Well it happened . . . I finished the Elimination Diet.
It was hard to do. Boy was it hard to do. I wasn't even sure if I would actually be able to get through the first few weeks. But I did. And I'm glad it's over.
What did I learn from putting myself through this food torture?
Well quite a bit actually.
First of all, I learned how to realize what is actually in the food that I eat. I was never the type of person to read the ingredients list on the label of something, but now I find myself doing this on a regular basis. If I don't understand what the ingredients are, (or if I can't pronounce them for that matter) I'm not interested. Well . . . with the exception of soda. I still enjoy soda. But that is more of a treat than anything.
It's difficult to know exactly what is in your food when you shop down the isles in the grocery store. Since I started this diet I've done less shopping in those isles. Unless I'm getting something specific like spices, flour, etc., I just avoid those isles completely.
Obviously using fresh ingredients has become key. Along with this interest in what is in my food, I now have the desire to grow my own herbs. Those herbs are still a-growin' and I absolutely LOVE when I get a chance to use them in my recipes. There's nothing better than knowing that I grew these herbs. It makes me feel great.
Along with the ingredients in my food, I'm now more interested in the ingredients in the rest of the products I use on a daily basis. Things like making my own laundry soap, using all organic cleaning products (and cleaning with vinegar for that matter). I even got a kick out of the fact that the nail polish I bought the other day was vegan. This whole idea of awareness has put everything in perspective and I'm into it.
Now the big question is . . . from doing this diet, did I find any foods that are "triggers" for my arthritis pain?
Well, prior to the final weeks of the diet I was doing pretty well. I definitely felt better because I was eating better. I wasn't eating "bad foods" and my diet was processed-food-free. I had been on the diet for weeks so my body was cleansed of all those bad foods and I think anytime your body gets a chance to recuperate it will thank you.
It wasn't until the end of the diet, when I added in dairy, that I noticed a reaction. At first I wasn't sure because I would only have small amounts of dairy, but once I started to really have more, it was apparent. I added in organic, non-fat milk, which I was drinking by the big glass-full.
I had also added a small amount of butter, some yogurt, and light cheese. It wasn't long after I added dairy to my diet that the achy joint pain came. I wasn't having bad swelling, but the pain was sufficient enough for me to notice and need to take it easy. And it was only joint pain, no stomach pain associated with lactose intolerance.
After we noticed this, I took some time off of dairy before I had it again. The second time around proved my earlier suspicions. There was definite joint pain. Uh oh. I always drink a glass of milk at night when I take my medicine before going to bed. It's just how I do it. (Plus I never liked taking my medicine with water. That's something I had to get used to with this diet.)
I have always been worried about calcium. Even with taking calcium supplements, I have been warned by my doctor that I have a high chance of developing osteoporosis and I shouldn't let go of dairy. (Even when I started eating Paleo I continued with a little diary.) I don't eat a ton of dairy to begin with, but cutting it out completely? I dunno . . .
We will see what happens with that. I will do my best to avoid it if I can, but otherwise I think a little dairy won't kill me.
Almond milk is pretty good . . .
But I can't get rid of gelato. Ice cream. Cheesecake. Crème brûlée! All the best desserts have dairy! I can't get rid of those. I'll just have to suck it up!
As far as the rest of the "challenge" foods, I had no negative reaction to them. Gluten was fine, I hate a whole loaf of sour dough bread and survived.
Eggs were delicious and pain free. Everything else checked out.
So there you have it. I finally finished. Now what?
It's a little weird to go back to eating without my list of foods each week, but there are specifics that we've definitely kept with us. Mitch still eats quinoa and fruit for breakfast, and I can't get enough of roasted sweet potatoes. We also have tried out recipes that I'm not sure if we would have made before. It got me to go outside my usual dinner ideas and try out new things. Now I love it! It's a challenge and a surprise and some of my new favorite dishes are results of hunted-down recipes.
With all of the food we have eaten in the last few months, we're definitely ready to get back to our Paleo-based diet. With our heightened awareness of food, and a million new recipes, we agree that we'll try to be even stricter and keep ourselves as healthy as possible. Yay healthy foods!
If you have any further questions about the Elimination Diet and my journey to get through it, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com or at my facebook page.