How I Survived an Elimination Diet

Posted February 25, 2015 in elimination diet, healthy eating, headaches, migraines, healthy living, recipes, food, health coach

In January, I started an elimination diet to determine if my recurring headaches and migraines were caused by food. Read more about that and how to do an elimination diet here.

I eliminated gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, eggs, nuts, alcohol and caffeine for about three weeks. I reintroduced each food one by one every few days and took note of how my body felt.

Before I tell you how I felt after reintroducing foods, I want to share how I felt and what I was eating when all the foods were eliminated. Mostly because everyone kept asking me, "So what are you eating?", like I was starving to death.

So here's what I ate...

Breakfast was usually gluten-free oats with goji berries, chia seeds, cinnamon, stevia, rice milk and sunflower seed butter. My other oat combo was apple slices with pomegranate seeds (above). Those of you who follow my blog regularly or follow me on Instagram, know that I eat oats almost every morning. My usual version has almond milk and almond butter, so the elimination diet version wasn't a big deal.

I ate a lot of salads for lunch! My diet was mostly plant-based, so each meal had tons of veggies to help me stay full. Lunches were also leftovers from dinners.

Dinner was harder because I was eating with the BF, who was not doing an elimination diet. But we did try a few new recipes that were winners.

Here are a few dinners I ate:

  • Black Bean Picadillo over Brown Rice
  • Lentil Stew
  • Turkey burger over greens
  • Soy-free stir fry
  • Spaghetti squash topped with tomatoes
  • Chicken breast, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, brown rice
  • Quinoa with roasted carrots, sweet potato and beets

For snacks, I ate:

  • chia pudding
  • smoothies with kale, berries, banana, rice milk and brown rice protein powder
  • bananas
  • apples
  • decaffeinated hot tea
  • dates with sunflower seed butter
  • rice crackers with hummus
  • fresh green juice

I felt amazing during the elimination. I had tons of energy (even for teaching all my fitness classes), slept well, my skin was clear, I didn't have any major sugar cravings, had no headaches and I immediately noticed that I lost some bloat and looked leaner.

I reintroduced dairy first because dairy can sometimes be a headache trigger. I also reintroduced it during my time of the month because a lot of my headaches are hormonal (long story but I didn't get hormonal headaches from March-Sept. 2014, then they suddenly came back. My doctor thought they may be stress related, but I wanted to check to see if food was a trigger during that time of the month). The day after I reintroduced dairy, I had a headache.

I ate it again a few days later (when my period was over), and I didn't have a reaction. I'm going to stay away from dairy during my lady time and see if that helps my headaches.

I reintroduced everything else one by one and didn't have any noticeable reactions, until I reintroduced sugar. I had a piece of chocolate pecan pie at Modern Love in Omaha for Valentine's Day, and I instantly had a headache and I have been craving sugar ever since. I huge testament to the addictive powers of sugar.

I haven't reintroduced caffeine yet. I seriously miss coffee, but I had terrible withdrawals the first three days of the elimination diet. That freaked me out because I don't want to be addicted to something that actually causes withdrawal symptoms. (My addiction to bright printed workout leggings is a much healthier addiction, I think). I decided that I will have regular coffee occasionally, but I'm going to stick with decaf and hot tea for awhile. (Note that I don't think coffee is unhealthy, it's actually full of antioxidants. I just don't love it's addictive properties).

And to be completely honest, going out to eat and traveling totally sucked. It was often hard to find dishes without my eliminated foods. We went to Lincoln for the BF's birthday during my elimination diet, and it wasn't easy. The easiest place to eat out was the HyVee salad bar (above).

Now that I've reintroduced everything (but coffee)...

I've noticed that I'm not as lean as I was during the elimination diet. My face and stomach look a little puffier. But I'm not exactly sure what it's from. (It's not noticeable to anyone but me.)

That's the hard thing about an elimination diet. It's really hard to tell how food it impacting your body when it may be something as small as causing a bit of bloating. I didn't notice any bloating when I reintroduced each food one by one, but now that they're all back I'm a little bloated. Maybe it's a combination of some foods???

I also have been having trouble sleeping and I've had some headaches recently (which I'm guessing are stress related). Another dificult part of using an elimination diet to determine the cause of headaches is that headaches can be caused by soooo many things.

I loved the way I felt without sugar, so my plan is to just have sugar occasionally. So hard for me!

I'm really happy that I did the elimination diet. It helped me get my diet back on track after the holidays and made me realize that I can survive without dairy, coffee and chocolate!

*Read this post to determine whether you should do an elimination diet. An elimination diet is not intended for weight loss. The diet is meant to determine whether you have food sensitivities. As always, listen to your body and do what is right for you.

Have you ever done an elimination diet? What did you find out about your body?

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