Wrapping it Up
It is Monday at the end of week three, and so the modified elimination diet comes to a close. The third week was a breeze, having had ample time to adjust to abstaining from the forbidden foods. I have lost more weight this week (for a grand total of thirty pounds), but I am assured this is to be expected from the elimination diet. I believe this trend will stop once some of the eliminated foods find their ways back into my diet.
Elimination Diet Dinner of the Week
This dinner was a big hit! One night, I was particularly craving something with a bit of Mexican flare, so I whipped up the following dish.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ large sweet onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Button mushrooms, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 can black beans
2 large golden Yukon potatoes, cubed
Here is what I did:
On stovetop, heat up can of black beans on low-medium heat. Stir occasionally.
Place diced potatoes in baking dish. Pour olive oil over potatoes. Flavor with salt & pepper, and also some green pepper & cilantro if desired. Stir so potatoes are well coated. Place in 400 degree oven. Cook until potatoes are soft.
In a large saucepan, heat up one good pour of olive oil. Once hot, sauté onions, garlic, green pepper, & mushroom. Cook until onions are translucent. Remove from pan.
Add more olive oil to the hot pan. Cook up diced chicken breast. Once cooked, add onion/garlic/pepper/mushroom mixture back to pan.
Add tomatoes & chopped cilantro
Cook on low heat until entire mixture is warm.
Serve chicken mixture over oven-roasted potatoes and top with black beans.
I wish I had thought of it earlier, but some slices of avocado would be delicious on this. As it was, I could only eat about half of what I served myself. Very filling!
Non-elimination diet modifications (thanks to Jordan): put black beans & chicken mixture in a warm tortilla, top with sour cream, salsa, and your favorite cheese blend. Add a few squeezes of fresh lime for extra flavor!
Appointment with the Naturopath: The Moment of Truth
I met with the naturopath again today; what a fantastic appointment! He asked how I was feeling and I told him that I felt nothing short of marvelous. He was thrilled that the diet agreed with me so well and that I was feeling so much better.
He went over my recent blood work with me, and the results were quite revelatory. As he suspected, my thyroid levels are very low. I also have a low red blood cell count, am severely anemic (normal iron levels in women are 12.0 g/dL; my level was 3.4 g/dL), and have lowered adrenal gland function. My calcium levels also leave something to be desired. So all this explains the lowered energy levels throughout the past year, and why, as digestive tract heals and I better absorb nutrients from my food, I feel more energetic.
Because I tolerated the diet so well and based on the results of my blood test, he is almost certain I have a gluten sensitivity (but not a full-blown allergy). He said that in people with gluten sensitivities or intolerances, the villi in the small intestine (little “fingers” that come out of the small intestine, see diagram below) that absorb the nutrients become flattened, making it difficult to absorb nutrients from food or from supplements. As it is, the body tends to have more difficulty absorbing iron than any other nutrient.
He believes that as my digestive tract begins to heal, my absorption of nutrients will improve. He also postulated that because of my multiple bouts with acid reflux, my digestive system was already in a state of stress and somewhat damaged, and a gluten sensitivity just made it snowball from there. I will know how sensitive I am for certain once gluten is reintroduced into the diet.
Until then, I am to continue with the Intestinal Repair formula and three new supplements have been added to my regimen. I will be taking an herbal tincture three times a day to support adrenal function, a supplement once a day to support thyroid function, and a liquid iron supplement to increase my iron level (the liquid form is better absorbed by the body).
He was thrilled that I stuck to the diet (apparently many patients do not) and I literally thought he was going to leap out of his chair when he learned about how much better I’m feeling, and that I am improving daily. I told him of the weight loss (14 pounds since I started the diet) and he advised this is completely normal. What a relief! I expect I will have no problem gaining this back once eliminated foods are brought back into my diet. :o)
As the diet is at an end, I can start reintroducing foods at my leisure. He suggested I do it in groups, allowing one day of rest between groups. For example, he suggested I have a dairy day: have milk, yogurt, cheese. The following day would be a day of rest. The following day, I could add a new group of foods. He said as I haven’t had any of these things for nearly a month, I will know almost immediately whether I tolerate them well or not. He said if I do choose to add gluten back, to try it last (if at all). He believes that once my digestive tract has had ample time to heal, I may be able to handle it on a very limited basis.
I will return to his office to see him in a month so he can gauge my improvement after foods have been reintroduced, and after the additional herbal medicines have had a chance to do their work.
At the end of our visit, he advised me that he does this diet once every year: he begins it at Lent and concludes it on Easter Sunday. He said, "This diet is hard enough, I don’t know how Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness!" But what better time to do it? How remarkable that my naturopath loves Jesus and practices this diet as a spiritual discipline!
After battling uphill for a year, it is an immense relief finally to have made progress. Praise God for blessing me with renewed energy and health! Many thanks to all who have read this series of posts, who have encouraged and prayed for me, and to those who have offered insight and suggestions. It is much appreciated!
Another Health Update: I received a call from my doctor's office today. The results of my annual exam showed abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells. I go in to have a biopsy of the cells taken this coming Friday. I have a feeling that the state of stress my body has been in certainly could be a contributing factor, having had an obviously compromised state of health for the past year.
Please pray that this is something that will resolve itself & clear on its own as I become healthier & stronger. Please pray also that I would not be overly anxious about it, but just trust that God has this all under control.
Thank you in advance for your prayers!