Two possible allergens, two reactions.

Just 4 days into my Challenge phase, I’ve already been through the ringer!
I picked citrus and gluten to start and they both gave me unpleasant, but different reactions. I decided on the strategy to pick things I thought would give me a reaction so I could get it over with, and as long as there aren’t too many more, it will get me to a place of better health sooner.

1. Citrus

Background:

The reasons I think citrus would be an issue are because of the quantity of it that I consume. I love lemon and I had been eating a lot of grapefruit the last few months. When I tried my raw diet, I was eating it multiple times each day and something I consumed during that week made me incredibly tired and uncomfortable.

The challenge:

On Friday I re-introduced citrus at all three meals of the day. I started with my usual oatmeal and ate some very cold/partially frozen grapefruit with it.
For lunch I had left over broccoli slaw, sweet potato and chicken sausage from the previous nights’ dinner and I ate a clementine. With each of these I checked my pulse before, during and after looking for some change. The start was around 68 and the lowest it went was 60 while I was eating. So not a huge change, but maybe a sign.

With dinner we had fish, broccoli, brown rice and lots of lemon. I didn’t do the pulse test but within a few hours I was in a lot of discomfort with bloating and abdominal cramping.

The aftermath:

So I’m not 100% sure, but I wondered if the tangerine and grapefruit were not as reactive as the lemon. I had a pretty quick and much stronger reaction in the evening. I’m also not sure if the broccoli had something to do with the bloating. I will have to re-test them both separately.

Wheat:

Background info:

So I’ve had my suspicions about gluten and wheat since I realized that fatigue, brainfog, bloating, stomach and bowel issues were common symptoms of this intolerance. I was never sure if they were caused by my hypothyroid situation or by gluten and wasn’t ready to go gluten-free at the time. There is also a strong connection with gluten intolerance and hashimotos , a precursors and common cause of hypothyroid as they are both auto-immune diseases. I have been tested for celiac multiple times and all tests but one came back negative. The other was inconclusive. This left me to believe it may be a sensitivity if anything.

The challenge:

I broke my own rule on this one! On Saturday night while at a party I indulged in ziti, which had cheese, tomato sauce and of course pasta. So instead of trying just one thing at a time, I had 3… I was drinking wheat beer and also ate as much bread as I wanted so the ratio was at least more gluten-heavy. I should also say I wasn’t planning on starting the wheat introduction until the following day but there was nothing for me to eat at the party and alcohol makes it so easy to skip out on the diet you’ve just spent 4 weeks preparing yourself for! I suffered from some bloating and sneezing (this is actually a big issue for me) on the way home that night but nothing severe.

On Sunday I woke up feeling really tired and it took me a while to get going. I tried to get as much wheat into my diet on this day. Breakfast was cheerios, strawberries and almond milk which about half way through I realized wasn’t wheat.. It’s oats. So I found a frozen wheat bagel in the freezer and ate that too with some blueberry jam. For lunch I was out with a friend at Chilli’s and I ordered a toasted chicken sandwhich. On my way home from the lunch I started to feel some discomfort (bloating and gas). For dinner we made some whole wheat pizza which I had with veggies and olive oil and I covered one half in non-dairy cheese that I had left over from the previous week. I also decided to indulge with about 10 Oreos because they have wheat in them and no dairy and were on sale at the grocery store. I’m all about treats after healthy dinners and who knows when I’ll ever have Oreos again!

The aftermath:

I woke up on Monday feeling just as tired as on Sunday. I felt slow, unmotivated and generally unwell. I had a slight headache before lunch so I put my reading glasses on because they normally subdue my headaches and left the house for a regular appointment with my endocrinologist, almost an hour away. By the time I got to the doctor the headache was pretty bad and after I left the office it was getting even worse. I had a snack in the car as I knew my blood sugar was getting low even though I wasn’t hungry. By late afternoon I was really miserable. I took 3 Advil and laid down for an hour to rest. Thank goodness because when I woke up I felt 1000X better than I had the whole weekend. I was even able to go to the gym and have a great workout!

