Elimination-diet2


Why Am I Doing an Elimination Diet?

As some of you may know, 3 years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune hypothyroidism), PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and Adrenal Dysfunction (not fatigue, dysfunction).

Over the last 3 years, my Doctor and I have taken an integrative approach to getting healthy.  I have changed my diet, started getting more sleep, started listening to my body more, started getting moderate and consistent sun exposure, and learned how to better cope with stress in all areas of my life.

If you’ve ever tried to take an integrative approach to better health and wellness, you know it’s not an overnight process by any means.  Your body is constantly changing and responding to it’s environment and honestly, most Doctors are using a very sophisticated version of the “guess-and-check” method, so you are constantly having to try something new for “x” number of weeks, re-test, check the results, and make adjustments…over and over and over and over again.

Recently we discovered through some tests that I was not absorbing nutrients well.  That, combined with the fact that I have auto-immune disease led my Doctor to believe I have some serious gut issues going on, despite not having any other symptoms (no IBS, no pain, etc).

To be honest, if my current client base is any indication of the rest of the country, it’s safe to say that most of the American population has major gut issues, so this wasn’t a huge surprise.  I constantly talk to people who battle IBS, bloating, pain, gas, and other intestinal issues on a daily basis.  So, after those tests came back, we knew we had to take some action to help heal my gut.

How Do You Heal Your Gut?

Shortly after we discovered I wasn’t absorbing nutrients, I had an allergy test done.  While these tests aren’t the most accurate (I had a blood test and a skin test done), the results made sense as I was allergic to many of my favorite foods, and you are often allergic to the foods you consume most often.  I would have started my personalized “elimination diet” immediately but I was going to be traveling a lot and the holidays would be here shortly after that and I was under a lot of stress in general, so I didn’t want to add more stress by starting a super strict regimen.

The purpose of this elimination diet is to remove highly allergenic foods like peanuts, dairy and shellfish from my diet, as well as removing foods to which it has been shown that I have allergies.  During this period of time I am supposed to consume lots of highly nutritious, anti-inflammatory foods as well as taking a supplement that contains many gut-healing ingredients like glutamine, etc etc.  Keep in mind there are many methods you can use to help heal your gut (such as a GAPS protocol), but I am discussing the one that my Doctor prescribed for me.   Below I will discuss exactly what I had to do.

 

My Elimination Diet Protocol

For 25 days I have to remove all highly allergenic foods from my diet that were listed in the instructional booklet I was given.  In regards to the foods that showed up on my allergy test, the foods I had reactions to were ranked between 1 and 3, with 1 being a small reaction and 3 being a big reaction.  Anything that showed up as a 1, I have to eliminate for 4 weeks.  Anything that showed up as a 2, I have to eliminate for 6 weeks.  Anything that showed up as a 3, I have to eliminate for 8 weeks.  So this is what my schedule looks like:

Days 1-25: Remove all allergenic foods listed in the booklet as well as everything that showed up on my allergy test.  Take gut healing supplements (GI Revive and Inflamma-Core) twice a day, every day during this time.

Days 26 – 41:  Begin adding foods back in one at a time that were in the booklet but did not show up on my allergy test and foods that did show up on my allergy test as a 1 and monitor reactions.  Keep taking GI Revive.

Days 42-55: Begin adding foods back in one at a time that showed up on my allergy test as a 2 and monitor reactions.  I can also continue adding in foods that were in the booklet that did not show up on my allergy test and foods that showed up as a 1 on my allergy test.  Keep taking GI Revive.

Days 56+: Begin consuming all foods again, including those foods that showed up as a 3 on my allergy test.  Monitor reactions and adjust accordingly. Keep taking GI Revive.

 

So What Can I Eat?

 

                Yes, I was afraid that this was all I was going to be able to eat…

 

So I am sure you’re curious about what I had to give up.  It’s a long list, so I won’t name them all, but I will name the main things below:

CANNOT HAVE:

Chicken, beef, pork, eggs, shellfish, broccoli, onions, gluten, oats, strawberries, oranges, soy, tea, vanilla, cacao, basil, honey, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and dairy of any kind.

