It's been over two years since my elimination diet, and I want to share what I learned through that experience.
Starting in late 2017 and throughout 2018, I felt like I was constantly getting sick. Anytime I caught a cold, I’d start to get better and a few days later catch another cold. I also struggled with major fatigue, a crazy sinus infection that caused horrible vertigo for about 5 months, and continuously felt like I was on the mend. My body was sending some VERY clear signals that something wasn’t right.
During this time, I learned more and more about the importance of gut health. I remember when I first put together:
Now don’t get me wrong – there are LOTS of things that impact your immune system and your gut health, but I had already been interested in taking steps to explore potential food sensitivities. I do want to mention that I am NOT a doctor – I’m not making any medical claims. I am only sharing my experience.
Long story short, I ended up trying out the at-home food sensitivity test from a company called EverlyWell. My results showed that I reacted to 33 of the 96 foods they tested. While I know there’s some debate about the accuracy or effectiveness of these sorts of tests, I decided to use these results as a starting point.
I removed all 33 of those foods from my diet for 30 days – this included foods like blueberries, garlic, gluten, dairy, and black pepper. I knew removing these foods was going to be challenging, but the fact that I was traveling for work every week added an extra level of complexity.
Let’s move into where I’m at over two years later. While I’ve ended up keeping many of the “reactive” foods in my diet, I try not to eat them all the time or in large quantities. I feel like I’m able to make more balanced and informed food choices because of my elimination diet experience. For instance, garlic was on my list of reactive foods, and I found that too much garlic throws off my digestion. However, garlic is in all sorts of meals and it can be pretty tasty. Having it in small quantities doesn’t give me any noticeable issues, but I know there’s a chance that my gut may still react negatively to it. When I eat something with garlic in it, or anything I found I was reactive to, I try to be more mindful of the other foods I’m eating that day and try to avoid eating additional foods that will aggravate my gut.
Were there any foods I decided to completely eliminate? YES. To my surprise, I’ve eliminated all foods with gluten. When I first started this journey, I was desperately holding onto gluten – I’ve always loved bread, pasta, and pretty much all baked goods. Foods with gluten were what I craved most the first week of my elimination diet. I finally got used to life without gluten. When I tried reintroducing gluten, I had horrible brain fog and could barely stay awake during the day. Because it made me feel so awful, I decided to remove it completely from my diet moving forward. The crazy thing is I don’t crave it at all anymore, and I think a big reason is because I know how it makes me feel.
What are some of the things I’ve learned through this experience? There are 2 key points I want to call out:
I'm happy to report that my immune system is SO much stronger than it was a few years ago. I also have a much stronger relationship with my body. I'm working with my body rather than against it.