Dont tell me what to do

Working on you, when you are ready

I refuse to be called a millennial and in the grand scheme of things I dont think Im that stubborn. But I have noticed a trend in my life: that I can only do things when I am ready. For instance, when I was 12 years old my father brought home a copy of The Wealthy Barber. To this day this book continues to be recognized for its illustrated wisdom of teaching thousands of people how to save and invest their money. Dad had just started to learn about this at a greater scale and thought it would be fun to teach me how to grow my money at a young age. Surely if I had listened and followed back then I would be fairly wealthy. But it was the LAST thing on earth I wanted to be learning or practicing. We continue to laugh about this today as Dad makes every attempt to teach my younger cousins and now my nephew – any last ditched effort to get the young ones to invest. At the age of 35 I would commend myself for how money smart I am, but only because NOW I have an interest.

Over the last month I have been in a dark place. My diaphragmatic endo took over my life, putting me into the hospital three times in one month. I have been nothing shy of spoiled with love by my social media family as well as my real family and friends. Each one has taken a vested interest in finding me comfort but up til now, I wasnt really ready to think about how to reset my life. I was more focused on being angry. I have slept more in the last month than I did in my teenage years. My boyfriend and my mother have taken turns flying across the country to take care of me. And while little victories (healthy blood work, no diagnosis of something fatal, etc) make them exceedingly happy all I can think about is the pain and how angry it is making me. One afternoon mom suggested – after reading some rather basic endometriosis blog articles – that I should incorporate deep breathing exercises into my daily routine. What did I do? I tore her a new one. “I dont need you to read blogs I already read 20 years ago, telling me to do things I already know. I need you to find me a specialist”. She knew I was angry. She rested my head in her lap and let me cry and cry and cry. I knew yelling at her wasnt fair. And while everything she said was correct, I wasnt ready.

The remedy for my sanity was to fly back home for a while. I live in Vancouver but Ottawa is where my soul is. I had a flight booked already, so nothing in the world was going to stop me from getting on that plane. For two weeks, while I was at home I took some much needed time to listen to my body, listen to my surroundings, and start to take in cues. The first thing I did was breathe. Yes, exactly what mom had told me to do, but this time I was ready. Lets be honest, breathing doesnt really help when you have diaphragmatic endo because it hurts like hell. So instead, I do breathing exercises  1) to understand my limitations and 2) to build the muscles around my diaphragm SO THAT if and when I get a collapsed lung I will be in the best shape that I can be. Its not much, and again, it doesnt create miracles, but its something. On the daily I try to do 5 long, deep breathes, roughly twice a day.

In addition to my deep breathing, I am also finally ready to make some other positive changes.

  1. Eating greener – Note that with my Ulcerative Colitis I started out on a low residue diet for nearly 4 months and then started to bring in root veggies which are healthy and low in fiber. I maintained this diet for another 4 months which has brought me to a very stable state (ie no sign of inflammation or irritation in my colon alongside Entyvio infusions). My body is finally ready to take the next step. On the advice of a social media friend I am slowly starting to bring healthier food back into my diet. She provided me with a suggestion to start with a handful of leafy greens per day, and wait a full 24 hours to see if it sits well. Mission accomplished! Now I am incorporating a handful of leafy greens into every meal. Once I am confident that this will not cause I flare, I am going to start replacing some rice with Bulgar, and then start to slowing bring in new veggies; keeping a diary along the way.
  2. Being liable (Myfitnesspal) – Ok so I am horrible for apps. I utterly detest the apps that require me to input my meals simply because they need the data, and I get nothing in return other than some simple graphs. But I also admit I have never understood calories except for the brief year in highschool when I was gaining weight from the pill and decided to starve myself. That was a good lesson on how not to obtain calories. But in all seriousness while I am trying to reduce pain, stay healthy and be whoever it is I am supposed to be, I am basing it on no metrics whatsoever. I decided to download myfitness pal. Yup, I definitely have to input my meals but it tells me when I am eating something good or bad, it gives me goals to achieve and shows me how much impact a little walk can make. If nothing else, it is making me very aware.
  3. Forgiving –  I am learning to forgive people for telling me how they think I should live my life. I am forgiving people for not taking me seriously before. I am forgiving the world for giving me two autoimmune diseases. I am forgiving my body for being flawed. I am forgiving my soul for taking times to cry. I am forgiving my dog for passing away when I needed her the most. I am forgiving my colon for being sensitive. I am forgiving my body for being too strong; and at times for being too weak. I am forgiving people who love me the wrong way. I am forgiving the medical industry for not pouring more money into endometriosis research. I am forgiving healthier people for thinking there is a diet that will cure ulcerative colitis. I am forgiving.

