One Week In: My Elimination Diet

My Elimination Diet: Part 3

I'm really not loving this diet. I've been cranky, I've had headaches, and I've caught myself grinding my teeth multiple times. I have cravings that rapid-cycle from one thing to the next. The food I'm eating rarely makes me feel full and satisfied.

But there is a silver lining - my inflammation is way down. I've lost several pounds. I can wear my wedding ring without my finger going numb, and my hair isn't falling out in clumps. My pain is down, especially in my hands, where I've had nerve compression. My hip, which still aches, isn't locking up on me, and I can go down stairs without that painful catch in my knee. I've even ridden my bike a little.

What that tells me is: something I've been eating is doing bad things to my body.

This is what the whole diet is about - figuring out the problem foods. The next step is to start re-introducing them so I can figure out which foods are the culprit.

As unpleasant as it is to cut ... well, most food ... out of your diet, this is something a lot of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome should probably try. And not just once.

We're sensitive to so many things (medications, smells, various elements of our environment) that it only stands to reason certain foods would bug us. A quirk of our illnesses is that they change quite a lot over time, making our sensitivities shift to different things. For instance, gluten used to make me narcoleptic (but didn't impact my pain and inflammation in any way that I could tell.) I went gluten free for a couple of years. Then, during a really stressful time, I cheated frequently, always telling myself I was going to pay for it. But the thing was, I didn't pay for it at all. I felt fine. The gluten sensitivity was gone - or, at the very least, it had changed. (We'll see whether gluten is the bad boy in my diet soon enough.)

Well before my gluten sensitivity reared it's head, I'd tried an elimination diet to see if it helped with my fibromyalgia. It didn't. I saw absolutely no change in symptoms during the elimination phase, or during re-introduction.

My, how things seem to have changed! And why shouldn't my reaction to food change? I'm eight years older. I've progressed further into perimenopause. I've gained multiple new diagnoses, including two autoimmune - and therefore inflammatory - diseases.

At one-quarter of the way through phase 1 of the diet, I can declare it a success. Now I just have to drag myself through the next three weeks of eating this way.

Planning for Phase 2

After the 30 days of very little food options, I'll start reintroducing a type of food every three days. Originally, I'd planned to start back on gluten first, because it's in so many things. However, that was before I realized that every salad dressing and every sauce that could help make this diet palatable has a base of either dairy or vinegar, and I can't have either. Also, I'm really missing the nightshade vegetables - including tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. And it doesn't do much good to add gluten when I can't have anything containing yeast or eggs!

I haven't decided for sure, but I'm thinking I'll reintroduce vinegar, eggs, yeast, gluten, dairy over the first 12 days of phase 2. Then I'll just have to see what I'm really dying for next. Probably nightshades.