It’s technically the end of my elimination diet – at least, Phase 1 of it. I’m sitting here writing and sipping rooibos tea when what I really want is a regular tea with lashings of oat milk.
I don’t even drink regular tea on a frequent basis. As someone whose endometriosis is triggered by caffeine, I have about one cup of caffeinated tea per weekend during my follicular and ovulatory phases, but I have to stay away from it during my luteal and menstrual phases. I swap to decaf tea in my luteal phase if there’s still another weekend to go until my period, and then when I’m about seven days away, I cut out tea, decaf or not.
So, I don’t drink a lot of traditional English tea, but when I do it’s a worth-it moment.
What do I mean by that? Nutritional therapist Amelia Freer summed it up in an interview that deeply resonated with me. It’s about eating those foods we love in moments that make it worth it, rather than in shame-filled moments when we’ve barely tasted the cake we gulped down in private. It’s about being the one who decides when to enjoy and indulge, and when it’s better to take a step back.
This is how I’ve been managing my version of the endometriosis diet for several years, which essentially is eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and low in inflammatory ones. I’ve mentioned before that I eat for endo about 80 to 90 percent of the time. This concept of worth-it moments makes up that other 10 to 20 percent.
Spending a Sunday morning in bed next to my partner and reading a cooking magazine while relishing a hot cup of English breakfast tea is probably my favorite part of the week. It’s the only time I feel my body relax, and it’s this short window of time when I can appreciate the simple pleasures of tea and gluten-free toast.
And that’s exactly why I’m craving it so hard right now. It’s not just the tea — it’s the worth-it moment I’m missing. One of my biggest challenges on this elimination diet is the difference in my downtime.
You might be thinking that I should learn to enjoy my worth-it moments without food. But imagine your monthly tradition of going to a favorite coffee shop with your best friend, and the only thing on the menu you can have is one tea that you don’t like that much. You want to catch up, watch the world go by, and share all your latest hopes and dreams over a delicious cup of coffee that you don’t have any other time of the month. Taking away the coffee would be a bit sad, wouldn’t it?
I understand the need to take away or at least reduce certain foods that trigger our symptoms. That’s why I’m dairy- and gluten-free, only drink alcohol once or twice a year, and have sugary foods in small quantities only when I ovulate. But the idea of taking away my worth-it moments makes all of that much more difficult.
Before this elimination diet, I loved how I ate. I was happy to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, which was nutrient-rich and had resolved my endometriosis pain. I also enjoyed my worth-it moments — even the healthiest yogis among us still enjoy a hot cacao elixir most weeks. Those seemingly healthy pleasures all over my Instagram feed are no longer that healthy for me — at least, not currently.
It won’t be like this forever, but as I transition into Phase 2 of my elimination diet, I have to face my Sunday without a cup of tea for the foreseeable future. I’ll still have the magazine, the gentle music, and the time in bed, but there will be a little bit missing from my beloved ritual.
The moral of this story? Enjoy the foods you still can eat every now and then in small quantities. Enjoy those worth-it moments. Food is tied up with emotion and that’s not a bad thing. It’s living.
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.