Editor’s note: If you haven’t worn your yellow yet, you still have a few days to share Endometriosis Awareness Month with your friends and family. One in TEN women has endo, so chances are one of your loved ones has it or has yet to discover it. Spread the knowledge and the love!
My entire life I’ve had a marred relationship with food, mostly thanks to some deep-seated shit causing me to be an emotional eater. At almost 30, I’m starting to repair that relationship. But not because I fucking want to. Because a doctor told me to. I’m literally the example of what NOT to do with your health, kids. Don’t be like me. Be better than me.
When I was a kid, we ate a mostly carb based dinner. It was either fast food because we were so busy or Hamburger Helper because we were poor. I remember when I was 15 and I didn’t want to be the chunky kid of my elementary school days. I drank a Slim Fast for breakfast, ate a Lean Cuisine for lunch, a handful of Cheez-Its and a pear for my pre-workout snack and another Slim Fast for dinner. I was hungry and bitchy. All. Of. The. Time.
Just before I got pregnant, I was on a high protein diet. Mostly grilled chicken and, you guessed it, salad. I was doing it the right way though. I didn’t starve myself. I worked out regularly. I felt great.
During my pregnancy, I let myself go. I drank a Big Gulp of Pepsi a day because I craved sugar. Non friggin’ stop. The nurses and my Ob-gyn placed bets on me having gestational diabetes. I never developed it, despite the 50 plus pounds I gained.
After birth, I dropped 30 pounds immediately. I couldn’t eat. I wasn’t hungry. I finally got my appetite back and when I did…it didn’t stop. I became the busy mom of my childhood. Starbucks runs and eating what I could on the go. I experienced a yo-yo of weight loss and regain.
Finally, when I removed my Mirena IUD, I dropped 20 pounds, but I started developing gastric pains worse than I’ve had in years. I’ve always struggled with GI issues from indigestion, to constipation to needing to go at the drop of a dime and almost not making it to the bathroom. I never in a million years guessed that my stomach was connected to or related in any way to my uterus.
In January, my endometriosis specialist referred me to a doctor who is a one-two punch of GI and Endo kick-assery…but he’s tough and he laid it all on the line. Endometriosis is a pre-cursory condition to “the diabeetus”; I needed a major diet overhaul.
The only reason I started was due to necessity for my health, which from what I can tell is one of the top reasons why people do anything that involves shoving copious amounts of greens down their throats, either in the form of salad or green smoothies.
For my endometriosis, I’ve had to go beyond just adding in some veggies to my diet. About 15 years ago, doctors realized the connection between GI issues including, but not limited to painful bowel movements, constipation, diarrhea, ALTERNATING constipation and diarrhea (RAISES HAND IN THE AIR…how lucky am I?), intestinal cramping, nausea and/or vomiting, abdominal pain, rectal pain, and (THANK GOD I HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED THIS) rectal bleeding.
I cannot express to you the number of times I’ve gone to the bathroom in a day. I’m either begging for something to exit my body so the pain and bloating and gas will disperse or I’m running to the bathroom at work like a crazed madman because I’m about to crap myself like my students have occasionally been known to do.
*Sidebar…did you know that your stomach has it’s own brain and that most of your seratonin is created in your stomach. Many endometriosis patients struggle with depression and anxiety as a result of the impact the endometriosis has on their stomach.
One culprit that agitates the IBS-esque symptoms of endometriosis is a little naturally occurring trace amine (derived from an amino acid) called TYRAMINE, which is typically found in meats that are potentially spoiled or pickled, aged, smoked, fermented or marinated. Tyramine acts as a nerve stimulant and has been under suspicion as being a migraine trigger for some time. Most beef and pork have tyramine and the major foods to avoid include CHOCOLATE, ALCOHOL, aged CHEESE, anything SOY, BEANS and BANANAS.
“Hold the hell up,” I said to my GI doctor,” No chocolate? No alcohol? No bananas?”
“You heard that correctly,” she said, unamused. “Also, no bread or sugar.”
Is this bitch trying to kill me?
But you know something? I haven’t had a piece of chocolate in almost 3 months. Have I missed it? Only once, when I was making brownies for my son’s birthday party.
I’ve lost 12 pounds in 8 weeks. I’m down 2 pants sizes. Have I been perfect on it? Hell to the naw.
But I’m trying. And I can tell the difference.
The last two weeks I’ve eaten more carbs and sugar…and I’ve honestly felt like shit mentally and physically.
My stomach seizures have increased. My energy has decreased.
Despite my carb and sugar addiction I can’t seem to break fully, I AM down to one cup of caffeine a day. At the beginning, I went an entire 30 days without it. I was fucked up and disoriented almost every damn day without it, so they let me add it back in. But no cream, no sugar.
This isn’t the relationship with food I ever imagined. I am a self-proclaimed foodie. I live for brunch. I breathe for Taco Tuesday. And I do backflips for Ben & Jerry’s.
But, I’ve learned to cook better options for myself. I’ve gotten creative and my boys have even enjoyed some of the dishes I’ve created. I’ve learned that I CAN live without certain foods because my livelihood depends on it. So long, bananas.
Will it be a lifelong struggle with the potential of my endometriosis still growing and spreading pain throughout my body? Hell, yeah. But, that’s not in my control. What IS in my control is the food I put in my mouth. I don’t get to eat for enjoyment anymore, but I get to eat to LIVE and I’m okay with that.
In light & in love,