What Passed and What Did Not 😉
The somewhat nitty-gritty on how the February food reintroductions went
If you’re here, it means you’re probably interested in more details on my experience reintroducing foods after a 2+ week elimination diet. One thing I tried to do throughout the month was to eat more mindfully and chew thoroughly (as I sometimes wonder if I’m so busy distractedly stuffing my face, that I don’t finish chewing before swallowing and that this may be the source of some of my stomach discomfort).
In my initial pledge post, I detailed my plan for when I was going to reintroduce which foods. Some of the results surprised me. Some of them are still not totally clear to me. Here is how it went and what I’m thinking about with respect to each food type right now.
Non-Gluten Grains (reintroduced starting February 15):
Poor non-gluten grains. I did not do them justice. This self-proclaimed kitchen clutz totally botched things at the onset of reintroducing non-gluten grains. I thought I was being smart (never a good sign – haha!). I found a recipe online for overnight oats. It met my requirements: all the ingredients were within my diet at that time and it was dead simple. Where I flubbed up, was not realizing that “old-fashioned oats” is another word for “rolled oats” (I assumed it meant steel cut oats, since in my mind it makes more sense to call them old-fashioned, #SarahLogic). The next morning I excitedly took my little mason jar out of the fridge and dug-in. I thought it seemed a bit…. tough, but I ate it none-the-less. I started wondering, then Googling, and sure enough, that’s when I realized the error of my ways. Let’s just say, that I believe this is the main reason why non-gluten grains did not ‘pass’ (ahem), thankfully I was able to use some coffee* for medicinal purposes to get things back on track.
In addition to granola and some overnight oats using the proper oats, I also tried some quinoa in a couple recipes. During the couple days that I reintroduced these grains, I noticed that my energy was lower and I just felt a big foggier with my thinking (nothing crazy, but just off compared to how I had been feeling).
All things considered, I (disappointedly) decided to remove gluten-free grains for another month or so and then I will try them again. Next time I will try not to set them up for failure. I cut them out early so I would have a full 48 hours to recover before reintroducing dairy.
Dairy (reintroduced starting February 18):
I was nervous about reintroducing dairy, as I have read that many people notice their skin clears up when they remove dairy from their diets and I had definitely noticed an improvement in my skin since eliminating it (and many other things) from my diet.
To be honest, I’m not totally sure where I stand with dairy. I have kept it in since reintroducing it and I was careful to only reintroduce high-quality dairy products (e.g., grass-fed and/or organic). I haven’t gone back to dairy for everything (i.e., I have continued to use almond milk instead of dairy milk for certain things) but I have probably had at least one serving of dairy nearly every day since the 18th.
With respect to my skin: it’s difficult to tell for sure. I’ve possibly had a little more (very mild) breakouts than when I was off of it completely. Hard to know if this is the dairy or something else. I do wonder if the quality of the dairy has anything to do with it.
If I’m being completely honest with myself, I think I have noticed more gassiness/bloating since reintroducing it (sorry, I did warn you this was the nitty-gritty… it could be worse). I plan to use up what I have on hand and then try eliminating it again, while keeping everything else the same, to see if I notice any improvement. The good news is, as part of the elimination process I discovered that Silk’s unsweetened coconut yogurt is actually pretty tasty, especially if you add some berries or nuts or something, but it’s still not as to-die-for as my beloved Tree Island yogurt (possibly my main reason for hoping I can eat dairy in the future).
Nightshade Vegetables (reintroduced starting February 21):
This was a food type that I was pretty sure would be okay and I am happy to report that I didn’t notice any change in how I felt after reintroducing nightshades (i.e., tomatoes and peppers) *happy dance*. I had heard that nightshades are inflammatory and, as such, something to avoid if you’re concerned about autoimmunity (inflammatory) conditions. It seems, however, that this may just be a rumour (or that evidence is lacking at this time to say for sure). Either way, I’m happy to have them back in my diet. They add so much colour and flavour to salads (and I’ve always LOVED tomatoes). 😀
Planned Exceptions (February 22 and 24th):
In my initial pledge post and mid-month update, I mentioned a couple of planned exceptions. The first one was a Chinese New Year dinner, organized by my neighbour, which took place at a local Chinese food restaurant. I knew that it would be impossible to follow my diet there but I also know myself well enough to know that if I were to stop myself from participating in special events such as this, that I will not be able to stick with my diet for the long haul.
As expected, I didn’t know all the ingredients of what I ate that night. I didn’t feel too bad immediately afterwards, but I did find I had pain on the front and back of my chest that was different to any of the digestive issues I had encountered at other times during the month. The next morning, during my 5-minute yoga practice, I also noticed that I was quite congested although I felt well enough otherwise and it didn’t linger all day.
The other exception I had planned for was the food at my friends’ wedding celebration (the alcohol report is below). The good news is the appies they served, as far as I could tell, all appeared to fit within my diet at that time (i.e., veggies, protein, and fruit; no obvious gluten or grains).
Alcohol (not a food group, I know; reintroduced February 24):
Alcohol, oh alcohol… let’s be honest, does it ever make you feel great the next day? I don’t drink that often, especially lately, perhaps only once or twice a month at most. Over the years I’ve noticed that my mood quite often dips in the day(s) following alcohol consumption and I have the impression that this is maybe something that runs in my family (at least for some family members).
After a month of feeling fantastic, I did observe a stark contrast in my mood after the 24th. I can’t help but wonder if it’s all relative. For instance, say in the past, on a scale of 1 to 10, my average day was a 6 and a day after some drinks might have been a 3; lately, my average day has been an 8 or 9, making the drop to the 3-day feel that much worse. I don’t know… it’s just a theory. Since I have enjoyed feeling so great, I suspect I will be motivated to drink even less.
Legumes (reintroduced starting February 27):
I’m not someone who has ever eaten a lot of legumes, so this was a bit of a funny one to (re)introduce. Honestly, all I have reintroduced is lentils because that is all I had on hand for ingredients and recipes. So far so good. I haven’t noticed any change in how I felt since reintroducing them. I will try to eat some other legumes in the near future and will pay attention to how it goes.
Where to from here [revised March 11th]:
I wrote this blog post on March 1st, however, I didn’t publish it until March 11th. I tried to continue with my-diet by keeping out non-gluten grains for a while longer and re-eliminating dairy to test it again, however, due to a change in my typical routine (i.e., eating out more than usual), it has been harder to do than I thought. Since I will be going to Mexico soon, I have decided to allow limited non-gluten grains and dairy in my diet (to simplify things) until I return home (i.e., I won’t go out of my way to eat these foods, but if it is part of a dish that otherwise fits my-diet, then I will allow it, as I’m not sure how much control I’ll have over what I’ll be eating while I’m away). Once I get home, I will go back to no grains or dairy at all for 2-4 weeks (depending on how things go) and then I will try them again. When I reintroduce each of those food types, I will space them apart further and continue to use my food journal to monitor how my body responds.
For now, I have my-diet, which includes:
- all veggies, including nightshades
- protein (meat and eggs)
- the occasional coffee (with non-dairy milk/cream)
- limited amounts of dairy and non-gluten grain (i.e., when unavoidable)
* I didn’t make a plan to reintroduce caffeine, as I didn’t technically eliminate it. However, I reduced my caffeine intake for the month of February more than had I planned. Throughout the month I had decaffeinated almond milk lattes (probably on average twice a week), herbal tea, brewed cacao, and the odd cup of coffee (usually more to get my digestive system moving, if you know what I mean, rather than to get me moving).