Parsley Health member Tara M. battled endometriosis and had a history of an eating disorder, which came with chronic pain, inflammation, and gut issues. Here’s how Parsley gave her the tools she needed to understand her health and begin healing.
I’ve had chronic health issues for my entire life. Though I’ve had debilitating period pain from the age of 11, I finally got a formal endometriosis diagnosis at age 18. When I was 19, I got an IUD, which helped somewhat with the endometriosis pain, but not totally. In addition to that, I’ve struggled with recovering from an eating disorder for years because I didn’t have the functional tools to heal from it. The disordered eating likely contributed to my recurring stomach issues, too.
Finding a doctor who listens and acts
Especially with endometriosis, doctors assumed I was being dramatic about my pain until I got diagnosed, and it left me feeling out of control of my own health. Many physicians, it seemed, didn’t understand me and weren’t willing to take the time out to understand the complexities and interrelatedness of all the health issues I was having. Because of this, I had a deep mistrust in healthcare providers.
I actually first heard about Parsley Health while researching a project for work and noticed what Parsley was doing with functional medicine. My first instinct was a little bit of nerves about the financial commitment—the monthly fee was originally a squeeze with my income, but I decided that if it could actually make me feel better, it was more than worth it.
From my first meeting with my doctor, I felt at ease right away. She had legitimate suggestions of actions I could take right away: taking magnesium for stress relief and better sleep, adding Vitamin D, and taking turmeric supplements for the period pain.
The extensive tests were helpful too. When my first blood test results came back, I had high blood sugar due to my eating disorder. My doctor told me at a preliminary level to focus on eating three meals a day and not letting my blood sugar spike. When I went back for my second blood test, my blood sugar had lowered significantly. Seeing the results in the numbers validated my decision to become a Parsley Health member. I was starting to regain trust in myself, too, about my health.
The value in health coaching
Things went even better once I met with my health coach, which was one of the most helpful things for me in the lifelong process of eating disorder recovery. While Parsley Health’s health coaches do not specialize in eating disorders, my coach’s approach to nutrition which emphasized the inclusion of foods rather than restriction was key to healing my relationship to food. She was empathetic and helped me design a healthy eating and fitness plan that would fit my lifestyle. It’s easy to get caught up in “all or nothing” thinking, especially with fitness, where you’re either over-exercising or not exercising at all. The fitness plan we came up with was specific, but flexible. I started with a run every Sunday for 30 to 60 minutes in Central Park, and then yoga at least once a week. My health coach urged me to stay consistent with that exercise regimen and then build from there.
My dietary plan was similar in that we didn’t want to restrict anything or make it too rigid. My health coach and I focused on making sure I had all meals a day and that I had whole foods, veggies, and protein at every meal. One of the main intentions was repairing the damage I had done to my digestive system from years of disordered eating. I started drinking bone broth to help my digestion. I also began taking a probiotic and a special supplement for supporting my gut health and incorporating anti-inflammatory foods that made me feel good. Within two weeks, I felt like my digestive system had been regulated—the work I was doing on my health had real results.
Better health for the long term
I completely transformed my relationships with both exercise and food, which has worked wonders for healing my relationship with food. In the past, I was using exercise to self-punish, going on the elliptical for hours, but now I see how exercise can make me feel good, without the intention of being skinny. I stopped weighing myself, to start, and started doing more of the exercise classes I enjoyed.
I discovered how much I love Pilates, based on my doctor’s recommendation for endometrial pain relief. She suggested it for stabilizing the pelvic floor muscles, and building my back and ab muscles to support those organs. I’ve gotten so into it, and it’s also helped my body build the strength to survive the endometriosis pain.
All in all, thanks to Parsley Health, I have a new understanding of my health. My endometriosis pain cleared up pretty quickly, and is in general, very manageable—Pilates and reducing the stress in my life have made a huge difference. I’ve also been sleeping through the night and not struggling as much with the anxiety-related insomnia. And melting away that stress also helped with my chronic gut health issues. It really all is interconnected. Disordered eating is something I have to be conscious of for the rest of my life, but I feel more equipped to tackle it now than I did before.
I have so much more trust in not only the doctors and health coaches at Parsley, but in myself. I feel confident that the pain and health issues I experience will be taken seriously, and that I can find solutions to them. Actually, I’m about to quit a job that’s been severely stressing me out and has had a negative impact on my health. I’m all about shifting my lifestyle to accommodate my own health and happiness, because those are the most important priorities for me.