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!

My Diet to uncover allergies Part 1 : Going Raw!

Raw diets are crazy. I can’t believe anyone sustains this kind of thing. BUT, I have never seen such an immediate noticeable change in myself and that’s the motivating factor pushing me forward!

So from Monday 1/19 through Friday 1/23 I have been and will continue to eat all fruits and vegetables that never exceed 115 degrees F in preparation.

Here is my meal plan:

(I am drinking water throughout each day, so even if it isn’t listed with a meal, assume I was drinking some)

Monday 1/19:

Breakfast: A cup of Yogi “Raspberry Passion Perfect Energy” and a whole grapefruit, no extra sugar added

Lunch: Salad at a restaurant: Mediterranean salad with green olives, artichoke, red onion, tomato, mixed salad greens and a lemon vinaigrette on the side. Water with lemon, Rooibos tea at a nearby coffee shop.

After lunch: Yogi “Blueberry Green Tea”

Dinner: Guacamole stuffed pepper. Store bought guacamole, chopped ½ red onion, 1 whole cucumber chopped. ½ green pepper per serving, handful of fresh greens. Inspired from this recipe. Yogi “Peach Detox Tea” , Water

Tuesday 1/20:

6AM: Cup of hot water with slice of lemon during meditation session

Breakfast (7:30AM): Smoothie made with nutribullet and following their concept: filled nutribullet container with ½ kale, , ½ a frozen banana, ¼ cup frozen rhubarb, 1/8 cup frozen blueberries, 3T whole almonds, 2T sunflower seeds.

Morning snack(10AM): Whole grapefruit, Yogi “Blueberry Green Tea”

Before lunch snack (11 AM): almonds, cashews, and dried cranberries

Lunch: “Mason Jar Salad” dressing mixed ad-hoc and taste tested: (lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper) grape tomato, chopped carrot, chopped green pepper, chopped cucumber, sunflower seeds, mix of Kale and spring mix salad.

After lunch snack: Pistachios, Yogi “Raspberry Passion Perfect Energy”

Dinner: dried cranberries, water

Wednesday 1/21:

Breakfast: (7:30AM): Smoothie made with nutribullet and following their concept: filled nutribullet container with ½ kale, , ½ a frozen banana, ¼ cup frozen strawberries, 1/8 cup frozen blueberries, 2T almond butter, 1T chia seeds, ½ T flax seeds.

9AM: Yogi “Blueberry Green Tea”

Morning snack(10AM): Whole grapefruit, Black Lipton Tea, mixed nuts with almonds, cashews, and dried cranberries

Lunch (1PM): Curry, coconut and cabbage salad with raisins and cashews. See recipe here.

Dinner (7PM): Broccoli salad, water, See recipe here. -This was very tasty, but the onion grows more pungent the next day!

Dessert: fresh cut strawberries and Bliss Balls

Thursday 1/22:

Breakfast: (7:30AM): Smoothie made with Nutribullet and following their concept: filled Nutribullet container with ½ kale, ¼ cup frozen blackberries, ¼ cup frozen strawberries, 1/8 cup frozen blueberries, 2T almond butter, 1T chia seeds, ½ T flax seeds.

9AM: Black Lipton Tea

Morning snack(10AM): Whole grapefruit, mixed nuts: almonds, cashews, dried cranberries. Cup with green tea bag (Trader Joes) and White Pomegranate Tea (Trader Joes)

Before Lunch snack (12PM): Pistachios, water

Lunch: Leftover broccoli salad, see recipe from Dinner on 1/21.

