July 1, 2019

Vegan Elimination Diet: Week 3

How to survive the third week of an elimination diet. Tips on making it through days 15-21 and what I ate each day of Week 3.

oil-free zucchini chips

I’m chronicling my elimination diet and have a Week 3 update for you. In case you missed it, two weeks ago I introduced the concept of a vegan elimination diet and talked about why you might want to do one yourself. Check it out: Vegan Elimination Diet! And here’s my Week 1 and Week 2 updates.

Day 15: On Day 14 my friend came in town for dinner, I tried to find a restaurant where I could eat foods on my ‘good’ list. It’s usually very hard to find a restaurant I will eat at and this elimination diet just made it more complicated. We ended up eating at CoreLife Eatery. I was able to build my own bowl so I made a bowl with spinach, quinoa, carrots, ginger, and cucumber. If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll notice that I added both quinoa and cucumber to my diet. While that isn’t ideal, cucumber is in the same family as zucchini and I had planned on adding quinoa in the coming week, so I wasn’t too upset. Honestly, I was lucky to be able to eat at a restaurant at all!

Pro Tip #1

If you’re following the type of elimination diet where you add a single food per day, like I am, try to avoid adding two foods in one day! But don’t freak out if you do. Just give yourself a few extra days to process these foods. Depending on the type of food, you may even be able to tell if one of them gives you a bad reaction.

Day 16: Since I technically tried two new foods on Day 15 I didn’t try any on Day 16. I didn’t have any reactions to the foods I ate the day before, but I still wanted to let my body rest.

Day 17: On Day 17 I tried beets! A serving of beets is considered low FODMAP so I only had one serving which is about a half cup. It was super exciting to try a new food. I didn’t do anything fancy, just ate some sliced beets. So far, so good.

Pro Tip #2

Pay attention to serving sizes. A food may become high FODMAP if you eat too much of it. If you’re unsure, Google it!

Day 18: One of the foods I ate regularly before my elimination diet was bananas. Bananas are one of my top five favorite foods (they might actually be #1!) It was really hard for me to go without my frozen banana for dessert every night. So I was super excited to add bananas back into my diet. There is some debate about bananas and their FODMAP levels. Officially, 1/3 of a banana is considered low FODMAP. Since I was trying to stay low FODMAP for the first three weeks of my diet, I made sure to only have a small amount. I ended up eating about an ounce of frozen banana. It was delicious!!

Day 19: I noticed that I was more bloated than usual during the evening of Day 19. I didn’t add any new foods so I wasn’t sure what caused my symptoms. That day I ate about 2 ounces of banana, so it’s possible that I ate too much. I decided to keep testing the banana over the next few days.

Day 20: I tried banana again and again had some symptoms. However, I noticed a different pattern going on: when I eat a larger serving of food in one sitting, I experience a lot of bloating. This sounds obvious, but I don’t eat a ton of food in general, so it was somewhat surprising to me. I realized that the closer to bedtime that I eat food, the worse my symptoms were.

On Day 19, I finished eating at 6:15 and woke up on Day 20 feeling pretty good. Previously I was following a 16:8 intermittent fasting diet where I started eating at 12 p.m. and finished eating at 8 p.m. It’s very possible that this schedule is not right for my body. After realizing this, I decided to start testing the time of day that I eat.

oil-free sautéed spinach

Pro Tip #3

While an elimination diet is about food, that doesn’t mean you should only pay attention to the food you’re eating. Keep track of everything you can – your sleep, what time you eat, how much you eat, when you go to the bathroom, your stress levels. Anything can trigger symptoms.

Day 21: I made it! This was technically the last day of the elimination phase. After 3 weeks any symptoms from FODMAP foods should have gone away. As you may have picked up on, this was not the case. I had a few days throughout the elimination phase where I felt good, but most days I had moderate symptoms.

This wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for. If I had noticed a large improvement in my symptoms, I could’ve started to add in high FODMAP foods and foods from other groups which I eliminated to see which foods were my triggers. But since over the course of the elimination, I still had moderate symptoms.

It’s very possible that I don’t have a sensitivity to FODMAPS, citrus, nightshades, cruciferous vegetables, beans, or any of the other foods I went without. It’s also possible that I need another week or two on the elimination phase before I reintroduce foods that commonly cause symptoms.

Despite the inconclusive evidence, I created a plan to move forward. It involves testing some food groups as if I was still on the elimination diet. The plan also involves experimenting with the times of day that I eat and the quantity of food that I eat at each meal.

My elimination diet journey isn’t done. I still have symptoms and I still want to figure out what is causing them. So I decided to keep chronicling my diet and plan until I discover the root of the issue. Look for my next post with more details on my next steps of this elimination diet.

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