How to survive the fourth week of an elimination diet. Tips on making it through days 22-28 and what I ate each day of Week 4.
I’m chronicling my elimination diet and have a Week 4 update for you. In case you missed it, last month I introduced the concept of a vegan elimination diet and talked about why you might want to do one yourself. (Check out my other elimination diet posts: Vegan Elimination Diet, Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3 updates.)
Technically I finished the elimination phase of my diet when Week 3 ended. However, my symptoms didn’t improve. So here we are at Week 4. My plan for this week was to ensure that I followed the low FODMAP serving sizes to a T. I also wanted to change my food timing habits.
In a previous post I explained that I practice intermittent fasting. I used to fast until noon and eat until 8. I like that timing but I thought that eating that late might be part of the reason why I was having so many symptoms. For Week 4 I planned to stop eating earlier in the day.
Day 22: I had trouble finding flax milk so I decided to try almond milk. Almond milk is low FODMAP in 1 cup servings. I use 1/4-1/3 cup for my overnight oats, so I figured that I would be fine. I also bought some almond yogurt (because I had trouble finding coconut yogurt, I’m sensing a theme here…). A couple spoonfuls of almond yogurt and felt fine. I had an idea for a recipe or two using plant-based yogurt so I was happy that the initial taste went well.
Day 23: I didn’t try anything new because I wanted to make sure the almond milk and yogurt were okay with my body. I ate some spaghetti squash with almond yogurt on top and it was delicious! I can’t believe how amazing a two-ingredient meal was. YUM. The only problem: I didn’t feel so good that evening. I realized that I ate a larger serving of almond yogurt and I also ate a larger serving of banana. I wasn’t sure which food caused my symptoms.
It’s important to keep track of portion sizes. You might be able to tolerate a food in a small amount but not in a larger portion. If you notice a sensitivity, try testing larger or smaller portion sizes and note your symptoms.
Day 24: I needed to test which food affected me the day before: almonds or bananas. I ate no bananas and instead drank almond milk, used almond milk in my overnight oats, and made myself a large serving of spaghetti squash with almond yogurt. At the end of the day, I felt terrible. I might have found one of the foods that I can’t tolerate!
Day 25: To make sure that almonds really do affect me, I went the entire day without almond milk or almond yogurt. Besides the almond products, I ate the exact same meals I did on Day 24. At the end of the day, I felt so much better than I did the day before. I concluded that almonds are likely one of the foods that I can’t tolerate. This was a big revelation, because before starting the elimination diet, I used to drink almond milk every day. It’s very possible that I was having a continuous low-grade reaction to almonds.
Day 26: After learning that almond milk and yogurt had such a big impact on my body, I decided to do some more testing. I could tell that the almond yogurt really impacted me, but I wanted to see if almond milk caused some of my symptoms. After drinking some almond milk, I paid very close attention to my body. While I didn’t have a reaction like I did with the almond yogurt, I did notice that I had slight stomach pain and discomfort even after drinking a little almond milk in the morning.
Because almonds can be high-FODMAP in large quantities, I did some research on the types of FODMAPs in almonds to see what other foods I might be intolerant to. I also researched almond allergies to determine if I might be sensitive to other nuts. When I ate almond yogurt, I felt symptoms within a half hour. If I had an almond allergy, I would likely have symptoms immediately. If I had a FODMAP intolerance, it might be an hour or two before felt symptoms. I suspected an almond allergy, but I wasn’t 100% sure.
Do your research! I didn’t know much about almonds (besides their amazing nutrition). But as soon as I realized that I could be sensitive to them, I scoured the internet for information. I learned about the two FODMAPS in almonds as well as nuts that I could be allergic to if I suspect an almond allergy. In a food sensitivity situation, the internet is your friend!
Day 27: I felt relieved to discover my almond sensitivity but didn’t want to try anything new. But at the end of the day I saw a delicious kombucha waiting patiently for me in my fridge. It was a Friday and I was very tempted, so I drank it. In hindsight, I should’ve let my body rest, but I didn’t feel ANY symptoms from the kombucha. I expected this. I first tried kombucha less than a year ago, so it likely wasn’t the cause of my symptoms.
Day 28: On the last day of Week 4, I finally had access to flax milk. In the morning I had a turmeric latte with flax milk in it. It was delicious, but I had slight stomach discomfort after drinking it. When I had my oatmeal, I drank even more flax milk and I felt even worse.
I remembered that a few weeks ago during Week 1 of my elimination diet, I added flax milk back into my diet on the day that I added flax seed. When I chose to add flax milk, I assumed that if I could tolerate flax seed, I could also tolerate flax milk. Maybe I was wrong.
I didn’t account for the additives in plant milks like flax milk and almond milk. To achieve a milk-like color and consistency, manufacturers add gums, pastes, flavors, oils, vitamins and tons of other things. I did some research and found out that people with IBS-like symptoms might have a stronger reaction to these chemicals. I also learned that consistent low-grade exposure to these chemicals can lead to larger amounts of the chemicals in your body.
My new hypothesis: these unnatural chemicals found in plant-based dairy substitutes caused my symptoms, not almonds.
Never assume anything. Explore all the possibilities and keep track of ALL ingredients. I made a rookie mistake by not considering the other ingredients in almond and flax milk. Remember that any food or ingredient you put in your body could trigger a reaction. Suspect all foods until you prove them safe.
Overall, Week 4 was a very interesting one. I listened closely to my body to learn what caused my symptoms. When I thought something affected my, I dove deep into research about food sensitivities.
I’m so glad I decided to stick with the elimination phase for another week. Check back next week for what I did during Week 5.
a daughter of the Lord who eats lots of plants. I’m glad you’re here! On The Plant-Based Catholic I bring you nutritious, plant-based (vegan) recipes, explore the relationship between food and faith, and share my unique lifestyle.
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