How to get your endo diet groove on

Recently I joined a ton of endo support groups on facebook. Within a few short weeks I noticed the same question being asked by new members: “what should I cut out of my diet?” The truth is, each person is unique and you need to do what is right for you. I dont like using the term endo diet because truthfully we dont know enough about the disease to know how certain foods affect the disease. What you DO know – better than your friends, family and doctor – is what works for you.

Typically if you are being seen by a doctor (an MD) who is assisting you with your pain, or infertility, it would be rare for them to go into nutrition, unfortunately. We seek assistance from each other – people on support groups who have done the nutrition piece of endometriosis. Take it from me, there are going to be a lot of mixed reviews and mine is just one of them. But I thought I would share with you my tips and tricks for converting over to a healthy personalized (plant based) diet.

Before I do, I have one disclaimer: endo vs ethics. If you are cutting out certain foods because of ethics (ie carbon footprints, animal rights, etc) then that is a much bigger discussion. I do agree with this perspective and I recommend you watch ‘Cowspiracy‘, the not yet released sequel ‘what the health‘, ‘hungry for change‘, and ‘before the flood‘ for an in depth understanding of how food production affects the globe. But if you are first and foremost interested in a lifestyle change to experiment with how foods will reduce pain and endo belly, then read on for some tips and tricks from my experience.

  1. Go slow! Dont assume you can cut everything out at one time. Your body, like any other machine, will break down if you put it under too much stress. “But I should be relieving stress by cutting out crap” you say. Yes well the reality is cutting out foods you have eaten for your whole life will scare the crap out of your body. It needs to know how to rewire.
  2. cutting back is a good half step to cutting out. If it is easier to cut out artificial sweeteners before you cut out whole sugar, do it. If it is easier to take one sugary food out of your diet at a time, do it. This is your body and you need to go at your own pace. I decided to cut out diet coke first. That was the only thing I was eating/drinking that contained artificial sweeteners so by taking that out I was now left with refined sugar. Slowly I reduced the amount of refined sugar until one day sugar was not what I desired anymore. That is a thing! 🙂
  3. negative side effects will go away. Its like building a new muscle. Okay maybe thats a bad analogy but after cutting certain things out you will experience a bit of body shock. For instance, coffee headaches and carb headaches are real things. Here are a few side effects to be prepared for:
    • cutting out coffee will give you headaches at first. I havent cut out coffee completely but at first when I reduced my intake I definitely had a headache in the morning.
    • cutting out wheat will give you pounding headaches. When I cut out wheat I had carb headaches for two weeks straight. I found a really good article that suggested putting salt in my food for those two weeks, or even adding a bit of salt to soda water. It helped a lot! But again, if you have a body that cant take salt, play it safe, please!
    • naturally adding more grains and lentils to your diet will cause flatulence. Yeah this is a new one for me. It sucks. It stinks. Like the rotten egg kinda stink. Your body needs to build stronger machinery to break down all the fiber you begin to feed it in replace of wheat. So beware. Mine took 2-3 WEEKS before I noticed a difference. Keep at it though because you need to continue to train your body. My saving grace was mint tea at night after dinner.
  4. carbs are fair game.“But you just said you took out wheat?!?”. I did. I took out wheat. period. the end. hard stop. Vegetables containing carbohydrates are still good for you. Rice, which has starch is still good for you. If you stick to the premise of the whole food plant based diet, these substances are found on earth with little to no refinement. They are good for you. Now… I am neither agreeing with nor diminishing the gluten argument. Because if you take out wheat, you pretty much cover your bases with gluten.
  5. foods with hormones should be avoided as they affect your hormones. Endometriosis is a hormone-based/affected disease where estrogen and progesterone are at war with one another. Foods you want to avoid are meat, dairy and soy. I have taken soy out this week and honestly it wasnt that big of a change. But meat and dairy will be a challenge and I will need your help when the time comes. A lot of us are an hormone drugs, so combining hormones from food sources is just bad overall.
  6. beans bean the wonderful fruit; the more you eat the more you___? Thats another one you need to remind yourself of. If you remove meat and start substituting with beans… be prepared.
  7. substitutes can be bad too. If you look for gluten free items you will find that a lot of pre-made food is built with corn which is really hard to digest, tapioca which causes extreme yeast infections in dogs but inconclusive in humans, potato which has the same effect as tapioca, or other things that I dont recognize. This can be just as bad as eating the real thing, so read those labels closely. If you have dairy like I do still, the higher the fat content (I believe to be) the better. If the fat ratio goes down they substitute with solid protein and sugar. Not cool.
  8. if it doesnt taste good dont eat it. There are too many tasty healthy things to eat. If you decide to make something that in theory should be good for you but it tastes like turd, dont eat it. Life is too short for that.
  9. (I almost made it to 10, but I will stop at 9) *****YOU ARE HUMAN. If you decide to have a slice of your best friend’s baby shower cake, dont beat yourself up about it. Most probably your body will beat you up later anyways.. but thats not the point. Take it in strides. You can do this, and you will do the best you can do.
  10. oh oh… I have a 10! People will convince you your diet doesnt have an impact. Let me be the first to tell you I am living with a substantially less degree of pain solely do to my diet, and many many many others have felt positive effects too. So tell those people where to go. A good diet helps prime your body to metabolize drugs and fight against ‘disease’ – so there!

