Elimination Diet

 I had fun creating meals that fit my elimination diet, like this grain/gluten/dairy/nightshade free enchilada dish!!! Soooooo tasty! 

I had fun creating meals that fit my elimination diet, like this grain/gluten/dairy/nightshade free enchilada dish!!! Soooooo tasty! 

Diet Detail Recap: 

  • No Gluten (I never eat it, but still)
  • No Grains
  • No Alcohol
  • No Caffeine
  • No Dairy
  • No Nightshades
  • Small Ingredient Meals

Preconceived Notions:

I expected nightshades to be the easiest to kick since I don't typically go for peppers, eggplants or tomatoes. Grains may seem like a big deal, but since I'm not needing a ton of carbs right now, root veggies, squash + sweet potatoes should be enough. Alcohol, yea that'll sting a bit, I do like my evening glass of wine or cocktail. The dairy and caffeine are definitely highest on my 'can I really do this' concern. I drink coffee and/or (okay mostly 'AND') lattes daily and I am not a fan of using non dairy milk for this purpose. Is this something I can really give up?? I'm fearful.  But I'm expecting to feel better after this... letting my body have a break from potentially difficult to tolerate substances will be good! It will!

How it went:

Day 1 - WHERE IS MY MOTHER F'IN COFFEE?!?!? Otherwise, things went well. I didn't feel deprived or hungry. Did a solid weight /core and went for an easy spin (super Z1) with noambition to go faster/harder. Felt like I could eat pretty balanced meals without adding actual grains.  Got really good sleep! Yay!

Day 2 - Woke up with a cold, so it's hard to tell if I'm feeling foggy and fatigued due to lack of caffeine and normal foods or if it's the illness. Went for a jog, but only got a slow 3 miles. Again, wasn't too bothered by the food choices. Drank lots of caffeine free tea. Slept long and deep!

Day 3 - Feeling slightly more energized. Picked up some Kombucha to replace drinking coffee, not sure that's a fair trade but its something! Initially I thought giving up nightshades would be the easiest, but today I'm realizing how many seasonings and spice blends contain peppers! Argh! I'm mostly putting balsamic vinegar on everything which is fine... but a little bland. Definitely was craving a glass of wine this evening. Had a mixed harvest salad of beet, kale, chicken, bacon, apple, seeds, nuts, and dairy free homemade dressing. Not really meeting my last goal of small ingredient/simple meals although it didn't contain any of the 'banned' foods.

Day 4 - Didn't sleep well at all last night, stomach was very cranky! Eek, was it the salad??  Up and out the door early. Packed a breakfast of coconut yogurt + grain free yogurt parfait, coconut water and RXBar for a lunch snack. The coffee cravings are subsiding. Yay!

Day 5 - My weight hasn't budged and I'm craving a workout. Also feeling extremely hungry throughout the day. 

Day 6 - Weight is up... climbing... whole body is puffy and bloated. Still feel hungrier than normal. 

Day 7 - One week in!! The food changes didn't really bother me too much, but I'm emotionally pouty and discouraged that I haven't seen any improvements by the end of the week. 

Day 8 - Added back grains. Not full in, but slowly going to begin including them again. No mood or GI issues from this reintroduction. Now that my physical rest week is over, I can start doing longer workouts again! Yay! 

Day 11 - Doing fine with grains, mostly stuck with a little bit of brown rice + gluten free sandwich bread. Weight is up 4 pounds. Feeling really angry and upset. 

Day 12 - Caffeine! Yesssssss I had my first latte after being caffeine free for 11 days. It was delicious. Still dairy free, so I made it with almond milk, I typically hate that but added collagen for macro balance. Felt satisfied until lunch! 

Day 14 - Two weeks accomplished! Added back dairy with no issues.  Weight down 3 pounds and feel like all the water, puffiness, and bloating are gone. I feel back to normal!! 

Week 3 - I've added all foods back with no problems. My weight is down 5 pounds and I no longer have constant hunger feelings. I am energized and feel like I can eat what I naturally, intuitively need/want to consume. While I'm not officially 'training' yet, I am back to working out more with additional running and strength work to round out my off season fitness. 

 

How did the reality compare to me expectations?

I found it much more difficult to season foods while being nightshade free. Bell pepper, potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes didn't phase me, but spicy chipotle, jalapeno, and cayenne were tough to forgo. As for the grains, I missed the ease of packing a sandwich for meals on the go and ended up relying more on yogurt with fruit and grain-free granola. While there were many ingredients I could still have, limiting how many I had at a time was challenging. I missed my big salad bowls. Eating a standard protein, fat, carb + veg was a little boring. As for weight... I wasn't going low calorie here and since I wasn't burning nearly as many calories due to shorter, less intense workouts, not shocked that I didn't lose weight. However, I was a bit shocked (and upset) but the extreme bloating and water weight gain I experienced. Glad it went away, but it was very difficult to push through mentally when physically I felt horrible. Not sure if this was due to the change of food and gut bacteria or if I was actually 'detoxing' toxins (hoard then flush) or maybe it was totally unrelated. It's hard to tell. 

Pro Tips:

  • Be patient, the cravings go away!
  • Check all labels, spice seasonings, dressings, protein powders all might contain diary or another 'banned' item.
  • Non dairy replacements are lacking in calcium and protein, so make sure to compensate. I stirred Marine Collagen into my coconut yogurts because it dissolves so well.
  • Try some new foods! I gave non dairy cheese a try!
  • Don't replace everything. Giving up something like grains or dairy shouldn't result in a full on replacement of non dairy or nut flour based items. Use them to fill gaps, but don't rely on them.
  • Keep track of how you feel (energy, digestion, weight, and even skin!) all this will help you develop your future plan and help you stay motivated and focused.

Overall:

It's good to play with your diet here and there. Short term. While 'playing' make sure to do it with purpose by tracking intake, feelings, weight, energy, mood, gi issues, sleep.... basically everything. Then move on. Decide what was worth it and what wasn't. Long term, do what is best for balance. I might have the occasional skin flair up, but eating a balanced diet that includes dairy, grains, caffeine and even alcohol is best for my overall well being. Short term, I'll play here and there. Long term, I will stick to intuitive, balanced intake.