Dinner: Plan to have this raw Mushroom Alfredo Fettuccine

Friday:

Breakfast: Smoothie: TBD

Lunch: I Plan to make this cucumber and dill salad

Dinner: A salad bar or similar in the city, TBD

Overall thoughts: This is hard to begin, but its all about the prep and having interesting a different recipes. My least favorite meal was the traditional salad that i made in the mason jar, i just have always found them boring. I loved the broccoli salad and the stuffed pepper also. The smoothies have a been a life saver. I feel great about them because they are stuffed full of greens but are nice and sweet because of all the berries. I don’t feel hungry the whole time, and if i am then i snack on nuts or I eat my next meal, simple as that. Not counting calories in any way, which I love. I think I would definitely have raw meals once in a while, or even a whole raw day, but I miss warm food so much, not even the meat and dairy, just baked and cooked vegetables would satisfy my idea of a meal better. January in NYC eating ice cold salads is very counterintuitive ;). Even though weight loss is not the primary goal of this process, I will say I have lost 4-5 lbs. to date, and I will try and log after Friday what the total is for this part of the diet.

Overall Feeling: I felt that overall awakening described in my post about the whole diet process, My Diet to uncover food allergies. However, by Wednesday I was exhausted. Really struggling to get out of bed in the morning and very tired at night. I didn’t get enough sleep on Tuesday night, maybe 7 hours, but on Wednesday night I made sure to get a good 8:30 hours and I was the most tired out of the whole week when I awoke on Thursday morning… So something is not adding up here. I have coworkers telling me I’m glowing and my skin does seem unusually clear. I have become more “regular” than I ever was previously as the the food seems to pass through me more quickly than my previous diet did. I will update this after Fridays completion and maybe on Sunday when Part 2 is in full swing and I can have something to compare all of this to.

On Adjustments: I have been doing my best to be pure, but I am also comfortable with certain slips. I started drinking 1 cup of black tea on wednesday because I was just too tired without it, and i have to finish my work! My boyfriend, who is a trooper for doing this with me, has been adding protein powder to his shakes which contains whey (dairy) so he is “cheating” in that regard, but he’s constantly starving so its an understandable thing.

Have you ever gone on a raw diet? Even just for a few days?

Would love to hear from others on how they might have adjusted their diets. I am really trying to figure out why I am so tired other than the lowered calorie intake!

My crazy diet to uncover food allergies

Remember the “Fat, Tired, and Out of Control” tagline? The whole reason I started this blog was to make some changes to my diet and lifestyle in order to feel better. Why the heck would I give up meat, dairy, and grains? To see some big changes…

So I this all started a year ago when a coworker encouraged many of my office mates and I to do a Blue Print Cleanse through a group discount. The cleanse started on the first few days of the New Year and was our trial at starting it off right! There always also a 30 day sit-up and squat challenge that failed miserably, but that’s besides the point here 🙂

So if you’ve ever done a cleanse you know that you need to prepare your body for it prior to starting so that the juices aren’t as big of a shock to your system. So in the 3-5 days before the cleanse start date, you will need to remove dairy, meat and bread-like food in progression so that you are left with just fruits and veggies that are uncooked, which you do for 2 full days. So for instance Friday you cut dairy, Saturday you cut meat, Sunday you cut bread and Monday and Tuesday you only eat raw fruits and vegetables. Wednesday starts the juice cleanse, Friday ends it, and the weekend you go raw again and then slowly reintroduce the dairy, meat and bread.  It’s quite a process, but believe me you do not want to shock your digestive system. Neither of you will be very happy. For further reference you should definitely check out the FAQ on the blueprint website, they have so much interesting information about what happens to your body and why they prescribe the order of the juices (1-6).

But, what I got the most out of, for the whole cleanse was the pre-juicing raw diet…

So my opinion on the cleanse was that I was pretty tired for most of the juicing phase, I loved the lemon agave pick me up and could have used 3 more of them throughout the day and I also really liked the cashew milk each evening. But, what I got the most out of, for the whole cleanse was the pre-juicing raw diet (I didn’t follow the end portion to a T as I was eager to eat bread and meat and cheese again 🙂  At the time I was still deep in the phase of working to get my thyroid levels correct and had actually just come out of a depression over the holiday break. On eating those fruits and veggies, I felt a tangible difference in myself that I hadn’t in a few years. From feeling numb, tired, depressed, full, foggy (mind) demotivated, lethargic, swollen, and awful things like that, all of a sudden I felt alive. I felt awake and clear headed. It was shaded by something that I never figured out, maybe the fatigue from the too-low dose of thyroid hormone or maybe the lack of calories (1100 versus my original 2000+).

