Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 22: Elimination Diet

I think I am really getting to the point where I'm feeling mostly okay with the ED. There are a few more things I wish I could add in right now, but just minor things, like nightshades and soy and vinegar. Oh, I would like to be able to eat corn, too. But the biggies, that I used to eat a ton of-- wheat and dairy--I honestly don't miss. I am sure at some point I would kill for a slice of pizza, but right now, I'm just fine.

It's almost become a fun game to see how many different kinds of fruits and vegetables I can eat in a day. Today it was: raisins (grapes!), banana, zucchini, bok choy, carrot, broccoli, onion, garlic, avocado, mango, raspberries, blueberries, lime. I think that's it. Not too shabby!

Today I tried something that was a supreme failure. Back when I started the ED I bought a box of ground rice cereal-- basically cream of wheat only with rice. I tried it today and oh my, it was really gross. I doused it in maple syrup and rice milk (I decided to add rice milk in) and that didn't help much. The second half of my lunch was left-over fried rice with garbanzos and avocado. Dinner was stir-fry with rice noodles. Snack tonight was homemade sorbet and then for a late night snack I warmed up some left-over stir-fry with lots more bok choy added in.

Lately I've been noticing headaches coming on but never materializing. Before starting the ED I used to get frequent canker sores. I haven't gotten one since starting but I feel like another one is coming on.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 20-21: Elimination Diet

I had another special treat on Wednesday. My friend Cynthia, who has commented on the blog quite a bit (thank you!!!!) invited the girls and I over for dinner. She made us chicken, rice and broccoli and she and her kids ate it, as did my kids (well, at least Iris did. Eloise was too busy being enamored with Cynthia's son). It was very sweet of her to make a meal specifically that I could eat.

When I got home from dinner I wanted a sweet treat so I made my "sorbet" out of frozen cherries, frozen peaches and apple cider. The girls had some, too, and gobbled it right up. So yummy. I am going to try and serve that more instead of popsicles or ice cream (which we don't have that often, but still).

I struggle quite a bit at night. I want something sweet or savory/crunchy.

This morning's breakfast was a banana. Yum. I have been eating a lot of bananas and pineapple since being able to add them back in. Today I decided to add back in beans and did that by making a hummus with sunflower seed butter instead of tahini. It was pretty good! Over the course of the day I ate a ton of it. With carrots, with cucumber, with rice crackers. Dinner tonight was a sort of fried rice that I have grown to like. Tons of sauteed veggies with leftover brown rice and some tamari. I put avocado over the top of the batch I made tonight, as well.

The two things I have been thinking about lately are when I can add back in nutritional yeast and vinegar. I have been reading a bit about what nutritional yeast is and I found this:

Unlike active baking yeast, nutritional yeast is grown solely for its nutritional value. It should not be confused with brewer’s yeast, a by-product of breweries and distilleries. nutritional yeast is a low-fat, low-sodium, kosher, non-GMO food that contains no added sugars or preservatives. The cane and beet molasses used in the growing process does not make nutritional yeast sweet and is not a source of simple sugars.

I think I will try to add it back in when I add back in regular yeast.

Also, vinegar. I decided I will challenge it the same way I am challenging everything else.

This ED says it is a "28 Day" ED but that's a bit mis-leading. Once the 28 days is over you've added back in everything BUT dairy, gluten, eggs, corn, yeast and oats. I can still go on to challenge those, and I will, but it will extend the ED out a little longer.

I was asked a little bit ago if I am losing weight. To be honest, I don't own a scale so I have no idea, but I'm not really noticing a change in the way my clothes fit. It's frustrating. However, I do remember when I lost weight a couple of years ago, in a really healthy manner, it did come off slowly and it wasn't until I tried on smaller sized clothes did I really realize I had shrunk.

It would seem the secret for me is to combine moderate exercise with eating right. Duh, right?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Days 17-18-19 Elimination Diet

Oh my. Really falling behind now. Much apologies to the handful of you who are interested in reading this! Things have been a little crazy in my world. The one steady thing is that I'm forced to eat well every day. I don't really have a choice. There is pretty much no way I could eat poorly given the small amount of foods I can eat! So, at least I have that going for me.

However, even though I'm eating healthy foods, my meals have been extremely basic and more far between during the day time.

For the first time since being on the ED I dined over a friend's house on Sunday. She was also a nutrition major at Bastyr, so she completely understands this whole program I'm on. We made a chicken stir-fry for dinner and I drooled over the glass of wine she had.

Sadly, there were no pictures on Sunday. I was either too rushed or just plain forgot. Lunch was left-over sunflower seed burgers with avocado sauce and a side of rice noodles with pesto and sauteed zucchini. Both of those sauces I already had in the fridge so that made the meals super easy.

By the end of the night on Sunday I was dying to eat pineapple and decided to make that my next challenge and gobbled up a ton of it. I wasn't officially supposed to eat it until Monday, but oh well.

Monday I was feeling a little weird in the morning (definitely anxiety stuff) and didn't want to eat much so I made a smoothie of a quarter of a Costco pineapple (why do they have such giant pineapples? Anyone?), frozen blueberries, spinach and some apple cider. It was super yummy but I accidentally made a TON of it. While the girls were at school I spent the entire day out running around and my "lunch" was two bananas and some rice crackers.

