Tumbling Through the Rabbit Hole...
Header image

The Endo Diet

Posted by Haisla Saturday, 22 March 2014

I started on a fairly strict (no wheat or gluten, no sugar, no dairy, no alcohol, no caffeine - I think the list was even longer back then) endo diet almost exactly a year ago, just before my 34th birthday. Being the slightly extreme gal that I am, I gave it all up cold turkey style. And then it was my birthday. Luckily I have the most wonderful husband and friends, so I got two everything-free (and may I add delicious) birthday cakes that birthday. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Because if there's ever a time when you need a treat, it's on a birthday when you've just started a crazy diet, given up almost everything and are struggling to find things to eat. May I recommend almond flour to anyone reading this who loves their cakes, but is considering going wheat free.

At that point I didn't even know if I had endo for sure, but thought the diet couldn't hurt. Except that I ended up losing a TON of weight in quite a short period of time and got told by the registrar whom we first saw re: our sub fertility struggles that I needed to gain all that weight right back, or no laparoscopy. That was a bit of a bummer. And it turned out that trying to gain weight on the endo diet = almost impossible. That's when I discovered egg mayonnaise with gluten free bread and peanut butter with almost everything in earnest. I even got one of those calorie counting apps to try to make sure that I got some excess calories into my system every day. And I started weight lifting. Weight lifting! I, who hate any exercise that is more strenuous than yoga, did some flipping weight lifting. But it worked. I slowly but surely gained back the weight and then some, got my lap done, was diagnosed with endo and from there on continued on the diet and have done so for a bit over a year now. (Yes, please give me my gold medal now, as I do feel quite smug and no, it hasn't been exactly a walk in the park).

Any diet that deviates from the norm can bring on some social life related challenges and make you feel like the awkward one ('No, I can't go to that restaurant, as there won't be anything but salad leaves for me to eat'), but friends and family have been good to me and are getting used to my weirdo ways. And I do feel like less of a faddish freak when I go to restaurants now, since many of them have become increasingly geared up to catering for gluten free individuals. I do still find myself feeling like a bit of a fraud though, especially when ordering something gluten free, as it's not like I'll swell up and go into an anaphylactic shock if anything gluteny was to pass my lips. I just get a sore tummy for a couple of hours and maybe some constipation or mild diarrhoea (sorry for TMI) and even then I would have had to chuck down quite a bit of the stuff for a noticeable effect. An example of feeling like a fraud took place a couple of weeks ago when I encountered the most sympathetic of waitresses in one of Jamie Oliver's restaurants who told me that she "too," suffers from celiac disease (this was after I'd enquired about gluten-free options on the menu - they served excellent gluten free pasta dishes and I must say I had one of the best endo friendly meals that I've ever had eating out). I didn't have the heart to tell her that I do not suffer from anything of the sort, even when she proceeded to whip away a perfectly edible sorbet from underneath my hovering spoon (yes, I'd made the decision to deviate from my diet for once, since they didn't have any fruit salad on the menu) with an apology, telling me that they'd discovered it contained some gluten in its thickening agent. I almost cried into my raspberry pavlova, which she had brought to me as a replacement item (I really hadn't fancied anything that sugar-laden when I'd ordered a pudding), as it was the only gluten free option on their pudding menu. I wowed at that point that I would from there on end be brave enough to clear up any such misunderstandings with waitering staff, should I ever again come across one so au-fait with gluten-free living..

I don't believe this diet will 'cure' me. I don't even believe it will necessarily help me get pregnant (although having less inflammation going on in your bod' must be a good thing), but it has certainly reduced the almost crippling IBS symptoms that I used to have and helped me feel happier and healthier than I did as a complete wheat and sugar junkie. I had no idea how bad those foods were making me feel until I gave them up completely. And it's only since then that I've realised how often those ingredients are added into foods like yoghurts, muesli, crisps, almost anything and everything even mildly processed. (Sorry, but that really grinds my gear considering how not-good those things are for us. White sugar for example is literally stripped of all goodness [minerals and nutrients] and is, according to research, only as addictive as crack cocaine! And yet it seems perfectly acceptable for the food industry to add it into most foodstuffs, presumably to add to the mourishness and to get us hooked to buy more. Ahem, I will now descend from my soapbox).

I haven't remained completely faithful to the original diet. I now try to have some full fat goat's milk every week as a weight maintenance tool and I've also found a stevia milk choc bar sold in Holland and Barret that is my tasty treat. But whenever I stray badly from the diet (e.g. eat a whole plate full of cheesy sauce with normal pasta) I pay the consequences, so I've kind of learnt that it's not really worth it. And by now I've become so accustomed to buying things that I know I can eat that it's almost no bother - even in restaurants. Most things can be adapted (my lovely husband - who loves cooking I hasten to add, before you think he's some kind of a domestic slave - for example found a brilliant gluten free pizza base recipe online), so I don't feel like I'm somehow missing out on most things. And the cravings for sugar and wheat are gone, surprisingly. Also, I'm not a fanatic; sometimes I buy things that have a little added sugar or dairy or wheat in them and I know it's not going to kill me.

So my verdict on the endo diet? It hasn't provided a complete cure (i.e. they still found the patches of endo even after 9 months on the diet), but it has certainly improved my symptoms and is something I will probably stick to, now that I've finally found it.


Post a Comment