August 12, 2019

Why I Stopped My Elimination Diet

My elimination diet was going fine until something happened. It changed the way I look at food and how I’m approaching my digestive issues.

Japanese Sweet Potato Rounds

If you were following along on my elimination diet journey (or you happen to be scrolling through some of my posts) you might remember that I left off on a weird note.

I figured out that I can’t tolerate store-bought non-dairy milks. There’s probably some additive or chemical that my body doesn’t process well.

I also learned that I can handle some soy products but not all. It likely depends on the level of processing. For example, I felt fine eating soybeans and tempeh but soybean pasta made my stomach hurt.

This is basically where I left off in my last elimination diet post. My plan was to continue testing some other foods. And I started doing that. I added peppers, a member of the nightshade family. My body felt great with peppers. Actually, I think it really welcomed having a new food. (It doesn’t hurt that I was eating fresh, home-grown peppers :))

But then something happened…


What is VegFest? Well, I was working at 84.51°, a company that does data analytics for Kroger. As part of my job, I helped my manager with an event called VegFest. Kroger and 84.51° were lucky enough to host some amazing plant-based startups. These new brands gave out samples and helped spread the message that plant-based food actually tastes good!

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about this. I knew I wanted to participate to help spread the plant-based movement. BUT I also knew that being around so many plant-based foods and not getting to try any of them would be very difficult. Especially since, in the Midwest, there are very few plant-based companies to begin with.

I decided to participate. The plant-based movement is bigger than me and I want to do all that I can to help spread the message of healthy eating through plants. Everything was going so well, until I met some of the vendors.

These vendors were giving out samples of vegan foods made from real plant foods. Not the processed vegan junk food I was expecting. One company had the most amazing plant-based ice cream with NO added sugar — only sugar from fruit! It was incredible!

Stopping the Diet

I reasoned with myself. This was one day. A day I might not ever get to experience again. And a company that might take years to make its way all the way to Cincinnati from California. So I tried some.

Wow, the ice cream was delicious! It tasted just like ‘real’ ice cream, but it was made with only whole-food plant-based ingredients. I could go on, but this ice cream company isn’t the point.

Once I tried one company’s food, I had to try a couple others. Some of these companies had truly healthy foods. But none were on my elimination diet protocol.

I don’t know what I was expecting. In theory, if my elimination diet was truly working, I would have felt awful after that day. I ‘introduced’ so many new foods during VegFest.

But nothing happened.

I felt fine. Normal.

And then the next day, I had some VegFest leftovers. (Us volunteers got to keep all the delicious leftovers.) And again, nothing happened. I felt normal.

So I kept eating. When I went home for the weekend, I ate foods that my family cooked. If someone offered me a food that wasn’t on my diet, I ate it. And I still felt fine.

What does this mean?

Well, it could mean a lot of things. I have a few theories.

First, it’s possible that the store-bought milks were the main cause of my symptoms. By eliminating those, I could have relieved the majority of my symptoms.

Second, it’s possible that my body just needed a reset. The elimination diet might have served as a rest period for my body. Now that it’s rested, it’s able to process things regularly again.

Third, there could be another cause of my symptoms. Food sensitivities are just one cause of digestive/GI issues. And they are only one element of life. So many other things can cause symptoms: stress, anxiety, change, weather, exercise, activity level… I could go on and on.

Honestly, the true theory is probably a combination of all three.

Homemade coconut milk

Moving Forward

It’s been weeks since VegFest and I haven’t gone back on my diet. Why? Because I’m in a different place now. I’m listening to my body more. I’m paying more attention to my stress levels, to my exercise habits, to everything.

My body isn’t perfect right now. My symptoms aren’t completely gone. But I’m not where I was at the beginning of my elimination diet. I finished my internship. I’m starting my last semester of college. I’m training for a marathon.

Please listen when I say that I have NOTHING against elimination diets. In fact, I still encourage them if you’re having digestive issues. I learned so much from going on my elimination diet. Not just about food, but about truly listening to my body and giving it what it needs.

So, yes, I stopped my elimination diet. I’m not healed and I’m not perfect. But this isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning!

P.S. Read about Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of my elimination diet.

P.P.S. If you’re curious about some of the companies that came to VegFest, my favorites were Frill, YelloFruit, and Savory Wild.

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