I took the girls to McDonald's after school which is a very rare treat for them. I knew that I couldn't eat anything and I was so glad that I couldn't. I always finish up the girls food, in addition to eating whatever I order for myself. Of course, we really do rarely go, but I was glad to come home without feeling cruddy. I was so exhausted by the time I got home from by busy day I laid on the couch while the girls watched tv. Dinner was rice noodles, asparagus, left-over chicken and some avocado sauce. I ate WAY too much because I was starving and then felt awful afterwards. It was interesting, Iris complained of a stomach ache before bed time and I told her it might be because of the burgers she ate. That I always felt that way after eating at McD's. Maybe this will help both her and I remember we can choose a different, healthier, fun treat. And you know what they really like at McD's? The damn toys. We could go to Wheatgrass World if they just gave the girls a barbie toy with their shot.

This morning I had my usual breakfast, sunflower seed burgers and avocado sauce for lunch and rice, kale and chicken for dinner. Simple but yummy all around.

I've been feeling really stressed out this week. Money stuff. Auction stuff. Today I realized that I'm going to have to get really creative with Iris's birthday party (it's in just under eight weeks) because we have pretty much no money to spend on anything right now. So I haven't been feeling 100% but I don't think it's really food related.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 16: Elimination Diet

I've now got some pictures to accompany my word-heavy posts! Whee!

Here is my standard breakfast (sometimes I have some applesauce on the side):

This is the picture I posted yesterday of lunch:

Here is dinner. It looks boring, but it was so yummy! I made Sunny Sunflower Seed Burgers from the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. I served it with more guacamole puree on the side. They would have been heavenly with some good ol' fashioned ketchup.

I am realllllly lazy about some things so instead of typing it out I took a picture of the recipe. I couldn't find it anywhere online. I made them as directed except I used salt instead of herbamare and I had no parsley. They would have been even more delicious with the parsley, though! I also used long grain rice instead of short grain and they were just fine.
(okay, I can't figure out why this picture isn't clickable. If it was you could see the recipe enlarged! I will try to work on that . . . )

Here was dessert. This is my version of sorbet. I put a bunch of frozen cherries and peaches in to the Blendtec with some agave nectar and the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and add just enough water so it purees but isn't thin enough to drink through a straw. I put it in the freezer until it sets up just a bit. Yum. It's sooooo good.

I felt pretty good on Saturday. One moment of feeling shakey/light-headed but it didn't last long.

Overall I've been much more tired in the evening and ready to go to bed earlier than I usually have. On Friday night I fell asleep putting the girls to bed at around 9:00. Woke up at 10:30, brushed my teeth, put on jammies, and went right back to bed. Last night I stayed up until 11:00 but I could barely keep my eyes open. I'm finding that I do have more energy during the day and then crash at night, which is actually quite good, I think.

On another note, here is a completely un-related rant that I needed to get off my chest:

Last night we found out that Matt's employer no longer will let employees use the childcare FSA if their partner is unemployed. So unless I'm in school full time or work at least 20 hours a week, we no longer qualify for it. We were given NO notice of this change and since the FSA allows the childcare money to come out of Matt's check pre-tax, it saved us a decent amount every month. It's really stressful. Not too long ago he (and everyone else there) lost their quarterly bonuses and now it's this. I am just waiting for them to screw with our health insurance.

What's ironic is that there is a cap on the childcare FSA of $5,000 per year. For perspective, Eloise will go three 6 hour days per week and it will cost $7,740 for the whole year (they go year-round). Three full days per week that my kids will be at school together doesn't leave me anywhere near 20 free hours a week to work outside of the home, so I would have to enroll her in even MORE school, which the FSA wouldn't even cover, anyways. Grrr.

I have many more complaints about this policy, but my last one is, we should have had at least six months to a year notice. We've had absolutely zero time to prepare for this. To save money or anything. The new benefits period starts on June 1st, just over one month away. It is totally beyond me how we're going to make our already tight budget work this out, but I'll find a way.

Thanks for listening to a rant when you've simply come here to read about the elimination diet. Has anyone else dealt with an employer pulling shit like this?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 16: pictures!

I thought it would be fun to start adding some pictures to the blog of what some of my meals have been.

For lunch today I pulled out our griddle/grill thingamajobber and grilled chicken breasts and zucchini. I also made a well-pureed guacamole, a salad of baby spinach, shredded carrots and raw sunflower seeds sprayed with a bit of Bragg's and then a side of roasted asparagus.

Without further ado!

I would like to thank Lady Gaga for keeping the energy level high during the lunch prep :)

Day 14 and 15: Elimination Diet

Whoops! I'm falling behind. Feeling a little defeated about my ED the past few days. On Thursday when I woke up I felt awful, which I blogged about already. Then on Friday I had some other issues that just left me feeling annoyed. I am not really sure what to make of it all but I'm going to keep plugging along because I think it's important.

I've been reading about IBS and am wondering if that might not be part of what I'm dealing with. Will follow up with my doctor next time I see her. A book I read about IBS suggested looking for food sensitivities but that it can be tricky as some people are sensitive to things like the pesticides used on produce or molds that grow on some foods.

Anyways, on Friday I got to add back in chicken. Oh, sweet, yummy chicken! I made sauteed chicken and asparagus with avocado sauce for lunch. YUM. On a side note, asparagus isn't listed anywhere on my ED sheet so I am just going to hope that it's okay for me to be eating. For dinner I made a chicken stir-fry with coconut/sunflower seed butter sauce (like peanut sauce) over rice noodles. Also? YUM. The more I add back in the more delicious the ED gets.

On Thursday morning Eloise and I met a friend for a trip to the furniture store and to Whole Foods. At WF I was surprised and delighted to see a few things in the deli that I could eat! I ended up getting a quinoa/wild rice/sweet potato thing that was pretty good, but dry. At least it was something, though!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 13: Elimination Diet

I'm all out of whack today, Thursday. I think I'm writing about Wednesday, right? Ugh.

