BEST GIFTS FOR SOMEONE WITH ENDOMETRIOSIS
Emma H. 07/05/2017
9 tips for getting gifts for someone who is chronically ill
Who doesn’t like getting gifts? I personally prefer to be given experiences, rather than things. But writing my blog and giving other women advice on how to change their lives for the better, I’ve realized that there is a number of things that can make life with a chronic illness much, much easier. Also, if you’re following a healing protocol, you cannot be given a box of chocolates, a cake, or a gourmand weekend getaway, right?
Here a few suggestions for the best gifts for a woman with endometriosis (or with any chronic illness, for that matter). You can choose from small and inexpensive, or big and practical. You can choose a tangible gift, or an immaterial experience. They will all be appreciated by someone who struggles with health issues. I hope this article will inspire you, and maybe help you better understand what it is like to live with a chronic disease.
(Please note that this post contains Amazon affiliate links.)
1. Information – books, and more books
I am convinced that information is key for being able to live with a chronic condition. If you get to know all there is about your illness, you can decide what strategies are best for you to deal with it. During my healing journey, I have read dozens and dozens of books. Theyall helped me in one way or another. I’m happy to make the following recommendations:
For endometriosis, check out Dr. Cook’s book Stop Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain. Here you will find detailed information about the disease and treatment options. I absolutely love Aubree Deimler’s book From Pain to Peace with Endo. Aubree is a fellow endo sufferer and has made huge steps in managing the disease with diet and lifestyle changes. She is a very inspirational figure in the endo world. Last but not least, Tamer Seckin recently released a relatively new book called The Doctor Will See You Now. It is definitely worth a read.
Because endometriosis is a hormonal disease, it’s worthwhile checking out other books that focus on balancing female hormones. My favourites are WomanCode by Alisa Vitti, Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten, or Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life by Claudia Welch. You can also check out Sara Gottfried's The Hormone Cure (though I haven't read this one yet). Fat Fueled is a great book by Leanne Vogel that offers solutions for imbalanced female hormones, too. You can also check out books by Christiane Northrup.
And because there is a (auto)immunity component in endometriosis, I find it crucial to do some reading on managing (auto)immunity issues, too. My all-time favourite is Dr. Tom O’Bryan’s book The Autoimmune Fix. You’ll find great books by other authors, too, like Amy Myers and Izabella Wentz (thyroid health), Terry Wahls (multiple sclerosis), Kelly Brogan (mental health) or Elizabeth Lipski (digestive health).
Currently, I follow a modified Paleo protocol, but I started with an elimination diet on the basis of the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) by Sarah Ballantyne. This was the best decision I’ve ever made, and Sarah’s book The Paleo Approach literally changed my life. Other good AIP sources are A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol by Eileen Lard, or The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook by Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt.
For more reading suggestions, visit My favourite books page, where you’ll find more great authors and titles, e.g. Robb Wolf, JJ Virgin, Chris Kresser, Dr. Josh Axe, Mark Sisson, Dr. Mark Hyman, and others. I read all my books on Kindle Paperwhite, and offer some basic information on using Kindle readers.
On a lighter note, a health, wellness, lifestyle, psychology or even gardening magazine subscription can make a great gift, too!
2. Big help in the kitchen – time (and life) saving appliances
When I started with the whole diet and lifestyle journey, I was hardly able to cook anything. Or rather, I knew how to cook, I just hated it. It took several of the above-mentioned books for me to realize how much food can help, or cause harm. I made gradual changes and, with time, I revamped my kitchen and now cook most of my meals at home.
Below are the appliances that made the whole process easier. I do not think you need to have them all, in order to start healing. In fact, I just started with a £20 worth slow cooker, in which I made bone broth, soups, meat stews and cooked vegetables. It was an immense help, and it was all I needed to start getting better.
That said, there’s no doubt that kitchen appliances make your life much easier, especially if you’re committed to reversing your health through healing foods. If you’re ready to make a bigger investment than a slow cooker (crockpot), buy an Instant Pot. It will help you make wonderful, nutritious, healing meals in no time. And while your meal is cooking, you don’t even need to stay in the kitchen.
The remaining three appliances I use regularly are a food processor, a blender and a juicer. Choosing between these really depends on what your needs and preferences are. Juicing fruits and veggies at home is amazing to ensure digestive health, to help lessen endometriosis pain (I wrote about it in my article on juicing vegetables) and to ensure a super easy high vitamin intake. I use my food processor to make mashed vegetables, different types of spreads and dips, or to prepare a mixture for meat patties. A blender is great for making smoothies or soups. I love them all.
