The Elimination Diet
Before you call me a hypocrite — or something worse — let me explain. I’m not going on a weight loss diet. I’m going on an Elimination Diet.
UPDATE 4/9/2020: It turned out I could not pinpoint any food sensitivities and unfortunately my stomach issues continued for several years after writing this post. However, they resolved in 2017 after transitioning to a Predominantly Plant-Based Diet. I can’t say for sure why they improved but I would guess it had something to do with building a healthier microbiome. Plant-based diets are rich in fiber, which fuels beneficial bacteria. I haven’t had IBS issues for about 3 years now and happily enjoy all of the foods I listed in the post that I thought could be causing me trouble including wheat, beans, and every type of fruit and vegetable!
One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to finally get to the bottom (no pun intended) of my gastrointestinal issues.
I’ve mentioned them briefly in the past, and explained how I have cut out food groups like gluten, grains and dairy for various two-week periods, with no luck of determining what it is that ails me.
After those stints, I usually just gave up and went back to eating normally, which meant intermittent bouts of stomach problems.
Forewarning: this post is about to get personal.
Besides my short-lived attempts at self-discovery, I’ve also worked with several doctors to try to solve my problems. I’ve had allergy tests, blood work, endoscopies, a hydrogen breath test and even colonoscopies. Yes, multiple in fact – which are usually reserved for people 50 years of age and older.
When all the results came back unremarkable — besides reaffirming that I have GERD (along with 30% of the population) — again, I gave up.
Following a particularly uncomfortable past month though, I decided it’s worth it to give this one more try. I’m tired of being uncomfortable and in pain. I hate having to cancel plans or leave events early because my stomach is in knots. And I’m sick of making people around me miserable with the constant complaining about my ailments.
With traditional medicinal tests failing to help, I’m doing the one thing I’ve tried so hard to avoid: a comprehensive, diagnostic evaluation of my diet.
With the help of The Elimination Diet Workbook by Maggie Moon, MS RD, I’ll be cutting out several different foods and food groups for a month, then systematically adding them back in one-by-one to singularly evaluate their affects on my body.
Unlike the brief two-week stints I’ve tried in the past, the Elimination Diet doesn’t just cut out one food group. The problem with that approach is many people have food intolerances that don’t fit into one clean cut category like “gluten-free.”
Just because I still had stomach problems when I went grain or gluten or dairy-free doesn’t mean that those foods aren’t the culprits. It might mean that — but it also might mean that there are several culprits. The only way to know is to eliminate several groups of foods that are known allergens or known to cause intolerance, all at once.
Many of the foods I’m suspect of fall into a group of poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPS.
Sadly, this includes many of my favorite foods like grapes, lentils, avocados, apples, and the one that will be the most devastating to give up: wheat.
As you know, I love whole-grain carbohydrates and am constantly touting their benefits. I would never give them up to lose a few pounds (and you don’t have to) — but to feel better? I guess that might be worth it. Ask me again in a week.
The workbook will help me keep track of what I can and can’t eat and guide me through the second step of the process, reincorporating foods to determine which cause reactions and which do not. In addition, it provides healthy recipes, information about the differences between food intolerances and food allergies, and a comprehensive breakdown of the wide variety of allergens.
So why am I telling you all of this?
It seems that many people who are interested in healthy eating — like those of you reading this blog — are not just looking for weight loss solutions or longevity, but cures for food-related issues.
If you’re suffering from some type of gastrointestinal issue that you think may have a dietary cause, this may be the option for you. The beginning of 2015 is as good a time as any to work it out.
Today I’m giving away 3 copies of The Elimination Diet Workbook: A Personal Approach to Determining Your Food Allergies.
It’s super easy to enter – just follow the prompts in the Rafflecopter widget below:
*This giveaway is limited to US residents only.
One last note — if you’re considering doing one of those mail-in Food Intolerance Blood Tests, don’t. They’re expensive and unreliable. There’s no published clinic evidence proving that they have any scientific rational. Do the hard work and get a valid result for yourself.
I really hope this year will be the one where I can finally feel my best, and I hope that if you’re suffering too, you’ve found this information helpful.
Happy New Year, friends.