one part plant, living with endo, and how it all began
By: Fela M'tima
Fela: Hello Jessica! I'd like to first learn more about you! Where are you from and what got you into food and wellness?
Jessica: I lived in Chicago for 16 years before making the move down South to Charleston, SC last year. I do miss my friends, but I am def cool with breezy palm trees instead of snow in February. I LOVE it here.
What led me to food and wellness? Endometriosis. I have Stage 4 and was faced with a hysterectomy after trying everything to get better. As a last ditch effort, I changed to a plant-based diet and made some big lifestyle adjustments…and no hysterectomy. These changes dramatically reduced my symptoms and made some go away completely. I’m still in shock every single time I get my period!
Fela: Tell me more about One Part Plant. What was your initial goal of starting OPP?
Jessica: Changing my diet suuuuuccccked. It wasn’t easy for me. I wasn’t one of those girls that was excited to eat and drink green things. I also didn’t know how to cook. After I learned and figured out how to make food that not only tasted good, but that my endo was happy about…I couldn’t keep that to myself. I also didn’t want any other woman to experience the frustration I did when I made the shift. So One Part Plant was born.
One Part Plant means adding one plant-based meal a day (a meal made of veggies, fruits, grains, seeds, legumes, and/or nuts). OPP is not all or nothing. There’s no judging if you decide to eat a piece of cheese. It’s about taking one meal at a time and seeing what works for you (and your endo).
Fela: Has Endometriosis or other health issues impacted your life and if so, how have they?
Jessica: Hell yes. I was so severely depressed because of the chronic pain that most days it felt like too much effort to get dressed in the morning. I just didn’t want to be awake most days. The pain changed me into a different person.
After I changed my lifestyle, I felt like me. I’m not saying that I never have cramps and don’t rock two pads on heavy days. But I want to be awake now and I want to be alive. My endo and I are getting along much better.
Fela: I personally know that eating well is so crucial for physically feeling well. What have you personally noticed from eating the way that you do?
Jessica: So many things! I no longer have painful period poops (can we talk period poops here?), have more energy, am just a straight up nicer person because I’m not in pain.
But I want to say that it’s work and it’s a choice. I could easily decide to just go back to my old ways of processed foods, bags of candy, and soda. And cheese. I ate a lot of cheese. It would be way easier to just pop something in the microwave to eat. But I decided that it’s worth time and effort to eat better.
I’m more important than candy. My health and mental wellness deserves more respect than some block of brie. I work hard and make choices to feel this way.
F: I would love to learn more about the OPP Podcast. How did that get started and where can people find it?
J: I wanted to start the podcast because I had so many amazing people in my life that had so much to share. I wanted to not only share their gifts/talents/advice, but have very open conversations with them about it - their struggles, their successes, the real stuff. Not just the edited version.
I thought podcasting would be the best way to share. You can find One Part Podcast on most podcast apps or listen from my website. Starting with the website is a good place to start…because you can actually see the faces of the people talking. I’m nosey like that!
F: What advice would you give to other women who are woman's health advocates trying to make a difference as you have to so many others?
J: Share. Share. Share. And start with young women. I think it’s amazing to speak and encourage other women that already know they have endo, but it’s also so important to expose this disease to women that have never even heard the word “endometriosis” before.
I have started working with The Endo Foundation Of America to work with high schools to spread the word. I’ll teach a class of twenty students and not one girl has ever even heard of endo. We wonder why it takes a woman over ten years to get diagnosed? We need to start educating young girls NOW. If doctors aren’t going to do it, we need to.
F: What have been your biggest struggles and biggest achievements when it comes to starting your business?
J: Biggest struggles are constantly second-guessing myself and not being patient with how much time it takes to build something. I also struggle with people helping me. I had to learn I’m not the only one that can do something.
Biggest achievement is definitely writing a book. I held my new cookbook the other day and thought, “YOU wrote all this?!”. I’m a pretty proud mama of my book baby.
F: Do you have any advice for women struggling to eat well?
J: Just know that you’re not alone. We see all these women on social media that loooooove green juice and veggie bowls and think there is something wrong with you because you don’t. It takes time to change your diet. Your taste buds take time to adjust. But maybe you’ll never love green juice and that’s ok! Maybe for you it’s making endo-approved lasagna, loaded up tacos, and rich curry. Make “eating well” work for you.
F: What inspires you?
J: Women like you. When I was first diagnosed, I couldn’t find any cool resources or women to connect with. All I could find was message boards that ended up making me feel even more hopeless and depressed.
F: And last but not least, I'd love to thank you for letting us interview you and sending us a copy of your cookbook! Tell me more about why you decided to write a cookbook and the process of doing so.
J: Of course! I was so excited to talk to you.
Well, I’d need a whole other interview to tell you about the process of writing a cookbook…so I created a podcast about it. I chronicled the entire process of pitching, getting, and making a cookbook – while navigating some pretty insane personal twists and turns. There are some pretty dramatic moments and my dad makes a few appearances (he’s the star of the show). The podcast is called The Cookbook Deal. I think you’ll dig it.