I woke up this morning feeling alert, awake and overall well. So it seems I was having the reaction for 48 hours in the moderate form of fatigue and in a more severe form for about 12 hours after the last wheat ingestion. It hard to say what a small amount of gluten would do but I think the fatigue would become present. It’s also in my best interest to not cause unnecessary inflammation to my body so it can heal. So I think in 6 months, on or around 21st of August, I will try some more wheat. Until then I will avoid it as best I can.

I hope I don’t have to be gluten free forever, but I’ve made it a priority in my life now. Plus the gluten free options are really going mainstream now.

Moving forward:

I plan to try dairy for three meals on Thursday with yogurt, cheese, and milk! After that it might be on to some of the curious vegetables I’ve been avoiding.

Do you have any experience with diet sensitivities or true allergies? I’d low to hear about how you became aware of them and what you do to avoid triggers!

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Guidelines for the Challenge after Elim. Diet

Here we go.. CHALLENGE time. All these weeks of preparation of clean eating, avoiding inflammation and allergens , drinking tons of water, and working hard to find interesting recipes.. Now is the time to put it all to the test and see what the issues really are. These next few weeks are about results and trial and probably lots of “errors”.

23 days will be this Tuesday, so theoretically that should be the day I introduce the first trigger.

I have been reading up on my elimination diet sources and have been forming a plan for myself. Here are a collection of tips I plan to follow through with:

One thing at a time:

You are trying to uncover the limits of your new diet, not overwhelm your body all at once! So pick one food item, try it enough so that if there could be a reaction, you would get it.

I have read about certain foods being combined, like dairy. For example: milk with breakfast, yogurt for lunch, and cheese with dinner. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Processed cheese can have a dull or little effect on your system while milk could be the big culprit. So being aware of these differences is important, but ultimately up to you. If you suffer a reaction, you can always tease through it a little more to figure out if it’s everything in the category or only a few aspects that need to be avoided.

Try enough of each item:

Several sources I read suggested eating a good amount of the item at each meal, so it would be enough to trigger a reaction that you could tell. However, I also read from a source that was suggesting to try incremental doses of the item. So a spoonful at breakfast, a little more at lunch, and a whole serving at dinner.
I am personally choosing the first option as I don’t think any of my symptoms will be too severe/unbearable. Make the best decision based on how you’re feeling.  Slow and steady is a very practical way if there are any nerves around the experience.

Track your symptoms:

Symptoms can be minutes or hours from the time of ingestion. It’s really important to take note of anything that you are feeling and record this information to reference later for yourself or maybe with your health practitioner. Everyone reacts differently but some common symptoms are: headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, flatulence, rashes, increased heart rate, sweating, cramps, tingling in your mouth/throat.

Some more severe reactions, in my opinion, are vomiting, diarrhea, heart palpitations, fainting, and anything severe enough to make you seek medical attention..

Reactions are touchy because you could have a severe reaction to anything you re-introduce, you really don’t know. If you’re worried at all, you should seek guidance from a medical practitioner, someone that can monitor you or be close to call if things get serious.

Try again if something has triggered symptoms:

If there were any symptoms that came up after reintroducing a food, you should consider retrying the food after some time has passed, around 7-12 days. This way you can be sure everything is as you expected. If you had a severe reaction, I would probably skip this step and avoid the item for 6+ months.

Stay on the elimination protocol throughout the challenge period:

When trying one allergen at a time, it’s important that nothing else conflicts with the results, so staying on the elimination diet in between and during the trials is vital to uncovering symptoms and which foods trigger them!

Consider a priority strategy:

Something I have been lightly thinking about over the last 3 weeks is what I would introduce first.. Do I start with the things I think are probably triggers? Or do I start with the things that I think will be easily re-introduced? I think there are pros and cons to both, and it’s important to just have this in mind.

Starting with less likely triggers:
Pros- you can build some confidence and excitement about these foods you can soon eat without worrying!
Cons- this might take a long time and it’s not helping you find triggers AND you can’t eat these full time just yet, or not until you conclude the diet.

Starting with the likely allergens:
Pros- You might find out very quickly what your problems are (if you’ve guessed correctly 😉 )!
Cons- you must wait a few extra days until the inflammation  and symptoms die down, so it can be. Tough round. Plus, there might be multiple things that you can have varying symptoms from.

