Getting Real: Elimination Diets and How It Saved My Health

Around here you might have noticed a common and subliminal thread. There are rarely, if ever, recipes with egg yolk, avocado, banana, pork, or beef. There’s a good reason for this. Today I decided it was time to talk about it and explain (especially for those of you that love a good steak). It’s time to get real. I’ll be honest, I’m hesitant to share this one. While it’s just food, I want to be clear. This has been my story and my personal journey. The blog won’t become a site where everything is Whole30, Paleo, dairy free, or gluten free. That’s not my focus and not something I want to start. There’s plenty of food bloggers who are absolutely rocking that genre and have it covered.

How It All Began

When I was in high school I started to get really sick. Missing weeks of school at a time, my body was really struggling to keep up with the demand. My diagnoses ranged from everything you could imagine, just shy of Crohn’s disease. (Imagine everything other than Chrone’s in the GI spectrum and you’ll get a good picture of my daily life.) At the age of 15, I quickly learned that I was no longer invincible. Pain management was apart of my daily life. It wasn’t uncommon to hold onto walls to get to the bathroom and live on the couch in debilitating pain. A few months later I would learn that medicine, doctors, and hospitals were apart of my life in a big way to regain a sense of normalcy. Strict diets were order and I quickly learned that the junk food filled diet of a teenager would no longer work.

Adulthood and Growing Wise

As I grew into adulthood, flare ups, particularly with the stress of college and a subsequent cancer scare, brought me back to the same questions. It seemed that my body wasn’t able to keep up with the demands I placed on it. As I managed my home and started buying groceries on my own, I learned that my health was solely in my hands. (There’s a shift that happens when you start cooking for yourself and buying your groceries.) The result? I started eliminating food from my diet. As I write this, it seems odd to talk about something as there are many, many opinions around elimination diets in general. What do I hope to do? To let you know that it is perfectly okay to explore food and figure out your optimum health. How I wished doctors had worked with me and explored elimination diets as a solution, rather than offering pills and pain management solutions.

What did I start to do? Any time I would have a reaction to food, I would choose to remove it from my diet. This meant some strong sacrifices and learning what worked and what didn’t. Over the years, within the food industry you will notice trends. Certain ingredients become wildly popular and if I’m honest it has made eating out difficult. After a bit of research, I found common threads among the foods that can quickly cause flare-ups. For me, it was an edible latex allergy. What does this mean? It means no avocado or banana. My body struggles to digest things like red meat, beef and pork. Egg yolks on their own can cause major problems. (Yes, this means I avoid hipster breakfast spots always.) My diet needs a blend of both soluble and insoluble fibers, nutrient rich, with the least additives possible. 

I’ve learned I’m not alone. I learned that others choose to eat clean and honor the messages their bodies send them. For most of us, it simply means that we have chosen what works for us and what doesn’t. Where I now live, elimination diets are incredibly common and health is a higher priority. Fast food means thai takeout or a famed burrito bowl with organic ingredients. 

The results?

I’ve been able to maintain my weight for years (no huge fluctuation on the scale is always a win in my book). I now only take a multivitamin and get my nutrition through food. That’s right, no medication and no subsequent doctor visits. There are no days living on the couch and pain management isn’t an issue. I look at my life and health issues from a decade ago and it seems like I’m looking at a shell that’s faintly recognizable.

Because really it’s more than food.

Food is a means of connection. More than sustenance and nutrition, it offers an equalizer and gathering point with others. When someone comes to my table, they are invited to commonality, to hospitality, and an irrevocable sense of dwell. Strangers become friends, differences frequently fall, and experiences are shared. Whether it’s a bowl of butternut squash chili or a whole30 three course meal, a stage is set of both abundance and deliberate simplicity. Is there anything more lovely than slowing down and sharing a meal? Think of any amazing gathering, social setting, or party. People talk about the food. Where I live dinner parties are common and we’ve learned how to be creative with amazing dishes and linger around a table for hours. It’s easy to have a dinner party with multiple elimination diets present. It’s pushed the boundaries both of what I’m able to do and stretched me creatively. (Dairy-free, gluten-free, plus my list is typically present.) Dishes that highlight seasonal produce, herbs, and phenomenal sauces become the anchor points to a delicious meal.


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