So what am I eating?  That’s the first question everyone asks!  I will list what I have been eating below:

CAN HAVE:

Bison, turkey, apples, tomatoes, white rice, sweet potatoes, cashews, avocado, raisins, spinach, carrots, celery, squash, zucchini, asparagus, blueberries, and blackberries.

Sure, all that food is delicious but it’s a pretty small selection to choose from for almost an entire month!

 

What about Restaurants/Dining Out?

One of the hardest parts of this Elimination Diet is that I can’t go out to eat at any restaurants for a couple of reason.  One, because very few places have turkey or bison on the menu, and two, because many of them cook with soybean or sunflower oil and I can’t trust them to keep my food allergy free.  Going out to eat is one of my favorite activities even when I am eating clean so this has been challenging.  Plus, I don’t always feel like cooking!  My one savior has been my local Good Foods Co-op.  They have a salad bar and a hot foods bar that sometimes has things I can eat.  It’s nice because they have all the ingredients listed next to each food so you know exactly what you’re getting.  I have eaten there once or twice in a pinch, but it’s not exactly the whole “restaurant experience” that I enjoy so much.  A couple of times in the last week or two I have gone to restaurants with my friends or family and brought my own food.  I got a couple of strange looks, but it wasn’t a big deal.  Hanging out with my friends and family is more important than the weird looks I was getting from strangers (my friends and family already know I am weird, so they typically refrain from giving me looks ;-D).

 

So How Do I Feel?

The first 4-5 days I suffered caffeine withdrawals and had headaches and body aches, as well as increased irritability and even some nausea on the first day (I threw up 5 times…yuck).  I am now 17 days in and feeling pretty good.  I definitely sleep much better than I did before (from lack of caffeine I am sure) and I have lost some body fat which is always a nice side effect! =)  Other than that, the only major thing I have noticed is that it’s getting much easier to stick to.  It’s funny, the longer I adhere to a very strict nutrition plan, the easier it gets for me.   I honestly believe willpower is like a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  8 years ago I couldn’t imagine going 3 days without fast food.  Now, 25 days without sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy, and a whole bundle of other foods is a relative breeze.

 

                         So glad this didn’t last… or I might not have lasted either!

 

Obviously, I haven’t done the program long enough to see what will happen, but I am very interested to see my results.  I am hoping that I will be able to absorb more nutrients than I was before and maybe even see some improvement with my auto-immune issues.  I will keep you posted on my results!

 

So what did you think of this article? Crazy? Weird? Cool?  Have you ever done an Elimination Diet?  What protocol did you use? What was your experience?  Good? Bad? Awesome?  Let me know below!  I look forward to reading your comments!

30 Responses to Gut-Healing Elimination Diet: Part 1

  1. Chris Sharrock says:

    Thanks for sharing this info Molly! As a DPT, I would say nearly 100% of my patients would significantly benefit from an appropriate gut healing intervention. It’s unfortunate that this approach is often completely overlooked by a large majority of the medical community.

    • molly says:

      Totally agree Chris! So many health problems begin in the gut and yet it’s ignored by so many health professionals. Hopefully talking about this will get more people asking their Doctors about it and force the Doctors to do their own research in order to help their patients.

  2. Jode says:

    Interesting article! Would love to know who your doc is. It is very difficult to find a doctor who is interested in something other than just prescribing meds that don’t get to the bottom of the problem.

    • molly says:

      Jode,

      My Doctor’s name is Lena Edwards. She owns Balance Health and Wellness in Lexington, Ky where I live. We actually have 2-3 doctors within a 20 mile radius who practice integrative medicine so we are pretty lucky!

  3. Julie says:

    Hi Molly. I did an elimination diet a couple of years ago based upon the results of an ORION bio-scan. It was DEFINITELY a challenge, but like you, once I committed to it, it was not so bad…and after getting through withdrawal symptoms I felt GREAT!

    It went a long way in helping me to identify foods that I am sensitive to, and to what extent. ie — I have a sensitivity to oranges and eggs. Doesn’t mean I can’t EVER eat them, but I definitely limit them. Mushrooms and salmon have an instant “reject” quality in them for me. While gluten is something I have to avoid or else I will pay for it later. It was a really helpful experience and has made a world of difference in the way I feel. Good luck to you and thanks for sharing your journey.

