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!