July 22, 2019

Vegan Elimination Diet: Weeks 5 + 6

What happens after the first month of an elimination diet? How to survive weeks 5 and 6, plus what I ate during days 29-42.

I’m chronicling my elimination diet and have an update for you. Over the past month and a half I’ve been on an elimination diet. I’m taking you along with me in this journey in hopes that I can help you with any food sensitivities you may have. Check out my other elimination diet posts: Vegan Elimination Diet, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 updates.

Now that I’ve made it through the first month of the diet, things are changing. During Week 4, I discovered my sensitivity to the additives found in plant-based milks. It was such a relief to finally find one of the foods causing my symptoms! Praise God!

Homemade coconut milk

During an elimination diet, once you confirm that you are sensitive to a food, you should cut it out of your diet. If it’s really causing your symptoms, you should feel some relief after several days without eating it. This is exactly what I did.

In Week 5 of my elimination diet, I decided not to add any new foods to my diet. Instead, I focused on healing. I spent the week eating the foods I already tested. And I felt pretty great. For the first time in months, I enjoyed feeling good for multiple days in a row.

Despite my newfound relief, I did have one day where I experienced some moderate symptoms. It’s possible that I had some extra stress that day, so I wasn’t too concerned, but it reminded me that I may not be completely healed. There are still many foods that I haven’t reintroduced to my diet. It’s also possible that there are foods that I thought were okay that aren’t. I’ve made some progress, but I have a long way to go.

Pro Tip #1

This elimination diet is a true journey. Enjoy the times when you feel good and recognize that your bad days won’t last forever. You’re just one step closer to healing.

At the beginning of Week 6 I decided to start adding in more foods. My body was well-rested and recovered from the previous week. I gave it plenty of time to heal after realizing that the store-bought milk was harming me so much.

Day 35: I decided to go big: soy. Soy is one of the top 8 allergens, meaning that most elimination diets suggest you eliminate it. After 5 weeks without any soy products or beans of any kind, I wanted to test my body’s tolerance. Beans are so good for you. Especially soy. Many people think that the estrogen in soy causes cancer, but that is misinformation — in fact, soy products have been shown to prevent cancer.

Anyway, I knew the importance of beans in a healthy diet, so I was itching to get some high-quality plant-protein back in my body. My first test of soy went well! I only had 1/4 cup of dry roasted edamame, but I didn’t notice a reaction.

Edamame Hummus

Pro Tip #2

Being on an elimination diet can mean you’re avoiding many food groups. You’re probably staying away from some foods that are truly healthy. As you decide which foods to reintroduce to your diet, keep in mind that we should aim to eat a variety of foods. You want to ensure you’re getting a complete nutrient profile.

Day 36: I tried edamame again. This time I had it earlier in the day, towards the beginning of my eating window. A couple hours later, I noticed some bloating. I didn’t have anything else out of the ordinary, so it’s likely that the edamame caused my symptoms. Because I had different reactions on Day 36 and Day 37, I had to continue testing.

Days 37-38: I took a break from edamame. If it was the cause of my symptoms on Day 37, I wanted to give my body a chance to relax and detox. And if my symptoms were caused by stress or another stimulus, I wanted to make sure that had a chance to resolve itself too.

Day 40: I tried a small serving of edamame again. I didn’t notice any symptoms so I decided to try some more soy the next day.

Day 41: I had a larger serving of dry roasted edamame and a serving of soybean pasta. Its possible that when I had soy before, I didn’t have a huge reaction because the serving size was relatively small. In order to truly test if I had a sensitivity, I needed to eat several servings.

Pro Tip #3

When testing a new food, you want to try larger servings. Give your body a true sense for larger amounts of this food. If you have a reaction you know you are sensitive. You may be able to tolerate the food in smaller amounts but at least you know the serving size that your body doesn’t agree with.

Soon after eating the second serving of soy (the pasta), I felt very bloated. I probably ate more soy than my body could handle. I know now that I can’t eat more than two servings of soy without feeling bad. My next step was to find my tolerable limit.

Day 42: I tried half a serving of soybean pasta and felt very bloated afterwards. This was interesting to me because I’d had larger servings of whole bean edamame and felt fine. Even though the soybean pasta had only one ingredient, it’s possible that a more processed food would give me symptoms. I decided to test other types of soy (like tempeh, tofu, frozen edamame, and miso) to see if other soy products create any issues.

My plan for the next week or so:

  • Continue testing soy.
  • Determine if I have a real sensitivity to all soy or just some foods.
  • Move on to test a new food.

Check back in a week or two for more updates on my diet!

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