Wow, I wrote that all in one breath. I will stop here but make sure you read my three part series on cutting foods out of my diet. Hopefully they help you break some ground.

Happy eating!

Rolled Eggplant with gluten-free Capellini

Ever feel like adding a little spin on a pasta dish? I did. And I found this recipe and loved it. I claim it as my own now simply because – as always – I made some modifications. Note that this recipe can be made with substitute cheeses if you find good ones. 

What you will need:

Filling

  • 1 cup sauce (meat sauce or not, your choice)
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • pinch of dried oregano (or some fresh oregano if you have some on hand)
  • 1/2 pound gluten free capellini or angel hair pasta.

Eggplant

  • 1 large elongated eggplant
  • 1 cup gluten free flour (to dust the eggplant)
  • 2 cups olive oil for frying
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • chili flakes
  • vegan sliced mozzarella (optional) 

To make the filling… if you choose to use meat in your sauce, cook the meat and mix with the cup of tomato sauce.

In a bowl combine the tomato/meat sauce (1 cup), basil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile in a large crock pot cook the pasta (half the box roughly) until al dente. Remove from heat and drain.

Add the pasta to the mixture and mix until all the pasta is coated. With tongs and a knife, cut the pasta mixture in thirds so the strands of pasta are much shorter to work with. Mix again.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick. dust each slice in flour and fry in a shallow frying pan until golden brown on each side. Remove finished slices and drain on paper towel. Continue process for all slices.

Line up slices and spoon about 1 tbsp (sloppily) of filling in the center of each slice. Roll each eggplant slice around the filling and place the roll into a baking dish. Once complete pour the tomato sauce (second cup) over the rolls. Top each roll with chili flakes and vegan sliced mozzarella (optional).

Bake for about 10 minutes (yup thats all!) or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.

As I have said before, I really dont like pasta that is made with corn because it isnt digested well so try to find something like chic pea or brown rice. 

This recipe is so delicious, and easy to make!

Cabbage Soup

I got on a cabbage kick when I first cut wheat out of my diet. I wanted to make sure that I wasnt replacing wheat with crap, so I looked for very healthy, very pure recipes. Like most soups you make at home, it will last for a long time (the amount, not the shelf life) so make sure to choose soups you like. And you can always freeze them.

For this soup, which I chose to keep vegetarian, is very endo-friendly.

What you will need:

  • 5 carrots, chopped (or halved if baby carrots)
  • 1 head cabbage, grated or cut into very thin slices
  • (2 medium white onions, or 1 of those ridiculously large ones, chopped)
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 lemons, squeezed
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 small garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • cayenne and/or black pepper to taste
  • chili flakes to taste
  • 2-3 liters of water

Pour olive oil in a large soup on high. Add garlic, onions, leek, salt and turmeric, and let cook until onions are soft.

Add carrots and celery, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice.

When vegetables are getting soft add the cabbage.

After a few minutes add the water. Add seasoning to taste.

Bring to a boil and let simmer 1.5-2 hours.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and grated cheddar cheese 🙂

One Part Plant – Jessica Murnane

I realize having a blog about my endo diet is kind of like reinventing the wheel. But I pride myself on following a natural diet as much as a can. If you have tried it, you know its a hard thing. And if you havent that speaks for itself. There are simple and delicious foods that cause us so much pain and yet its almost impossible to cut them out of our diets.