Anyways, it's my blog, I'll write about what I darn well want to, even if I don't know what day it is. I woke up today feeling really yucky. Very much like how I felt before I started the ED. Headache, nauseous, bowel movements that are too TMI for a family blog. You get the idea. I don't know why. I don't know if I should blame it on something I introduced or anxiety or maybe I actually was under the weather? I have no idea. I spent the wee early morning having a really stressful dream and when I woke up I was already out of sorts. Of course, did my body cause me to have a weird dream or did the weird dream stress out my body? That old "chicken and egg" scenario. I also realized I had forgotten to take my medication for a few days, so that may have contributed.

So I took my medication and something to settle my tummy and went about my morning getting the girls ready for school. I mostly feel okay now.

On Wednesday I made several lemonade and limeade drinks. Both were made with straight juice from the fruit and two packets of stevia. Oh my, I love stevia. I don't know why I've never tried it before. Last night I made brussels sprouts for dinner. I kind of cheated, I suppose. I used a little Bragg's on them. I don't know why this wouldn't be okay, as Bragg's and wheat-free tamari have the same ingredients (Bragg's is just much more mild tasting). Like I said, I'm a rebel! They were delicious. I served them along side left-over lentil soup with added rice and spinach. I even served that meal to Matt for his supper! Normally I don't subject him to my crazy meals.

I realized yesterday, as well, that there are a few ED questions I have that I don't know where to find the answers. For instance, when do I get to add back in vinegar? It's on my no-no list but is never included in the list for things to add back in. Hmmm. There are a few thing like that but I'm a little fuzzy right now.

Day 13

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 12: Elimination Diet

What a rough day it was. All I wanted to do was pig out on junk food. Did I cave? No, but man it was hard. When all you want to do is stuff your face with a bag full of doritos, a bowl of apple sauce just doesn't quite suffice. I keep reminding myself that the ED is a practice in self-discipline. Having been on it almost two weeks you would think my cravings for junk would be getting better. Not so much.

I have another confession, as well: as my eating improves, the meals I am making for the rest of the family are going down the tubes. I am even too embarrassed to tell you what my kids ate for "dinner" last night. At least I made up for it a tiny bit by giving them smoothies packed with fruit.

I'm getting bored with food again. Lunch was fried rice with lots of veggies and dinner was rice noodles and pesto. Both good meals, but it gets boring in repetition.

My day was also incredibly, incredibly lazy. I didn't do anything productive at all. Just sat around and watched copious amounts of television.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 11: Elimination Diet

I have a confession: I didn't quite follow the ED. I was supposed to be challenging tamari, then I bought the wrong kind (I didn't buy wheat-free) so I decided to challenge lemons and limes. On Saturday I had lime twice. On Sunday I bought the right kind of tamari and then came home and challenged that. I forgot to buy lemons/limes at the store and didn't want to go back so I just switched. Honestly, I don't think I'm sensitive to either, so I should be fine.

Whew! Such a rebel I am!

Cynthia asked about tamari in the comments from Day 10. I had to look up the answer, but here's what I discovered about the difference between soy sauce and tamari and the wheat-free vs wheat kinds:

Although soy sauce and tamari [tuh-MAHR-ee] are both made from fermented soybeans, Japanese tamari is thicker, darker, and richer than its counterpart. Think of it as the kinder, gentler (and less salty) soy sauce. It has a more complex, smooth flavor compared to the sometimes harsh, overwhelming bite of a salty soy sauce.

It appears that wheat is required in the fermentation process and therefor both soy sauce and tamari have wheat-free varieties.

So yesterday I made avocado-carrot-cucumber sushi for the family for lunch. Yum! I made my rice without rice wine vinegar, but it was still good. Dinner was fried rice with a bunch of veggies and left-over brown rice and tamari.

I was really craving something sweet last night and made an almost sorbet out of frozen cherries, frozen blueberries, agave nectar and lime juice. I threw it all in the BlendTec and set it on the ice cream setting. SO good. It was completely smooth. I am going to remember that little treat when I go back to eating regular food.

Also? I was so excited to go to the farmer's market and get some produce. It turns out our local farmer's market has tons of flowers, meats, breads, cheeses and, this time of year, lots of plant starts. VERY little actual produce. I got only spinach and baby bok choy. Other than that I saw apples (from Tiny's, I got apples cheaper at the store), radishes, braising mix and potatoes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 10: Elimination Diet

I have become hooked on my usual breakfast. I think it will stick with me even after I can other things back in. Rice cakes, sunflower seed butter with raisins and raw sunflower seeds on top, a side of apple sauce and a drink. Sometimes carrot juice. Sometimes water. Sometimes a smoothie.

Lunch was sauteed zucchini and yellow squash with pesto over rice noodles. Dinner was a huge salad with avocado dressing and a side of apple sauce.

For dinner I made three pizzas for the family and two friends. It was definitely the first time I had ever made pizza that I couldn't eat, but it didn't bother me that much. What bothered me more was having to make a separate meal for me.

I added in limes, as well. A little tricky to do a lot of lime, but I added lime juice to a raspberry/blueberry/apple juice smoothie and also some to my avocado dressing. I can add lemon in, as well, so I will have to get some. The Whole Life Nutrition book has a recipe for lemonade with stevia and I forgot I can have stevia because it is an herb. I've actually never used stevia before!

