February 26, 2019
Eliminate and diet. Yikes…
Hearing these two words together sounds like the worst thing you could do am I right?
Eliminate? Isn’t it bad to restrict yourself? Dieting doesn’t work for everyone. Can’t it also be very unhealthy sometimes? I thought a nutritionist was supposed to tell you to eat more of the good stuff?
Maybe these are some of the thoughts that could be coming to mind when you read these words. And yes! Those thoughts would be very true in most cases. But before you skip this blog entirely or just go to the end for some recipes, I’d like to point out for those who don’t know what the elimination diet is briefly, my journey and start with wanting to do it, and some recipes that should put some of the worries of what you are going to eat to rest.
What is the Elimination Diet?
First off, it is not some notoriously sounding scheme to help you lose weight. Gasp!
Yes, losing weight might be a side effect, but that is not the focal point of this procedure or the main result.
The incentive of this diet is to find and discover any foods that cause sensitivities, irritation, sickness or any other discomfort that can come from food. By eliminating a list of foods from your regular diet for 5-6 weeks and then slowly reintroducing them one at a time and recording any symptoms that you may get.
It will help reduce any inflammation in the stomach, reduce symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can help clear your skin, reduce bloating and other symptoms related to your gastrointestinal system.
Once Upon a time…
The motivation for writing about this diet is that I personally have suffered from a lot of digestive and stomach problems that came no matter what I ate. I suffered from a lot of reflux, fatigue, headaches, bowel problems, stomach and back pain, and even some acne. I was constantly stressed, tired and sick from any food I ate. I was struggling to be optimistic about my health and fell into a hole that was hard to get out of. I was afraid to eat anything anywhere but always did anyways so I wouldn’t seem like a prude to the people who cooked for me, yet I always ended up getting sick. Food was one of the things I loved so much and that enveloped most of my work and social life, yet it was the largest factor that was making me sick and hurt the most.
It was during a very low point when I allowed myself to take a break from work and went to visit my family back in my hometown. My older sister, who is a registered nutritionist advised me to try the elimination diet to see if it really was all food that was making me sick. I readily agreed to try it because I tried a lot of other things to try to suppress the symptoms yet nothing worked entirely.
I had previously gone to the doctor with my complaints and was tested for celiac but was found normal. I was given an ultrasound for any hernias, I had blood work done for my liver, pancreas, and stomach, all which came back normal, I was also given acid reflux pills but nothing helped. This was the only thing that brought peace of mind and peace of stomach for me personally.
It was hard at first! It did seem restricting, but let me tell you something. When I first started following the diet and had a meal following the list it was the first time in over a year that I didn’t get sick after eating. The results were almost instantaneous! I was shocked and so relieved I cried. It was a feeling I had honestly forgotten, and that alone was the best motivation that I had when sticking to the list of foods.
Nutrition and health for your body and mind are super important to me. The physical stress was really damaging me mentally as well and so I wanted to find a way that would naturally help me fix this problem without a lot of pills or drugs.
I will also tell you something else. It will be annoying and inconvenient most times, that’s why it is good to be prepared before starting, with recipes and foods in your fridge that you can make and grab to eat because it will be a big change to what you are used to.
What are the YES and NO’s?
Elimination diets have simple rules, and the lists of foods are clear and easy to find if you have more questions.
This is close to the list of foods I followed. I did have a few other specific restrictions (Like apples and bananas) because my stomach was very sensitive, so if there is food on here that you know doesn’t cause any symptoms then, by all means, keep it!
Below I have listed foods that are considered safe to consume on this diet along with some, not limited to, examples belonging to that category.
- Vegetables (excluding nightshades) (Artichoke, Asparagus, Avocado, Bamboo shoots, Beets & beet tops, Bok choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chives, Cucumber, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mushroom, Okra, Onions, Sea Vegetables, Spinach, Squash, Sweet potato, Swiss chard, Watercress, Zucchini)
- Fruits (Apricots, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Cherries, Coconut, Figs, grapes, Huckleberries, Kiwi, Mangos, Melons, Nectarines, Papayas, Peaches, Pears, Prunes, Raspberries, Strawberries, watermelon)
- Rice, Quinoa (Pasta made from rice/quinoa. Check ingredients to avoid kinds of wheat and gluten)
- Turkey, chicken, lamb, cold water fish
- Coconut or rice milk
- Olive, flaxseed, coconut oils. (cold pressed)
- Nightshades (tomato, pepper, eggplant, potato, cayenne pepper, paprika)
- Beans, Lentils, Peas
- Wheat, Barley, Corn, Spelt, Rye, Oats
- Eggs, pork, shellfish, beef
- Butter, kinds of margarine, hydrogenated oils
- Processed foods (including meats, sugars, crackers, bread, juices, etc)
Before You Think “Yikes”
Hear me out (as much as you can while reading); Eating shouldn’t be painful, or uncomfortable don’t you agree? I would hope you would. It should be filled with the confidence of what you are eating you are going to be happy with, and that it won’t cause any physical or mental stress.
If you are having any kind of thoughts that you might have symptoms of bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, skin irritations, acid reflux, nausea, fatigue or other related symptoms after you eat maybe consider trying this procedure. ONLY AFTER YOU CONSULT A DOCTOR IF THE SYMPTOMS ARE SERIOUS.
Now I know the list of food you can’t eat is quite long and your brain might be thinking “I can’t think of anything to eat with that list! I’m going to starve!” There are actually plenty of foods. It is quite easy to substitute for classic recipes for the list of foods that you can eat.
If you have any serious digestive problems or other serious symptoms or pains please consult a doctor or certified nutritionist you trust if you wish to attempt this. I am not qualified to determine who should or shouldn’t follow this diet. Do not follow this if you are unsure in any way. These are based on my personal experiences with the diet, please do what works best for you under you or your nutritionists’ advice.
These are just rough ideas for recipes, I looked up recipes for more details surrounding these ideas I was given. Give yourself a variety and experiment with spices and different flavours.
Quinoa with berries/coconut milk
Sweet potato and veggie skillet
Lunch & Dinner Ideas
- Chicken/fish soups with lots of veggies, rice/quinoa, borscht, coconut curry soups, etc
- Salads (Load up on the protein and quinoa/brown rice, and don’t eat too much at once!)
- Lettuce wraps (fish, chicken, veggies, grains, olive oil and balsamic vinegar)
- Turmeric rice/quinoa (Cook grains with some chicken broth, coconut milk, and turmeric)
- Cut spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds, and fill with coconut milk, green onion, broccoli, salt/pepper, fish/chicken, and seasonings. Put tin foil moulds under to hold steady on a baking sheet, and bake until soft (375 for 45-60 mins)
- Sushi, As long as you make sure it’s SUPER simple, and no soy sauce
- Zucchini noodles with olive oil, avocado, and balsamic vinegar dressing
- Baked cabbage steaks (Cut big slices/wedges of a head of cabbage, rub with olive oil and season, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes)
- Simmer squash cubes in chicken broth, mash until creamy, add greens, leeks, celery, oregano, sage, and rosemary to make a sauce for rice, rice/quinoa pasta