07 May 2007

Modified Elimination Diet: Week 4

After the three weeks of the diet had come to a close, I was looking forward to adding certain foods back in. After my visit with the naturopath, I knew adding gluten back into the diet would be tantamount to asking for – at a minimum – a few days of discomfort. I’m not even going to try it!

The first food group I chose to add back into my diet was dairy. I’ve never had any noticeable aversion to dairy, so I didn’t suspect that I would have any problems. I made the reincorporation simple: I had grilled bread with tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh mozzarella. I had a simple green salad over which I sprinkled freshly grated parmesan. It was delicious. Thank God for cheese!

I love dairy – cheese, in particular – but my digestive system does not. It protested quite plainly, in fact. I will spare my audience the gory details, but suffice it to say that the response fell far short of enjoyable. For at least three days. Ugh.

No dairy: check. No gluten: check.

As much as I miss certain foods, feeling healthy, energetic, and physically whole is worth more to me than giving up cheese and bread.

In fact, since this diet has had such far-reaching health benefits, I’ve decided to stick to it. I have terrific amounts of energy and feel fantastic, especially when not indulging in the goodies that (I will admit) still tempt me. With the exception of citrus fruit and strawberries, not to mention the occasional glass of wine, I see no reason to reintroduce other foods that contribute to less than a state of great health. These things that used to taste so good and that I eagerly anticipated enjoying again are some of the very things that make my body feel less than excellent. And why would I want that? Even (gasp!) my staple hot beverage, the decaf soy latte, no longer tastes as exceptional as that first one after what seemed a long month without. I’ve noticed that the small amount of evaporated cane juice in the soy milks most coffee shops use (about 8 g per cup) makes a difference. I’m certainly not saying I’ll never have one again, but that it will be an exception (one or two per month) rather than a regular occurrence (one to three per week).

I have held an avid interest in diet and nutrition for sometime, but this diet showed me something else on a broader scale: a lot of the food out there (especially so-called “convenience” food) has very little food in it. Having been a voracious food label reader for the past month, I was struck by how many of my seemingly “healthy” choices included a list of ingredients as long as or longer than my arm, half of which I could not pronounce. On the diet, I had to select entirely from whole foods, or foods with a short list of ingredients that included only real, whole food items (like my rice cakes: puffed rice, sea salt). And in spite of “giving up” so many things, I ate better on that diet than I ever had before in my life.

What was I missing again?

Elimination Diet Dinner of the Week
If you've been keeping up on the diet saga, you know a couple things: I've started adding a few things back, and I'm gradually moving toward a vegetarian diet. I will be eating animal protein 1-2 times a week until the current supply in my freezer is depleted, and then (pardon the pun) go cold turkey. Especially since I’m working toward coming out of a profound case of anemia, I think this transition period will be very important.

With that in mind, here is this week's recipe, a southwest-inspired chicken dish.

Chicken breast
Red pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
Button mushrooms, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Sea Salt
Large tomato, chopped
Avocado, diced
Lime juice
Olive oil

In a skillet, heat up olive oil and sauté red pepper, mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and remove from pan.

Add diced chicken breast. When cooked, add pepper mixture back to pan with chicken and lower heat.

Squeeze lime juice and add sea salt to taste.

In a separate bowl, mix diced tomato, avocado, cilantro, and a few good squeezes of lime juice and stir. Place chicken mixture in dish and top with the tomato/avocado relish!

  • For those of you who like your dishes a bit spicier, add a chili or two.
  • I'm definitely going to try this with tofu in place of chicken!
In Other Health News
I had the biopsy of the abnormal cells in my uterus on Friday. My doctor said there was only a very small patch of abnormal cells; mostly what he saw was inflammation of the lining. He did not say so explicitly, but I got the impression that this was good news (but only the biopsy results will reveal precisely what state these cells are in). The results are expected by Wednesday and at that point, we will have a better idea of whether this is something that requires treatment, or something that is likely to clear on its own.

