What diet is best for endometriosis?

Let’s talk diets. Keto, Gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and the rest. The first thing a lot of people say when they find out I have endometriosis is “Have you tried going vegan? Cutting out soy? Going raw? Keto? Etc.”

I know they mean well, but yes – I’ve tried everything, and here’s the truth; none of them work for me. It’s probably not the answer you wanted to read, but like everything else about endo, the truth hurts. Denying my body gluten, sugar or dairy simply has no impact on my endometriosis whatsoever. 

emma kemsley making pankcakes endometriosis diet wellbeing


OK, but have you tried a raw vegan, low carb diet for endometriosis? 

Yes, and it didn’t work. I have tried and tested every diet you can imagine. I have sought help from the best nutritionists and dieticians and tried multiple specialised diet plans to no avail.  

People mean well when they try to impart the wisdom of their favourite diet, and the wonderful benefits it would have to my endometriosis. I tend to smile politely and nod. Oh being vegan will cure of me of crippling pain will it? Wow, why I didn’t I think of that? If there was a food that would miraculously cure me of daily pain, infertility and reduce the adhesions on my bowel, don’t you think I’d be eating three bowls of it a day? 

The truth is that food will not help my endometriosis. It’s yet another factor that makes controlling this disease so difficult. Similar to medical treatment, what may work for some, will not work for others. I wouldn’t rule it out for everybody with this condition, but it definitely doesn’t work for me. It’s amazing how people will still argue that I just haven’t tried the right diet yet thought.

Is there a healthy diet for endometriosis at all then?

A balanced diet will always be beneficial, not just in relation to endometriosis. We’re fully aware that eating a well-balanced, healthy diet will improve our wellbeing, both physically and mentally. Just because food probably won’t cure your endo, that doesn’t mean you can slack off and eat junk food!

What do you do to stay healthy with endometriosis?

I’d say my diet is healthy 80 per cent of the time. I have my five a day, eat fish at least three times a week, limit heavy carbs and sugars and drink plenty of water (though an endometrioma on bladders means I pee every 20 minutes). However, there are days when I’ll eat chocolate biscuits for breakfast, have a takeaway for dinner and drink far too much wine. 

For me balance is key. In the past I have been vegan, veggie, gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free, it didn’t do anything to help my endometriosis and it made me miserable. I will not use food as a fix at the cost of sacrificing my happiness. In fact, I tried this approach during IVF, and it was my worst cycle to date. 

Do you have any diet advice at all for endometriosis sufferers?

The best piece of advice I can give you is to learn your food triggers. For me aubergine, pulses, red meat and Champagne/Prosecco. These will cause pain and bowel problems. Again, probably not exactly what you wanted to read, but better I hope, than false hope. Think of all the things you can eat, that don’t directly cause these issues!

Food triggers are something I have learned over time. If I was in pain, I’d analyse what I’d eaten during the day and eliminate it from my diet over time. It’s trial and error. A food diary can be helpful too. 

Yes, there are times I will guzzle Champagne and eat a burger because clearly, I have no self-control. I do get on my high horse sometimes, refusing to be controlled by endo. Do I live to regret it the next day? Absolutely! Do I regret the memories I usually make on those rare occasions? Absolutely not! You have to choose your battles. 

In my personal opinion though, food isn’t medicine. Yes, it plays a pivotal role in what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, but realistically there is no set food group that will cure a chronic illness. I’m sure many will argue against this, but there are very few case studies that can say their endometriosis has been cured fully by diet alone. And if so good for them, but for most of us, it’s an unrealistic notion that is misleading and potentially upsetting. 

It’s not through lack of commitment that diet hasn’t worked for me. I would throw my heart and soul into finding a natural fix.  Understanding your body and learning your triggers is a much more viable option that will ultimately give you a nutritious diet, positive mindset and provide some light relief. 

Tips for finding your endometriosis trigger foods: 

1.Keep a food diary 

  1. Look out for signs of bloating once you’ve eaten. If you bloat, take a close look at what was in the food. Through trial and error, try each ingredient individually over the forthcoming weeks. You’ll eventually find the culprit.
  2. Be aware of your body and symptoms. Watch out for any changes. 
  3. For 1-2 months cut out alcohol to see if it helps relieve period pain. If it helps, but you don’t want to be tee-total, then avoid it in the week leading up to your period and during.
  4. Try subtle diet changes, one at a time. This will help you find the triggers quicker.