3. Small kitchen tools – non-toxic kitchen and baking ware
It may not seem that way but even small things can be a big help in the kitchen. First of all, if you’re dealing with a chronic illness, you need to consider gradually replacing your kitchenware for non-toxic one. Whenever you need new pots, buy stainless steel. Whenever you need a new baking dish, get a ceramic or glass one. Replace your plastic storage containers for ones made of glass. The same applies to drinking bottles, these ones by Miu Color are my favourite. I also got a couple of stainless steel thermos to be able to take home-made meals to work.
If you can’t imagine your life without treats, no problem! (I can totally relate.) You can do your own Paleo, AIP or keto baking. I have a sweet tooth, baking is my hobby, and I love the smell of freshly baked healthy treats in the house. There are various small gadgets that can make baking easier and more enjoyable. You can get various baking moulds (bread mould, cake spring mould, muffin mould), chocolates moulds or gummy moulds (Silikomart has dozens of different funny and cute possibilities). If you’re planning to make your own chocolates, you can also consider getting a chocolate funnel. If you prefer cookies, get a cookie scoop. And measuring spoons and cups are a must! Feel free to check out my Recipe page for some inspiration.
4. Healing cookbooks
Changing your diet can be a huge challenge. You’ll constantly keep coming across unknown ingredients (see below) and, at the beginning, it will feel like you can’t eat anything (which is totally not true)! Even though there are tons of recipes online, getting a few cookbooks can be a big help. (Plus, they make a great gift!). Here are my favourite ones divided into categories (please know that there are many more):
Autoimmune Paleo (AIP): The Paleo Approach Cookbook, The Healing Kitchen, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life, The Nutrient Dense Kitchen.
Paleo, Primal: The Paleo Performance Cookbook, The Primal Blueprint Cookbook.
Ketogenic: The Keto Diet, Fat Fueled, Eat Fat Get Thin Cookbook.
Other: No Excuses Detox, Joyous Detox, The UltraMetabolism Cookbook, The Gut Repair Cookbook, Everyday Grain-Free Baking.
5. Health in a box – fresh produce regularly delivered to your door
As I’ve already mentioned above, transitioning to a healing protocol can be tough. There are, however, a few tricks that can help you make start on your journey. My all-time favourite one is getting a delivery of fresh produce boxes. There are several advantages to them: The produce is local, fresh, and usually organic. You support local small farmers. You get different kinds of fruits and veggies that most probably wouldn’t be your first choice in a supermarket. Moreover, the deliveries often come with a recipe! There is usually an option to add in other produce, like meat, eggs or dairy. What’s not to love? This is exactly what helped me to do more cooking and start learning about different types of fruits and vegetables in the first place.
When you transition to paleo or keto (or a similar healing protocol), you will come across a lot of new ingredients. Even though more and more supermarkets are starting to carry these “unusual” items, and organic stores do for sure, I find that it’s easiest to get what I need on Amazon. (I live in Belgium and order everything from Amazon.co.uk.) And it’s cheaper, too! Amazon offers a Subscribe & Save programme for goods that you order regularly, so you can save even more. I know that some stores (e.g. Thrive Market) offer a Paleo Starter Kit option, where you can order a fixed amount of “Paleo-style” goods for a discounted price. Well, you can make a similar Starter Kit yourself and have it delivered from Amazon. Here are my suggestions for what can get you (or your loved one) started on a healing journey: almond flour, coconut flour, tigernut flour, coconut oil, gelatin, collagen, tapioca, arrowroot, gluten-free baking soda, raw honey, carob powder, raw cacao nibs, organic vanilla extract. Please check out My favourite products page for more recommendations.
You can also prepare a gift basket with relaxing healing teas, like Tulsi, chamomile or St. John’s Wort. For more recommendations, check out My favourite products page.
You can also consider giving your loved one a cooking class, or special Paleo or AIP meal plans. Or even better, take the cooking class yourself and become her personal chef! Or... hire a personal chef for her!