The Joy of Working Out
I know some of you will think I’m a glutton for punishment (particularly Christin, who I recall saying something like "I will only run if my life is in danger”), but over the last 6-7 years, I have really come to love working out. I take Bodypump three days a week which is an hour-long strength/endurance class. In Bodypump, you work all the major muscle groups of the body over the course of an hour set to upbeat music that changes quarterly. I love it, and it has changed my body for the better.

I also love cardio training. Before my stomach rebelled against me and I started feeling sluggish, it was routine for me to have 45-minute or 1 hour cardio sessions. I loved it! As someone who has heart disease on both sides of the family, I have been attentive to focused cardiovascular training as part of my regimen. I also find pleasure in pushing and challenging my body, and find some happiness in meeting and setting new challenges.

After this whole ordeal with the stomach started, I began to feel my reservoirs of energy diminish completely. I was falling asleep before 7 p.m. most nights and felt like my limbs were lined with excessive amounts of lead. The most I could do some days was walk on the treadmill and even in that, was dragging my feet. I did what I could, but I’d be lying if I said I was not saddened by the loss of energy and the consequent lack of ability to participate in the classes and activities I enjoyed.

Since I started the diet and more recently when Dr. Wessels gave me the supplements for iron, thyroid, and the adrenal glands, I feel tremendous gains in my energy levels. For the first time in nearly a year, I was able to complete four heart-pumping cardio workouts last week. I started out at thirty minutes a session and by the end of the week, was completing forty-five minute sessions of cardio, praising God the whole time.

In spite of my more recent health news, I feel like my body has been restored to me. I feel like myself again, and the gains in energy are not in any way taken for granted. I believe that as my body becomes healthy and strong again, that this will support healing and restoration in other areas. That is my heart’s prayer and my highest hope.

So where will I be in the afternoons after work these days? Pumping iron or sweating profusely on the elliptical machine (or treadmill, bike, or stepmill), smiling and thanking God for every heartbeat and every bead of sweat.


  1. So... since you didn't say anything about losing more weight... can we breathe a sigh of relief yet? Did you gain anything back? It was good to hear of your increased energy, and your joy is obvious and lovely to behold.

  2. Your "dairy, check; gluten, check" line made me laugh. :)

    I also liked hearing about your workout regimen. I've been trying to find my groove on this point but to no avail yet. There was one point a couple years ago where I found a great groove -- I was working out 4 days a week and in the best shape of my life because I had found a great grouping of classes I loved (kickboxing, muscle conditioning, ab training) -- but then I moved and haven't found a good groove since. :(

  3. LL - Hallelujah! No more weight loss! Of the 30 lbs I lost, I've gained about 5 back. I think 5 more, and I'd be at a good, healthy weight for my height and build. It was coming off so rapidly, I was afraid it would never stop.

    Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. I am thankful to be coming through this with not only improved health, but joy in healing and a new appreciation for a strong, healthy body.

    Christianne - I'm glad you were able to find the humor in that line. :o) It was starting to feel like I was compounding a list of "could nots"; what I've realized is that there are hundreds of "yesses" for every "no" in my diet

    I know what you mean about finding a good fitness groove; it takes time to find something that works and that isn't boring. I hope you find a good groove soon - something that will make you feel strong and healthy & that you will have fun doing! Because if it's not at least somewhat fun, who is going to stick to it? :o)

  4. Oh, wonderful! I'm rejoicing over here. Smothered in smiles!

  5. Okay-I am still playing catchup here, but I have to pause and say, I do still stick to "The only good reason for running is to escape danger" philosophy. However, you will be proud to know that for the last 8 months or so, I have been working out regularly with my mom, sis-in-law Cynthia, and personal trainer Levi every MWF from 9:30-10:30a. Of course, I had to miss about 2 months of that time around my surgery, and I do miss on occassion when Luke is too sick to stay in their childcare. Nevertheless, I am getting old, and in order to keep up with Luke, I am working out.