My friend and I went out to see live music on Saturday night. It was so much to be out, but all I could drink was water. Not even soda! My friend in the band put us on the guest list, as well, so my total bill for the night came to exactly $0. How's that for a cheap date?

p.s. the band was super awesome amazing. They are called Trampled by Turtles and if you go to their site you can listen to some music. Very high-energy blue-grass.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 9: Elimination Diet

Another decent, but frustrating, day. In the morning Eloise was at school so I took Iris to an appointment and then she wanted to go to a restaurant we had been to before for something to eat. I assumed I would sit there while she chowed down, but I decided to hesitantly ask the waitress if she could bring me a salad of nothing but greens, avocado, carrots and apples. I apologized for being a jerk. When the salad came it had all of those things, plus croutons. Interesting. I picked the croutons off and ignored the few crumbs they left behind and choked down my dry salad.

Later in the day I developed an avocado-based dressing and had a much yummier salad for dinner. I made the family alfredo pasta with chicken and broccoli. Torture.

Since we were out of milk and I didn't have the tamari to start challenging foods with on Saturday I went to the store. Still nothing worse than grocery shopping. It's painful, actually. I brought the tamari home and set it proudly on the counter. Only later, after flipping through my Whole Life Nutrition book, did it occur to me that I was supposed to buy wheat-free tamari. Ugh. So that little bottle will be shelved. The challenge will start with lemons and limes, instead.

Feeling good still. Really tired at night. I have been going to bed earlier than normal, bone-tired, and waking up needing to drag myself out of bed. My activity level hasn't changed other than Matt has been working later at night, so I'm on mom duty a bit more each day. But that doesn't feel like it's enough explanation to warrant how exhausted I've felt at the end of the day. On the plus side, I have more energy overall throughout the day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 8: Elimination Diet

Cynthia asked a few questions about the ED that I thought would be fun to answer.

Now that you're this far into it, is there anything you want to share that you wish you'd know at the beginning?

Good question. I would say no, in that, there is nothing I look back and think "oh, if only I had known THAT it would have been better or easier!" I am certainly learning things along the way, but that was what this process was about. Oh you know what? One thing is, I wish I would have had a better idea of how much I would be in the kitchen. That I would need to really to be putting aside some of my other pursuits for all of the cooking and cleaning up after it.

Favorite combinations for green smoothies?

I liked spinach, two apples, mint and ginger. I didn't like more hearty greens like kale. I didn't like the pears. But that's just me. Since that two day smoothie fast I haven't gotten too exciting in the smoothie realm. I actually got a bad batch of baby spinach and haven't had green smoothies for a couple of days now until I get back to the store. Now my smoothies are more like raspberries, apples, coconut milk and blueberries or something like that.

(Are there) things to avoid during the two day green smoothie period?

Yes, grocery stores! Parties! House work! Seriously. Avoid anything and everything. Get yourself a few good movies or some books or magazines, something you like to do to keep your mind off of being hungry.

I hope that helps a little bit. I love questions and comments, keep em coming!

Today was another good day. Same breakfast. I must say, as much as I hate repeat meals in the afternoon and evening, I am a creature of habit for breakfast. For lunch I had a cut up cucumber and left-over stir-fry from last night. Just the veggies and sauce, no rice. I have no idea why, but when I re-heated the sunflower seed butter sauce it turned a very un-appetizing shade of grayish/greenish/brown. I lost my appetite quickly. In fact, I had a tummy ache after eating it, but I think it was very psychosomatic.

For dinner I made rice noodles with pesto and sauteed zucchini. I have eaten five zucchini in the past 24 hours or so. Not too shabby!

Besides the brief tummy ache, I felt fine today. My sleepiness is catching up to me, though. It's been a busy week so I don't think it has much to do with the ED.

My sister and I had a great phone conversation about food tonight. She probably knows more about nutrition than I do at this point and is currently on a raw foods diet. She is also the best cook I know and I wish I could go in to business with her running a yummy whole foods restaurant. We talked a lot about protein needs. I said I was worried I wasn't getting enough protein on the ED, although my energy level has been totally fine. She mentioned that she has read many articles that challenge the conventional wisdom on how much protein we really need. It was interesting. I didn't really learn that in school. We did learn about non-meat sources of protein, but not that humans may not need that much protein after all. Interesting.

We also talked quite a lot about how following diets like these really help to re-arrange our thinking about the kinds of food we eat and the amount of food we eat. That it really takes the discipline of following a regimen (at least for some of us) to make those changes in our thinking.

I rarely snack while on the ED. When I used to get out food for my kids I would always take swipes of things-- cheese, crackers, pretty much anything I handed them. It was amazing how much I would eat without even thinking about it. I would bet I am consuming maybe 2/3 of the amount of calories I did before, getting much more nutrition, and am not as hungry (physically or just in my head).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 7: Elimination Diet

Again I'll start with some follow-ups on a comment:

Misty said I wouldn't like eating at her house very much if I didn't like this diet. Well, Misty, I would VERY VERY much like to eat at your house and am still awaiting my dinner invitation :) I think I'm being a little too vague in my complaints. I don't like eating the same thing very often. Left-overs and myself are not friends. So that's one thing about it. One day of pesto? Oh yum! Two days of pesto? No thanks. Same with my lentil soup. It was so freaking delicious the first day. I couldn't hardly swallow a bite by the third day of eating it.

Also? The main seasonings I usually cook with I can't use right now. The same base foods would be so much better if I could have a little miso or Bragg's or soy sauce/rice vinegar with them. I am already very sick of olive oil, salt and pepper. There are several fruits/veggies I can't eat right now that I am missing, too. Like pineapple. Oh, my beloved pineapple. If the diet was only about other whole foods, plus all of the seasonings, I'd be a happier camper.

