I’m not going to lie, the first month of my elimination diet wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. While the list of foods I can’t eat isn’t exceptionally long, it has been a bit of a puzzle trying to figure out what to eat every day. The first two weeks in particular, were a big learning curve.
If you’ve read my “Nutrition Journal: What is an Elimination Diet? + Why I’m Committing to One” post then you know that the list of foods I’m sensitive too isn’t too daunting (at least that what I thought when I first saw it), but upon closer inspection and emersion into the diet, I realized that this combo of foods was going to be far more challenging to eliminate than I expected.
For starters, I LOVE potatoes and corn. When I saw that these two veggies were labelled as high-sensitivity on my food sensitivity test results, I had a little moment of panic, but then I gathered my self together and focused on all the great fruits and veggies I can eat. The only problem is, corn and potato are in a lot of really great dishes, and ones I make on a regular basis (potato and corn soups, homemade fries, enchiladas, roasted potatoes… the list goes on), and they’re often included in dishes that are offered at restaurants. They also tend to be lingering in many pre-made and packaged foods (ex. corn starch, potato starch, corn meal etc.)
The elimination of these two veggies has also affected my snack game. I’m a sucker for chips and dip, and am always whipping up my own mini-sized dips (artichoke, guac, salsa) to go along with organic sea salt tortilla chips (aka. corn chips). These tasty snacks are my serious go-to when I’m super hangery after work or a day of running errands. I also love my evening organic popcorn topped with nutritional yeast, both of which are also off limits (NOOOO not the nooch!).
After mourning the loss of potato and corn, I began to realize that my initial intention of going gluten-free (wheat and barley are off limits) wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought either. Many gluten-free products use corn, potato, or rice (another sensitivity) as substitutes in the form of flours, starches and/or meals. Add a sensitivity to eggs into the mix and it makes cooking and finding staples like bread, baked goods, and pasta a bit tricky. Not to mention, many ethnic dishes, most pre-made foods, and almost all traditional breakfast dishes are now off the menu. Needless to say, I’ve become an intense label reader over the past month, because almost everything that I don’t make myself contains at least one of these ingredients.
At first, I was pretty excited that I could eat gluten-containing ancient grains that are less processed, like Durham, spelt, oat and rye. Unfortunately, it’s quite hard to find products that contain ONLY these grains and are not combined with other flours like wheat, rice, corn or almond (almond is also on the no, no list). I really had no idea it would be so tricky! Fortunately, I live in a kick-ass town where healthy food is a top priority. I was able to find whole spelt bread from one of the amazing bakeries in town (a big shout out to The Kootenay Bakery Café on this one!), they even have 100% spelt flour pizza crusts, which made my day… or should I say my next three months, haha.
It’s also been an adventure trying out new kinds of non-dairy milk. I’m an almond milk girl, so finding out I’m sensitive to almonds forced me to be more adventurous. I’m not a huge fan of soy milk so I’ve opted to try cashew, coconut, oat, hazelnut and hemp milk. Oat and hemp milk work great for cooking and baking as they have a light clean taste that won’t overpower your dish. Coconut, cashew and hazelnut have been super tasty in my morning latté and I usually pair coconut milk with matcha tea, and cashew or hazelnut milk with cacao/mocha based drinks.
In terms of health, I’ve felt much lighter overall and have had waaay less brain fog (yay!). I’ve also had minimal to no digestive issues, and my monthly migraine was much less intense than usual. This months migraine seemed to take a bit longer to come on, but once it did, the headache part was somewhat manageable. I still had aura, light and sound sensitivity, but the overall experience was much less debilitating — which I’m counting as a win! I’m optimistic that in the months ahead they’ll become less and less problematic.