Today marks 12 full weeks since the beginning of this journey. That means so far, it's been a 3 month elimination diet and cleanse. During that time I tested many foods and lifestyle changes. Sometimes my reactions were surprising and sometimes things went just as I expected. I've noticed that lifestyle changes have as big of an impact as food choices and reconfirmed how important good, quality sleep is for my personal health and well-being. While some of my findings are common sense, others were completely new and bizarre. I still have more to learn and haven't completed my journey. I didn't cure all of my food allergies and intolerances and I still have lingering symptoms I'd like to cure. But I've made progress and I'm not giving up hope!
I recently reached out to the reddit community to see if anyone else had tried a similar remedy: to cure allergies and intolerances through diet. The response was very interesting and showcased several conflicting viewpoints (typical for food and health research!) The overall message was that if I was looking for a cure, I was bound to be disappointed! While I can resonate with the overall sentiment that this isn't a quick fix and you have to make healthy decisions for life in order to reap their benefits, I think there is a middle ground where I can at least KNOW what will have an impact on me, know what actually causes my symptoms and when and where I can cheat or push the limits on occasion. I believe this should be possible and I'm going to keep searching!
My strategy will change, though. Living on only raw fruits and vegetables during the first 3 weeks (no nightshade, legumes or starchy vegetables) had me feeling really great from a GI perspective, but it isn't sustainable for more long-term elimination diet testing because my face was falling off from lack of fat and I had no energy. Instead, I'm going to eventually transition to a 30 day rotation. I will have a baseline of foods and activities that leave me feeling my best and remove one specific food or food category for the first 2-3 weeks of a cycle. Then I'll use the last week of the cycle to introduce the food/practice and record symptoms.
I'm not quite finished introducing foods from this plan so I'm not ready to start the 30 day rotation quite yet, but I'll plan to start in the next few months (maybe after the couple of bachelorette parties I have this month :).
Things I learned:
- I don't react well to tomatoes and peppers. This was a huge shock because I previously included these in almost every single meal. It's possible that these foods lead to more problems than I could have previously imagined.
- Caffeine really does affect me more than I want it to so I'll have to continue to limit my intake
- Sleep, exercise and not eating or drinking before bed are probably the most important lifestyle changes for me
- Celery juice is very calming to the stomach and the throat, but I can't have it every day. Apparently I started to smell like celery. Phew. Poor John 😉
- My body doesn't really like seeds.
- I can have fattier meats but only in really small portions. aka - no bacon baskets in my near future 🙁
- If I eat undercooked/unsprouted lentils, I'm going to have a bad time
- My tummy loves lean fish, sweet potatoes, bananas, bone broth, cucumbers, and house pressed juice.
- Nuts are good, in moderation
- I'm not good at moderation. (I already knew this)
Things I tested:
- chili pepper
- olive oil
- pasture raised meat
- black beans
- black lentils
- hemp seeds
- raw beets
- bone broth
- sunflower seeds
- sweet potato
- cooked peppers
- additional legumes
- raw zucchini
- fresh fish
- decaf coffee
- carob powder
- cacao nibs
- cooked food
- sesame seeds
- grain free beer
- lean fish
- lean pasture raised meats
- greasier meats (bacon, chorizo etc.)
- non-GMO, organic King Arthur's flour
Things I still need to test:
note - it's not like I'm going to add all of these things back in full force if a don't react, but I still need to measure the impact to see if they are OK in moderation. And maybe I already tested these, but now I need to get more specific and studious about it.
- organic tomatoes
- each kind of pepper individually (I'm not giving up hope here - the TexMex in Colorado and the Thai/Indian Food in California NEED me to be OK with this. 😉
- high fat aged dairy (cheeeese)
- other dairy (yogurt/kefir)
- raw beets
- raw zucchini
- bell peppers
- raw jalapenos
- hemp seed
- granulated sugar
- sprouted lentils