All of that said, I had a MUCH better food day. For breakfast, the same. For lunch, though, I thinned down the guacamole in the food processor, making a sauce of it, then mixed it with rice noodles and topped it with sauteed zucchini. Very tasty. For dinner I made a sauce of coconut milk, sunflower seed butter, fresh ginger, salt and pepper. It was pretty yummy! Not as yummy as the peanut sauce I made for my family, but still delicious. I served it over stir-fried vegetables and brown rice. Tonight was the first night of the ED that I made my family a proper home-cooked meal. It took me a little while longer to make it all, but it was worth it.

Still feeling great! I don't know if I am doing more because my energy level is up, but I feel like I'm a busy little bee during the day. I think I finally had a "good" day all around on this diet. I felt good, I ate good, everything was good.

Still very much looking forward to Saturday-- that's tamari day!!! Woo Hoo!!! Starting Saturday I get to start challenging foods. The first one is tamari.

Day 6: Elimination Diet

I'll quick start by following up on two questions I had from day 5.
1. What are rice cakes? A: rice cakes are these thingies.
2. Do I cook differently for my husband and girls? A: I use the term "cook" loosely right now, but yes, I do. I mean, geez, I barely like most of what I'm eating, I can't even imagine trying to get the rest of the family to eat it! Ha. I have very little energy for cooking normally for the rest of the family so I have been feeding them very, very easy and simple meals. Last night they had smoothies, steamed edamame and chicken gyoza (frozen from a bag).

Let's see. So, Day 6. This ED would be so much easier if I were a hermit. On Day 6 I went with Eloise and my friend to IKEA. A little known fact about me is that I think IKEA's 50 cent hotdogs are the most wonderful food ever. I didn't get to have one, of course. Boo.

I had my usual applesauce and rice cakes with sunflower seed butter for breakfast and then some lentil soup for lunch. Late afternoon I made some guacamole (without lime juice) and ate it with baby carrots. I didn't eat again until I was time to put the girls to bed and I realized I was pretty hungry, so I warmed up some leftover risotto and sweet potatoes and chowed down. Right after that my stomach ache came back and I was almost 100% sure I knew why: I over ate, and I did it really quickly while completely ignoring my body's signals to stop eating. As I was eating this plate of food I kept thinking I needed to put it down. That I was full. I was literally eating it standing up following around my daughter. Once my plate was cleared I put it down I felt awful. I fell asleep around 9:00 while putting the girls to bed, woke up at 10:00 still feeling awful. I got up and brushed my teeth, put pjs on, then went back to bed.

It was a good lesson for me, though. I do think that a lot of times I don't listen to my body's signals to stop eating. Even if there is just two or three bites left, not enough to save really, it's OKAY to stop eating. It's okay to compost that extra food. I began to wonder if some of my feeling better on the ED isn't simply from me eating less food overall. I have to admit, it's really easy to not over eat when I'm sitting at a table and eating food I barely like in the first place. I stop pretty quickly when my body tells me it's full.

Still no headaches. No other tummy (or other) issues to report. Stable energy and blood sugar throughout the day. I actually felt so normal (meaning, not terrible, but not super buzzed) with energy in the late afternoon that I hung a new towel rod in the bathroom and a new magnetic knife strip in the kitchen. Usually I am fighting to keep my eyes open at that time of day, not looking for projects to do!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 5: Elimination Diet

I got some comments on yesterday's post and I am having a "duh" moment because I hadn't mentioned yet that, yes, I can have herbs and spices and salt. SO thank you for your ideas so far. Please keep them coming!

I woke up really late this morning and threw together the easiest thing I can do right now, which is sunflower seed butter on rice cakes with a side of applesauce and a smoothie. As much as I wish I wasn't, I am very much in to breakfast food for breakfast. Occasionally I can get a little crazy, like I did on Saturday, and have something like lentil soup, but in general, I like things like cereal, eggs, yogurt, oatmeal. Needless to say, the ED is throwing me for a loop.

Long story short, I was out of the house the entire day while the girls were at school. It was pretty nerve-wracking to wonder if my blood sugar was going to plummet, leaving me struggling for something I could eat. Luckily, that didn't happen. I stopped in a Jamba Juice for a carrot juice and then later the grocery store for some apple juice and craisins. I do know the ED says no refined sugar, and I am positive that is what the craisins had on them, but it was a pretty minor cheat, I think. Or at least, I am going to tell myself that. I needed to eat something.

When I got back home at 4:00 I wolfed down leftover risotto before making rice noodles with leftover pesto for dinner. I also had a side of steamed broccoli and cauliflower. The ED I am following doesn't specifically anything about rice products, like rice noodles, so I am just going with it. Again, it feels like a pretty minor "cheat", if that's even what it is.


For the most part I've still felt great. No headaches. No stomach issues. Until today I completely forgot about all of my issues with what I call blood sugar crashes. I am not 100% sure that is what they are, but it's what it feels like. I feel super shaky, like I NEED to eat something right this red-hot second. Anyways, since starting the ED, even on my two fasting days, I haven't had that even once. I was surprised I didn't today with being out of the house for so long and not having much to eat. Anyways, it's pretty neat to see these changes. Though I did tell my friend today that I'd take a killer headache and a hamburger right now over no headache and this blechy food.

Okay, here's the TMI thing: I am surprised my bowel movements haven't become more regular. I dealt with lots of BM issues that were all over the board before doing this. I thought, well, at the very least, all of the good stuff going in will make the stuff coming out more, well, formed and regular. It hasn't appeared so. Things are still pretty, uh, loose. Not diarrhea, nothing I am completely freaked and worried about, but still not normal. I don't know, just something I am taking note of, I suppose.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Days 3 and 4: Elimination Diet

I have never been so happy to taste lentils in my life. I broke the juice fast on Saturday morning by eating lentil soup. YUM. Okay, by the third bowl I was a little sick of it, but it was tasty none-the-less.

