Endometriosis cannot be put on hold because the holidays are here. The daily struggles of pain, bloating, fatigue and gastrointestinal issues that some patients struggle with often exacerbate what can already be a hectic time. Below are some tips to help patients manage the symptoms and stress for a more relaxing holiday.
Just Say No
One of the hardest things about having endometriosis is that family and friends don’t often realize how profound your pain is or how real your fatigue is. Patients often feel guilty and force themselves to act as if they are feeling great and all is okay. Recovering from surgery? Undergoing infertility treatments? Coping with a pregnancy loss? Have your period and can’t get out of bed? Be gentle with yourself and feel free to politely decline invitations and family obligations, especially if you know they will be stressful. Relatives also may not be able to understand that traveling by car for two hours and not sleeping in your own bed overnight seems like the equivalent of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in your current physical state. Their misunderstanding doesn’t make your pain any less real, so honor your body and try to make your health a priority.
Come as You Are
If you do feel like participating in Thanksgiving events, don’t pressure yourself or allow others to pressure you to do more than you can. Try not to feel obligated to cook or bake if you are not physically up for it. Buy store bought items or bring the apple cider or a bottle of wine instead. Or just bring yourself, because as other patients can attest to, getting out of bed and showing up sometimes take all the energy in the world! Rocking the sweat pants? Attached to your heating pad? Come as you are. All you can do is your best and hope that your loved ones will understand and support you. Warn your family ahead of time if you are having a tough day and may need to show up late or leave early.
Try and Follow the EndoDiet
Thanksgiving is full of endodiet pitfalls. It seems impossible to stay away from gluten and dairy on a day centered on tempting food. But, holiday staples such as stuffing, gravy and biscuits can cause severe bloating and gastrointestinal distress for those with endometriosis, especially bowel endometriosis. Say yes to the turkey and vegetables sautéed in olive oil instead of butter. Ask whoever is in charge of mashing the potatoes to leave some out for you before the milk and butter go in. If your family is especially supportive and brave, ask them to mash them with unflavored almond milk and use Earth Balance as a butter substitute. You would be surprised to find some people may not even notice the difference! Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes have gluten free stuffing options that are easier on the stomach. Skip the pies and pick up a gluten free and dairy free desert option so you don’t feel completely deprived. Sorbet or dark chocolate are always an easy option to find in stores. You may be tempted by grandma’s famous stuffing or mom’s homemade cake. Try to limit portions of foods that will make you sick and choose what you will indulge in wisely. Make sure to bring any medication you need to get you through the day.
These rules may seem impractical, if not seemingly impossible to follow exactly--especially skipping the pie! But these guidelines are meant to be a reminder to be gentle with your body this Thanksgiving. These guidelines are to encourage family members to be gentle and understanding of you while you are feeling sick and suffering. If you were terribly sick with the flu, no one would expect much out of you. Your family would encourage you to stay home and get better. Yet somehow, while feeling like you are being tortured from the inside, you are expected to host a dinner for 20 people? Endometriosis patients move mountains every day while in pain! But, this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to also give yourself a break when you can.
If you are feeling adventurous and energetic, below is a delicious apple crisp recipe that will wow your family and not inflame your endometriosis. If you are not feeling up to making it, ask someone you love to make it for you this Thanksgiving.
Gluten Free and Dairy Free Apple Crisp
Take ½ cup of Earth balance and melt in a frying pan. Add ½ cup of white sugar and ½ cup brown sugar. Add ¼ cup of water and stir until it is all dissolved. Let mixture bubble for a minute or two before taking off of heat. Pour mixture into large bowel of sliced apples and stir. Sprinkle ½ tsp. of cinnamon on top and mix again. Pour sweetened apple slices into rectangular glass pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Combine 1 cup of gluten free oats, ½ cup of white sugar, ½ cup of brown sugar and ¼ cup of walnuts in a small bowl. Cut in 4 tablespoons of Earth Balance and combine until mixture resembles large crumbs.
Sprinkle crumbs on top of sweetened apple slices. Bake at 350 degrees until mixture is bubbly and crumbs are slightly browned, a little less than an hour. Enjoy!
Casey Berna is a patient of Dr. Seckin’s and an endometriosis and infertility counselor and advocate. To learn more about her story and her practice go to www.CaseyBerna.com. If you are a patient of Dr. Seckin’s and want to share your story please contact Casey at [email protected]