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!

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?

 

Zucchini Lasagna with cheese

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.

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Combine cottage cheese and ricotta cheese 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.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 can tomato sauce or homemade sauce of your choice
  • 5-6 zucchini
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese

 

Post-run Power Breakfast

Because I am still keeping rice in my diet, I make these power rice bowls when I need a boost of flavor and protein. You can mix the ingredients up as much as you’d like.

I purchased a blend of long grain rice that contains some dried vegetables.  A few spoonfuls piled with cooked sausage, avocado and a fried egg is the perfect way to start the day.

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If you dont eat rice Im sure this could be well substituted for quinoa or lentils.

Part 1 – a glimpse of a change; from skinny-fat to aware.

I am by definition ‘skinny’. I wear size 2 pants, on average an XS dress size, and Im too light to donate blood without having drastic side effects. My whole life I have done exercise but by no stretch of the definition am I athletic. I am a food blogger so naturally I love the taste of fat. Pork Belly is like my version of chocolate cake. And with a few fluctuating pounds here and there which I like to call water weight, I am skinny. In my teens I was vegetarian for 6 years and learned about amino acids found in meat substitutes, and how to obtain all the nutrients through fruits, vegetables and grains/pulses. But… I have always struggled to have definition in my body. Dont get me wrong, I have a butt and big boobs so Ive got me some curves, but you’d be hard pressed to find my abs or biceps. Over time I just kinda accepted that my genetics prevented me from having that type of body.

So the there’s what doctors would call TOFI (Thin on the Outside; Fat on the Inside), then there is skinny-fat where thin people actually have fatty organs,… and then there is me. Somewhere between skinny fat and skinny. Not medically red flagged but still unhealthy.

Last year I made a huge move in my life and relocated from the ever freezing Ottawa Canada to sunny Los Angeles California. No more hibernating in winters, no more woolen sweaters to hide behind, no more excuses not to run outdoors every day. So I did it. I made the pact to myself that I would pay more attention to my body and keep moving.

me when i loved here

Me when I arrived in LA. Skinny but no definition.

While the transition was absolutely amazing,  I started to struggle with adult acne. WTF!?! Maybe it was the heat. Maybe it was the sun. Maybe it was all the sweat causing clogged pores. I tried using organic makeup, acne preventing face wash, doing more facials, … you name it. I was doing everything I could because who wants to have adult acne at 32? Not me. I used to get a few pimples on my chin before getting my period, but this was full on devastating chin zits. I was trying so hard not to let it get to me. I even consulted my physician and asked if there was a birth control pill that could help prevent the acne. (note: I have struggled with endometriosis for half my life and have been on birth control to help with the pain, so no way around that).

And then I had my AHAA moment. My girlfriend and I had gone out to do some errands and had picked up an extra large diet coke on the way home. My favourite. In fact, this was one of those diet cokes with the Raspberry flavor shot in it. This was normal for us. I buy super sized diet coke and it lasts me all day long, sipping as I work. coke is always in my refrigerator. But I would NEVER buy regular coke. Its just not tasty. And, aspartame is way healthier than regular sugar. So there’s that. Well let me tell you, thank goodness for that diet coke because later that night I went out for some drinks… maybe one too many… and nothing cures a hangover like a diet coke. Its got something magical in it. And if you have a few slurps and then go back to bed, you wake up cured. Except the diet coke had been sitting out all day yesterday and it was flat. It was like caramel. It was absolutely positively disgusting. So, how come a flat diet coke is so much worse than a bubbly cold diet coke. I didnt know, and I didnt really care, but what I did know is I was actually addicted to the bubbles.When I sat back to think about it, its carbonation that I seek out. I rang my girlfriend and asked if she has a diet coke but all she had was a seltzer (club soda). AHA… the bubbles! So if the bubbles are what I like, screw the other ingredients I dont know how to pronounce. AND I dont even have a sweet tooth so I dont need whatever magic is in the diet coke to make it so sweet.

It wasnt like I was trying to be healthier, I just realized I could get the carbonation from a less conspicuous drink. So, I skipped the diet coke and bought a case of regular seltzer from the store that afternoon once I had recovered. Here’s what happened.

Within 24 hours, I was exhausted. So exhausted I could literally sleep all day. I had a headache the first day but after a loooooong nap I was good to go again. Day 2 was a little better. And by day 3 the headache was going away and I was able to get through the day without a power nap. Day 4 was incredible. I felt more focused than I have in a long time. And when presented with a diet coke on day 4 I was repulsed. I couldnt even think of putting that back into my body. On day 5, I went for a run and (though I have been running for years!) it was the first run where I felt the muscles working, my stomach flexed, my joints loose, and everything was functioning. I felt light, focused, and … healthy? I felt for the first time like I was burning parts of me, and not parts of left over gunk.

A few weeks later I was expected to have PMS> and for me this usually means mood swings and a lot of bloating. Like, totally uncomfortable, watermelon belly bloating. I started the countdown to my period. I have endometriosis so the countdown is a pretty normal routine for me every month. 5 days to go… no bloating. 4 days to go,.. oh I can feel some of those mood swings…. 3 days… 2 days… NO BLOATING! By cutting out aspartame, and by nature all other artificial sweeteners from my body I was functioning like a healthy human. My period was terrible but nothing new there. Post period, I started to get a firmer body. Not skinnier, just, firmer. I didnt go down in waist size I just looked trimmer. I dont know how to explain it, I just felt human. I felt light and focused and firmer and hotter and better.

WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME? AND HOW COULD I MAKE MORE OF THIS HAPPEN?

…to be continued.

Part 2: Eliminating Artificial Sweeteners

Part 3: Juicing

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