My Journey into the World of Elimination Diets (2012)

Elimination DietI have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and I’ve tried various treatments over the years to try to improve my health. Some have definitely helped me a lot (antibiotics and antivirals) and I am grateful to all my doctors for their care.

One treatment that I wanted to try, based on some research and books I had read, was eliminating gluten. I did not have significant GI issues as part of my CFS and I did not have Celiac disease, but I figured it couldn’t hurt me to give up gluten. So, in October 2012, I went off gluten.

Then in November 2012 I thought that if gluten could be causing me a problem, then so could any of the top allergens. So, for that month I went off gluten, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, and soy. I also went off citrus, chocolate, corn, sesame, foods in the nightshade family, legumes and yeast for good measure.

By this time I had purchased and read a couple of books that I found very helpful. Those books are Food Allergies and Food Intolerance by Jonathan Brostoff and Dealing with Food Allergies by Janice Vickerstaff Joneja. I went against the advice to not start an elimination diet during a festive season, and started a few foods elimination diet in December despite it being the month of all four of my kids’ birthdays and Christmas.

I chose to eat turkey, gluten free grains (rice, amaranth, quinoa, tapioca and millet–which smells like birdseed while it’s cooking—because it is, technically, bird seed), lettuce, pears and pear juice, yams and sweet potatoes (really they are all sweet potatoes in our country but the stores label the orange ones as yams), avocados, olive oil and some cooked winter and summer squash. I also tried some well cooked carrots and broccoli.

Obviously, if you want to try an elimination diet, read lots about it and talk with your health care providers. My background is nutrition and I worked as a registered dietitian for several years so I had a decent idea how to go about this. Plus, I loved to cook and experiment with food so I saw this as an exciting challenge.

Three weeks into the elimination diet I felt different. Just more “well.” I wasn’t sure if it was the diet or a change in my medication four months earlier (it can take that long to see a difference), but I was intrigued that it could be diet, and at any rate, I was grateful that there seemed to be some improvement in my health.

We went to a restaurant that had peanuts on the tables for people to eat. Peanut shells were on the floor and peanut dust was everywhere. I didn’t eat any peanuts, but by the end of our time in that restaurant, my nose was irritated. I was surprised. The next day, I felt horrible and that surprised me even more! I was shocked that breathing peanut dust could possibly be the cause of my downturn! (Technically this happened on January 3, 2013, but we were still on our year end family vacation, which is why I am including it in 2012….)

And so, when I visited my doctor a few days later I stated that I needed more time to figure out whether or not food intolerance/sensitivity was playing a role in my illness. He graciously allowed me more time and so I entered 2013 still on an elimination diet.

(For a summary of 2013, read this post.)