6. Health in a bottle – food supplements for an additional boost
I saw huge improvements when I added high-quality food supplements to my daily regime. Though it was a long journey. At first, I simply went to the pharmacy and got the first thing they offered. But the more information I read, the more I realized that pharmacy-bought supplements usually contain some form of gluten, lactose, added sugar, or corn and rice starch – all the ingredients I needed to avoid to start healing. I did more research, there was some trial-and-error, and now I have a pool of high-quality supplements I choose from. They are all mostly clean, without non-compliant ingredients, and easily absorbed by the body.
For a full list, please see My favourite products page. However, I would like to stress one particular group of supplements that helped me a lot – probiotics. It took me a long time to find high-quality ones. Now, I can recommend the following products:
Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics – My first go-to option with 10 strains and 70 billion CPUs in a daily dose. They are my first choice because the quality is good, and they are the best value for money.
Just Thrive – This is a top-range soil-based probiotic recommended by Sarah Ballantyne. It is more expensive, so I get it every now and then to boost my gut health. (I got them after my endometriosis surgery, for example.)
VSL#3 – Another high-quality brand that I get occasionally, in order to alternate the probiotic strains I put into my body.
Probiota Bifido – These are recommended by Yasmina Ykelenstam, the founder of the Healing Histamine blog, as a histamine-friendly option.
Jarrow Saccharomyces Boulardii Plus – This type of probiotics is recommended to help fight Candida albicans overgrowth. They are also great to be taken with a round of antibiotics.
7. Wellness – Gift vouchers, classes and courses
Giving wellness vouchers as a gift has become a standard any woman will love. This applies even more to someone with a chronic illness. Self-care needs to form a huge part of the healing process. Regular massage, infrared sauna, salt cave or spa sessions (for example) can help calm the mind and detox the body.
Yoga and meditation classes, courses or retreats are also a great option for a gift. There is a plethora of options to choose from, and learning the basics can be an important first step to making these a lifelong healing habit. Helen Kåselöv has a great yoga programme called Yoga for Endometriosis.
Yoga and massage aids also make a great gift. You can get an organic yoga mat, a meditation cushion, or a foam roller to help relieve stiff muscles.
Detox retreats are also becoming more and more popular. You can choose these instead of regular holidays, and help refresh both your body and mind.
8. Pain relief and relaxation
For someone who needs to deal with regular pain, getting a gift of pain relief is worth gold. And no, unfortunately it’s not as simple as giving her a pack of ibuprofen (unless you want to invite a range of negative side effects into your life as well). There are, however, various tools to help deal with pain. A hot water bottle is a must for endometriosis pain. A like to combine it with a number of distraction techniques that help me redirect the mind to something more pleasant and calm down a bit. I personally love listening to audiobooks (I download them to my Kindle Fire), watching Netflix (great for distracting me from the pain), or watching health related documentaries. Here are my favourite ones: Endo… What? (The first documentary on endometriosis, about which I wrote here.), Betrayal: The Autoimmune Solution They’re Not Telling You, The Thyroid Secret, The Truth About Cancer. Of course, watching your favourite series or films will also be a great help. A de-stress colouring book for adults can also make a great distraction.
Another great aid in relieving pain is Epsom salts bath. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium, which is a mineral not only necessary for many functions in the body, but also an enormous help in relieving cramps and pains. It relaxes the whole body, and helps you sleep better.
On a similar note, you can get a (bamboo) essential oil diffuser, together with some essential oils of your choice, or with an essential oil starter kit. The relaxing and healing power of essential oils is indisputable, and they make a wonderful gift.
If oil diffusing is not your thing, why not opt for beeswax candles. They have a special ability to secrete negative ions which neutralize harmful toxins, dust mites or bacteria in the air. Not only they help create a cosy relaxed atmosphere, but they also clean the air in your apartment!
9. Attention and love
This is the most important one! Living with a chronic illness is hard. You have to deal with debilitating physical symptoms, but what is more important, you can often struggle with quite a big emotional burden. The feeling of being “damaged”, not being “good enough”, fear of what the future holds and whether you’ll be so debilitated that you won’t be able to take care of yourself one day. Feeling of failure as a woman, partner, mother. Anger, despair, hopelessness. And a thousand more variations on these.
My needs constantly change. Sometimes I need actual, pragmatic help. Sometimes I need to be heard and reassured. Sometimes I need to be held. Sometimes I just want someone to sit quietly next to me. There are times that I want to be left alone.
Everyone is different, but we all are doing our best. As long as you’re willing to share the whole journey with us, even if you sometimes don’t fully understand what exactly is going on, we will come out stronger and happier.
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