    • molly says:

      Julie,

      Thanks for sharing your experience! Yes I am hoping that once my gut heals a bit that I will have a little more leeway in terms of what I can tolerate. I am fine not having gluten, but not being able to have my delicious raw milk, butter and cream would be tragic… and never being able to cheat with ice cream would be very hard. Not that I think I should eat hat stuff all the time but I do like it occasionally. :::fingers crossed::::

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Grace says:

    Interested to hear what happens when you add food back in . . and what irritates your system.

  5. Lauren says:

    It’s so great to see that you’ve found a good doctor to be patient with you and not think you are crazy! I’ve been to a few doctors who diagnosis me with IBS, but I know that it is something else. What kind of allergist did you go to?

    • molly says:

      Lauren,

      Actually my main Doctor is the one who did the tests. She did a blood test (I believe it was through Genova Diagnostics) and then she did a skin test in her office. I am sorry you haven’t had good experiences with Doctors thus far… good luck on your journey!

  6. Aimee says:

    Hey Molly, another really good diet is SCD (specific Carbohydrate Diet) my brother has Ulcerative Colitis and IBS and is still pretty sick right now. He stays on this diet plus has to eliminate a few other things that he has issues eating but other than that it seems to have healed his colon. Right now because of all the drugs they have him on (when hes been sick he’s had panic attacks and other depression issues from no sleep and just dealing with the disease) he still isn’t doing good. He still has pretty bad bloating still not sure why he is still having that issue thinking it’s the IBS. But he is very strict with his diet. He has really bad insomnia as well. He’s tried so many things naturally to heal this and has yet to find a doctor that will actually get on board the diet being a help to it. They all say the same thing, diet has nothing to do with it. Instead they push all kinds of different medications that have all kinds of bad side effects. Anyone who has gut issues first and foremost needs to change what they are eating. The doctors may not agree but there are millions of people healing there gut issues and it does work. Like you said it may take alot of patience but stick with it!

    • molly says:

      Aimee,

      Thanks so much for sharing his story! I hope you gets better soon! Yes! It’s so frustrating that they just want to push meds on you all the time. I love that statement… “diet has nothing to do with it…” Umm… diet has EVERYTHING to do with it! It’s how our bodies repair!

      Congrats to him for sticking with it! Thanks again for commenting!

  7. kelly says:

    I have hashimitos in addition to all celiac symptoms. I have done complete eliminations and modified eliminations. I have a son that was born with an autoimmune disease and while I was nursing him, I had to be on complete elimination as to not pass any allergens through my milk-so this is by no means new to me. I don’t see how coping with a lifetime disease could be halndled any other way. figure out what makes you sick. stop eating it. life improves. with hashimotos especially, the answers aren’t in pill bottles. be well.

    • molly says:

      Kelly,

      I totally agree… I can’t believe people would rather suffer long term consequences than change their diet…? Doesn’t make sense to me. Sounds like you are doing all the right things! Good for you! Your son is lucky to have a smart and strong Mama like you! =)

  8. Michelle says:

    Loved the article! I actually just got the results back from it seems the same test as you and my ND has recommended an elimination diet for me as well. I have tried a couple times in the past to do a complete elimination diet and have always felt better on it but never stuck through the reintroduction phase! It gives me a lot more motivation to do it, knowing that other people are doing it too! I am hoping to start next week! Please keep us up to date…it keeps me motivated to stick with it!

    • molly says:

      Michelle,

      I will! You can do it! Stay strong! Maybe you can ask one of your friends to hold you accountable…? Where you have to send them a report of everything you eat for that day? That can help. Good luck and I will keep you posted on how it goes!

