Medically Reviewed by Dr. Melissa Thompson, PT, DPT, MTC
Dr. Thompson is board certified and the owner of Louisiana Pelvic Health. Her expertise is in alleviating bladder, bowel, and sexual pain symptoms during pregnancy, postpartum, and throughout a woman's life.
Today you’re going to learn what the endo diet is and why the endo diet works.
You’re going to hear my story on how the endo diet helped change my life.
You’re also going to hear what the scientific literature has to say about it.
Lastly, we’ll share tons of real-life stories on how the endo diet has worked for women just like you.
Disclaimer: I hate when people make false promises. It’s unfair. So, I’m not going to say that the endo diet will FORSURE work for you. But, I’m very confident that it will positively influence your life.
What is the endometriosis diet?
The best diet for endometriosis depends on the person.
Everyone’s body is different. And therefore there’s not really a “one size fits all” diet.
But, with that being said, I have a protocol for an endo diet “starting point”. I recommend that women with endo start by following this diet and then make changes based on how they feel.
My idea of a general endometriosis diet is…
Here's A List of Foods Good For Endometriosis:
When eating for endometriosis, anti-inflammatory foods can be extremely beneficial.
Here's what a scientific article from 2018 states:
"Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition that may cause pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, and/or infertility in women of reproductive age."
Do you notice some important words in the quote above?
Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory condition. It's a condition that is centered around inflammation.
If you can reduce inflammation in your body, then you'll likely have fewer symptoms.
And here's the really cool part:
When you eat an anti-inflammatory diet, you're likely to reduce the inflammation in your ENTIRE body. Consequently, you're likely to have fewer endo symptoms.
Here's a list of anti-inflammatory foods you should consider eating (according to Harvard):
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish
- Most vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and brussels sprouts
- Most fruits like strawberries and cherries
Gluten-free feeds are included in the list of foods that help endometriosis for many women.
Gluten has been shown to increase inflammation for many people.
By removing gluten alone, many women see noticeable changes in how they feel.
Don't JUST eat gluten-free:
Many women think, "Okay, gluten-free isn't that bad. There are bakeries that sell gluten-free bagels and restaurants that have yummy gluten-free pancakes."
Sure, those items are technically gluten-free.
But, substituting gluten-free treats and junk food isn't going to decrease inflammation in your body. Stick to whole foods that are naturally gluten-free, like organic meats and fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
Included in my version of the endometriosis treatment diet, I recommend avoiding dairy
There's a recent study in Europe that found that...
"Eating dairy foods increased low-grade inflammation in a small sample of German adults"
Again, it comes back to inflammation:
Eating dairy can increase the inflammatory markers in your body, which may make your endometriosis symptoms worsen.
If you're looking for foods that help endometriosis pain, then I also recommend avoiding foods with soy.
While there aren't enough scientific studies linking soy as a negative factor for women with endometriosis, I've found that removing it in my own life has been very powerful.
Most soy is not what it used to be.
In the past, soy was only eaten after a complex fermentation process that altered the chemical structure of the plant. Today, soy is genetically modified and highly processed.
Endometriosis And Diet Are Linked - Eat Foods That Make YOU Feel Good
There's a lot of science out there that shares how endometriosis and diet choices are linked.
But, I want to reiterate something:
My diet might work really well for you.
Or, my diet might not work well for you.
From the hundreds of women that I've spoken to, this diet is likely to reduce endometriosis symptoms and make you feel better. But, I can't promise that will happen to you.
You are an individual woman with a unique body.
Again, the best diet for endometriosis depends on the person.
What I eat might not totally agree with your body.
And, there may be things that you can eat that would make me feel sick, bloated, and have my endometriosis symptoms flare up.
Endometriosis Diet Recipes - Here Are A couple To Get You Started:
Here are some recipes to get you started on your path to healing.
Recipe 1 (breakfast): Anti-Inflammatory Pineapple Smoothie
- 1 cup brewed and cooled green tea
- 2 cups spinach or kale
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- ⅔ cup cucumber, peeled and cut into large chunks)
- ½ cup frozen mango chunks
- ½ of a medium banana, peeled
- ½” fresh ginger – peeled and cut from stalk (about ½ tsp)
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 3 mint leaves - rough chopped
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 4-5 ice cubes (or more or less to personal desired consistency)
- Combine all the ingredients (except the chia seeds) in a blender.
- Add chia seeds towards the end.
- If you're smoothie isn't thick enough, you can add ice cubes.
Here's a link to the original recipe.
Recipe 2 (lunch): Anti-Inflammatory Spiced Lentil Soup
I love having soup at lunch.
I prefer my large meal to be dinner, so eating soup does the perfect amount of "filling-up" for me.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
- 2 cups diced onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
- 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
- 3/4 cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed and drained
- 3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Ground black pepper
- Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste
- Baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- In a large pot, add the oil, onion, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt & sauté over medium heat for 4ish minutes.
- Stir in cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom until combined. Keep cooking for about a minute.
- Add the diced tomatoes and an entire can of coconut milk (yum, fat!), red lentils, broth, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and increase heat so that it starts boiling.
- Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for about 20ish minutes.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Add the lime juice.
You can find the original recipe here.
Recipe 3 (dinner): Balsamic Glazed Chicken With Charred Veggies
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided; plus more if necessary
- about 15 to 20 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- about 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large shallot, peeled and diced small
- salt and pepper, for seasoning to taste
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup candied or roasted pumpkin seeds
- In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil & Brussels spouts and cook for about 5 minutes until golden.
- Turn sprouts over and move them to one side of the pan (or you can always take off and put on a plate)
- Add some more oil to the pan and addthe pan and add the chicken, shallots (and season everything nice and well), and cook until the chicken is cooked through (about 5-7 minutes)
- Evenly drizzle the balsamic vinegar, honey, and stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 4 minutes.
- Evenly add sun-dried tomatoes, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and stir to combine.
- Eat your delicious meal!
Click here to see the original recipe.
Recipe 4 (dessert): One-Ingredient Sorbet of Watermelon
- 1 seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed
- Arrange the watermelon cubes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Transfer the baking sheet to freezer and freeze until the watermelon is solid about 2 hours.
- Working in batches, transfer the watermelon cubes to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
- Divide the puree among two loaf pans (or put it all in one deep baking dish), packing it down as you add more on top.
- Transfer the pans to the freezer. Freeze until the sorbet is scoopable, 1 to 2 hours more.
- To serve, scoop the sorbet into dishes and eat immediately.
You can see the original recipe here.
You can check out dozens of more recipes here.
From there, it’s on you to experiment with what works for you.
Maybe you realize that sugary fruits like bananas don’t agree with you. Or alcohol makes your symptoms worse.
Maybe you feel totally fine with aged cheese or the occasional ancient grain.
Or, you may need to take things a step further and incorporate a low-fodmap diet or move towards a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Healing Endometriosis With Diet - What 3 Scientific Journals Have To Say
At Chiavaye, I like to base everything in science.
That’s why, no matter what I do, we always consult the scientific literature first.
And here’s what it has to say:
The Journal of Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Disorders published a study called “Diet and Endometriosis - Revisiting the Linkages to Inflammation.”
And they concluded that:
“Dietary modification as a complementary approach and a short-term recourse to reduce the effects of inflammation associated with endometriosis is feasible, practical and can be monitored under physician supervision.”
What this means:
Diet changes can reduce inflammation and can therefore also reduce the symptoms of endometriosis.
The BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine published a study called “Self-management strategies amongst Australian women with endometriosis: a national online survey”
They found that:
“Diet had high self-reported improvement scores and dietary changes were the most highly rated in terms of self-reported effectiveness in pain reduction.”
What this means:
Diet can help reduce pain associated with endometriosis.
The KTH Royal Institute of Technology published a study titled: “Using Magic Machines to Elaborate Menstrual Self-Trackers for Women with Endometriosis”
In the study, they found that:
“156 women with endometriosis were asked to follow a gluten-free diet for 12 months, 75% showed a significant change in pelvic pain symptoms.”
What this means:
Changing your diet (in this case, removing gluten) can reduce pelvic pain symptoms.
Endometriosis Diet Plan - My Story
I won’t get into all the details of my story here since I've already written about it on this page.
You can read all about it there!
You can also hear all about my story in the video at the top of this page.
But, here’s what I can tell you:
After implementing a low glycemic anti-inflammatory diet and eliminating gluten, soy, and dairy, my body completely changed.
Mainly, my levels of pain decreased dramatically.
My symptoms decreased and at times nearly disappeared.
My overall health and happiness skyrocketed.
If you want to hear more specifics about my story, you can watch the video at the top of the page or go to the other blog that's linked here.
Over the years, I've developed some strategies and tips that make the endometriosis diet easier to navigate. Since the diet works so well for me, I want to make sure the diet is as easy as possible for me to follow.
Here are some of my tips.
Real-Life Success Stories of the Endo Diet
I’ve personally talked with dozens of women that have seen amazing changes while using the endo diet.
For the sake of this article, we went to Reddit, typed in “endometriosis diet,” and found dozens of real-life people sharing their success stories after changing their diet.
We took screenshots of a handful of them and added them below.
If you want to read even more stories just liked these, then go to Reddit, type in “endometriosis diet” and read through a couple of comments.
This last story was multiple paragraphs long. So we didn't include the whole thing.
But, you'll see that she says that an "anti-inflammatory diet has been crucial in helping manage my pain" at the beginning of the post.
Diet For Endometriosis Sufferers Alone Won’t Make Everything 100% Better
Yes, the endo diet has been a huge catalyst in reducing my symptoms and the symptoms of thousands of women.
But, the diet works best when you add additional “healing practices” on top of it.
Along with the diet, I recommend that women with endometriosis:
- Stretch or do yoga
- Get regular exercise
- Manage stress through some sort of mindfulness practice
- Nourish their vaginal skin with a healthy, chemical-free personal moisturizer that’s full of nutrients.
- See a pelvic floor physical therapist for regular appointments