In this blog, we are chatting to endometriosis health coach, Jess Duffin, all about her easy to achieve health habits for endometriosis.
We’re nearing on the end of February, and perhaps some of your motivation is waning. That’s okay! If your endometriosis health goals feel too scary right now, or your health is struggling too much to even consider reaching for goals, I’ve got three simple health habits that could change the game for you. They’re simple, but guys – these are effective.
The first habit that can really help you to thrive with endometriosis is drinking enough water. Yep, really!
So many of us with endometriosis suffer from constipation, brain fog, fatigue, lack of focus and memory loss – yet these are also symptoms of every day dehydration. In my work as an endometriosis health coach, most of my clients weren’t drinking enough water when we started working together. We’re gradually getting them to their ideal intake.
So how do you know if you’re drinking enough?
Check your pee
If it’s not very, very pale or clear yellow, you need to drink more. You can check your pee colour against this chart to determine where you’re at.
Monitor your bowel movements.
This stuff is important! If you’re not going to the toilet at least once a day, something’s up. It could be endometriosis causing you to have constipation or it could be the tension you have in your pelvic floor causing bowel dysfunction. But it could also be a lack of water slowing down your motility.
If your stools are hard to pass, lumpy or cracked, it’s very likely you need to add more water to your day. Ideally, you want to have 1-3 ‘Bristol type 4’ bowel movements a day – you can check out this chart here to learn more.
Calculate how much water you need.
There are quite a few different equations which all seem to get to the same answer, but the easiest one is to take your weight in pounds, divide it in half, then drink that number in ounces a day at a minimum. If you’re a very active person or you’re breast-feeding, you’ll likely need to up that amount and you can calculate how much more you’ll need here.
Sure, you might need to work your way up to that, but that’s your goal. Fizzy drinks, coffee and tea don’t count I’m afraid to say. However, herbal teas definitely do – and ginger tea comes with the added bonus of being a pain reliever! Try throwing in some berries and fresh herbs like mint if you’re not keen on plain water, or try sugar and sweetener free drinks like Ugly and Dash Water.
Fruits and Vegetables
Okay, maybe you’re rolling your eyes at me now. First water – then vegetables? Hear me out.
These seemingly small health moves can make a really, really big difference.
Did you know that the whole 5 a day thing isn’t actually accurate? Evidence shows that 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day are optimal, but that the NHS wanted to create a recommendation that people would actually stick to. And for people with endometriosis, it’s really important to get those veggies in.
Inflammation is one of the key drivers behind endometriosis pain; often those of us with chronic pain are also fighting chronic inflammation. A process called oxidation actually causes inflammation in the body, and oxidation has even been linked to the development of endometriosis. Why does this matter? Well, fruits and vegetables are packed with anti-oxidants. Research has shown that people with endo have higher levels of oxidation and inflammation, but that adding in more fruits and vegetables can lower those.
Another hugely important reason is that fruits and vegetables are high in fibre. Fibre helps keep our gut moving along nicely. If you’re not having daily bowel movements, you run the risk of having excess and old hormones circulating in your body . This can potentially contribute to the growth of endometriosis. For many of us, endometriosis is oestrogen driven, and when we have too much of it in our system, we can encourage endometriosis to grow. So it’s super important to make sure our detoxification systems are working properly, and that we’re flushing out the old hormones through our waste on a daily basis. When we don’t, those old hormones just reenter our blood stream. Not ideal!
If you have IBS related to endometriosis, some fruits and vegetables might be harder for you to digest. Start with cooked vegetables in an easy to digest form such as soups and smoothies. If you find you’re really gassy after eating fruits and vegetables, speak to your doctor about getting a SIBO test or working with an IBS dietician, who can help you work out what you’re sensitive to.
Don’t hate me. But sugar is one of the biggest inflammation drivers. Sugar actually induces the chemicals in our body that cause inflammation, and block those that lower it! Sugar also raises cortisol levels. If this happens continuously, it results in your body being in a heightened state of alert and increases pain signals. Additionally, sugar raises blood sugar levels, which causes hormonal imbalances that can in turn have an impact on your periods, pain and PMS symptoms.
– Try switching your chocolate to a dark chocolate that’s low in sugar. Believe it or not, I actually LOVE 100% dark chocolate now.
– Try stevia or inulin syrup in your tea, coffees and hot chocolates instead of white sugar.
– If you don’t eat sweets but love fruit juices, begin to reduce your intake by opting for water with added mint and berries.
Patience is key
Now – here’s the thing. It takes a good three months for periods to start improving, and creating health changes is about daily persistence. So if you fall off track one day, don’t worry – just get back up the next day and keep showing up for your health. Stick to these habits for at 12 weeks before you give up on them! Change doesn’t happen overnight or even in a week, but you may start noticing the difference pretty soon!
If you’d like some extra support on this journey, you can listen to my weekly podcast, check out my cookbook or book in for a free 1 to 1 health coaching consultation. Good luck and if you have any questions, DM me on Instagram!