Updated: Jul 9
Your digestive system is the lifeblood of your body. It's the single most important factor in your health, and when it's out of balance, you're not going to heal naturally (or very fast). When it comes to endometriosis...your gut health can be one of the biggest factors in determining how quickly you heal or if you ever experience permanent damage from this chronic disease.
In Season 2 Episode 1 of my Wholistic Endo Expert Podcast, I’ve talked more about some misconceptions about what I call “Disordered Eating” that’s causing most of us to dive into a deeper pit of our Endometriosis struggles.
“…Clean Eating is not going to be enough to put your endometriosis into remission…. ~ Dr. Lj Johnson PsyD. IHP. FDNP. IIN, CHEK
Let’s clarify first the difference between Disordered Eating and vs. Eating Disorder
Eating disorders and disordered eating are not the same, with the latter being more common. The American Psychiatric Association has established criteria that can help differentiate between them; this includes looking at a person's symptoms and experiences to determine if they meet the criteria of an eating disorder.
Disordered eating is used to describe an unhealthy relationship with food, but it isn't an officially recognized medical diagnosis.
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is an umbrella term that can describe people who have disordered eating habits but do not fall into any specific eating disorder category. However, there are also eating patterns that do not fit within the current diagnostic criteria of an eating disorder.
Even if an individual's eating habits do not rise to the level of a diagnosable disorder, they should still be taken seriously and addressed as they can develop into more problematic eating problems which can lead to serious health complications.
“On one end is healthy eating or just regular old eating, and then all the way on the other side of extreme or unhealthy behaviors would be an eating disorder,” she said. “Disordered eating would be somewhere in between.” ~Chelsea Levy, MS, RD, CDN, is an Intuitive Eating counselor and weight-inclusive dietitian in New York City
Disordered eating habits may be one of the following:
Certain individuals, without any medical necessity, may avoid certain macronutrients, food items with certain textures or colors, or even all entire food groups.
People may try to over-compensate for the food they eat by engaging in activities such as excessive exercise. This isn't a healthy way of dealing with food cravings and can lead to unhealthy habits over time.
Folks can utilize certain tactics to reduce the amount of food they consume but still feel full. These include cutting the food into small pieces, slowing down their eating pace, or resorting to other strategies that make them feel sated.
People may experience guilt, disgust, or distress when it comes to food, whether before they consume it or after. This is known as 'food anxiety'.
Rigidly adhering to unhealthy eating practices or routines can lead to adverse health effects. It's important to assess the nutritional value of what you eat and ensure your diet is balanced and healthy.
Binge eating and restricting food intake are two common unhealthy practices when it comes to your diet & lifestyle. This can consist of skipping meals before or after consuming a large meal, food that you consider unhealthy, or alcohol.
choosing to eat only foods you consider “clean” or healthy
Fad diets (e.g. intermittent fasting to lose weight) can seem like a quick fix to weight loss, however, it's important to keep in mind that these diets rarely work in the long run and can have an adverse effect on your health. A healthier approach would be to focus on making changes to your lifestyle such as regular exercise and eating nutritious meals.
Purging behaviors, like taking laxatives and inducing vomiting, have become methods used to maintain certain body weights. These methods can have serious physical & emotional repercussions and should be avoided.
An unhealthy obsession with tracking food intake or counting calories can become detrimental to one's well-being. It is important to be mindful of what you eat and lead a healthy lifestyle, but it is equally important to not become overly preoccupied with such activities.
Showing too much concern with one's body weight and size through frequent weighing or measurement has become a common issue.
Let’s start unpacking this disordered eating that may prohibit you from holistically, naturally, and faster healing from your endometriosis.
Don’t fear food. Be mindful that nutrient deficiencies if this remains unchecked will mean putting a blockage to your own endometriosis healing journey.
“...So it's really about finding what works for your body and realizing that having fear around food and not hyper nourishing your body not taking care of your nutrient deficiencies..” ~ Dr. Lj Johnson PsyD. IHP. FDNP. IIN, CHEK
To me, it seems like the biggest thing you can do to heal endometriosis is to eat whole foods and take digestive enzymes.
The truth is that we're all individuals and our bodies are different. What works for some people may not work for others.
