I just want to start out by saying that the title of this post is a bit misleading. The title that I really wanted went something like “The End of My Elimination Diet (which didn’t really answer any questions) and the Beginning of a Whole Bunch of Lifestyle/Eating Habit Changes in 2016”. But that title would have been excessive.
Now, to start off, I’m going to try to sum up the last month or so as quickly as I can so that this doesn’t turn into a novel! I finished my elimination diet at the end of November, feeling pretty confused. I had a few very obvious reactions but most of them weren’t very clear. I was feeling better overall but I didn’t feel like the change had been drastic enough.
I went back to my naturopath to discuss my confusing results, and she basically told me that since I was still unsure about what it was that I was reacting to, I had two options of how to move forward. Option 1 was to do the elimination diet again, but break it down even further. For example, instead of reintroducing citrus all at once, I would do lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits each separately, each 3 days apart. Considering the amount of food groups I had originally eliminated, I knew that this option would take forever, and I really wasn’t too eager to go down that path. Option 2 was to get a blood test done which would test for sensitivities to over 200 foods. The downside was that it was expensive. Also, I had to have the food in my system in order for it to show up on the test, so it wouldn’t be 100% accurate (those are the two reasons why I didn’t just do the blood test in the first place!). After thinking about my options, I came to the conclusion that the results of the blood test combined with what I had already learned through the elimination diet would give me the best idea of what my issues were… so, one little finger prick and a few dollars later, I went back in to discuss my results.
I was so excited to finally get some answers so that I could make a change and move forward, but unfortunately, the test results showed that I reacted to EVERYTHING! Ok, I’m being slightly dramatic… but seriously, I did react to the majority of what I was tested for. After a few moments of me feeling way overwhelmed, my naturopath started to explain her thoughts on my results. Basically, to sum it up quickly and easily, I have some serious leaky gut issues. And no, that’s not as gross as it sounds! Over the years, the lining of my GI tract has experienced damage, which could have been caused by a variety of reasons; antibiotics, a bacteria imbalance or stress, to name a few. Because the lining is damaged, food has been leaking into my bloodstream before it’s completely digested, and my body has been reacting as though it’s a foreign object that needs to be destroyed. Once a certain food is seen as “dangerous”, my body continues to view it as a threat and a food sensitivity is born! This in turn causes further damage… it’s a vicious cycle. Now, since this has clearly been happening for a while now, my body has begun to see most things as a threat, and I’m now the QUEEN of food sensitivities. Awesome, right?
So this brings me to the next step; the game plan of 2016. First of all, I found all of this out 2 weeks before Christmas so I totally said screw it, and ate whatever I wanted over the holidays. I fully overindulged, and enjoyed some really delicious food… but now I’m not feeling so great, which is actually a great motivator to get me started!! In order to heal my gut, I will be spending the next 6 weeks cutting out everything that I am reacting to (as best as I can at least). This means no dairy, eggs, soy, corn, citrus, all gluten-containing grains (and some without gluten), nuts, some seeds, yeast (bye-bye beer and wine!) and assorted fruits and vegetables. I’m left with basically a modified paleo diet… I’m all good with meat and seafood, some fruits and veggies, most herbs and spices, and 1 or 2 gluten-free grains. OH, and I can drink coffee and eat dark chocolate. Phew!!
On top of the special diet, I’ll also be taking a few supplements; one to “crowd out” bad bacteria, one to replace good bacteria and one to help repair the lining of my GI tract. I’ll also be enjoying delicious things like kombucha and bone broth to help the gut healing process! Once my 6 weeks are over, I’ll regroup, see how I’m feeling, and decide if another 6 weeks is in order. The way I see it, this didn’t become an issue in 6 weeks, so I probably won’t fix it that quickly either… so I’m mentally preparing myself for 12 weeks.
This whole process doesn’t sound incredibly exciting, but I can honestly say that I’m feeling really positive about the whole thing. As I was going through the elimination diet, I started feeling like maybe I was creating a larger issue than I needed to; that maybe the way I felt was normal and I just had to deal with it. But once I saw those test results, I was so relieved to feel like I wasn’t actually going crazy; that there really was something wrong! And now I have a plan that will fix it. I just have to commit myself and change WILL happen! And that’s exciting!!
Plus, now I get to do some experimenting in the kitchen. I decided that it’s a great time to completely re-think the meals that we eat on a regular basis and to try things that I haven’t before. I picked up 3 new allergy-free cookbooks last week and spent many hours meal planning, and I’m ready to take on the challenge!!
I’ll be sharing lots of allergy-free recipes in the coming weeks; I hope you all enjoy them and perhaps get some inspiration from them. It’s amazing how many of us suffer from food sensitivities, leaky gut, bacteria imbalances, etc. and don’t even know it. The way I see it, incorporating some healthy foods into our diets and avoiding common allergens from time to time definitely can’t be a bad thing!
Wish me luck over these next few months; and of course, I’ll keep you all posted! 🙂