fish and Dairy

Reducing your exposure to estrogen-producing foods containing artificial hormones might help you manage endometriosis. That’s why it’s important to consume organic meat and dairy whenever possible: conventional may contain growth hormones like growth factor-1 and rBST.

Remember those omega-3s? Fatty fish like salmon also contain high doses of omega-3 fatty acids, making them a positive protein choice for someone with endo.

And finally, if there’s any food I’d tell you to limit for your endometriosis (note: NOT eliminate!), it’s red meat, since it’s been found to increase inflammation. If you are going to have a burger, try to choose organic, grass-fed beef whenever you can!

Drinks and Sweets

Alcohol and caffeine are thought to be inflammatory. There’s no need to eliminate your daily latte if you don’t want to, but you may try skipping your afternoon coffee to help you cut back.

When it comes to alcohol, try not to exceed the daily recommendation of one drink per day for women. Alisa Vitti, author of WomanCode, also suggests swapping plain wine for a wine spritzer (half wine, half sparkling water) to cut back on alcohol in a tasty way.

As for sweets, a delicious choice is organic dark chocolate, since the flavanoids in cocoa decrease inflammation. Anything 70% or above is dairy-free, too, making it suitable for vegans or anyone looking to cut back on dairy for their endo.

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