Jessica Murnane, of the blog with the same name, is someone whose life has been turned upside down by whole foods (in a good way). After suffering chronic pain with endometriosis, she heard the idea of eating a whole foods diet to help manage the disease. She took the plunge and a few weeks into the diet, her pain started to fade. Today she’s essentially pain-free and eats a plant-based gluten-free diet, inspiring others to do the same through her blog and podcast. We’re not only big fans of Jessica but very interested in the link between diet and disease, so we’re so excited to present this Healthy & Whole post with her story.
Almost five years ago, I was faced with getting a hysterectomy. My endometriosis had become so severe that I couldn’t make it out of bed most mornings. In addition to the stomach pain and knock-you-out periods, I suffered from urinary urgency, painful sex, fatigue, diarrhea + constipation (yes, both), and excessive bleeding. The sad thing is that I didn’t even know these were symptoms of endometriosis. I just thought these things were my norm…the way my body “was”.
When I was finally diagnosed in my late 20’s, things didn’t get much better. I went through a couple of surgeries, pain killers, “natural” pain killers (wink), and even therapy to deal with my depression caused from the pain. Nothing worked. My doctors told me they weren’t sure what else they could do. They said a hysterectomy was my best option. And I agreed to it.
Then I got an email from a friend that changed everything. She sent me a website that outlined how a whole foods plant-based diet could help manage or eliminate endometriosis pain. The designer in me rolled my eyes at the site (it was super outdated and had about 30 different fonts). The skeptic in me questioned the legitimacy of the site (my doctors for sure would have told me about this whole diet change thing!). The dairy-sugar-bacon-soda-cookie loving me thought there was no way in hell I would ever give up any of the foods I loved (no way).
Changing my eating habits didn’t even feel like a possibility for me. It’s really sad and a little embarrassing to admit, but back then I thought it would just be easier to get the hysterectomy than change my diet. Changing what I ate wasn’t just about the food I put in my mouth. Food had all sorts of traditions and feelings surrounding it. No more fondue dates with my husband. No more pizza nights with my friends. No more late night summer ice cream runs. Making this change was fueled with so many emotions, but mostly fear.
But I had nothing to lose and I think part of me liked the challenge. So I agreed to try. But only for a month. I was gonna get the hysterectomy anyway.
Because I’m writing this piece for the Healthy & Whole series, I think you know what happened next. My pain and all my other symptoms started to fade after just a few weeks on the diet. My taste buds began to change and I began to crave the things that were good for my body. I created new traditions and celebrations surrounding my new planty-ways. After just a few months, feeling good and pain-free was now my norm…the way my body “was”.
Was it easy? Hell no. I cried the first month not knowing what to eat or how to cook for my new lifestyle. But I slowly began to gain confidence in the kitchen. I learned to become more patient with myself. And I discovered that change doesn’t have to be all or nothing – it’s about working through things one part at a time.
So where do you start? The simple answer is…you just have to start. I’ve included a few recipes of my own and from A Couple Cooks to get you going. All are whole plant-based dishes (even cookies!). Try one out and see what you think. Start small or go all in. Just do what works for you!
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.