I have clung to those two days and more importantly, those outcomes for a year now, promising myself and others that I would do something about it.

Around the time of the cleanse I went and got a physical and had some General blood work done. All was normal except for some unexplainable inflammation that would normally be present in arthritis patients, which I do not have. Due to these results, my doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist. The outcome of multiple visits to that doctor over the course of 6 months were not as significant as I had hoped. She seemed to do some testing for food allergies but all came back fine. There was one inconclusive test for gluten intolerance. There were never any lactose intolerance tests done even though before seeing her I had removed dairy completely from my diet for 3 months already, with no noticeable change. Her final recommendations were to see a dietician, to get the colonoscopy she kept recommending, and to avoid certain foods that would make some people gassy.

In the spring of that year after my first unhelpful visit to the gastroenterologist, I did some of my own research on gluten sensitivity and intolerance and found the Elimination Diet concept. I felt I was really on to something and wanted to do this special diet but never worked up the nerve to do it.

That brings me to December 2014, I realized this was what I needed to do and with some motivating conversations with friends, family, and some coworkers I finally felt ready to take the dive.

I reinforced this with my New Years resolutions and the realization that I could blog about this and share my journey with others who are confused but feeling unwell.

I set the date as Monday January 19th and I set the game plan as 5 days of raw, because that’s what triggered this whole process and I knew would provide some results I needed to consider, then the last 18 days following the elimination diet, which is much more sustainable since it included animal protein and certain grains, and most importantly, hot/cooked food.

After the 23 days begins the process of reintroducing the elements of a regular diet that one could be allergic to or are causing you discomfort. This medical doctor’s outline and the provocative Dr. Oz’s guide are great resources to explain this is more depth but the idea is that you introduce one food on a single day during all three meals, and you gage your reaction over the next minutes and hours. If there is no reaction, you test is a second day, and if all is good then you may reintroduce it to your diet as you know now that there is no issue. If you do find an issue with a food, for instance an upset stomach, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, hives, etc, then you know there is an issue with that item. In this case, you remove it completely from your diet for 4-6 months and can then try and reintroduce it. To my understanding, if you are able to successfully reintroduce it in the future, it may have been an issue to do with the bacteria in your gut.

I think we can all agree that it’s not completely natural to be eating out of season produce whenever we feel like it, just because can be imported.

Anything in excess is bad news and this could be the case with food sensitivities. There is of course the possibility that you have an actual allergy, which could be lifelong, in which case that item should definitely be avoided.

I do highly recommend getting a professional allergy panel done if you are worried about allergies and prefer to be guided by medical professionals. I had one done as a child and it came back with grass and house dust. I think I’m due for another one ;).

And of course, the disclaimer: Every thing mentioned above was done through my own discretion based on doctors advice and sources I chose to trust on the Internet. I am not a doctor, nutritionist, dietcian, or any other kind of medical professional, just a reasonably well educated woman trying to change her life. You should by no means do exactly as I did, rather tailor these concepts to your needs and above all else, do your own research. Double check everything and be sure you’re willing to take on the risks when altering your diet so radially. I feel as though I’m in a desperate position but have tried to do this in a safe and structured manner. I do think patients should work for and educate themselves related to anything that is a concern to them.
Overview:

Part one: going raw (5 days) January 19th-January 23rd 2015
Part two: elimination diet (18 days) January 24th– February 10th
Part three: reintroduction (4-10+ days) February 11th – ongoing

Check out these pages as I write them, I will be posting the recipes, how I am feeling, and general thoughts on the process! Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarifications of things I have mentioned.

Have you ever changed your diet dramatically for life-changing results?