But what I've found is that when I start to eat whole foods, take digestive enzymes, and remove myself from a toxic work environment, the most important things happen:
-I felt more nourished
-I felt less bloated
-I slept better at night
There is something more at play here and it starts with your relationship with food. If you are truly ready to heal your endometriosis and minimize future incidents, you must start by nourishing and strengthening your body for optimal functioning. The key to healthy endometriosis recovery is to ensure that your body is as hale and hearty as possible.
Not getting to the roots of the problem
In my early 20’s my acne and asthma issues are one of the most memorable ones I should say. I’ve taken every supplement and OTC medicine thinking these products will help. My confidence was deeply affected by this chronic acne and little that I know that it was caused by my gut issues.
Whereas my asthma was all because of my estrogen dominance and histamine intolerance.
And while my body was fighting that extra estrogen, I was beginning to be overweight.
As you know the heavier you are, the more estrogen your body is producing and I know I was developing insulin resistance as well which happens when your body produces too much insulin without enough of an enzyme that breaks it down.
My body is in chaos. And like I have mentioned in my recent podcast episode…
“...The weight gain is a symptom of your body being in a form of chaos. So why don't we figure out what's really causing the chaos, right, what's really causing the inflammation, rather than choosing calorie restriction and these restrictive diets to lose weight…” ~ Dr. Lj Johnson PsyD. IHP. FDNP. IIN, CHEK
The brain fog. It's a classic symptom of endometriosis and we've all experienced it at one point or another—the mental fog, the exhaustion, the inability to concentrate.
But did you know that it's actually a sign of a leaky gut?
A leaky gut is where the small intestine walls or lining becomes damaged, causing undigested food particles, toxic waste products, and bacteria to spill or pour out through the intestines and outpour into the bloodstream. Your body is unable to take in the essential nutrients because damaged cells in your intestines don’t make the enzymes needed for proper digestion.
The gut-brain connection is something I've been working on for years. The more I learned about how the gut affects our mental health and physical health—especially when it comes to issues like endometriosis—the more excited I became about the idea of connecting these dots.
An unhealthy gut will just make your endometriosis symptoms worse and a healthy gut can help improve your endometriosis. I began to cleanse my gut and week by week my symptoms became less and less, and I was finally healing.
GI health not on track
The biggest red flag of all mycotoxins is that your immune system is stressed and you're bringing in more and more toxins. You might think it's a food allergy or an allergy to mold, but it's actually something bigger than that. And you won't know that until you do some digging—and what I did was just bring in a bunch of probiotics and digestive enzymes, thinking that would be enough.
But it wasn't enough. My gut was starting to feel like it had been through a war zone, and the only thing I could get rid of were gas, bloating, constipation… and the one thing they all had in common? H pylori.
H pylori are one of the most common causes of chronic inflammation that we see today—and guess what else? It's also one of the most common causes of dysbiosis (an imbalance between good bacteria and bad bacteria) in our microbiome. If h pylori aren't dealt with correctly, it can have serious repercussions for your endometriosis condition: it will make it harder for your body to heal itself.
The good news is that there are a number of ways that a leaky gut can be healed and reversed. In my program, we go through step by step to heal your gut so that you can feel better in every aspect of your life.
I've been working with a lot of women in my practice who are dealing with Endometriosis and disordered eating. I'm seeing the same patterns play out again and again.
The transition from Endo Warrior to Endo Conqueror
First off: stop being afraid of being uncomfortable. Your body needs time to heal itself, so if something isn't working for you right now at least try something different next time instead of trying to find an easy solution.
It took me a long time to realize that there is no one "right" way to live. We all have our own journeys, and those journeys are different from one person to another. You can be doing great on your journey but still struggle with certain things—that's okay! The important thing is that you are taking steps toward healing, even if it doesn't look like what someone else might expect from their journey.
Seek partners that will help you transition
And today I'm here because I want to become part of your Endo journey. To help you fully transition from being an Endo Warrior to an Endo Conqueror.
You are welcome in our community who would be by your side through thick and thin; as your coach, I am here to help you to learn about your body; refer you to doctors who can provide safe medical treatment for you so that you could live your life without fear; be an instructor if needed to teach you how to build body’s strength in spite of endometriosis symptoms; and your confidante to give you confidence while pushing through plateaus.
Here’s the challenge
Where's your health today?
Where do you want it to be at the end of the year?
And what are the exact steps that you're going to take to make it happen?
We are at the beginning of your year and it’s the ripe moment for you to get in the driver's seat of your health.