I have mentioned before that I will be embarking on my second (and hopefully final) Elimination Diet. There is nothing special about starting the Elimination Diet in January. I simply have a slower social month and knew that I would have time to devote to the program without being tempted with Christmas cookies and champagne.
I briefly discussed my journey with the Elimination Diet before and as promised I’m going to talk a little bit more about it, which will help explain why you will be seeing more food posts than normal. I’m hoping that in the coming weeks I will be able to share some of my favorite healthy recipes with you and if you are embarking on a Whole30 or other similar elimination diet hopefully these recipes will give you some inspiration to keep going.
Unlike the Whole30, I think the title of the “Elimination Diet” is misleading. After reading the book and completing the program, I can testify that this is not a diet in the traditional sense of the word. When I hear “diet” I immediately think of weird juice cleanses, calorie restriction, arbitrary rules and unhealthy weight loss. The purpose of the Elimination Diet is not to lose weight; in fact, you can successfully complete the program and not lose a single pound. Although most individuals report losing weight while completing the program, weight loss is simply a by-product. The purpose of the Elimination Diet is to identify those foods that are causing you adverse reactions such as nausea (a big one for me), headaches, bloating, and digestive issues. By finding and identifying your intolerant foods and eliminating them from your diet, you are healing your body from the inside out. It may be the case that you actually gain weight while completing the program, if keeping weight on has been an issue for you. The Elimination Diet’s goal is to help identify the perfect diet for you. It was created by the husband and wife duo Tom Maltere and Alissa Segersten; Tom an Advanced Functional Medicine Nutritionist and Ali a chef. Together they used their expertise to create a program that helps individuals find the foods that are making them feel sick, tired, bloated, etc. and created simple delicious recipes to get you through the program. I rely upon the Elimination Diet recipes fairly heavily in the first two phases of the program and each one has not disappointed. Some of the recipes have even become staples in our menu whether or not I am completing the program.
The program is broken up into three phases: (1) detox – 2 days, (2) eliminate – 2 weeks, (3) reintroduce – ~ 60 days. As you can see this is not a quick and easy program. It requires a lot of organization, preparation, and as I found out, a lot of willpower. You should actually be able to complete only one Elimination Diet (with periodic check-ins every 6 months) and never have to do it again, which makes what I’m about to do a bit out of the ordinary.
I originally started the Elimination Diet in June of 2016 and at the same time started taking vitamins recommended by my doctor. I made it through the detox and elimination portions of the program fine but I was only able to make it through a few reintroductions (citrus and nightshades) before I started having a severe reaction to what seemed like everything. I continued on with the program for about four weeks thinking that everything I was eating was making me sick. Through a process of trial and error, I finally discovered that my magnesium pills were the source of my constant nausea. By the time I made this discovery I was completely exhausted and frustrated. I had just spent the last four weeks eating what I thought was healthy food and still getting sick on a daily basis. I was utterly defeated.
I ended up limping along through the rest of the program but knew that my results were not accurate. Before the start of the reintroduction, I felt better than I have ever felt but through the process I had lost that amazing feeling and I couldn’t get it back no matter how hard I tried. Somewhere in the final weeks, I resolved myself to the fact that I would indeed have to start over. Put simply, I had received so many false positives due to the magnesium pills that my results were not credible.
This discovery occurred within a few weeks of Thanksgiving and I decided to take the holidays as a break and as soon as my schedule cleared up and I had the time to devote the program I would make my second (and hopefully final) attempt and figuring out all of my intolerant foods.
The first attempt was not a complete failure. I did discover that tomatoes, quinoa, pecans, and cayenne are not my friends and have been feeling better since removing them from my diet. However, I feel my old symptoms creeping up (fatigue, headaches, aches, pains) and know that some things were missed. So on Saturday, January 7, 2017, I started the Detox. It was not as bad as the first go around (thankfully) but still not a walk in the park.
Luckily, I had spent the previous week prepping. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was also trying to eat a few of my unhealthy favorites (I’m looking at you tuna noodle casserole) before the Detox began but I did cut back on animal protein and sugar. I also planned my meals for the first four days and picked up everything I needed in preparation of the weekend since there is nothing worse than having to go to the grocery store when you cannot eat 90% of what’s there.
One of the keys to the first few days was keeping everything as simple as possible. I chose recipes that I have made before and that require few ingredients. I ended up making the Very Berry Chia Smoothie (slightly modified) and the Creamy Broccoli-Mushroom Soup both from the Elimination Diet.
However, as I entered the Elimination portion of the program, I knew that I would be craving something with more substance, especially since Justin and I tried to keep our workout schedule the same. I ended up making a huge pot of homemade veggie soup and chicken bone broth and it has been hitting the spot! On Friday, I’ll give a rundown of this weeks meals as well as my fool-proof veggie soup recipe.
For those of you who have completed an elimination diet or are thinking about doing so, I would love to hear from you!