|image from http://www.everydiet.org/diet/elimination-diet|
It was often suggested to me by friends or readings that I should do an elimination diet but I was never ready for it. This takes a lot of discipline and restraint and time. In December, when I had my wisdom teeth out, I wanted to avoid dairy since I am lactose intolerant so I wouldn't have any digestive upsets while recovering since I knew I would be dealing with a lot in recovery from the surgery. Without dairy for days, I appeared to keep having digestive attacks. I was able to narrow the suspects down somewhat but wasn't sure which ingredient(s) were the cause. This is when it finally hit me that I needed to figure this out. From what I read in books about Ayurveda, it strongly discourages you from eating foods you can't digest. It makes sense really, so why did I keep on eating like this wasn't an issue? I suppose I didn't want to deal with it. I wanted to eat what I wanted. I didn't want to have limits on myself. I wanted freedom. Unfortunately, these things were not making me feel good. Instead, I felt lethargic, moody, tired, sick to my stomach, bloated and congested. I also had gotten up to the highest weight I have ever been in my life. When I injured my low back and hip last summer, I started to really pack on the pounds. I could barely go for walks or be active so it was easy to do and of course, the pain and emotions from not being able to do what I want made me turn towards food for comfort. I just kept spiraling downward. My weight kept going on, my pain kept getting more consistent and I kept feeling worse. It was finally time.
The most important thing to know when doing an elimination diet is that it only has 1 purpose - to figure out if you react to certain foods. This is not a cleanse or a way to lose weight.
When I started the elimination diet, I did lots of prep work first. I did research, asked friends who had done a similar diet for info, did reading and finally did lots of shopping. This is not a cheap diet to do, especially if your significant other wants to join you. I went to the local co-op market, the local gluten free market, a natural food store near my office and a big huge awesome co-op market in Albany. I was stocked up pretty well on basics like gluten free flours, allergen free bread, raw almond butter, rice, organic potatoes, organic apples, etc. Then I needed to make sure we had eaten, tossed or gifted any foods we weren't allowed to eat on the diet that might spoil. Once that was all done, the diet started.
The general diet I followed is the Comprehensive Elimination Diet. A friend had given me the info from when she did this diet and I found a updated PDF file online with the same diet with a few minor changes. The new diet didn't allow you to eat lemons or potatoes. I am not sure I could live without potatoes and was pretty sure I have always been ok eating them so I ate them but remained aware to look for possible reactions. I had seen many diets say it was ok to use lemon for flavor so I did and did ok. I cooked most all of my food. Processed foods are discouraged on this since many of these foods are in them as well as bad ingredients like artificial flavor and coloring.
Here is the PDF file about the diet: http://www.functionalmedicine.org/content_management/files/ifm_Comp_Elim_Diet_091503.pdf
After a week of strictly following this diet, I felt better than ever. My energy was better, my mood was better, my digestion was better and I wasn't bloated. I did have withdrawal symptoms the first few days, I assume it was especially from giving up sugar for the first time in my entire life. I had headaches and hot flashes. After those days, I felt great. I decided to let myself have a treat for Superbowl Sunday and BOOM, I was sick, depressed, tired, did I mention sick? I learned my lesson and went back on the diet before testing more foods. I would test a food and wait a day or two to see how I felt. I seem to react to foods within 12-24 hours from the way things played out.
I am doing to discuss my results and or reactions below. Since Dr. Oz discusses poop on national TV, I feel it is ok to discuss it here but I will call it something a little nicer, just in case you might feel uncomfortable reading about it.
A link with info on symptoms of food allergies or intolerances: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-allergy/DS00082/DSECTION=symptoms
Corn - my tummy hurt so bad it woke me up, extreme bloating, cramps, headache, stuffy sinuses, an urgent need to go to the bathroom, very down and depressed feeling
Red Wine - no obvious reaction, felt fine
Chocolate - headache, tummy ache, urgent need to go to the bathroom
Wheat/Gluten - no obvious reaction , felt fine
Organic Cane Sugar, Natural local Maple Syrup - no obvious reaction, felt fine
Tomatoes - I ate a couple different natural organic tomato sauces that I knew were free or ingredients that could cause reactions and ever time I had a very upset tummy followed by an urgent need to go to the bathroom
Peanuts & Peanut Butter - a little bloating but no obvious reaction
Organic Natural Beef - no obvious reaction, felt good
Organic Natural Pork - a little bloating, no obvious reaction besides that, felt fine
Soy - (I had been told by an allergist a few years ago that I am allergic to soy) no obvious reaction, mild bloating
Milk - (I took lactaid when I had milk since I know I am lactose intolerant) no reaction that surprised me, some bloating and an urgent need to go to the bathroom
Mushrooms - no obvious reaction
Eggs - mild upset tummy moving towards very upset tummy the next morning, urgent need to go to the bathroom
Processed meat like bacon & pepperoni - I picked up natural varieties of these that were minimally processed and really didn't feel well. Major tummy upset, nausea, urgent need to go to the bathroom.
I plan to retest corn, chocolate, eggs and tomatoes while slowly reintroducing other foods into my diet. If I notice any reactions without these 4 foods, I plan to investigate further.
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