I have done a good job and Im here to help you. But while I am good, Jessica Murnane is great! She has certainly built an empire on truly endo-friendly foods and recipes.

I purchased her cook book recently that is full of information and guidance as well as meat free, sugar free, dairy free, gluten free recipes – yup, all of that! The book is fantastic. If you sign up on her website you also receive recipes every week that are in addition to the ones in the book.

http://www.jessicamurnane.com/

Endo sisters unite!

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She has endo too! (Thats a proud ‘!’ not a happy one)

Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine with Pesto Sauce

So I post this with caution. For those of you who are looking for wheat-free alternative pastas, this is certainly an endo-friendly pasta option and luckily does not contain corn. As I described before corn hurts my stomach terribly so I have to been mindful when I try gluten-free pastas. BUT I caution you that this flavor takes some getting used to.

Ingredients:

  • one box mung bean pasta
  • one jar pesto sauce
  • 1 tomato

This company as you can see has several different varieties but I have only tried to mung bean kind. I cooked the pasta as per the box directions, and added it to a pan of gently cooked tomatoes and pesto sauce. I am very curious whether you will let it. Message me and let me know.

Do you know of any other gluten-free corn free pastas?

Zucchini Lasagna with non-cow cheeses

I have tried eggplant lasagna but wanted to try something new. Instead I worked my way up to zucchini lasagna. If you have ever made traditional lasagna before this is quite similar with the exception of zucchini slices to substitute pasta. This recipe does call for some cheese but we erred on the side of non-cow’s cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can tomato sauce or homemade sauce of your choice
  • 5-6 zucchini
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese
  • seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Combine cottage cheese, goat cheese and vegan mozzarella in a bowl and mix in seasoning to taste. Put aside until needed.

Slice the zucchini into as thin slices as you can. Line the baking dish with a thin layer of sauce (your choice – meat or otherwise). Make one layer of zucchini slices. Top the zucchini with the cheese mixture and then top with sauce. Repeat this until you have 2-3 layers of each.

Top the last layer with Parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 min covered and 10 min uncovered.

With zucchini slices in place of pasta this is a more soggy alternative, so you will want the lasagna to set for a while until serving.

It just makes sense – Endo and Nutrition

Hello there! thank you for stumbling upon my blog. As you will soon realize this is kind of a ‘dear diary’ of all things pertaining to endo – less so about the woes and more about the positive things. I may throw you a few questions about symptoms here and there, but for the most part I am trying to see (and share) what works for me in every aspect.

The biggest thing for me is my diet. I have developed a diet called it just makes sense. Basically I try to base my diet around natural foods (ie those that can be found in nature). If it has been in a lab, it is not good for me. Here goes:

  • Sugar: I have removed refined sugars and sweeteners – instead I use honey, agave or maple syrup to sweeten my coffee. I also juice with fruit from time to time.
  • Wheat: I have removed wheat, so no flour – but I have not cut out carbs or gluten. This lets me still eat potatoes, rice, and other fruits and vegetables. I dont have enough evidence that it is the gluten that makes me feel gross so for now it stays. This does mean no bread of any kind. For tacos I only use corn flour tortillas.
  • Corn: Corn flour is one thing, but corn starch is a detriment. Sadly this means I do not bother with gluten free pastas as they replace wheat/semolina/durum with corn flour and corn starch. At this cost I would rather eat whole wheat pasta hen I have a hankering.
  • Dairy: If I eat dairy it has to be high fat content. While this sounds counter intuitive to the endo diet, the lower the fat content the higher the sugar content. So if I have milk it is 2% and if I have cheese it is always full fat.
  • Meat: I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to meat. With the combination of endo and the lack of gallbladder (unlike with dairy) I choose meats that are low in fat content. Raw meat does not sit well with me, so Im usually that person who orders her steak ‘overcooked’. At home I stick to chicken and pork.

Another major part of my routine is probiotics. One probiotic a day can do wonders for your insides, in conjunction with your diet. One should not substitute one for the other. If you are to take a probiotic, try choosing one with at least 10 strains of bacteria and as high a number of live strains per capsule as you can find. There is some correlation between high strain count and vaginal health, so if you choose the right probiotic it will help with both the gut microbiome and the vaginal microbiome.

probiotic