  9. Nicole says:

    I can so relate.. I have had a hormone inbalance since 98.. I didnt have any hormones in my body.. Before the Dr in Fla realized this or I went to him. I was depressed all I wanted to do is sleep.. My body blew up.. I competed in 96 97. That isnt what caused it.. But Praise God For that Dr..Fla Found it.. It saved my life. Not that I am against Antidepressants but if you dont have hormones in your body it messes with your seritonin … You definitely have to have a Dr that believes in this.
    I have also had the Adrenal Fatigue.. So I so understand. I have tremendous Yeast in my Body which causes a lot of issues.. I am suppose to be on pretty much protein fruits vegs…So many people struggle with this they just dont know it..
    Great Drs that do this is Lena Edwards. Carol Perkins.. which save my kids.. The had the leaking gutt syndrome.. Also Dr Roach.. I thank God for all these Drs.
    Molly i know the feeling of changin the eating.. for some reason its much harder. I think how did i have the discipline to compete. lol but its a process
    Thanks for sharing I know you will make a difference in peoples lifes..
    SO MANY MEN AND WOMAN THINK THEY ARE LOSING THEIR MIND BUT ITS VITAMINS AND HORMONES..
    WE GO THROUGH EVERYTHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE.. PASS ON THE INFO

    • molly says:

      Wow… sounds like you have been through a lot! You’re right, Lena, Carol and Dr. Roach are all awesome!

      That’s exactly what I am trying to do… share information so other people don’t have to suffer the way I and many others have suffered. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Molly, my ‘gut feeling’ (no pun intended!) says that the ‘good’ foods on your personal list, are easier to chew up & digest — that may have something to do with why they are less allergenic.

    (Also, your ‘good’ list seemed to taste better: Cashews DO taste better than peanuts.)

    Lastly, regarding comments on your fan page about BCAA’s with artificial colouring and flavouring, I’ve seen some BCAA’s at GNC that *DON’T* have any artificial colouring or flavouring – but you have to specifically look for them. (I hated the taste of the version that had Red 40 colouring in it.)

    • molly says:

      Gordon,

      Thanks for the info on the BCAAs! Haha interesting observation… I think I have to disagree and say my “off-limits” list is tastier… that’s why I am allergic to it is because I eat it all the time. =)

  11. Bonnie says:

    Molly, I also have Hashimoto’s and gluten intolerance. Ask your doc about iodine/selenium supplementation. About a week and a half of taking it my energy levels went way up and it became much easier to lose fat. I lost over 20lbs in about 3 months.

    I also went off gluten at the same time. If you’re gluten-intolerant or a celiac, gluten is eroding your intestinal villi and preventing nutrient absorption. I always knew I felt better when I stayed away from gluten, but never had the determination to strictly avoid it until I got the Hashimoto’s diagnosis.

    I never had a positive test for gluten intolerance, but I’ve read that many celiacs don’t test positive until they’ve actually damaged their villi. Since I feel so very much better without gluten, that’s evidence enough for me to stay off it forever.

    After three months of iodine, selenium and eating gluten-free, the “pre-cancerous” multi-nodular cysts in my thyroid shrank. It’s been over a year now and they are still shrinking, slowly but surely. (My endocrinologist takes sonograms in his office and measures the cysts at each visit.)

    Now I eat pretty much what people are now calling a “paleo” diet. No grains or legumes but every veggie you can imagine, fruit, nuts, fish/meats/poultry, etc. My skin is clear, but I will break out when I consume dairy now, so I avoid it.

    I eat lots of good fats, take fermented cod liver oil, and I feel super. Cholesterol levels are way down, too, not that they were high to begin with, but still!

    • molly says:

      Bonnie,

      Thanks for sharing! Yes, I have been gluten free for 15 months now and feel infinitely better! I have heard of the iodine and selenium supplementation but haven’t tried it. I will have to ask my Doctor about that!

      Yeah… that’s the hard part… as far as I now there is no definitive test for gluten intolerance… with the exception of taking a biopsy to examine the villi, then removing gluten for 3-6 months and doing another biopsy. None of my tests have shown gluten issues, but I feel much better without it!

      Sounds like you are doing much better! Good for you Bonnie! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Inna Kordelchuk says:

    Hi Molly.
    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve struggled with digestive issues since I can remember. As a child, I thought it was cute that I ‘poop like a rabbit’ but it became less cute as the decades rolled on. I will be 30 in September & I decided once & for all to figure out why I’m always constipated & bloated after eating. I had a food sensitivity test done along with a stool test. Wow! Turns out I’m very sensitive to dairy & somewhat to gluten. The stool test blew my mind. I have very low pancreatic enzymes, H. pylori infection (extremely hard to eliminate as about half of the worlds population is infected) & high stomach pH, which is actually the core of my problems.

