Thoracic endo – just a theory?

Hi ladies

I apologize for not blogging in the last little while but it appears my body may have given up on me recently. Last month, during mid-cycle I was experiencing odd sternum pain. I was able to ‘crack’ it which doesn’t make sense because its not a joint. In any case, this cycle has been even more bizarre. It started with menses during mid-cycle followed by chronic thoracic pain that took me to the hospital as it was becoming harder to breathe. I was sent home with inconclusive results and was told to come back if it got worse. After 5 days of pain, I got my period again, two days earlier than expected but luckily the thoracic pain subsided. Unfortunately the period lasted a day and a half, with the thoracic pain coming back with a vengeance.

While at the hospital I felt, like so many of you have experienced, like a theorist. Maybe its this? Maybe its that? Maybe the dots don’t connect. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I’m a patient with odd symptoms and I just want someone to listen.

I was amazed at the doctor there. The first doctor (the second doctor was worse than the devil so I wont tell you about her. Dr. Chen from St Paul’s emerg. I wont tell you about her). In any case this angel of a doctor said ‘lets take endo out of the equation right now, and see what we can rule out’. I had an x-ray of the chest, blood and urine test, ECG, and an abdo-pelvic ultrasound. All came back negative. At the same time that dang right shoulder pain kept coming in and out, which led us to believe the pain was in fact originating from the pancreatic area and not referred pain to the abdomen. We were getting somewhere. I was scheduled next to see a gynecologist who would then take me to the next round of inspections and perhaps accelerate my referral into the Women’s Pain and Endo clinic here in BC. But during shift change the devil showed up, stopped my morphine and told me to go home; that there was nothing emerg could do. That was that.

So now I am in a fury of emails trying to be seen by someone, somewhere, who will take this seriously. I have a high pain tolerance and have pushed through an office job with tons of travel for the last 10 years. But this, this is horrible!

Feel free to email me your stories and I can share them here. Im in a sharing mood. Otherwise, wish me luck and I will try to amuse you with more endo health related stories soon.

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!

Syng Pharma aimed at a long term treatment for endometriosis

I was introduced to a company called Syng Pharmaceuticals who is working on a long term treatment for endometriosis. Nobody wants to throw the C (‘cure’) word around lightly but I was very impressed with the science behind this. Vinay Singh, CEO of Syng Pharmaceuticals, shared with me the science behind this company including some insightful information pertaining to the lack of pharmaceutical portfolios focused on/funded to find a cure for endo. In fact, Abbvie, creator of Lupron and its newly designed oral version Elagolix, have dedicated their expertise towards finding a band-aid for the pain. Its the best we have got so far.

About Syng Pharmaceuticals:

SYNG Pharma has discovered a biomarker for endometriosis, a protein which has a role in allowing endometrial cells to spread outside the uterus. SYNG Pharma has developed a proprietary test which has potential to become the first line test for endometriosis. SYNG Pharma’s current lead candidate (SP012) is a molecule which specifically targets this biomarker and inhibits the proliferation of endometriotic lesions. SP012 has potential to become the standard of care as it may have disease modifying properties and deliver benefits without affecting reproductive outcomes.

Syng Pharmaceutics is part of the Toronto Mars facility and has received seed funding in the first few years of experimental development. A publication demonstrating early signs of success using a mouse model showed very promising results. As a follow up, Syng Pharmaceuticals has received praise and buy-in by many gynecologists and endo surgeons who believe this could be a sound treatment for patients IF the results can be shown on human tissue.

In order to do so, Syng Pharmaceuticals is now in pursuit of finding funding for this next round of testing. While somewhat unusual, in the meantime they have set up a gofundme project to raise some money.

If you are interested in helping out please click the link below.

https://www.gofundme.com/endometriosis-diagnosis

 

 

 

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.

Dang I wish I had a pic to show you so instead I will borrow some. Click here

For this recipe you will need:

Filling

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 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
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups olive oil for frying
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 9 slices mozzarella cheese
  • chili flakes

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 ricotta cheese, 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 a mozzarella slice.

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 pasta or something neutral like that.

This recipe is so delicious, easy to make, and endo-friendly!

Endo friendly 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.

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?

 

Easy Meaty tomato sauce

There are tons of substitutes for pasta dishes using eggplant, zucchini or gluten-free pasta. But what makes a meaty pasta dish divine is the sauce. Sorry to my endo sisters who dont eat meat, but if you do, this sauce is going to stick around in my family for life. So simple and intuitive and endo-friendly from a gluten perspective.

What you need for this sauce (serves enough for a whole lasagna):

  • 1 package lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 small mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (or a homemade tomato sauce of your choice)
  • Italian seasoning
  • chili flakes
  • crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

In a skillet cook the ground beef. Set beef aside in dish (its up to you if you want the drippings or not. Its healthier without but very flavorful with).

In the same pan, cook the onions and sliced mushrooms. No need to add oil as you are using the drippings from the beef. Once the onions are clear, add garlic and then the beef.

Add the jar of tomato sauce and all the seasoning to taste. Cook covered on low for 30min. Add seasoning along the way as needed.

Below is a picture of eggplant lasagna that I used with this sauce.

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By the way this pic is of a cold slice – I avoided taking a pic of the hot one cus it looked kinda sloppy.

To make this recipe:

Slice the eggplant width-wise to form circles rather than lengthwise. Sprinkle the slices on both sides with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10min at 375F.

The rest of the recipe is the same as my zucchini lasagna recipe.

Enjoy!

Slightly curried meatless french lentils

I took a spin on french lentils and added some curry powder for taste. Sometimes I add sausage to this dish but not always. This is a great endo-friendly meal.

To make this dish all you need are (serves 4):

  • 2 cups uncooked green lentils
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • curry powder
  • salt and pepper

To start, make lentils as per package directions.

While lentils are cooking, take a sauce pan and cook onions until they sweat. Just before fully cooked, add the tomatoes and cook gently. After about 4-5 minutes, turn off heat and set aside until lentils are cooked. You want this part to be cooked before adding to the lentils so that they dont turn into boiled onions – yuck!

When the lentils are of desired consistency you can choose to either leave the amount of water in the pot, or drain some of it out. Add the tomato and onion mixture, and all the seasoning to taste.

Make sure not to overcook or squish the lentils.

Serve and enjoy. IMG_3941

Mitchell’s Soup Co.

If you live in British Columbia you have seen these soup packages in nearly every grocery store (since every grocery store is owned by the same people *eye roll*). Mitchell’s soup co is affordable, and consists of all the essential ingredients for soup – with suggestions on added ingredients such as seafood or meat.

http://www.mitchellssoupco.ca/

According to the website this Canadian gem is available across Canada.

I chose the most endo-friendly soup – the fog pea soup. All i did was add water and let simmer for a few hours. I should have added sausage but this soup was amazing, delicious and plentiful! In the package are a variety of lentils and seasoning at the bottom. Pour into a pot of water and let the magic happen. Seriously.

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Let me know if you have any questions or if you have tried others that are this delicious.