Last week we talked about all of the very best foods to nourish your body with endo. Today we will dive into a look at the worst foods for endometriosis. Exactly which foods are best for you is very individual to your unique body, but there are certain principles that are wonderful for all of us endo gals to live by!
As with the best foods, these are categories of foods to be aware of. This is where being a good detective and really reading your labels can be of amazing benefit! There are a growing number of “health foods” on the market that use creative packaging and marketing to make you think you are making a good choice for your body. Read on to find out how you can confidently make great choices that really are a good choice for your body.
#1: Vegetable Oils
If having to avoid certain foods overwhelms you and you just don’t know where to begin, let vegetable oils be the one thing you tackle right now, today. Vegetable oils sound healthy enough. I mean, the word vegetable is right there in the name! But be aware, oh wonderful consumer, and don’t let yourself fall into that trap.
In truth, vegetable oils are highly inflammatory. We discussed in last week’s article how Omega-3 rich foods help your body to reduce inflammation. Vegetable oils fall into that Omega-6 category that takes a pathway in your body that leads to more and more inflammation. When our bodies are constantly bombarded with these oils (which they are if you are not aware!), this becomes a big snowball effect.
So how do you avoid these? For starters, absolutely NO cooking with these oils. They are already highly processed, highly unstable oils and heating them only exacerbates that problem. Secondly, be sure to check your ingredients list on ANY packaged foods you eat (even the “healthy” ones). Look for ingredients like canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil, even sunflower and safflower oil. Anything “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” is a definite NO.
What you will quickly discover is that it is difficult to even find packaged foods that don’t contain these oils. So the best solution? Stick to whole, real foods as much as possible and ditch the packaged stuff. If you must keep some packaged snacks on hand (totally okay! I do it too), just look for quality. There are snacks out there that are made with coconut oil, ghee, or even dry roasted nuts that don’t have any oil can be good. Check out your local health food store or an online market like Thrive for some good options.
Oof, I know, that one hurts. So many of us have a sugar addiction and it is STRONG! Trust me, I used to live firmly in the camp that I could never give up sugar. Until I did. And I realized just how much control sugar had over me AND how terrible it was making me feel. Now I am 100% on board with the thinking that sugar is on the worst foods for endometriosis list.
Have you ever tried giving a little sugar detox a whirl? I challenge you to try going sugar free for two full weeks and see how you feel.
Now when I say sugar I am referring to refined sugars. However, that doesn’t mean go load up on honey, maple syrup, agave, and other natural sweeteners. These can be okay to use sparingly, but not as a full replacement for the white stuff.
Just like vegetable oils, sugars are hidden everywhere in our food. Besides in our cookies, crackers, and chips you will also find some form of sugar in things like pasta sauces, salad dressings, bread, even bacon. What?? Unfortunately, yes. Food companies have recognized just how addictive sugar is and have capitalized on it. The good news? There are still some great companies out there who are fighting to put healthy food in our pantries and in our fridge. We just have to go and find them!
When reading labels, be sure to look for anything that ends in -ose. These are different forms of syrup sugar that are added to sweeten things up.
I know, another oof. Please, don’t hate the messenger. Now this doesn’t mean you can never have another drink ever again. Some endo warriors are able to consume alcohol on occasion and be okay, especially after some gut healing has happened.
But the truth is that alcohol is another product that is highly inflammatory. Studies show that alcohol can increase movement of LPS out of the gut, which are bacterial toxins. Especially in someone who has some degree of leaky gut (super common with endo warriors), this can be a big issue.
Alcohol also creates extra stress and burden on the liver, which we need to help eliminate excess estrogen from our system.
If you are consuming alcohol super regularly, it may be difficult to really see the impacts. Again, try taking alcohol out completely for a couple of weeks, then experiment and see how your body reacts. How are your symptoms?
Tolerance on this one might vary to some extent, but a best practice is to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Maybe keep it to special occasions!
#4: Gluten (Most likely)
I say most likely because not every endo warrior has an issue with gluten, but a very high percentage do. Too big to ignore.
Gluten, again, has been shown to be highly inflammatory. Especially for people experiencing any gut issues like leaky gut, gluten can become a big problem. And gut issues are extremely prevalent for endo gals.
In fact, when I am working through a gut healing protocol with a client, I always have them go gluten free at least for the duration of the protocol. It is just nearly impossible to heal without!
Now I went 30 years of my life before I realized I was gluten intolerant. How is this possible?? Well, for starters, oftentimes when you are consuming gluten on the regular, your poor immune system just gets wiped out because it is constantly overwhelmed. Think like an army being outnumbered. So your body might not actually be mounting an appropriate response.
In addition, gluten sensitivities or intolerances may not always show up in the obvious ways. You may have clear signs like digestive issues or skin reactions. Or you might experience fatigue, brain fog, or joint pain. Putting those puzzle pieces together can be hard!
Again, my recommendation is to do a trial run. For gluten, it will need to be a little longer. Try gluten free for 3 full months and see what happens. Besides the obvious sources like bread and pasta, also be aware of hidden gluten in things like soy sauce, meatballs or meatloaf, even french fries. Then you can try reintroducing it and see what sort of reaction your body has. That will give you a more clear answer.
#5: Processed foods
You may have caught onto this one by now if you have read this far, but processed foods just aren’t great for your health. Besides the many added sugars, vegetable oils, and gluten we have already learned about, there can also be chemicals added or may have ingredients that are difficult to digest.
In other words, you just don’t always know what you’re getting.
A good rule of thumb here is to avoid processed foods as much as possible and eat whole, real foods instead. Basically, is it directly from a plant or animal? If the answer is yes, please proceed. If the answer is no, ask some more questions.
A few great questions to analyze the ingredients lists on your food: Do you recognize all of the ingredients? Are the ingredients all whole foods (like almonds, dates, coconut, etc.)? Are there any forms of sugar or vegetable oil?
Remember, our goal here is to nourish your body and fill it with so many nutrients to allow it to heal. The more we fill our plates with real, whole foods and avoid the junk, the better we feel.
Putting it all together
It’s important to remember that perfection is not the goal here. You do not have to eat perfectly in order to heal. You do not have to eat perfectly in order to feel your best. I wrote this two part article, the best and worst foods for endometriosis to give you a starting point. Use these as a tool to give yourself a big picture view of what nourishing your body looks like. And then if you still have some symptoms going on, it may be time for some support.
That may mean a gut healing protocol, especially if there are underlying pathogens like bacteria, yeast, or parasites that need to be eradicated and/or if you have some of that leaky gut we talked about earlier.
It may also mean surgery. While I love a holistic approach to endo and have seen some truly incredible results from that, it doesn’t mean there isn’t still a place for Western medicine as well.
If you feel ready to dive deeper into your own health and finally get to the root of what is going on, I would love to chat! Click here to learn more about my 1:1 coaching program and apply today.
Other Articles You Might Like
The 5 BEST Foods for Endometriosis
3 Simple Ways to Reduce Endo Pain Naturally
3 Ways Gut Testing Helps Endometriosis
Harvard Health Publishing. (2022). The sweet danger of sugar. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar
Wang, H Joe; Zakhari, Samir; Jung, Katherine M. (2010). Alcohol, inflammation, and gut-liver-brain interactions in tissue damage and disease development. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842521/
Marziali, M; Venza, M; Lazzaro, S; Micossi, C; Stolfi, V M. (2012). Gluten-free diet: a new strategy for management of painful endometriosis related symptoms? Retreived from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23334113/