I’ve just eaten a sandwich for lunch. It was that kind of sandwich that is so stuffed that bits drop onto your plate and down your front, but you don’t care because it’s so darn good — and it was on gluten-free bread.
Yeah, I know. Gluten-free bread or sandwiches aren’t usually enjoyed to the level that I described above. In the past, I’d actually tried to convince myself that sandwiches weren’t anything special because what was the point? Most gluten-free options from the supermarket are dry, crumbling, and full of chemicals and additives, which make you think that the gluten option is probably healthier.
But the truth is that when you’re on the endometriosis diet, sometimes you find yourself fantasizing about a grilled cheese toastie. I’ve been trying to figure out this gluten-free game for a couple of years now, and I’m ecstatic to say that I think I’ve cracked it.
But how do you make gluten-free living a part of your endometriosis management without making life miserable?
If you’re not familiar with the endometriosis diet, read more on it here. The basis: People with endometriosis are pretty inflamed, and inflammation heightens pain, so the aim is to get inflammation levels in our bodies down (inflammation links to depression). So, the endometriosis diet is largely about cutting down/out inflammatory foods and replacing them with foods that can really support our bodies. Gluten, sadly, is one of those foods that can increase inflammation and can also cause digestive issues such as bloating and constipation, which many with endometriosis suffer from.
Going cold turkey on gluten can leave you feeling pretty sad, and it can also leave you wondering what to eat. I personally started slowly. I began noticing how gluten makes me feel and cut down on eating it at times when its impact was worse, such as before and after my period, during work time, and at social events.
I then began working out which types of gluten made me feel the worst, and I noticed in moderation, I had less obvious symptoms after eating sourdough. So for a while, I just ate sourdough on the weekend. Once I got more used to it, I tried to eliminate it from my diet completely, and the differences in my pain levels were incredibly noticeable.
Do your research
It can take a while to find gluten-free brands that suit you, that you like, and that aren’t so full of junk you’re going to feel worse than if you ate gluten.
In the United Kingdom, most of the supermarket chains have their own gluten-free range, but the products get packed with sugars, gums, thickeners, chemicals, eggs, soy, milk, additives, and flavorings. Many of these can have adverse effects on the digestive and hormonal systems or are not healthy for the endometriosis diet.
So, have a look at what’s available to you in the supermarket, do your research into the ingredients, and get clear on what you want to stay away from. Also, don’t be too harsh on yourself if sometimes you want one of those options. For example, once or twice a month, I have pizza, which I make with BFree Pizza Base. It’s hands down the best gluten-free pizza base I’ve had, and the ingredients are really good, too, except that it has a little guar gum in it. Guar gum has been linked to causing stomach issues and could potentially cause some unwanted digestive distress symptoms if you already get those with your endometriosis. Yet, I don’t have it often, and I don’t find myself very affected other than feeling a bit bloated. So for me, it’s worth it to enjoy a good pizza now and then!
I have found that the small businesses make the best gluten-free bread and gluten-free alternatives. In the U.K., my favorites for bread, buns, baguettes, and bagels are, without a doubt, Rana’s Gluten-Free Bakery and Beyond Bread Gluten-Free Bakery. I usually toast or warm the bread because I find it often improves the flavor — I am left so satisfied. For bits you can get in the supermarkets or health shops, BFree has some of best wraps, pitas, and pizza bases around, with relatively good-looking ingredients lists. Also, Doves Farm does perfect rice spaghetti and other pasta (rice flour is the best for gluten-free pasta).
So, have a look online, check out the smaller online retailers, do some digging on Instagram, or visit health stores like Whole Foods — that’s often how I’ve discovered my favorites.
Get your hands dirty
If you like to cook or bake, you could try a gluten-free course like the Gluten-Free Baking Academy, or maybe pick up some gluten-free cookbooks or participate in workshops to get started. Whatever makes you happy!
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.