    Hypochloridia, or low stomach acid, does not allow food to digest properly as it is the pH of the stomach acid which triggers the pancreas to release digestive enzymes. So food would sit in my stomach for hours, basically rotting, before the partially digested food particles moved to the small intestines. I was deficient in B12, which, to be absorbed from food, needs something called the intrinsic factor produced from the parietal cells of the stomach, which need the proper stomach pH to be activated. The small intestines can only absorb nutrients from food in a certain predigested form so I was deficient in certain nutrients, specifically magnesium. Magnesium is essential for the contraction of the colon & once I started taking magnesium oxide, about 1000mg in the evening, for the first time in my life I no longer ‘poop like a rabbit’! You have no idea how exciting this was…

    There is no consensus on what causes hypochloridia, but age, genetics & ammonia producing bacterial infections are possibilities. I’ve started taking Betaine Hydrochloric Acid capsules & digestive enzymes before every meal. I’m hoping the lower acidity will kill off the H. pylori infection (I refuse to do the antibiotic treatment as the cure is worse than the disease because most of the beneficial bacterial vital to life is also killed off). I eat about 90% paleo diet, which is unprocessed vegetables, meat, some fruit & nuts. I do not eat grains, dairy or legumes. I’ve actually started cooking for the first time in my life! I only cook with ghee, clarified organic butter, & pure virgin coconut oil. I drink a green smoothie every morning, (greens, celery, carrot, coconut oil, cinnamon, turmeric, some raw cocoa, frozen fruit, spirulina, glutamine, etc) Since I’ve been on this “diet”, which is what our ancestors used to eat pre-agriculture, I have never felt better. No more bloating or flatulence. I rarely have cravings. I was also slightly deficient in vitamin D, although I was already taking about 8,000IU’s daily! My stomach was not absorbing it…so I’m up to 12, 000IU’s of D3 daily & I’m excited about the warmer weather because nothing beats the sun.. I’m also sleeping more & exercising 6 days a week (cardio & weight training). I’m keeping a food diary. It’s harder to cheat when you have to admit it on paper! I’m about two months into my new way of living & I’m going to give it another four months until I go for my yearly physical & blood work. I can’t wait to see my blood work results because I have never felt better. Ever.

  13. molly says:

    Inna,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! It sounds like you have made major improvements!

    Yes, I take Betaine HCl with most meals and sometimes take a digestive enzyme as well and they help alot!!

    I have always been told that age, stress, genetics and carbonated beverages are the main contributors to hypochloridia.

    I am excited for you to go back to your Doctor for more tests! Definitely let me know what happens when you do! =)

  14. Juliet says:

    Hey Molly! Great article! I’ve not been having any kind of health issues, per se, but I found my diet getting lax, my sugar cravings increasing, and I was just slipping more. To kind of ‘reign thins back in’ I decided to do a 30 day mini-challenge for myself… whole foods, no grains or dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, mostly just meat & veggies! I’m now 2 weeks into it and I’m definitely feeling the same as you. Sugar cravings totally gone, sleeping better, energy up…. I think these kinds of things are good for us every once in a while to help get us back to base level if that makes sense?

  15. Angel says:

    Nice article, incredible website layout, keep up the good work

  16. Pingback: Gut Healing Elimination Diet: Part 2 | Molly Galbraith

  17. Jennifer says:

    Elimination diets will pinpoint diet triggers that even the allergy tests won’t. Without going through the pain in the behind that elimination can be, I never would have found out that we have a familial allergy to red dye 40 that doesn’t show up with skin prick or blood tests but you can believe that if anyone in the house eats a dorito or takes “pink” liquid tylenol, they will have nasty gut issues. Thanks for reinforcing what a good tried and true method this is for finding out things that are not your friends.

  18. Fitness says:

    Great blog.Really thank you!

  19. Susan says:

    Just started my teenage son on his Elimination diet after months of stomach aches and misery. I am Gluten free because of a Wheat allergy. I also have a MSG allergy and Artificial sweeteners too so our family is at least understanding of what he is going through. Avoiding the seven major food triggers is a challenge but worth it in the long run. Good luck and “Just keep Swimming”…

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