Over the past month and a half, my body has been expressing its discontent. Daily headaches that seem to get worse after I eat, tummy troubles including boating, gassiness, and indigestion, and almost constant fatigue. We all go through ups and downs with our bodies sometimes, but many of these symptoms are highly unusual for me and, at some point, all I could think is, “WTF is going on with my body?!”
At first, I thought I was just having a little trouble with dairy, but after steering clear of dairy products for a few weeks, I was still having headaches almost daily. Next, I became suspicious of garlic. While I’ve never had any full-blown food allergies, I’ve always been a bit sensitive to onions, which tend to cause stomach cramps and headaches for me, and after doing some reading, I found out that a lot of people experience a similar effect with raw garlic, which I have been eating a lot of over the past year. But after four days away on vacation and definitely no exposure to garlic, I was still experiencing a lot of my trouble symptoms. So, I decided to do a cleanse, which I have deemed my #WTFcleanse.
To be more accurate, my plan cleanse is actually more of an elimination diet and it will involve eliminating food groups that are known for being common allergy culprits. I am eliminating dairy, eggs, soy, legumes, nightshades, alliums, nuts and seeds, gluten, grains, corn, citrus, chocolate, alcohol, and all processed and artificial foods. Basically this leaves me with a small variety of fresh, whole, and organic fruits and vegetables, organic chicken breast, wild-caught fish, and olive oil. I will also include fresh bone broth, organic peppermint tea, and spring water. This diet is actually a bit more restrictive than your typical elimination diet because most elimination diets allow some whole, non-glutinous grains such as brown rice or quinoa as well as some alliums like garlic and leeks. However, I am choosing to eliminate those to begin with as well in order to get a really clear picture of what my body’s response is to each food.
I will track my symptoms in a journal after each meal and, if my symptoms subside during the elimination phase of the diet, it’s very likely that something, or possibly multiple things, that I’ve been eating have been triggering my symptoms. If my symptoms don’t subside, then it’s safe to say that, while the foods I eat are most definitely impacting my overall state of wellness, my symptoms are not the direct result of a food allergy or sensitivity. I'll also be able to tell if I have a sensitivity or allergy to foods that are eliminated if, as I re-introduce them, I experience any troublesome symptoms.
If you think you might also be experiencing symptoms of a food allergy or sensitivity, I highly recommend doing an elimination diet. It is a powerful tool for learning about how your body reacts to different foods and, even if you don’t choose to permanently eliminate a food group from your diet, you’ll be able to make choices from a more informed place, which is incredibly empowering.