The Answers to All My Problems? Adventures in the Elimination Diet

Over the past fifteen plus years, I can’t remember a single day that I woke up energetic.

I’m sure it happened… once or twice, but I can’t remember it.

There’s one thing to not being a morning person, but it’s another thing to be in a constant state of fatigue.

elimination diet

Then, a few weeks ago, I took J to see an allergist. Earlier in the year he’d been having some skin reactions to strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, papaya and the like. Thankfully nothing was affecting his breathing, so I wasn’t super concerned. We booked him in to see an allergist and four months later we got our appointment.

The thing is… by this time, all the reactions had disappeared. I asked the doctor why that could possibly be?

He took in my face, my arms, my body. “I hate to tell you, Mom, but this probably originated with you.”

Blank stare of confusion. “I don’t have any allergies. I’ve had an allergy test, and nothing came back positive.”

The doctor took a deep breath.

“Your eczema, how long have you had it?”

“As long as I can remember, why?”

“Fatigue? Any thyroid issues?” Check, check.

“Mood disorders? Brain fog?” You mean me remembering NOTHING these days isn’t just Mommy brain? Check, check.

Turns out, all of these issues likely come down to a food intolerance, an allergy on a cellular level. Could be dairy, gluten or a combination thereof.

And then I told this doctor about how my lipase levels (a digestive enzyme released by the pancreas) are four times what a person’s should be. My family doctor randomly screened for this years ago, and when we realized it was extremely high, he sent me to a gastroenterologist. The GI specialist then sent me for an MRI and a CT scan.

For one of the exams, I remember clearly them injecting the contrast dye into my veins. I’d been warned that it would be like a wooshing feeling, and I’d have the sensation of needing to pee. What I didn’t realize was that the woosh would go around my brain. For me, that was terrifying. I’ve always felt like my head and my body were separate, so feeling out of control in my head was unnerving, and I began to silently cry. Pretty sure I freaked out the lab tech with my contrast dye tears.

After all of those exams and blood work, the GI came back with “stress”. Stress was the reason for my issues and if I could resolve my stress I’d be fine.

Thanks.

For nothing.

And so, I pushed the concept of lipase to the back of my mind, figuring there was little more I could do about the stress in my life other than my current attempts at counselling and managing stress as best I could. Life has an inherent level of stress, particularly early on in your career, buying your first house, parents getting divorced and having a new baby. Such is life.

Back to my baby’s allergy doctor.

My eyes were watering. “You mean, all of these issues I’ve had for years, the chronic fatigue, the skin that no cream will resolve (I’ve spent hundreds on this, believe me), my thyroid, my depression… they could be rooted in my diet?”

He nodded.

“Why is it that no doctor has EVER talked to me about this before?” I was practically wailing, nearly in tears that I could finally have a resolution to a lifetime of issues.

“They’re not taught nutrition. It’s a shame,” he said. “I’m a big believer in nutrition being our first line of medicine. Pharmaceuticals should be the last resort.”

How different this doctor was to the GI doctor who didn’t once suggest I alter my diet. Nutrition never even came up, and he was a specialist.

So here I am, about to embark on an elimination diet. For 23 days, my diet will consist of:

  • rice
  • fish, turkey, lamb
  • olive oil
  • veggies (no tomatoes,potatoes or eggplant)
  • fruit (no citrus)

No dairy, no beef or chicken, no legumes, no nuts and seed, no sugar, no CAFFEINE (see where my true love lies)… lots of no’s. The idea is to reset my digestive system. To give it time to heal and let the antibodies turn over. Then I can begin reintroducing things one by one, taking photos of my face and skin as I go, monitoring my fatigue, etc.

It has occurred to me that during my hubby and I’s three months in Southeast Asia, this was pretty much what my diet looked like (plus coffee) and I don’t actually remember my skin having any issues. I look back on pictures of myself in Asia and my skin looks pretty clear. My head was pretty clear. And my fatigue was… I think it was less? It’s so hard to remember when you weren’t screening your feelings for that.

Samoeng Loop

It’s funny, I’ve said so many times that I would do anything to feel energetic. Yet, when I was confronted with the elimination diet, I found my inner voice whining but it sounds too hard…

In speaking with my chiropractor today, she’s also been through this. She was sick all throughout her youth, and discovered her gluten intolerance at 27 through the elimination diet. Now, she lives a paleo lifestyle and says she couldn’t believe that life could feel so good. She’s energetic, feels great and I’ve never met such a positive person. The book she swears by, which I want to share with you guys, is called Practical Paleo.