Food allergies may not be forever:

It can take years after eliminating a food to heal your gut and body back to optimal levelS. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a food item is gone forever. It’s possible that after some time, time of course being relative, it may not cause you any more discomfort. The body is incredibly interesting in that allergies can come and go and listening to what it is saying to you- by way of symptoms and inflammation, you can feel better.

It’s exciting at its scary, because after all this hard work, I still worry I will be disappointed with results that are not clear or the need to avoid certain foods perpetually from my diet.  But the negatives shouldn’t stop you from seeking the positive, so I will finish this with a bang and see where I end up. I have come to the realization I may have to do this again, and we will cross that bridge when it gets here.

Good luck to anyone out there that is doing this or anyone considering starting the process. It is all in the prep work and I really do think anyone can do this!

Have you tried eliminating and reintroducing foods into your diet? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Week 3 Elim. Diet in review:

Man the cravings for Mac and cheese are strong!

But overall, I am so close to finding out my potential triggers and it is really keeping me going now.

I’m excited and I’m nervous to move into the next phase, but boy am I ready…

I have roasted half of a 24lb turkey this weekend and have a broth from the bones on the stove right this minute. So turkey leftovers, brown rice and turkey/rice soup will be heavily eaten this week. I also have some red chard, bok choy, butternut, broccoli and sweet potatoes to roast and eat throughout the week.

On Wednesday I plan to have 1-2 drinks with my co-workers as it is a going away party for some of them and I am eager to celebrate them properly! Since it wasn’t part of the diet I want to tread carefully with this.

I plan to introduce citrus on Thursday/Friday as I think it could be my big trigger and I’m ready to find out. So I have some cut grapefruit to go along with my breakfast, I have an orange to go with my lunch, and will put lemon on my fish for dinner.

Next will be bread, tomato, then dairy, eggs, and then eggplant, peppers and finally red meat.

Wish me luck!

Have you had any elimination diet experiences? I’d love to hear about your trials and how it all worked out!

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Week 2 Elim. Diet in review

I think meals are getting too monotonous because after 3 weeks I’m starting to crave things I see and smell, which I previously had some kind of inner strength to get past. Maybe it’s the fact that I had to stretch this out another week beyond what I had mentally planed …

About one more week to go! I’m craving sparkling and sweet alcohol, in a can none the less, and things like kielbasa and eggs and bacon. Bread also..

I stopped drinking the green smoothies in the morning and I have definitely felt better the last few days. More energy and more positivity.
I am also slowly getting used to my new eye glasses so I have been having Less headaches at night and feeling better in general. I cut out the raw greens after I read an article about their effect on the thyroid. I had heard it before but wasn’t sure if it applied to me, being sans-thyroid and all. Sure enough, cutting them out is providing more sustained energy. Although they were filling and probably nutritious, they may have been doing more harm than good with my T4 conversion!

The meal plan this week included things like black bean burgers wrapped in a large lettuce leaf, modified recipe from the Pioneer Woman with a flax egg, although I kept the hot sauce in – they really need it! Lots of sides of baked sweet potato fries. Lots of roasted cauliflower, broccoli and kale. Spaghetti squash made a fabulous appearance. Brown rice was a supplementary grain and either turkey meatballs, white fish, or salmon were in most dishes . Lunches have been leftovers from dinner and I have cut down on the nuts and dried fruit this week. I have been consuming twice as much green tea however! Celebrating with a burrito bowl tonight – yes it’s from chipotle 😉

Weight is being maintained from the 5lbs I lost during the raw portion although I haven’t made an effort to exercise yet.

Next week I plan to try and do a white pizza with gluten free dough and dairy free cheese, probably with broccoli. Stirfy with chicken or turkey sausage. A butternut squash, steamed kale and quinoa salad sounds like a good idea as does some vegetable soup!

Valentine’s Day calls for a giant meal of all the seafood we can consume 🙂

Trying to stay motivated and creative here in the home stretch.

How do those of you who do this diet permanently keep things fresh? – and I mean both the recipes and the vegetables!