rabbit rabbit - happy august! here is how i got through a 3 week elimination diet.
my doctor suggested i follow the Institute for Functional Medicine elimination diet for a few weeks and here is how i did it. sticking with this plan has its challenges (particularly if you are traveling or eating at a restaurant), but i did it for the full three weeks and i must say i am feeling fresh as a daisy!
so the first big hurdle was no caffeine - gasp!
i wasn't sure how i would fare without my morning coffee, but after a few days of legit headaches, i felt good again. i then realized it was the ritual i was missing, so i created a new one: warm almond milk with a little maple syrup and chai spices (sans the black tea, which also has caffeine). i even bought a frother to make it feel more special, which did the trick!
now ... what to eat?! i found keep it simple, but not boring was best
the first day i was just staring at the list (no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, no peanuts) asking myself how am i going to do this and what am i going to eat! then i thought about it and broke it down to something really simple - stop looking at what you can't eat and focus on what you can - delicious, nutritious fresh whole foods. farmers market - here i come!
i am one of those people that can eat just about the same thing every day. so, when i found something that i liked, i would put it on repeat but switch it up a bit with the spices, fruits or veggies that i used.
- this became my go-to breakfast: overnight oats, coconut yogurt, berries and i would toss on some sunflower and pumpkin seeds - i need crunch! and i would make a green juice with whatever i had in the fridge - coconut water, pea protein, spinach, kale, cucumbers, herbs, ginger, flax, watermelon, pineapple… tip: i never had coconut yogurt before and it took a few tries to find one i liked, i can confidently say do not waste your time on anything but this cocojune - the unsweetened vanilla or plain are awesome!
- lunch was all about getting in lots of greens and some protein. i loaded up on all the good stuff and washed, chopped and stored it in these glass containers so it was easy to just grab and dump in a bowl and then add some legumes or grilled chicken. i lean more vegetarian and found that getting in protein was easy enough with beans, avocado, peas. or I would make a smoothie with greens, fruit and pea protein powder.
- i would have a little snack later in the day - some nuts, almond butter with apples or celery.
- dinner was similar to lunch, but i like to eat warm things for dinner, so i would fill a bowl with quinoa, seasoned roasted veggies and top with air fryer crispy chickpeas or sweet potatoes - they are the best for adding the crunch!!
how is this possible when traveling or eating at restaurants?
i am not going to lie, this was the hardest part. but i did go to two music festivals, went on a girls trip, and had plenty of nights at restaurants without slipping up, but it took some advanced planning!
- i made small containers of fruit and veggies, nuts, rice crackers (i was allowed rice on my diet) and these bare dried apples saved me! this way no matter where i was going, i would grab a couple things to have on hand in case i couldn't find a good option.
- i looked at menus before i got to the restaurant, so i would know what to order. it's always good to look at the “sides” section - i created a lot of plates that way with a potato, grilled veggies or chicken. one restaurant even deconstructed a turkey avocado club for me and it was so delicious!
- i brought rice crackers and veggies with me to a mexican restaurant so i could still enjoy the salsa and guac.
- i knew the biggest challenge was going to be at the music festivals, so i ate really well before i went and brought a couple snacks.
hydrate! hydrate! hydrate!
despite knowing, we are supposed to drink a lot of water, i could never commit. i subscribed to the theory that if i drank more water, i would constantly be annoyed by the need to take bathroom breaks. that all changed last month; i consumed easily 80 ounces of water daily without any burden at all!
i would fill a big pitcher with filtered water and toss in fruits, herbs, ginger (i went full mixologist with my blends - watermelon, lime, cucumber, mint & ginger is my favorite combo).
my skin looks clearer and feels softer, i'm not craving snacks, and it definitely helped in the plumbing department;)
find your mocktail of choice!
speaking of hydration, i was definitely missing a little cocktail at night, so i went on a hunt for something that would taste good and check all the boxes.
meet my paloma mocktail:
2 oz little saints St Mexcal
6 oz hella bitters & soda grapefruit
fresh lime juice
enjoy in a tall glass over ice
if i can do it, so can you!
i am really proud of myself for rising to the challenge and sticking with this diet. that is not typically how i roll! but i approached it differently than i had with other “diets”. i envisioned myself feeling better over losing weight, having more energy over fitting in a smaller size. and the crazy part is, i did lose some weight and fit a little differently in my clothes.
most importantly, i feel healthier; less bloated, better sleeps, clear headed, more energetic and less dizzy spells, which was a big motivator for me. food really is medicine!
i am hooked on this feeling and don't want to let it go, so while i will be reintroducing foods back into my diet, i will be doing so with a lot more thought and care.
obviously this diet is restrictive and i do not recommend starting this unless you have discussed it with your doctor, as they provide a guideline that is unique to each patient.