Over the past few months I have been on an incredible journey that has redefined my relationship with food. I’ve always considered myself a relatively healthy eater, but I sought out the help of a naturopath after spending some considerable time suffering from stomach issues that I was beginning to associate with food sensitivities. I reached out to an old colleague and friend of mine, Dr. Carly King who had recently finished studies in naturopathy and practices out of Moksha Yoga in Dundas, Ontario.
After my initial consultation in October, Dr. Carly also agreed that I may be suffering from some food sensitivities and recommended an elimination diet to find the source of my troubles. I had heard of elimination diets in my research before I went to visit Dr. Carly, so I had an idea of what I was getting in to, but I had no idea how difficult it was going to be.
The elimination diet called for the removal of all common allergens – gluten, dairy, soy, red meats, some nuts, shellfish, some fruits, some vegetables as well as caffeine, sugars and processed foods. I decided to start the four week process on October 28 with the aim of avoiding all the yummy treats of Halloween – it was just as hard as it sounds. I had always had an idea that I had a sugar addiction, but it was never as apparent to me as when it was all around me and I couldn’t have any! Getting over my sugar cravings was the hardest part for me, but after my second week on the diet, the sugar cravings started to disappear! It was remarkable. Come week three, I also started to feel the best I had felt in a long time. All of the discomfort that had sent me to Dr. Carly’s office was starting to vanish.
I started reintroducing food in December and was thrown off track come Christmas. My will power was stronger than ever because my food cravings had disappeared, but with all the social outtings and family get togethers, in which I had no control over the menu, some “contamination” occurred and my previous symptoms reared their ugly heads again. I went to visit Dr. Carly after the festivities and we decided to go back on the strict eating plan for two weeks.
I’ve since started reintroducing foods again, but it has been a slow process. I’m almost at the end of my journey, but I’m coming face to face with the big ones – corn, gluten, soy and dairy. Knowing my past symptoms, I’ve been trying to “schedule” these reintroductions to times when I know I can be at home to take care of them.
Despite what I’ve given up and battled through during this journey, I won’t necessarily be sad to have it end. It has been a wonderful learning experience. In particular, my will power amazed me. Here are a couple ways I got through the journey at the height of my cravings:
1. Expand your recipe book
If cooking with limitations isn’t in your everyday practice, take to Pinterest or websites to discover some new recipes because boredom may make your taste buds want to wander.
2. Plan ahead
Hunger is not your friend! Make sure to always have snacks stashed away so that you have something to tame the rumbles in your belly.
3. Cook in batches
I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen over the past few months, but it’s not my favourite place to be. I’ve found that cooking more servings than necessary at dinner time and designating Sunday mornings as ‘food prep time’ has helped get ready to take on each week.
4. Talk about it
At the start of my journey I avoided social situations like the plague because I didn’t think I was strong enough to choose something that would fit in the diet, and because it was easier than explaining to my friends why we couldn’t eat at restaurant x, y or z. At one point, however, I realized that if I was to adopt these eating patterns into my everyday, I had to put myself in everyday situations. I made my friends aware of what I was up to, and not only were they understanding, they were interested! My closest friends still check in with me to find out how the journey’s going. One of my friends also hosted a party and tweaked her menu to make sure that I could eat with everyone – this is going above and beyond, but what can I say? I have great friends. An understanding support network makes the process much more manageable.
5. Find new favourites
I totally buy in to the idea of ‘comfort food’ so to get through this process, I had to find new comfort food. Believe it or not, healthy comfort food does exist! A few of my staples have been sweet potatoes, apple cider and gluten free oatmeal.
6. Remember why you started
You set out on this journey for a reason – take time to note how good you’re feeling, and you won’t want to go back!
Are you starting out on, or in the midst of an elimination diet? Reach out to me! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, or help support you on your journey!