The Top 10 Lessons Learned (from my elimination diet)
I have struggled with autoimmune disease for years, but over the past year, have had significant symptoms that have decreased my quality of life. I started following a gluten and dairy free diet in May 2017 and saw some great results. Other things I added to my routine included frequent yoga, Young Living essential oils, massage, Young Living supplements (Omegagize3, Ningxia Red, and Life 9 Probiotic), and L-glutamine. All these combined have provided some relief, however I felt that things could be perfected. I decided to go to the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and was promptly told that I needed to go on an elimination diet for six weeks.
I knew it was coming, but to see it on paper was kind of daunting. Being a registered dietitian nutritionist, you would think it would be an easy transition for me. Gluten and dairy-free is one thing, but further eliminating:
seemed like a mountain I didn’t want to climb! I have always sort of had an overall healthy eating plan, but liked to indulge in dairy free ice cream, tortilla chips and salsa, daily coffee with sugar free hot chocolate, diet Coke, sugar free flavor packets for my water, gluten free bread, dairy free yogurt, gluten free pizza and cereal. But, seeing the list of foods I couldn’t have on paper made me realize that these foods may be affecting my quality of life and so they must go for now. I had a little heart to heart with myself and had to really examine what I had been eating and drinking that wasn’t helping me feel better. After all, if I’m doing everything else to feel better, i.e. exercising, yoga, sleeping well, managing my stress, and taking supplements, then why not try to perfect my nutrition?
So, a little over 6 weeks ago, I went cold turkey into my elimination diet. The team at Cleveland recommended I ease my way into it since Thanksgiving was coming up, but for me, getting started was more important. I wanted to see how I would feel and also, I wanted to see if I could be successful. The first week was tough, I didn’t feel well and felt like it wasn’t going to get better. But, I kept going and here’s what I’ve learned:
I don’t feel as hungry between meals. Before my elimination diet, I felt hungry most of the time and was always searching for something low in calories to snack on. My sense of hunger has changed for the better and I feel more satiated.
I can eat fat and not get fat! I have had to cut out vegetable oils and butter, but I am allowed to have healthy fat with every meal (coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, nut butter). And I’ve actually lost about 8 lbs overall.
Reading food labels is EYE OPENING. As a dietitian, I have always looked at labels, but with an elimination diet, you have to look very closely at each ingredient. The amount of junk that is being put into our food supply is SHOCKING.
Eating healthy food is empowering, not limiting! In the beginning, I was thinking I would feel limited in food selection and taste. But, the opposite is true. I have done some research and discovered an entire selection of food that I never knew existed.
Eating out is impossible on an elimination diet (at least where I live). I haven’t eaten out a single time since starting this plan and I haven’t missed it.
An elimination diet is like having another full-time job. I have to pack breakfast, lunch and snacks for work every day. I have to plan my own meals for family dinners; I have to make sure I have an appropriate snack option if away from home. I make dinner every day after work.
Support is crucial to success. I can’t imagine doing this without a support system. My husband has been so sweet to help me cook, look at labels, and he doesn’t eat my favorite foods like tortilla chips and salsa in front of me.
There’s always an alternative. All favorite foods have a healthy alternative. I have found so many awesome recipes and tried so many great tasting foods that I wouldn’t have even thought of without going through this process.
I can do anything. I feel pretty tough when it comes to working out, but food has always been a challenge for me. This elimination diet has shown me that I am capable of anything, I control the food, the food doesn’t control me.
It works. I have to be honest when I say that I was skeptical about eliminating all those foods in addition to the gluten and dairy. But, it actually works. When you get rid of those foods, your body has a chance to repair itself and work the way it was intended.
The 6 weeks is over and I do feel much better. I can start adding foods back into my diet one by one now, but I’m not sure I want to add all of those things back in now that I’ve successfully eliminated them. I will definitely continue to stay away from all artificial sweeteners, soda, diet soda, gluten, dairy, and soy. As for the others, I may try to see how my body reacts. In the end, the food is just not worth it if it makes me feel bad physically.
If you're struggling with your weight, autoimmune disease, chronic illness, or poor quality of life, contact me. I can help create an overall healthy lifestyle plan that will improve your daily life! If you're interested in learning more about Young Living Essential Oils and Supplements and how they can be used to support total body wellness, let me know! Better Nutrition = Better Quality of Life!!