Before I write a single word on topic, here is a disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am not a health professional. Please, please, please do your own research and talk through any major nutrition or fitness changes with a medical professional. I’m just writing about my own experience. Please do not take this as advice or a plan of action.
Alrighty, now that that is out-of-the-way. Let’s talk. This post is probably going to be controversial, and I’ve accepted that, and honestly, what I’m about to tell you isn’t something I can easily hide from the likes of you folks (nor would I want to). So it had to come out sooner or later.
I’m going on an elimination diet.
Okay, before you freak out. This isn’t a detox or a cleanse. No lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Or only eating cauliflower. Or “I want to lose 50 pounds in a week” plan. Or drinking nasty teas that make you poo for a week. I am going on a plan where I strip down to the bare minimum foods (still eating plenty of calories) and to try to figure out what the heck is wrong with my body.
You say, “But I didn’t know anything was wrong, Cass?” And for that, I am sorry. I’ve been holding out on you hoping I was just going through a phase and my body would rebound before it got to the point where I needed to mention it. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed quite a few unfortunate (and sometimes embarrassing) symptoms that are making my quality of life diminish. Overall, I just don’t feel good. Which is strange for me. More specifically, here are a sample of my symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- More frequent periods
- Uncontrollable hunger
- Increase in facial hair
- Bad complexion
- Inability to lose weight
- Mental fogginess
- Daily headaches
- Bloating and cramping after eating
- Irritability (sorry Babyface)
Interestingly enough, Babyface has been having a lot of the same symptoms, too (minus the whole frequent periods thing). Plus, he’s been having a lot of issues with digestion.
Before I get into my plan, I do want to let you know that I’ve been checked over by a regular doctor and given a clean bill of health. No health problems (other than being told I need to lose 30 more pounds). Which tells me one thing: Western medicine doesn’t know everything. Because if this is “healthy” then I don’t want to be it.
With this all in mind, after reading multiple books on the topics of metabolism, hormone imbalance, toxins and food intolerances, Babyface and I have decided to go on a gentle food elimination plan (check out my list of resources down below). Mostly we want to just want to rule out food intolerance as the cause of our symptoms. And that’s what this plan is all about. The basic idea is that you strip away all of the common food intolerance/allergy triggers (dairy, soy, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, etc.) and then after a while, slowly reintroduced them to see if any of your symptoms return or get worse.
If Jay-Z got his swagger back, so can I.
You may look at my list of symptoms and say, “But a lot of those sound hormonal not food related!” and you’d be right. But what I’m starting to discover through my research is that a ton of hormonal issues can be caused by your body not reacting well to the foods you are eating. It is all connected!
Honestly, I feel like a major hypocrite doing this, because I’ve always said that just as long as you eat real, organic foods, you shouldn’t need to mess with your diet. But the more research I’m doing, the more I’m realizing that just eating organic and whole foods may not be enough for everyone. Everyone’s body reacts to food differently and who knows what I’m ingesting that may be making me feel rough.
My hope for this plan (and assumption of the result) is that at the end of my time, I’ll be able to reintroduce all of my favorite foods (cheese! chocolate! bacon!) without any issues. But just in case there is something off in the way my body processes common allergens, I’d like to know for sure. A few weeks without feta is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
In case you want to see the results of a similar food elimination type of plan, Ashley over at the Edible Perspective did one early in the year and discovered she had issues with gluten. If you scroll down on this post, to past #10, you’ll see links to all of her detox entries. I want to be just as transparent as Ashley has been.
It is worth noting again. This is not food restriction, a cleanse, a liquid diet, for the purposes of weight-loss, or fasting. I think those are…uh…not good. I’ll still be eating 1800-2100 of good, real food daily. It just won’t include some certain types of foods for a few weeks. In fact, our current diet isn’t really centered around any of the “restricted” foods, so on the surface, it might seem like we didn’t really change much. I have done research for weeks and this decision was not taken lightly in our house. After all, we seriously love bacon. And any decision to cut out bacon for weeks, is not made on a whim.
So what’s the plan? We will not be following any one book or plan, but we have created a plan of our very own which focuses on the foods that we think might be problematic. Just because we’re forging our own plan, it doesn’t mean we are going rogue. We are assembling the best fitting parts of multiple well-researched and well-respected food elimination diets into one that works for us and our lifestyle.
Alright, enough babbling (wow, this post is going to get long). Onto the plan.
We’ll be dividing the diet into two distinct phases: baselining and reintroducing. Baselining will take 28-days and will involve stripping away a ton of the most common hormone-disrupting and intolerance-causing foods. After we’ve baselined, in two-week increments, we reintroduce singular food groups and assess how they make our body feel to determine if there are any issues. After we’ve reintroduced everything back in, we decide what foods should be permanently removed from our diet (if any) and then move on with our lives. Some of them, obviously, we won’t be reintroducing because they weren’t really in our diet to begin with (artificial sweeteners, for example).
Down to the nitty-gritty. For the first four weeks (28 days) we will be eliminating:
- Refined sugars
- Artificial sweeteners
- Artificial colors
- Artificial flavors
- Red meat
- Added sugars
- Processed (boxed, bagged, etc.) foods
- Processed corn
This list may seem long and intimidating, but the truth is, we avoid a lot of the stuff on here anyway. The hardest part is going to be cutting out dairy and gluten. What we will be eating? A ton of fresh fruits, beans and veggies, some fun new gluten-free grains and flours, and a lot of responsibly harvested seafood. I’m excited for the challenge of coming up with delicious recipes for us (and to share) that fit in with our eliminations.
Other than the elimination of some types of foods, we’ll be sticking to some other guidelines as well:
- 100% organic—No buying non-organics just because they are cheaper or look yummier.
- Lemon water daily—I’ve talked about the benefits of lemon water before, but I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit.
- Taking vitamins—Take a multivitamin, calcium/magnesium/vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acid daily.
- Up the water—Drink at least 120 ounces of water daily.
- Detox broth daily—This one is a little hippie dippie, but one of the books (in my resources below) has a recipe for a vegetable detox broth that is supposed to be packed full of nutrients and be a yummy and filling snack. It’s worth a shot.
- Daily juicing—Babyface and I did daily green juicing last year and felt great, but we stopped because cleaning the juicer is so dang annoying. But it’s worth it to feel better!
- Track food daily—To ensure I’m getting the right amount and types of foods and help with reintroduction in the second phase, I’ll need to keep a close eye on my food intake. As always, you can keep me accountable by looking at my food log here.
- Bye-bye scale—This is not at all about weight loss, and just to make sure it stays that way, my scale will be going in the closet for the duration of this process.
- Get eight hours of sleep a night—This is pretty easy for me. But Babyface is going to struggle with it.
For now, that’s it! I’m still trying to decide how exactly I’m going to document this adventure on my little corner of the internet. I definitely want to be transparent, but I don’t want to bore your face off either. Like always, I’ll be sharing my yummy recipes (they’ll just be mostly vegan and gluten-free for a while) and talking about whatever moves me. Maybe, at least for the first week, I’ll do a daily digest of the types of foods I’m eating and how I’m feeling? Or maybe a weekly rundown? Any suggestions or requests? Feel free to also tell me if you never want to hear another word about this again. 🙂 I understand this kinda thing isn’t everyone’s bag, it never was mine before I started feeling sick.
These are just the places I ventured to gather information. Feel free to check these out, but also make sure you do your own research and figure out what works for you.
- The UltraMetabolism Cookbook
- Master Your Metabolism
- WebMD Elimination Diet
- WHFoods Allergy Avoidance Diet
- About.com Is Your Food Making You Sick?