I know I talked a lot about my elimination diet when I was going through it, but I never really touched on the results and what I found from doing it. And isn’t that the most important part?
As you guys know, I was doing the elimination diet to find out what foods I should be avoiding, due to the fact that I have gotten pretty bad stomachaches for my entire life and essentially ignored the fact that certain foods could be causing them. That, combined with migraines made me realize that it was not only bothersome but just something I didn’t really want to live with anymore. I visited a few GI doctors who all seemed surprised that I would be coming to see them (as a ‘young’ patient compared to the normal old folks that they see). I knew I wasn’t going to like my first GI doc after he asked me why I was there. He seemed skeptical that anything would be wrong with me. All of my tests came back negative, but I knew the way I often felt was not normal or something that I wanted to subject myself to for the rest of my life. I know there is nothing seriously wrong which is helpful, but feeling sick and getting super bloated after a meal (like no joke to the point where I look like I’m preggers) is really not something I want to live with on a day to day basis.
So, I eliminated dairy, soy, gluten, nightshade vegetables, peanuts, wheat and sugar. I kept everything eliminated for about 2 weeks before starting to add things back in one by one.
What should you expect if you are trying an elimination diet? To at first feel deprived, but it does get easier as time goes on! Cravings lessen and I found that there was enough variety that it wasn’t that difficult. The hardest times were when I went out to eat. It really helped me to look at the menu before hand to make sure they had something on the menu. That way you know going into it what you can and cannot eat. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know if a certain item on the menu contains one thing or another. And also, bring snacks wherever you go! Some days when I would get hungry in the afternoon, I would end up being cranky and famished by the time I got home because there was nothing I could really buy for a quick snack.
After the initial two weeks of bare minimum foods, I first added nightshade vegetables in. Tomatoes made me feel sick, corn made me feel sick. I don’t think corn in things makes me feel as sick as just plain corn.
I added in dairy in the form of fro-yo. Made me feel sick. Then in the form of cheese, also sick.
I added in soy. Didn’t seem to be a problem. Score!
I added in gluten/wheat. Made me feel sick.
Awesome. I talked to my acupuncturist who actually was more help than any GI doc I visited. She said from a Chinese medicine perspective and based on my personal problems, I should try to:
-Eat sprouted wheat only when I do eat wheat
-Avoid gluten whenever possible
-Avoid dairy with the exception of goat’s dairy (so goat gouda, goat feta, etc are ok). I already drink almond milk instead of cow’s milk so no big deal there
-Avoid tomatoes and corn (as in the vegetable, not all corn products, I *think*, fingers crossed). Avoiding tomatoes makes me want to cry but I don’t like corn on the cob that much so not sad about that
-Potatoes and sweet potatoes are okay to eat
-Rice, especially brown rice is okay. This means sushi is still safe, thank god!
-Eggs seem to be fine
-Beans and non-gluten grains are okay—these are allowed on elimination diet too
-Pretty much all meat is okay
-Almost all fruits and vegetables are okay—with exception of tomatoes and corn obviously.
-Avoid watermelon. WTF! I said I didn’t think I could do that. She said to try and eat it only in summer and not in huge quantities. I only eat it in summer anyways, so ok. A 15 lb watermelon in 2 days isn’t a huge quantity right???
-Avoid soy. Another WTF! Not eating tofu makes me sad. I know that is strange, but what can I say. I love tofu and eat it almost daily. She said some soy was ok but eating 2-3 packages of tofu per week was probably overdoing it. Especially since that isn’t the only soy I’m getting—soy is sneakily in a lot, a lot of foods. Still mourning this one a bit.
-Sugar: I’m still kind of figuring this one out as far as how much sugar seems to be ok, are some products with sugar better than others, etc. Really the only time that I eat sugar is when I bake. I try to avoid eating already made sweets, with the exception of occasional chocolate so I don’t really see this being an issue.
She also told me that if I wanted to eat tomatoes occasionally, that was okay, but there is no way I could continue to eat tomatoes in the quantity I had been (probably 1-2 tomatoes per day since…honestly since I was probably 12). I also am not supposed to eat tomatoes when I am going to be drinking . Why? Alcohol and tomatoes are both damp and hot foods. Migraines always make me feel really hot. In fact, even though I don’t get auras, I usually know I have a migraine coming on if I all the sudden feel really hot and flushed (especially in cases where I shouldn’t be hot, like at work where the AC is pumping). Drinking makes me really hot too. Anytime I wake up after a night of drinking with a migraine, I am generally boiling hot and probably look like I have a fever. Hence, the eye mask:
Adding tomatoes to the mix will just worsen those things. These things making me really hot is probably why I crave watermelon so much because it is the coldest food that there is. It’s all coming together! Isn’t Chinese medicine interesting??
I think that I came to many of the same realizations of what I should vs. should not eat on my own from the elimination diet but it helped to have someone else reiterate these things and tell me why they were true.
So, there you have it. I know I won’t be able to totally avoid everything on the ‘bad’ list all the time (not saying these foods are bad, just bad for me personally and my stomach). The difference in how I feel is very worth it to me and keeps me motivated to stay on track. But, there will (and already have been) those occasions where I’m eating at a restaurant and it is just too hard to avoid everything. That actually happened yesterday when I went out for a work lunch. Yeah I felt sick afterwards, but there was literally nothing on the menu that I could make work, so I sucked it up. There will be other times when I say ‘f it, I might have a stomach ache for the next 5 hours, but I really want to eat some pizza that is full of delicious gluten’.
When I now eat certain foods, I am amazed at how sick I feel! I get stomach aches immediately and I honestly can’t believe that getting a stomach ache has just been the norm for the majority of my life. I also have noticed that when I eat foods my body doesn’t like I get huge bags under my eyes. It is amazing what your body actually tries to tell you it doesn’t like.
If you have stomach issues or feel like you always have low energy or get headaches, you might want to try doing an elimination diet. Yes, it is annoying to cut so much out and it definitely takes some planning, but ultimately being able to figure out what your body doesn’t like and at least having that choice as to whether or not you will eat it is absolutely great. You might be able to keep a food journal and see if that works! I have been keeping one for a long time, but I honestly was probably eating so many different things at one time that it was I could never pinpoint what the issue was.
If you want to find out more about elimination diets, I would recommend checking with a GI doc to be safe. But, you can also read up online to see if you want to give it a try. I found a lot of interesting articles and instructions on the subject. Your problem foods might not be the exact same as mine, but hopefully this helped give you at least an idea.
Sorry that was mostly all text and almost no pictures. To make up for it, my next post will be almost all pictures instead!
And, some other good news and incentive: I found out today that left over pancake cake tastes great with almond butter.
Doesn’t look so pretty anymore but it tasted delicious!
Have a great night!