14 April 2012

Elimination Diet Reprise!

... and now we take a detour from our traditional fare for something else: FOOD. Oh yeah, baby. Food ... which, as it turns out, has spiritual dimensions when you consider our relationship to it.

But I digress.

What's up
Tomorrow, James and I are beginning a three-week elimination diet. Though the word "diet" has more or less been co-opted to mean changing one's eating in order to lose weight, the primary purpose of this particular diet is to help identify food sensitivities.

A brief history of the elimination diet
I was introduced to the Modified Elimination Diet in 2006 when, after over a year of suffering an undiagnosed digestive ailment and getting nowhere with modern medicine in regards to diagnosing and remedying the problem, I went to a naturopath. Doing this elimination diet was the first course of action. There are many versions of "elimination diets" out there, but the one I've linked to here is the one I did previously and as it turns out, the one we're about to start. After doing the diet, I learned my body was particularly sensitive to gluten (a protein found in wheat, oat, spelt, kamut, rye, and barley grains) and dairy. So I cut them out of my diet permanently and it was amazing how much better I felt.

And though the goal was not to lose weight, I lost 14 pounds in the three weeks I did it. Yowza!!

Why we're doing it now
While pregnancy was extraordinarily forgiving on my food sensitivities, the postpartum period is not. I cut out gluten and dairy again, but I was still having some tummy troubles (believe me, it's better if I spare you the gory details). So on the elimination diet we go! My goal is primarily to identify food sensitivities and for James, the main goal is help restore a healthier eating pattern.

What it is, how it works
If you haven't looked at the link, this elimination diet cuts out the following food groups:

  • Gluten 
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Caffeine
  • Fruits: citrus, strawberries
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Meats: red meat, pork
  • Nuts: peanuts, pistachio, macadamia

The idea is that you cut out ALL of these foods for a period of three weeks (and any foods that contain any of the offending ingredients listed above) to "cleanse" the body, and then add the foods back one at a time at the rate of one food type every other day to gauge how your body reacts to it. If it's one that's not so good for you, it's amazing how quickly you'll be able to notice how the body reacts to the food.

The challenge
Looking at that list, you may be thinking this is impossible. To be sure, it is a challenge. Eating this way eliminates virtually all processed/convenience foods and forces the dieter to get his or her calories elsewhere. It forces you to get creative. As someone who stayed faithful to this diet for a period of three weeks, I'm here to say that with some careful planning, it can be done.

Though we don't officially start until tomorrow, I've been concocting elimination diet-friendly meals in preparation for the three-week haul. Take a look at today's diet-friendly lunch:

elimination diet-friendly fare
Grilled turkey burger patty with avocado & sea salt; Sauteed kale & grape tomatoes; Baby Carrots

Delicious. Satisfying. And it's so pretty!

So what I'd like to do is chronicle our progress with the diet for you periodically. Don't worry, I'm not going to write about what we had for every single meal, but I'd like to share some of the more interesting ones with you to demonstrate that a person cutting out these foods can eat some tasty, tasty meals in spite of all that's being cut out.

That's right. This is potentially the most boring series of blog posts EVER.

A few extra notes:
  • This diet isn't meant to be exhaustive, as in: it's not going to eliminate every single possible potentially-irritating food for every single person. It just doesn't, and I'm not claiming that it does.
  • To wit, we won't be consuming anything in the onion family (including garlic, leeks, etc.) because bad things happen when James eats these (another instance where the gory details are better spared). We're also excluding broccoli because I'm nursing, and bad things happen for Austen when I eat it.
  • The chart provided in the link says to eliminate salt, but going off of the guidelines handed to me by my naturopath in 2006, we're leaving it in. We're not completely nuts, after all. Also, stevia is a sweetener that's permitted in the diet (again, something from the lips of the naturopath).
one last latte ...
An elimination diet no-no
You didn't ask, but I'll tell you:
  • I think it's going to be most difficult for me to give up my morning latte (containing the offending elements of caffeine and sugar in the soy milk). That is some "yum!" and "aaahhh!" that I'm seriously going to miss!

And ... here we go!!


  1. You are so, so cute.

    I have to say, I'm rather looking forward to this new series you're going to chronicle for us. You probably won't be surprised to hear (given my journey to better understand my body and food this year) that I don't think it's boring at all!

    I've always valued your approach to your body -- paying attention to it, listening to it, feeding and exercising it well -- and so I think this elimination diet refresher is going to be very helpful for me in my own journey.


  2. I'm with Christianne - given my own journey with my body and food, I don't think it's boring either :)

    Looking forward to reading more!