We hosted a brunch for my husband's sister and her husband. I sat at the table and had grapes. Not that much fun. Other food from Saturday included sunflower seed butter on rice cakes, applesauce, dairy and citrus-free pesto and cucumbers and good ol' brown rice. Saturday night included a date at the movies. No popcorn or soda for me.

The whole day I had NO headache or stomach issues, which is really amazing for me. My energy level was pretty regular, too, but it often is on the weekends.

Sunday morning I tried out a breakfast idea I read about online. Re-heat cooked brown rice with a dollop of nut butter (or sunflower seed butter, in my case) The recipe called for adding some fruit to the top. I didn't do the fruit and I added some coconut milk. Since we don't have a microwave I used the rice basket in the veggie steamer. It worked just fine but the breakfast was a snooze-fest. I had a coconut milk, frozen raspberry, apple, cranberry smoothie for breakfast, too. That was a bit more exciting.

The girls and I attended a birthday party today. Nothing there I could eat. No pizza, cake or ice cream. Not to say that I'm upset about the party, it's just annoying to sit there and not be able to eat what the other people are.

When I got home from the party I set to work making my first ever homemade vegetable stock. It seemed easy enough and I added 12 cups of water, so I assumed I would have a great amount of stock for 2-3 recipes. After starting that I made some steamed broccoli and cauliflower and topped it with my pesto from Saturday for a light lunch. Once the stock was done I decided to make risotto for dinner (the ED calls for only brown rice but I cheated. I mean, rice is rice, the white stuff just isn't as nutritious). I used ALL of the vegetable stock I made on it. Grrrr. The water really cooked down! It was a decent dish. Not that great, but edible. I think that is because the stock wasn't that yummy. I also made mashed sweet potatoes and some sauteed kale for dinner. I mostly just wanted to eat the tortellini my family was having.

The thing that is killing me is how much time it is taking to make all of this food. In an ideal world I would have all of the time in the world to cook like this but HOLY COW. I have been in the kitchen soooo much over the past couple of days. I enjoy cooking, but I don't like to do it to the exclusion of everything else.

I have no headaches or stomach issues today, either. Wheee!

My big complaint today goes out to Whole Foods. I have a bone to pick with them. After paying an arm and a leg for produce there I have had about $12 of apples all seemingly fine on the outside but with brown all around the core on every single one. My three batches of lacinato kale are really sad. I didn't look that close when I grabbed them, but they are holey and already yellowing on the tops. The kicker is my raw sunflower seeds. I bought a small bag to have for whatever I might want them for. I decided to toss a few in to my risotto and then threw a few in my mouth. As I chewed I thought "geez, these taste dirty, raw seeds are gross!" and then as I chewed some more I thought, "wait a second, there is no reason sunflower seeds would be dirty" and I realized then they were probably MOLDY. I spit them out and rinsed and rinsed my mouth a ton. And threw out the seeds. And threw out the food I was cooking and started over. So all told, that's at least $20 of bad food I had from WF. That's about 20% of how much I spent there, too.

I am looking forward to day 10 when I can add tamari back in. I need it. I am at a loss for how to jazz up my veggies. Any ideas? See this post for the list of what I can eat right now. Any other ideas for what I can do with coconut milk would be appreciated, as well. It's the only even remotely dairy-like thing I can have right now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day Two: Elimination Diet

I won't lie. Day two was MUCH harder than day one. I walked around imagining all of the lovely ways I could fling myself off the wagon. I counted down the hours until I could just go to bed and get the day over with. My husband worked from home and that helped A LOT. Having him here to take a bit of my stress was immensely helpful.

One thing that happened on the second day, however, was interesting. My headache pretty much left completely (as I write this at noon on day three I can attest the headache is STILL gone, which is crazy for me).

The other thing I did on day two was start straining the smoothies. I won't lie, there is a lot of pulp in green smoothies. I was a little over it by the end of day one. My sister taught me about paint straining bags and I used one she had given me to just pour the green smoothie through and then gently wring it out. Honestly, 2/3 of the way through the day, I didn't want to look at another green drink in a cup. I probably consumed about 1/2 of the green drinks on day two that I did on day 1. I totally forgot about drinking extra water, but seeing that my headache went away, I probably wasn't too dehydrated.

I tortured myself further by going to the grocery store for a few items for my ED and a few things for the small brunch we were hosting the next morning. When I got home I set to work making a ED-friendly lentil soup and some brown rice that I could use to break the green smoothie fast.

At night I tried to take a little bit of time for writing. I admit, I'm on a part of the novel that has been giving me trouble, but I couldn't concentrate at all. I tried to do a bit of editing but got scared I was making it worse and just left it alone. The extra-foggy brain was not fun for the past couple of days, I'll say that.

