Final Elimination Diet Update: A beneficial and enlightening journey

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It’s finally over!  The whole 6 weeks and 2 days of my elimination diet is complete!  Woohoo!!  Kind of.

Wait… what?!  How can I not be completely over the moon and elated that it’s done, especially after my little pity party leading up to the Super Bowl?  Well, if I’m being honest, there was a part of me that was hopeful that I wouldn’t show any reactions at all to the foods that had been eliminated.  Even though I know that the foods I removed cause symptoms in lots of people, the part of my brain that lives in fantasy-land thought maybe I would be the exception and I would be able to reintroduce all of those foods with no problems what-so-ever.  As such, that part of my brain that lives in fantasy-land is feeling a little bit like someone told her unicorns aren’t real.

That being said, the part of me that lives in the real world (which is the majority of me, for the record) knows that would have been too good to be true and my results are “normal.”  (I use quotes because they are normal for me, which is really all that matters when doing an elimination protocol.  As the whole point is to figure out what works for me!)

Here is what happened… the whole story with all the gory details.  If you don’t like TMI or just want the highlights, there’s a summary at the end. 🙂

I decided to introduce the foods in the most convenient order based on what I was missing and on what days of the week the reintroduction would occur.  After all, I had to figure out how to eat each food twice on two consecutive days to test for symptoms.  I started with adding in dairy, which I already mentioned caused a pretty strong reaction in my body much to my surprise (since I used to eat dairy daily!) and dismay.

Eggs

After removing the dairy again and allowing my body to get back to the normal of no gluten/dairy/soy/corn/egg, I then introduced egg.  It’s hard to say that I had no reaction at all because a full moon was happening on the first day.  And, well, let’s just say that I’ve been known to be a little “off” when there’s a full moon.  However, I don’t think I had any symptoms consistently after each of the meals that included eggs over the two days, so I’ve decided that counts as “no reaction”.  Although I will keep an eye on it as I did note some symptoms that hadn’t been occurring on previous days.  Those symptoms just weren’t consistent during the two day reintroduction period.

[non-GMO] Soy

After another two day wash out, I introduced soy.  This reintroduction proved to be a bit difficult because soy sauce (the easiest way for me to try soy) has gluten in it, unless it is specifically gluten-free (which is not the norm).  Plus, I didn’t want to eat GMO soy, as I’ve decided I’d like to avoid GMO foods as much as I can given what I know about GMOs.  (And, yes, before anyone jumps on me, I am aware that the “research” says GMO foods are fine.)  Unfortunately, most of the soy in our country is GMO, so that also made it interesting.  As with the corn, there were no symptoms that showed up consistently after each ingestion.  So, I’m also counting that as “no reaction.”

Corn… and dairy… again… inadvertently

The next introduction was corn.  Unfortunately, I’m not totally clear on which symptoms came from corn and which came from dairy.  You see, the night before the corn reintroduction I had the pleasure of having dinner with a couple of incredibly successful, encouraging women.  (What a gift!)  We ended up at an Italian restaurant and, while I tried to order on the protocol, I wasn’t able to avoid dairy entirely without turning myself into a total pain. (Since it was my first time meeting them and a local restaurant for one of them, I didn’t want to go there.)  As soon as I tasted the mashed potatoes, I knew there was a t-o-n of cream and butter in them.  Yes, I should have just left them on the plate, but they tasted. so. good.  And I was kind of curious if the reaction during the dairy reintroduction was accurate.  I guess I was justifying it as a “retest”, while also indulging a bit.

Well, before dinner was even over, I was having abdominal cramping and distension and excessive gas.  It turned into a really long night, and I wasn’t exactly back to baseline but decided to continue on with corn anyway.  Because I was really itching to get this protocol done.

Of course, corn is also tricky from a GMO perspective, so while I think I bought non-GMO corn at the store, I’m not sure that the corn tortillas I had while eating out were made with non-GMO corn.  Despite being unable to fully differentiate my symptoms from the reaction I had to dairy, I am pretty sure that my body also reacted to the corn!  I had some belching after my meals and the worst part was the abdominal distension and fullness that led to mild constipation for two days.  Ugh.  It was so uncomfortable, never mind that a poochy tummy is not pretty.  (Yes, I admit it!  I do like to look good!  It’s also worth noting that during the elimination phase, my tummy had become quite flat.  Bonus!)

And, last but not least… gluten

Well, what can I say?  It didn’t particularly matter if I had immediate symptoms to gluten because I have the antibodies to gluten and antibodies for two autoimmune diseases so I intended to give it up no matter what.  Honestly, I was kind of hoping that I would have at least some discomfort as it would make it easier to give up gluten permanently.  After all, e-v-e-r-y-thing has gluten in it and giving up so many foods because the science says I am slowly killing myself with it (even though I can’t feel it) seems kind of wrong!

Fortunately (is that the right word?), I did have a reaction.  My sinus congestion was worse than normal.  My belly blew up like a balloon and felt like a solid mass within a few minutes of eating it.  I had abdominal cramping and then mild constipation for three days.  Perhaps the worst part was a feeling of urgency to go to the bathroom and then not being able to once I got there.  Oh, and I was especially tired every afternoon and evening, despite getting enough sleep.  Totally miserable for three days!  Awesome.

Oh, and that tiny little zit that showed up at the corner of my mouth when I reintroduced dairy also showed up when I introduced gluten.  This similar reaction showing up with both foods could be related to the fact that the gluten protein and the casein protein look similar to the body.

In Summary

As many experts in the field of functional medicine / nutrition therapy have said,  gluten, dairy, corn, soy and eggs cause an immune system or other digestive reaction in many people.  And for me, that proved to be true.  I am pretty sure eggs and soy did not cause any reactions, but corn, gluten and dairy did… in order of increasing severity.

As well, I know that some of my systemic symptoms seem to be related to at least one of these “offensive foods”.  My psoriasis (the one of my autoimmune diseases that is symptomatic) seems to be improving from where it was in December.  Of course, it’s hard to tell because there is still some skin activity, but normally it’s a downright mess in the winter because I’m not getting any vitamin D from the sun (and supplements just don’t pack the same punch usually).  As well, I have not been breaking out in hives anywhere near the same level or with the same frequency as I was before.  This is one I’ll be keeping an eye on because I’ve heard lots of people say their so-called seasonal allergies (that have become associated with all seasons) go away after taking away the foods they are sensitive to.  But let’s just say I am happy to not have these big ugly welts showing up all over my face when I get out into this crazy cold weather!

So, now I know.  Gluten, dairy and corn do cause inflammation by inciting a reaction from my immune system.  And if I want to be truly healthy, I need to leave them out of my diet… at least for a period of time.  Perhaps I can reintroduce them later after my gut has had a chance to heal; well, maybe dairy and corn.  Gluten has to be gone because of the antibodies, as I mentioned already.

You’ve gotten the nitty gritty from me on the whole process.  It has been enlightening and taken me ever closer to have a “diet” (ie, way of eating) that is perfectly personalized to me.

Now, is it your turn?  Are you curious about which of your symptoms might be related to food allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances?  Are you ready to take a step to improve your own health and personalize your nutrition to fit your needs?  If so, tell me what support you need or question you need answered to succeed in the comments below.

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