I went and picked up a copy and I see why she loves it. It talks a lot about the why, has handy quick guides, tons of recipes and meal plans for all different elements from weight loss to energy, digestive issues to thyroid health and more.

So, I’m going to stick out the 23 days. It’s going to be hard, but I’m reminding myself what’s on the other side. Health. Energy. Vitality. All the things that I crave. I just need to overcome my craving for double caramel popcorn in the meantime.

My question for you, dear readers, is whether you’ve had any issues with your fatigue, mental health, thyroid or skin, and whether you’ve related that back to your diet? Have certain experiments with your nutrition made a difference? Have you tried Paleo? What do you do to keep your energy strong? Please share in the comments so that we can all benefit!

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8 Responses to The Answers to All My Problems? Adventures in the Elimination Diet

  1. Dezarae August 9, 2017 at 8:20 pm #

    I’ve been having digestive issues for years and varied with sensativities like in high school I couldn’t drink milk or yogurt, now I can drink 1% but still get sickish off 2 % and similar situations with different foods at different times. The doctor just finally sent me for gluten, lactose and other things

    • Victoria Smith August 10, 2017 at 5:44 am #

      It’s so bizarre that they take this long to get back to people on things. Fingers crossed you feel better soon.

  2. Elisa August 9, 2017 at 10:47 pm #

    Hey Victoria,

    I received a similar diagnosis in March. Since 2013 I have suffered from multiple sinus infections every year and it seemed like everything I did to prevent another one did nothing and I grew more and more susceptible. I also noticed my general allergy symptoms were getting worse. I haven’t been as sick as I was in 2015/16 since I was little.

    My doctor sent me to an ear/nose/throat doctor last year after I told her how many times I dragged myself to the walk-in close to me for antibiotics. He sent me to an allergist after our followup showed that the meds he gave me hadn’t relieved all of my symptoms. Turns out that I’m not allergic to one thing. Not one. So the allergist and I had a long conversation about enzymes and proteins and how he thinks all of my allergy symptoms are my body trying to tell me that it can’t deal with something I’m eating.

    As he talked about symptoms (random hive breakouts for years, skin and eye itching if I didn’t take antihistamines) and triggers (smoke, chemicals) and family history (the person who likely passed this awfulness on to me) so many things clicked.

    What you’ve mentioned about mood issues, chronic fatigue, and more skin symptoms has opened my eyes even wider.

    I have yet to change my diet and figure out what the issue is. Honestly, I’m kind of terrified to find out. And it seems like a ton of work. I’m looking forward to following your journey–maybe it’ll get me in gear!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Victoria Smith August 10, 2017 at 5:43 am #

      It’s not going to be easy, but I bet we can both do it. I’m just trying to keep in mind that life could feel 10x better on the other end. Finishing off a few days of the gluten-free menu I had planned, then on Saturday I’ll be going full-on elimination diet (once I’ve been grocery shopping!). Giving up coffee… that’s gonna sting.

  3. Marlene August 10, 2017 at 8:51 am #

    Same same and same my dear. Be prepared to feel like a new amazing you. You can do this!! Love you

    • Victoria Smith August 14, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

      This gives me hope! Glad to hear that you’re feeling amazing. We need to catch up soon 🙂

  4. Sabina August 20, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

    Oh girl we have to talk. I have been on similar journey which I think I have mentioned before. For me what is showing up is hives. Pain in my arse, well mostly on my arse…lol. On and off since 2014 my body has betrayed me…or has it…I am beginning to see this as a blessing in disguse as I would have not explored alternatives in improving my health. I have been tested for celiac 3 times, h pylori twice or maybe 3 times, I have had allergy tests, blood tests for all the autioimmune dieases. I have tried the candida diet at one point. Over these past years I have read a number of articles, and I truly believe to some degree some dieases and cause of allergies is rooted by an unhealthy gut. I am currently read or rather was reading but need to finish, the book is called Gutbliss by Robynne Chutkan. The author is the founder of the Digestive Center for Women.

    My hives have returned since the end of May. So basically I am going through the whole process again. I am trying to balance the medical route and the natural. I am working with a Naturopathic Doctor. I am currenty taking supplements, try to avoid wheat, cow’s dairy, and refined sugar. And drink 2 L of water a day.

    Hang in there, it is definitely a journey.

    • Victoria Smith August 21, 2017 at 4:53 am #

      Crazy, hey? The more I dive into this, the more it seems like it really could be the root of so many peoples’ different issues. You are what you eat, I guess. Will definitely check out that book. Need this gut to get back to a nice healthy neutral!

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