I had a question about if it was really necessary to get the book Whole Life Nutrition to do this particular elimination diet. NO! I recommend the book anyways, but it's not necessary for the ED. Everything they have in the book is on their site. I will also admit, there aren't that many ED-friendly friendly recipes in the book, either. Sure, you can definitely adapt a lot of them really easily, but the thing I was looking for was a list of recipes that you could follow on the ED. The book will be perfect for when I start adding some things back in and want to follow a more whole foods centered diet. So if you want to try the ED, just check out the site. If you have a few whole foods cookbooks you already really like, I think you'll be just fine.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Day One: Elimination Diet

Yesterday I started the elimination diet. The first two days are nothing but green smoothies which consist of spinach, apples, pears, mint and ginger. I did try one with kale but it was a bit too much for me, so the rest of the smoothies have been spinach only. I bought a huge tub of pre-washed organic spinach from Costco and that is making it really simple. I have been drinking these as I feel like it, which has amounted to about four blenderfuls of 32 oz each yesterday. I definitely hit a point where I was hungry but didn't want any more damn smoothie, so I just had some water instead.

How have I felt? Interestingly, about like normal, which is basically total crap. The only difference is normally when my head hurts this bad I take tylenol or ibuprofen for it. I have decided not to take any OTC drugs during these two days of smoothie fast (though I will if I need to during the rest). No nausea but am light headed and have scattered thinking, again, those aren't out of the realm of normal for me. Usually, though, when I feel this light-headed, I eat something. It's not terrible. Not so bad that I'm going to stop the smoothie fast. If I felt truly struggling and unable to function, I would eat something that falls within the elimination diet guidelines.

I slept well last night-- had some gooooood dreams, actually-- but my headache was persistent throughout the night and in to today.

I have been talking to Iris about what I'm doing. She said she would like to go on a fast of only candy. Trying to explain how that wouldn't really work, but wouldn't it be lovely if it would?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Last night of freedom

Tomorrow I am going to begin the elimination diet. What did I eat today in preparation? A vanilla latte, some jelly beans and a small chocolate bunny. Well, that's not all I ate today, but those were some of my last goodies for a while. And you know what? All three of those things made my stomach feel like crap.

My blendtec blender came via UPS today, as well. I had to fire it up right away! My maiden smoothies? A cucumber, spinach, pineapple and mint mix. YUM. It was really yummy. No, really. I'm looking forward to my two days of green smoothie fast. I do anticipate being tired and am going to try and take it easy, but it will be delicious.

I wrote in my last post about shopping at Whole Foods. I bought (all organic) 10 apples, 6 pears, 3 bunches of lacinato kale, one head of cauliflower, one acorn squash, 3 heads of broccoli, one pack of mint, one bunch each of cilantro and flat-leaf parsley, 2 garnet yams two bags of frozen cherries, two bags of frozen blueberries and a bag of frozen raspberries. Oh, and some ginger. I already had a giant package of spinach from Costco yesterday that I'll need for my green smoothies. I also bought raw sunflower seeds, quinoa, pinenuts and rice cereal (yep, like baby food. joy.) This is going to get me through the next few days and then I'll do another big shop.

I was asking for suggestions on Facebook about favorite spots in Seattle to buy organic produce. One of the suggestions was the farmer's market and I was like "duh". So, it's going to be a goal of mine to hit the farmer's market every weekend while I'm doing the elimination diet and then at least every other weekend through the end of the summer. While I felt totally gouged shopping at Whole Foods today, I wouldn't even mind paying those same prices if I knew they were going right to the farmer. Though I suspect the prices will be less, in general.

Going broke

Today I went to Whole Foods, a store I rarely shop at, to stock up on organic veggies for the elimination diet. Specifically for the first part where I do the green smoothies. Holy buckets, batman, there is a reason people call that place "Whole Paycheck". I won't tell you what I spent, because my husband might be reading this (ha!) but it wasn't pretty. As much as I believe in organics, I find it extremely difficult to justify the cost on a regular basis.

My new blender should be here by the end of the day and the green smoothies will commence in the morning!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

What, exactly, will the elimination diet look like?

I am following the guidelines that Tom and Ali have drawn up from their site Whole Life Nutrition. I read quite a bit of different plans for elimination diets that included everything from it being okay to eat things like potato chips and meat to ones that had a list of about five things that were allowed. This plan seemed to best fit my sensibilities.

There are several phases to the diet. The first part of phase one (not sure why it didn't get it's own phase all together) is to spend two days drinking only green smoothies. Green smoothies can include anything from the allowed list of foods, but focus on leafy greens like kale, collards, lettuces, spinach and even cabbage. Tom suggests adding things like apples, pears, mint leaves, parsley and ginger. I have seen (and tasted) my sister's concoctions of the crazy stuff you can do in a fancy blender and, believe me, it tastes MUCH better than it seems like it would!

After the initial two days of phase one you eat only the following foods for days 3-9:
(this list pulled directly from the WLN site)

-brown rice, wild rice
-apples, pears
-peaches, nectarines
-plums, apricots
-berries (except strawberries)
-figs (dried and fresh)
-kale, collard greens
-lettuce, spinach
-dandelion greens
-bok choy, cabbage
-parsley, cilantro
-sprouts (all types)
-Brussels sprouts
-broccoli, cauliflower
-beets, carrots, parsnips
-winter squash (all types)
-yams and sweet potatoes
-onions, garlic, and ginger
-sunflower and pumpkin seeds-sunflower and pumpkin seed butters
-pine nuts
-mung beans, adzuki beans, lentils
-wakame seaweed, kombu seaweed-nori seaweed, dulse flakes
-fresh herbs
-coconut milk
-coconut oil and olive oil
-kudzu, arrowroot (be sure its GF)
-guar gum (in small amounts)
-agave nectar and maple syrup

Then you spend the other phases of the 28 day diet slowly adding foods back in (they call it"challenging") like citrus, soy, dairy, wheat, etc etc. You take 3 or more days between each one to give your body time to react (or not) and then you move on to the next food. By the end of the 28 days you should have a pretty good picture of what your are sensitive to. That said, the diet can take much, much longer than 28 days. You can spread the challenge phase as long as you would like to, just no less than 3 days between each new food.

