It has been over a week since I first posted about my food allergy elimination diet and almost two weeks since I was diagnosed. So the question is, how am I feeling?
Honestly, I feel amazing. You really don’t know how awful you were feeling until you start to feel better.
But to rewind a bit, I started the diet on the Friday before Ian and I had friends in town and we ran the Color Run. I was really nervous that it would be difficult to follow the elimination diet given the circumstances but I found that while it was tricky it was not impossible. While I didn’t start to feel better immediately, I didn’t feel any worse which was a step in the right direction.
By Monday I could feel a difference. My stomach didn’t hurt, a lot of my bloat was gone, and I had more physical energy (I’ve been sleepier from lack of caffeine). By Thursday, on top of all of the previously mentioned improvements I noticed that my skin and hair were looking better. I’ve been recovering from workouts faster and I feel lighter on my feet. Things really seem to be working for me.
Eating simpler and less refined has really forced me to read ingredient lists. I’ve known what to look for and what to avoid in foods and how to read a nutrition label for a long time but I haven’t always practiced it. I like knowing what all of the ingredients are that go into my mouth.
I’ve also had to be a lot more creative with meals. In order to get enough protein I’m eating more beans, legumes, and fish and learning how to incorporate them into meals. I’m also trying new things like puffed millet, rice milk, and pistachio butter and I’m loving all of them.
I’ve also been buying more fruits and vegetables. Nothing new or crazy but I’m finding that I’m buying things like sweet potatoes or zucchini more frequently than before. Surprisingly, so far our grocery bill has been less than in the past.
I was nervous I was going to have to cut back on working out. That I would be too tired or not have enough energy. I could NOT have been more wrong! Last week I reached my peak mileage since my running injuries completing 61 miles of running, biking, and swimming including a 9.4 mile run and 2 very quick miles during a brick.
I also was able to run at the Scott Jurek Eat & Run experience without any stomach distress. I can’t remember the last time I was able to run comfortably after mid-morning.
Ian and I have been eating out less frequently (which is a good thing) but I was determined not to let my limited diet affect what Ian eats and how we spend time together. We both love food and enjoy dining together and I didn’t want to lose that.
I’ve had to be creative with the menus at restaurants and specify a lot of things like oil type and cooking method with the waitress but it has been doable. I’ve even enjoyed some good food that I wouldn’t have normally ordered.
One thing that has been hard is not drinking alcohol. Not because I’m craving it or really miss it, but because it is such a social norm. When my friends were in town I could tell they were a little confused why I didn’t enjoy a beer with them at Navy Pier. The same thing happened at the Sox game on Saturday. Everyone has been really nice and understanding when I’ve explained why I’m not drinking, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt a little left out.
Also, my sweet tooth has toned down a lot. I thought I would miss chocolate and ice cream but I don’t even crave it anymore! My desserts have been more like snacks: applesauce with almond butter mixed in (amazing- try it), nut butter on toast, or a little glass of cereal. I’ve also been eating a lot of fruit for dessert and snacks and it tastes so sweet to me! My my how things have changed!
Without going into too much detail, I have been tracking my calories. I started doing this before the elimination diet as a food diary for my doctor (so easy to keep it on a phone) and I was basically ignoring the calorie counts but I decided to track my calories during the elimination diet to make sure I am eating enough calories. This has also really helped with meal planning. Using the number of calories I need to eat, I can make sure to pack enough food and snacks to last me throughout the work day. I am also weighed at the doctor every two weeks to make sure there is no drastic calorie loss.
I feel 100x more confident now than I did two weeks ago. My body feels like my own again and I’m walking taller, my posture is better, and I have more energy to do things.
What I miss
I really miss cottage cheese and peanut butter. Those are the only cravings that haven’t subsided.
So what now? Well, I have another two weeks of the diet and then I start to add some foods back in. Within a few days of eating the food, I should know how it affects me and if it is adding to my stomach aches. I’m eager to add some foods in but am happy enough with how I’m feeling now that I’m not in any sort of rush. I just want my body to heal itself!
I do want to say that an elimination diet is not the end-all of stomach aches. I had cramps when it was that time of the month and if I eat too many veggies, I still have a fiber belly. But, in terms of helping with the food reaction the diet has been great.
Also, an elimination diet is not something you should try on your own (at least not without A LOT of research). I am checking in with my doctor via e-mail or appointments at least once a week and supplementing my diet with protein shakes, probiotics, and fish oil. I am not suggesting people try this alone!
Have a great day guys, I’ll see you tomorrow for WIAW!
P.S. I’m going to write a lengthier post on this, but if you’re in the Chicago area and looking for a 5k in July, check out the Les Turner Run4ALS 5k, its an awesome race and for such a great cause. I’ll post more about it on Thursday!