What is an Elimination Diet

Happy Hump Day everyone! It’s a short week here in little ol’ NZ so I’m quite looking forward to sleeping in on Friday!

I sleep much better during the day when I’m supposed to be up. I don’t know why, it’s always been that way. Although I’m pleased to report that since being on the Elimination Diet I’ve slept solidly every night except one. This makes me happy. And less sleepy during the day!

I’ve had a pretty good week so far. I’ve managed to increase my running duration and distance at the same time as increasing my speed which I’m very happy with. I’m still not going as far or as fast as I want to, but I’ve got 8 weeks left until the City2Surf so plenty of time to train.

I still haven’t had a single slip up with my diet, which is good for several reasons: 1, I don’t want to have to start over, 2, I’ve been craving hard this week and 3, I was very unprepared for this week yet I’ve still managed to make it work. I decided on Sunday that I didn’t need to write up a meal plan because my grocery list had been exactly the same both previous weeks. This was a mistake. I had everything I needed on hand but nothing prepared and I’ve spent most of my days trying to think up foods that will have leftovers for lunch the next day. I will be planning next week, that’s for certain. Confine the thinking to a half hour or so, once a week, then I don’t have to spend the entire week thinking about food.

I’ve also seen some improvement in my eczema! This is very exciting! It might only be small, but it’s something.

I’ve had energy to burn everyday for a while now, except today. Today I woke up tired and slogged through day. I’m not sure why, because I slept well, but apparently that’s how today was to be. I’m not too concerned tho, I follow a few blogs of people who are on Elimination Diets as well, and all of them have reported a random tough day after they’ve been feeling great for a while.

But on with the point of today’s post. I’ve had a couple of friends ask me, what is an elimination diet? So I thought I’d explain what it is for me and how I’ve gone about it.

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I’d like to start with a disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietitian. I have no training in this field, I am on this diet with advice from doctors and a lot of research I have done over a lengthy period. If you are thinking of taking on an elimination diet I strongly recommend discussing it with a doctor and doing plenty of research yourself.

There are many many different types of elimination diets. Some well known ones are FODMAP and Whole30. I don’t know a lot about either of these diets as neither of them cater to my personal needs. FODMAP is used to help people with IBS and Whole30 is designed as a nutritional reset or detox for the body. I have done a small amount of research on both but my knowledge is very limited.

The point of this diet for me, is to discover if certain foods are contributing to my depression, anxiety, eczema, hay fever and to see if it helps my PCOS.

The elimination diet that I am following is based on my conditions. I have never had an instant allergic reaction to any foods, however this does not mean that my body tolerates them. The first step I took was to eliminate gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, lactose, sugar, nuts and processed foods from my diet, hence the name elimination diet (I don’t eat shellfish very often so eliminating these was not an issue for me). The next step was to research what other foods could potentially trigger my symptoms. I found a list online of foods people on an elimination diet usually eat and then went through and crossed off everything else that could contribute towards my symptoms. I refer to this list often when deciding on meals and planning my shopping list.

The coming weeks before I started the diet, I cut down on a lot of the foods to eliminate so that I wouldn’t shock my system. I had my ‘last meal’ a few days before I started (dinner with the girls, it was fantastic!) as I wanted to give my body a few days to recover from that before I started eliminating everything too, especially since I had a sugar laden dessert (I hardly ever had dessert leading up to that point).

All my research recommends a three week detox period where you eat only the prescribed foods and pretty much drown yourself in water (which is one of the few drinks you can have). I’m averaging 3 litres a day. There was also plenty of information on how long to leave between meals and the last and first meal of the day. Some of the
research I found even went as far as to describe in detail how often and at what times of the day you should be evacuating your bowels!

I will be doing this stage of the diet for longer than the recommend three weeks, for the simple fact that I’m not completely satisfied with my results yet. I am having results, which means that this diet is working for me, however I want things to clear up further before I change things up again.

The next stage of the diet is to reintroduce trigger foods. There is a lot of conflicting information on how to do this. Some sources recommend a day where every meal includes the trigger food. Others recommend one meal including the new food then a two day detox period to follow and monitor symptoms. I have decided that I will be combining these, I’ll have a day of including the new food, followed by a couple of days without to monitor. If I have an intolerance to something, the occasional treat of it is not going to affect me too badly, but if I have a lot of it, I may see some symptoms.

And that’s basically it. I will be on this diet for a very long time, reintroducing food groups and single foods one at a time, but I’m hoping to get some answers in the long term. This specific diet is specifically targeted to my needs, so I do urge anyone wanting to give it a go to thoroughly look into it first. And it is hard. Some days more than others, but they say nothing worth having is easy, so I’m not complaining.

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week and if you’re in NZ like me, have a fantastic long weekend.

Smiles and sunshine
Katie

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