Elimination Diet

Jumping right back in to blogging with a new adventure! This week I'll be starting an elimination diet. Several people expressed interest in reading about how the process goes for me and I thought that writing it all down would serve as a great record for me, as well.

You may be reading this and are already scratching your head and asking "what is an elimination diet?" It's a diet you can go on to identify if food sensitivities are causing your body to have adverse symptoms. You begin the diet by eliminating a pretty major list of foods for several days and then slowly starting adding the eliminated foods back in. When you add each food back in you pay close attention to your body to see if it is adversely reacting to that food. If it does, then you know to stay away from it. If it doesn't, then you're in the clear.

There are a number of reasons that a person might want to try a diet like this, for example, anyone suffering from the following issues might want to give it a go:

-weight gain / weight loss
-chronic migraines / headaches
-diarrhea / constipation
-gas / bloating / nausea
-hair loss
-autoimmune diseases
-rheumatoid arthritis
-irritable bowel syndrome / disease
-chronic pain
-skin rashes

So why am *I* doing this diet? For all kinds of reasons, on a number of different levels. I'll start with the physical reasons. On and off for the greater portion of my adult life I've dealt with digestive issues. It comes and goes and presents itself in different ways, from nausea, pain, constipation, diarrhea, lack of appetite, never feeling full-- you get the idea. The symptoms have become more prevalent lately and are starting to interfere with my life on a regular basis. In addition I've developed regular headaches. I used to NEVER get headaches and now I probably get 3-5 a week. I often wake up with them in the morning. Another issue is very low energy levels. I do know that I am dealing with extremely low iron levels, and am addressing that, but I don't think it's all about my iron. The last major issue is my weight gain. I believe I am at the highest non-pregnant weight I have ever been. A full 2 sizes bigger than I was two years ago at this time. I've definitely fallen in to a trap of eating everything under the sun, and then not exercising it off-- often the lack of exercise stems from the lack of energy.

I've been to the doctor numerous times and she's amazing and supportive and wants to help me figure out what's going on. The symptoms are so vague that it could be so many different things. She has suggested I can do everything from acupuncture and supplements to referring me to a GI specialist for a colonoscopy or doing a CT scan to see what's up with my headaches. Whatever choices I want to make she supports. We've done lots of blood tests, and are still doing them, to rule out other random things like thyroid issues. While speaking with her she has suggested that food sensitivities could be causing some of my issues and mentioned elimination diets if I wanted to travel down that road. The last time I left her office I felt terrified by the idea of running all over town like a hypochondriac to get a ton of crazy tests done and decided I needed to first explore what I could do myself first. My thoughts kept drifting back to the elimination diet. No doctors or cameras up my rear end required.

At the risk of turning this post in to a novel, I'll continue on by saying (if you didn't already know) that I have a degree from Bastyr University in Nutrition. It's sort of laughable, really. I know many people without nutrition degrees that have a great deal more knowledge than I do at this point about anything food related. I haven't accessed any of this information pretty much at all since the day of my graduation almost seven years ago. (SEVEN!?!?) And as they say, if you don't use it, you lose it. And I've lost it. I know the fundamentals of good eating, as most of us do, but I've completely lost touch with my whole foods training. With the connection of food and how it makes our bodies feel and how it affects how they function. The idea of diving in to this elimination diet and being that intimately connected to food was exhilarating to me after having been away from it for so long. As I began researching elimination diets I came across a website called Whole Life Nutrition. It interested me and I ordered the cookbook off of the site. A friend of mine pointed out that the couple who runs the site, and wrote the book, were Bastyr grads. Sure enough, when I looked more closely at the bio page, two smiling faces of past classmates peered back. I was blown away. They are doing with their lives what I only dreamed about when I graduated. I was, and am, completely in awe of what they are doing with nutrition and how they are raising their four children with a love of whole foods and healthy eating.

I hope to use the elimination diet as a spring board for hurtling myself back in to one of my (many) passions after so much time away. To use this as a way to re-connect my body with the food I put in to it. To achieve, or at least begin to achieve, the optimal level of health that has mostly eluded me for the better portion of my life. If the diet reveals absolutely nothing about food sensitivities then--GREAT! I mean, that would be great news because I wouldn't have to start cutting out things like wheat or dairy, but it would still have put me back on the path of better health. I would just need to start exploring those other paths to find more specific answers to what is going on inside my body.

On another note, you may notice that I'm speaking strictly about myself here. My family will not be joining me on the elimination diet, as desperate as I would be for them to do it. For Matt, well, he's a grown-up and makes his own decisions and if he asked about it I would be excited to share, but wouldn't ever want to tell him to do anything like this. Of course, as the main meal preparer in the house, he's probably going to be eating the results of my efforts, but that's about as far as it will go. My girls are so deeply entrenched in mostly terrible eating habits that I wouldn't even know where to begin to dig them out of it. I should clarify, it's terrible by MY standards. Every day Iris has a new food she won't eat. I think maybe I can her to eat broccoli now, sometimes, with a fight. That would be it for vegetables. She's a wee bit better with fruit. We do a lot of smoothies. Anyways, I will keep the elimination diet in the back of my head for them when they are a bit older maybe.

So here in this blog I will chronicle my journey through the elimination diet. I hope to post every day about what I've eaten, how I'm feeling, etc etc. We'll see! It should be fun. The diet will officially commence probably by this coming weekend (I'm waiting for my fancy new blender to arrive in the mail so I can use it to make the green smoothies from the first part of the diet).