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 ūüėČ )!
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!

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Transitioning from Raw to Elimination Diet

So, when I first mapped out my plan as I always do, I thought I had everything worked out. So when I hit a small bump, it was a big surprise!

Turns out, it is not as easy as expected making the transition from one diet (Raw) to another (Elimination) especially because of the limitations on each.

Lessons learned:

1. Learn the diet restrictions by heart.
2. Plan, plan, plan those meals!
3. Don’t underestimate how your body will feel in the transition.
4. One diet at a time.

When I first started to the raw diet, it was difficult for the first day or so, but I had a lot of recipes to rely on and it was pretty clear what could be eaten… vegetables and fruits (even though my boyfriend asked a lot of interesting questions about what was allowed, trying to find a loophole)! When the time came around to switching to the elimination diet, I wasn’t nearly as prepared with recipes. I assumed I could adapt my previous eating/cooking style to fit with the diet and that would be it. Well I’ve already had a few slip ups, mainly with tomatoes (adding pico de gallo to a burrito bowl at Chipotle and make a turkey chili with a tomato base). On a positive note, I am learning as I go!

On Friday night, the last meal of the raw diet, it was hard to just have another fruit and kale smoothie, I wanted to move on to hot food that was planned the next day. Then Saturday turned up and I all of a sudden didn’t know what I could eat! I had a vague plan, smoothie for breakfast, veggies for lunch and then make the chili for dinner as a easy reintroduction to meat in a meal with lots of veggies. I ended up eating a banana for breakfast and having a very late lunch of stirfried veggies. Dinner was awesome except for the tomatoes that I was supposed to be avoiding. I was incredibly tired all of saturday. I slept 10 hours over night and caught a 3 hour nap on Saturday afternoon and could just not muster up much energy, either something I had been eating all week (citrus??) had been causing some kind of allergy/energy boom and now I was coming down from it or maybe I was just worn down from the week. Hard to say but I’m avoiding citrus now as I’m supposed to and am feeling much better, so I will check on this hunch in the challenge phase of the diet!

Over all, I don’t regret doing the raw portion, as it was my inspiration to get going, and it was an interesting experience that I’m proud I did. But really, I made the whole elimination part of my diet much harder. I now need to extend the elimination diet and extra week, to end on Valentine’s Day so that I can test the potential tomato and citrus allergies fully. It takes 23 days for the body to flush the antibodies out of your system, so it makes sense to wait a few more days instead of redoing this diet from scratch in a few months because I messed it up this time!

Changing your life can’t always be planned, the results certainly can’t be, and the process can be just as unexpected.

Have you learned any important lessons from your diets?

Week One of my Elimination Diet

One and done. Just kidding, 3 more weeks of this winter.

This week is moving pretty quickly, as most weeks do, so the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer!

We have been eating the left overs of a roast chicken that I made on Sunday with roast vegetables and brown rice. I turned this into a nice home made chicken soup with the addition of brown rice and kale tonight on our “Snow Day” and I plan to eat the left overs for lunch the next few days!

Fish will definitely be on the menu in the coming days, as will be roast cauliflower steaks, and some gluten free pasta with pesto!

Dark chocolate and gluten free cookies have become a nice and well deserved treat for after meals thanks to my boyfriends sweet tooth (I’m not complaining after the drought of anything cookie related)!

Sunday I am planning some hot chicken wing and fun appetizers and dips to much on during the Super Bowl.

Just digging in and getting ready for the long haul on this portion, need to find more recipes and exciting meal ideas to make this as seamless and easy as possible. There don’t seem to be any instant results, so the waiting game it will be.

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Water, Water, Everywhere

Drinking enough water to remain hydrated is something every doctor and fitness source will tell you is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Many of the bodily processes require water to do their job well and dehydration has some nasty side effects. Drinking enough water will stop the body from holding onto so much water weight and you could actually lose weight by getting on track. Yet, even with all these important facts, it is so incredibly hard to get enough in my regular day, or it wasn’t enough of a priority to allow it to happen. There has been one other time I made a significant effort to drink enough water and what I learned was that when hydrated, I make frequent trips to the bathroom. So this becomes another deterrent for making the leap personally.

But if I’m really going to get healthy and turn this thing around, this has to be the first step

So here we go.

Women should drink about 88 ounces while men should get 128 ounces a day according to Jillian Michaels. She also mentions the need to drink an additional 12 ounces of water for every 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Also, caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, and soda can actually dehydrate you, so I plan to reduce the consumption of these if I can.Herbal teas are great because you can get some additional nutrients through them, but water is best. Another interesting thing is lemon water, which aids in digestion, can liven up water if it becomes boring.

So my daily plan to get enough water in, but not too much so I can’t make it all the way home from my commute without stopping for a bathroom break, is as follows:

Morning:

16 ounces of hot water with lemon to sip on my morning commute

Throughout the Day:

23 ounces at my desk before lunch
23 ounces for lunch and after

Throughout the evening:
16 ounces for a dinner
16 ounces for after dinner, to have during the night, and for my morning meds

So this is about 94 ounces, and it’s over the average recommendation. I will increase this when I start my regular fitness plan.

I should also mention that the key way I like to currently drink my water is trough Starbucks tumblers, hence the very specific ounces listed above. I have a larger 23 ounce clear tumbler that lives on my desk and I can bring to meetings and a smaller 16 ounce one at home that I use with dinner and when generally hanging out at home. I find using these cups and specifically their straws helps me drink a lot more water, much more quickly! The only con with the straws is that you could also be sucking a lot of air into your digestive system by constantly using them, but this is not a real problem for me right now. Nalgene bottles are another great way to track your ounces as they are listed on the side of the bottle and you can take it wherever you go.

I’m not big on flavored water other than the lemon so I can’t comment on that but I think it can be a good option for others! Think cucumber mint water or those flavored MiO squeeze bottles in grocery stores.

My expectations: I think getting enough water will improve the quality of my skin, reduce headaches (no dehydration), stop me from overeating as I will be quite full from water all day, and hopefully some other wonderful things.

I’ll update after a few weeks to comment on any other improvements or issues.

Do you drink enough water each day?
What would it take to get you hydrated?

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Ideas for further investigation

This is where I plan to keep a running list of the categories I am trying new things in and then the list items in each category will hopefully link to their posts!

Any suggestions here are welcome as I am looking to extend myself in new directions.

Sleep

  • Adjusting time
  • Technological devises
  • Humidifier
  • Essential Oils

Health

  • Create a Medical timeline
  • Allergies

Mental

  • Start meditating
  • “Coping mechanisms” for clarity & stability
  • Mental exercises

Exercise

  • Snowboarding
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Kettlebell workouts
  • Ab workouts

Diet

  • Going Raw
  • Introducing Probiotics & fermented foods
  • Re-introducing inflammatory foods such as bread & milk
  • Smoothies
  • Drink more water

Creative

  • Create a portfolio website
  • Refurbishing furniture
  • Drawing/Sketching