Endometriosis Diet: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soy Free…Vegan?

“Health is not valued until sickness comes.”
~Thomas Fuller

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I’ve recently started learning quite a bit more about nutrition, especially as it pertains to endometriosis and infertility.

While learning about meal plans to boost fertility, I had read, and been told on many occasions that the Mediterranean Diet was the way to go, because it increased nutrients from vegetables, and boosted Omega 3’s and other healthy fats, while increasing protein intake, and limiting red meats and other unhealthy fats.

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There are a lot of great article via the web, that talk about the benefits of this diet for all people, but especially for women who are hoping to conceive. There is even a good amount of research to substantiate the claim.

For the most part, I have been trying to eat this way, with marginal success. I certainly need to be more strict with myself when it comes to food and eating habits.

While I would still say that this lifestyle change is a great jumping off point for healthy eating and fertility, I have started to realize that for my particular condition, my diet should be much more strict.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue and the endometrial lining grows in other areas of your body.  The endometrial flow becomes trapped and can lead to inflammation and pain. Because of this, most diets that focus on relief from endometriosis are anti inflammatory in nature.

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The more I looked into these proposed meal plans and lifestyle changes for endometriosis, the more certain I was that this plan was something that I should try.

It is certainly strict, and I am going to have to muster a lot more self control that I have thus far been able to, but hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.

If we are going to be spending upwards of $20,000 to attempt to get pregnant, I need to do everything within my power  to make sure that our first IVF attempt is successful.

I won’t jump into these changes all at once, however. When your body detoxes from anything, even things that are bad for you, it can make you sick. I might feel like I come down with a cold, or flu. I may actually get sick, as my immune system is slightly weakened by the detox.

My plan is to start with the elimination of dairy (a hard one for me because I adore cheese), and red meat (which I already only consume on a moderate basis). Of course, I will integrate the “Foods to Eat” section immediately.

I will document every step of this elimination on this blog using both photos, and videos. I will also attempt to answer any questions you all may have as I undergo this dramatic lifestyle change.

As of now, I will start with this plan as it is mostly laid out in the above info graphic, but I have also read accounts of women who owe their endometriosis relief to going completely plant based…and by that I do mean Vegan. I may explore that in the future, but for now I am going to still include poultry and fish in my diet.

Even if we are never able to get pregnant, I know that this lifestyle change is important. After all, my endometriosis causes more than infertility. It causes severe pain, bloating, bowl problems, nausea…and could even lead to cancer in the future. I have to get this under control for so many reasons other than a baby. For my family; for my husband and our future; and for me.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or are interested in more of the links and places I have gotten this information.

~Sam

Fun with Feelings 

She wasn’t bitter. She was sad, though. But it was a hopeful kind of sad. The kind of sad that just takes time. 
~ Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I finished my last dose of letrozole Friday night, and I can now fully appreciate how nice the last few months have been. 

I don’t really care for the way the hormones make me feel. In general, I tend to feel moody and depressed while I am taking them. I was already in tears after day one, and I was crying for absolutely no reason. The kiss cam commercial that has been making the rounds had me bawling, and the romantic comedy I watched Thursday night was entirely too much for me. 

All of these extra mood swings don’t do much to help me maintain a positive outlook about our upcoming IUI attempt. I won’t say that I’m feeling pessimistic, but I am certainly not feeling optimistic. 

My doctor is constantly harping on me not to, “stress out his eggs,” so I’m trying to stay calm. I am thinking of disconnecting from social media…and news…for a little while. My life has enough struggles to contend with, so I’m not sure I can handle thinking of other people’s hardships, or America’s hardships. Also, I think my head may explode if I see one more pregnancy announcement….

It’s not that I’m angry at others for getting pregnant, but it brings my own heartbreak so much more to the forefront (as if it wasn’t already the biggest thing looming over me). 

The nausea started yesterday. This is a side effect of the letrozole that I always seem to experience, though it seemed to start a little later this round, which I am thankful for. 

Eating always helps, so I need to remember to start brining crackers with me to work every day. I think drinking water soothes the nausea as well, though it is annoying to keep running to the bathroom. 

Despite discussing a desire to eat healthier in my last post, I have only been moderately successful at this endeavor. Friday, I finally went to the grocery store and stocked up on all the healthy things I should be eating. This included an excess of fish, healthy fats, and veggies. 

I spent Friday evening doing meal prep, and made enough food to make it a few days. If it’s already made for me, I’ll eat it. 

  

My breakfast Saturday was half of a whole wheat bagel, two pieces of bacon (I shouldn’t be eating this, but it was the last of what we had in the house, so I was getting rid of it), a bowl of grapes and berries with whole milk vanilla Greek yogurt, and an over easy egg.

Yesterday’s lunch was everything I should be eating, and it was also delicious. I found myself excited to make it my lunch break just so I could enjoy the food. 
  
I made a Greek salad and topped it with feta cheese and half of a can of tuna. It was dressed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, and oregano. I also had half of a piece of whole wheat naan, with some Mediterranean hummus. 

I ate every single bite. I forgot how delicious clean eating can be. 

We have our ultrasound tomorrow, and though I’m feeling a bit anxious, I’m also trying to focus on being hopeful, and possibly excited? 

I’ll be back with an update when I know more, and hopefully I can find some time to talk more about eating clean with the Mediterranean Diet. 

~Sam 

Here We Go Again…

“Your dream doesn’t have an expiration date. Take a deep breathe, and then try again…”
~KT Witten

  
I started my period on Wednesday, and despite the fact that my periods are still incredibly painful, it was the first time I was happy to see it arrive in years. 

