The Story of the Elimination Diet, Part 1

If I'd been asked how to define an "elimination diet" a few months ago, my best guess would have had something to do with an assassination plot to "eliminate all threats." That's just how my brain rolls. Now that two weeks have passed since I started my diet adventure, though, a new definition is forming: Hard. Restrictive. (Hopefully) healing.

If you've been following my recent posts, you've heard about my continued struggle to gain weight, the random rash popping up on my face despite three rounds of Prednisone, and how my stomach still likes to throw fits. After trudging out of the offices for the allergist and dermatologist empty handed, I knew I had to do something to win back the reins to my health. Cue the elimination diet, started the day after I flew back from my Houston vacation.

My last hurrah the day before I flew out!
There are many different kinds of elimination diets, but I am following the typical comprehensive elimination diet suggested for those trying to discover food intolerances. Websites vary on the exact details of what to eat and what to lock in the house safe, but the basic outline is this: no gluten (wow, that was a challenge!), dairy, eggs, soy, nuts, fast food, legumes, certain spices, etc. Because I didn't want to lose any weight, I kept some of the ingredients that some avoid, like a few pieces of soy-free chocolate, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and limited sweeteners.

The diet is followed for at least three weeks, the time it takes for inflammation in the body from food intolerances to subside. After three weeks, the reintroduction starts. One restricted food twice a day for two days - any side effects, it stays restricted. If the tummy's happy, it can stay.

I thought the three weeks would fly by. "I'm already gluten and (mostly) dairy free," I thought. "I survived freshman year of college! Bring it on!"

I figured I'd climbed bigger mountains...
It brought it. And, honestly, it kinda stinks at times. To anyone with numerous extreme food allergies - now I know a fraction of your pain and all I can say is that I'm sorry. I miss my baked goods, fluffy yet solid with the aid of eggs. I miss Red Robin and Chipotle, who disappeared from my diet right after entering. And I - a lover of repetition and no-think cooking - even miss the small amount of variety I used to enjoy. I knew I was limited when I started worrying about how bored my Instagram followers must be feeling!

But you know what? Even though I still have a week to go, I've already learned so much. I've explored a corner of gluten free cooking previously ignored: the masterpieces that can be formed through vegan and gluten free cooking. In many ways, I want to shake celiac's hand for triggering my passion for cooking. As my ingredient list shrunk, that passion has only grown. I'm one step closer to finding the balance between enjoying a meal's simplicty yet experimenting without fear.

I learned that ground chia seeds make an awesome egg substitute in coconut flour pancakes.

One goooooood breakfast!
After my "baking soda biscuits" - free of every traditional binder and fluffer - actually rose, I nearly searched my oven for fairy dust!

Heaven!
And, as I write this, my kitchen smells like Christmas cookies thanks to the three trays of chocolate chip and trailmix beauties I baked this morning.

Not too shabby!
I'm hopeful that this diet will unlock the key to a happy body by ferriting out the foods that are fighting with my stomach. I'm hopeful that, new information in hand, I'll be that much more ready to tackle my sophomore year as a college celiac!

Even if it doesn't give me all that I want, though, I'm counting it as a win. Now, I know even more how to empathize with those suffering from food allergies. Now, I understand how vegans survive without eggs and dairy. And, now I know that throwing ingredients into a bowl and praying for culinary magic (sometimes) actually pans out (I had to throw at least one cooking pun in there!).

My "kitchen sink" rice and pesto patties!
There are a lot of different definitions for an elimination diet. Negatives, postives, and a bunch more in between. My recent favorite? Training for my sophmore year of college. If I can stay dedicated, determined and confident with food on the brain, doing it with books will be a breeze!



Have you ever done an elimination diet? How inventive are you in the kitchen? Comment below!











Comments

  1. Casey!

    I’ve never done an elimination diet, but it really helped one of my mom’s friends out with decades of stomach problems. (She tested negative for celiac before cutting out gluten too, so I was proud).

    If you end up cutting out eggs for awhile, there’s a solid 4-5 egg substitutes that tend to work depending on the recipe! Good luck, and I can’t wait to see how your journey continues. ☺

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    1. Glad to hear someone had good results from it! It's a pain, but I think it will be worth it in the end! What egg subs to you suggest? Always looking for new ideas! :D

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    2. My favorite is 2 tbsp. water, 1 tbsp canola oil, and 0.5 tbsp. baking powder per egg because it fizzes! It only works for some recipes. We also use gelled chia seeds, gelled flax seeds (and sometimes not gelled), and applesauce. Those are the big ones, I'll let you know when I think of any others. :)

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