Friday, June 13, 2014

Elimination Diet Update

Gratuitous Garden Photos

I've been asked how my elimination diet is going so I figured I'd give everyone an update. In mid March I started an elimination diet. Well it is mid June and I'm still not done with it, but I'm close. The first four weeks was just getting my body healthy before I started to add things back in. I've hit a lot of bumps along the road. The first of the bumps is my immune system. I've never had a great one. I used to get sick all the time when I was younger. And I've taken three things to help me out with not getting sick all the time - fish oil pills, undenatured whey protein, and Epicor. The first two I had to take out temporarily to follow the diet.

In addition my diet was very high in arginine and low in lysine which isn't great for fighting off viruses. So immediately I got the first cold sore I've had in over a decade. Then I ended up with a horrible itchy rash over one side of my face. Which the ophthalmologist misdiagnosed as rosacea and and my GP correctly diagnosed as it as contact dermatitis (possibly the fertilizers from the garden caught in my hair). Then I had almost three weeks of the flu. And yes I had a flu shot. I've got asthma and I always get my flu shot.

Once I got dairy and eggs back into my diet things improved a lot. I did have a problem putting gluten back into my diet. My dad has celiacs, so this was a big worry. The problem is that I didn't want to spread flour all over the house just in case so I used packaged bread, and I didn't read the ingredients list. Duh! I didn't know that most packaged bread has soy in it. So I reacted to it. Once that was discovered I healed up and tried again. No reaction. Yeah! I did learn to bake gluten free, but I would much rather be able to have wheat. Baking with wheat is so much easier than baking with gluten substitutes.

Most recently I found I was reacting, but hadn't introduced anything new. So what was causing it? And it wasn't just once. This was the second time it had happened. I figured there were four suspects. Eggs, chocolate (soy free chocolate is hard to find, but it exists thank goodness), mushrooms, and scotch. I took the last two out of my diet and left the first two in. I got better. Then I tried mushrooms again. It turns out a day of eating mushrooms (which I did when I first tried it) doesn't make me react. But I can't keep eating them day after day. All my symptoms return.

So far I've found that lime and red grapes give me heartburn. But not if I cook with them in small quantities. But I can't eat them on an empty stomach. But neither of them make me sick. And what I mean by sick, is that my symptoms all return. I used to have the following symptoms on a regular basis:

  • nausea
  • intestinal pain
  • blurry vision (double vision when bad)
  • head fog
  • massive fatigue
  • joint pain
  • headaches
  • bloating
  • dysfunctional pain (pain that pops up for no reason in random spots)
  • throwing up and diarrhea about once a month

On the elimination diet these symptoms disappeared for the most part. I still have some joint pain, but not in a lot of joints, just my two longest hurting joints and mild. In addition my asthma got better. It is far from gone, but it is a lot better. Maybe with time my joints and my lungs will heal. But who knows the damage might be permanent. Also my pulse rate got lower. I've always had a pulse rate in the high 70s even in my youth when I was a runner. But now it is in the 60s most of the time.

So the elimination diet has been massively helpful to my health. So far I'm positive about mushrooms and soy being triggers. I've put everything back in that I usually eat except the legume family. I figured I'd see how deep that goes as things mature in the garden. I ought to double check dried beans (which I'm pretty sure I can't have), but I hate getting sick, so I've been hesitant. I should bite the bullet. But I think what I'm going to try next is peanuts. To try: peanuts, dried beans, lentils, chickpeas, fava beans, peas, green beans. If I can't eat peas, I'm going to try pea shoots next year. I'm pretty sure whatever causes this is probably not in the leaves. It is more likely to be a protein issue.

And when I trial those legumes I'll be sure to eat them for two days straight. I usually don't react the day that I eat them. The day after is when my strongest reaction usually happens. And they last for about a week before they have fade away. If I react to all of those legumes that is seven weeks of being sick again. I'm not looking forward to that.

But if I can eat peas from the garden it would be nice to know. And those fava beans are starting to form pods. I already can't eat nightshades. I'm really going to hate if I can't eat legumes either. I'm praying the legume problem doesn't go very deeply into the family. But being sick is worse. Maybe I'll turn some of my vegetable garden into fruit. Or maybe I'll experiment with some of the lesser known tubers. I love greens, but there is only so many of them I can eat in a year. I need some variety.


  1. Oh, Daphne, I'm glad you're finally able to identify some of your food triggers and find some relief!

  2. Feeling better most of the time is definitely worth cutting out some foods. I am so glad that this elimination diet is working and you are able to identify the culprits. And I'm so happy that you are ok with gluten - it would be so sad to have to give up on having a slice of warm, old fashioned, sweet smelling bread. Hopefully, your list will not grow too much longer - I have my fingers crossed.

  3. WOW, Daphne...It sounds like you have endured a great deal. It must be a bit of relief to start getting some definite answers. I'm growing Jerusalem artichokes from organic ones that I purchased from Whole foods and planted last fall. They are growing gang busters. Maybe that's another tuber you can try.

  4. Hi Daphne! Have you tried to eat only raw food? Vegan, of course, gluten and dairy free. I am on raw more than 2 years, with cleansing and I fill well. Garden helps a lot. And I am a big fan of your blog too!

    1. No I haven't tried raw only. And I do much better health wise if I can eat dairy (cheese) and eggs. I couldn't imagine eating vegan with my food restrictions. Nuts would be my only real protein source. And my husband won't eat them. I'd never be able to cook for him again. His food restrictions are totally different from mine. It has always been hard to mesh our eating habits into dinner meals together.

  5. It is good you are finding some answers, even if it does mean giving up foods. I know it is hard dealing with your own issues and with others issues simultaneously. My wife and I have different foods we must avoid or limit, and it is not the same list at all. I do hope you can get it all nailed down without too much backtracking in the process.