This period is a good one. This period means I had started my third cycle since my surgery. This period means we can start fertility treatments again…

This cycle! 

I called my doctor’s medical assistant Wednesday afternoon to give her the news, and she instructed me to start taking Letrozole again on Monday (tomorrow). My ultrasound will be scheduled for the following Monday, so we can check the progress of my follicles, and schedule our third IUI. 

I’m scared. I’m not sure if I’m ready for another heartbreak, but I know for certain that if we don’t try, we will never get pregnant. 

I’ve been slowly switching gears into healthier eating since last week (which was probably not soon enough, but I’ve been so busy working two jobs that it’s been difficult). This week I will be overloading on veggies, whole grains, fruit, and lean protein. I’ll also be cutting out alcohol and cutting back on caffeine. I’ll be back to one cup of coffee a day, and I’ll supliment with B vitamins if I feel my energy waning. 

I also need to boost hydration, cut out sugar (which I don’t consume much of anyway) and increase whole milk dairy products (which I will get mostly from yogurt). 

I cannot say with any amount of certainty that these things will help in any way, but since this is common dietary advice for boosting fertility, and since none of this is bad for me, I’m going to give it a try.  

In our past two IUI cycles, I did a great job of cutting out alcohol and sugar, and I ate fairly well. I somehow managed to forget about caffeine and I probably drank too much of it. Coffee is my favorite. I’m really going to watch that this time. I also really want to specifically boost vegetables, and Omega 3 fatty acids. 

Aside from dietary concerns, I also want to focus on my relaxation. I have an anxiety disorder, a high intensity job, and a second job (that I love) which puts my work week at well over 60 hours a week. 

I am not sure how my relaxation will manifest yet, so if anyone has any advice I will happily listen.  

I am cautiously optimistic going into this third round. I’m excited to get started again, but remain guarded to help prevent too much heartbreak. 

I’ll be back soon to talk about how I’m progressing on my meds, and I’m hopeful I can post another blog about my furry children soon. I do have two others to tell you about. 🙂 

~Sam 

Christmas Traditions for Our Future Children

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”
~Margaret Thatcher

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My husband and I have a holiday tradition when it comes to Christmas dinner. This is a tradition that was slowly developed over time, and that manifested in a very organic way. This is not a tradition that either of us brought with us from our families.

For Our first Christmas together, I’m fairly certain that I made him a Christmas ham with all the trimmings. I made a homemade glaze and adorned the beautiful half ham with pineapple rings, cherries, cloves, and honey. It was a loving gesture I chose to make because of a tradition that I had brought with me from my family (I used to always make ham with my grandmother). It was also a lot of work for a young couple spending Christmas alone together. We were living in California at the time, and both of our families lived on the East Coast. We spent six (maybe seven) Christmases together mostly alone (away from family) while living as a young couple in Los Angeles.

Things got a bit simpler after that first one and we started making easy Christmas meals like Shrimp Alfredo. After all, it was usually just the two of us. Friends would drop by, but not for dinner, and not often for very long.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, though I think it might have been our first Christmas living together (just under four years into our relationship). I eventually made the connection that lasagna is both my husband’s (then boyfriend’s) favorite meal, and an easy dish to make in advance. In fact, I’ll argue that lasagna tastes better when it is made at least a day ahead of time.

I made him lasagna that Christmas and I don’t think he had ever been happier with a holiday meal.

Ever since then, with the exception of a Christmas where I was super super super sick, we have had lasagna for Christmas dinner. This is a tradition that we also decided early on we would continue when we had children, for one major reason. While Thanksgiving is a sort of “cooking holiday,” where people spend all day in the kitchen eating and snacking (and drinking) while the kids all play together, Mark and I both agree that Christmas is for family time. Once we (hopefully) have children, neither of us wants to be a slave to the stove. We want to open gifts together; spend the day playing with our kids and their new toys; reading them their new books; watching their new movies together as a family.

Lasagna is something that I can make a day or two ahead  of time, and leave in the fridge. On Christmas day, all I need to do is heat it up in the oven, serve it with some warm crusty bread and a salad. I’ll put maybe five minutes worth of effort into an impressive Holiday meal that would even be enough food to feed both of our entire extended families.

Though having that family of “someday children” has never before seemed to be such an impossible reality, our Christmas lasagna tradition will still carry on.

Especially this year.

Our last two years have been pretty much crap. 2015 and 2016 both brought equal amounts of infertility depression, even if I wasn’t officially diagnosed with endometriosis until January 2016…and officially officially diagnosed until my surgery two weeks ago.

So despite the fact that 2016 has seemed to be a pretty all around crummy year for most people…pretty much everywhere…including us…this year was also a really big year for my husband and I in one very momentous area.

We bought our first house together. In fact, we bought our first home, ever. Both first time home owners, and both people who never really thought we would own…ever.

So even though we partially bought this house for our “someday” family (which we still desperately hope to conceive), we did buy a home.

Our first home. 

Our first Christmas in our first home must include lasagna.

I started to make the sauce tonight. It is sitting in my crock pot on low at the moment (it will cook overnight). Just as you can’t make a lasagna you plan to eat on the same day, you cannot make same day sauce. 🙂

I am planing a post for later in the week about a fertility boosting meal plan, (it’s not a diet, so I won’t call it a diet) and my lasagna this year is going to mostly follow that plan. I’ll be back tomorrow to write a breakdown of my “clean” sauce recipe, and talk more about how I am hoping a Mediterranean diet will help our fertility chances for our next IUI attempt.

What are some of your holiday meal traditions? When did they start, and why?

~Sam