As promised to several of you who have been keeping up with my blog, here is a rundown with my experience in doing an elimination diet, part one.
This past March, at the advice of one of my favorite doctors, I started the Blood Type Diet. Some of you may recall this diet when it came out years ago. Most people tried it to lose weight and feel better. But it turns out it can help with inflammation for autoimmune conditions, too. My doctor is autoimmune herself and she said the past several years since she has stuck mostly to this plan, her symptoms have been much better. She has a lot of pain and swelling with arthritis, and this keeps it very much under control. She is Type O, so her plan is different than mine. My mother had once had success with this nutritional plan several years ago too, but found it hard to stick to at the time because there were not a lot of alternatives when shopping and it required, as I have experienced, a lot of work. We are both type A, the most restrictive of the diets to follow. I went by her house that day and she furnished me with her Blood Type Diet books. And both of us immediately started doing it.
It has not been easy, not by a long shot. But I truly think it has been worth it. We were always big lovers of fresh organic veggies and fruits and try to buy most of it at our local farmers market or grove stands. We also do not like a lot of sugar or salt in our foods and we love fresh fish and vegetarian dishes with occasional meats. But as for the rest of it I had it all wrong, according to my type. I had been eating whole grain bread for the past several years. I loved the way it tasted. I had tried some of the better breads like Ezekiel or sprouted wheat, but never was too turned on by the taste. Turns out wheat & gluten were wreaking havoc with my stomach. Certain fruits and veggies were beneficial, while others could cause a bad blood reaction. The list goes on. Suddenly going to the market, preparing food and eating out has almost become a whole other part time job in itself.
I started out with this in a lot of ways like an elimination diet, slowly removing the possible offending foods and eating many of the beneficial ones that I liked. Fortunately a lot of them were my favorites already like artichokes, berries, cherries, melon, squash, lettuce, etc. But others like nightshade veggies (i.e. tomatoes, potatoes) could flare pain and stomach issues. Certain dairies are neutral like yogurt, but most others are not recommended. And a few of the foods that are beneficial on my list do not digest well with me at all and actually flare my symptoms like peanuts. And as far as snacks I ventured as many people have into the area of gluten, wheat, corn and in my case soy free best I could, sometimes spending a lot of money for things that turned out to be disappointments. It can be quite frustrating. Whole Foods and Sprouts have been saviors in this department. I have always loved these stores, but now I often shop there exclusively because it is easier. As much as I love Trader Joe’s, they seem to be quite behind the times lately providing very few choices for gluten free and continuing to have massive amounts of sodium, gluten and spicy pepper in their frozen entrees. Pepper, in my case, flares inflammation.Their produce sometimes leaves a lot to be desired lately, too.
After six months, I can honestly say it does make a difference at least where my stomach has been concerned. I do notice pain, fatigue, brain fog and energy can be a tad bit better, too. Not by much but I think I still have a long way to go. I of course do not deny myself on occasion. I grew up with amazing homemade Italian food and it is too much part of me to give some of those treats up from time to time like tomato sauce. But there are some things I have decided, beneficial or not, are just not ever going to taste right so I am not going to push it. Try as I might, vegetarian spreads like Earth Balance just taste awful to me and since I rarely use butter or margarine anyway, I stick to a pad of it from time to time. Food has always been important to my family. Taste, freshness, good recipes and really enjoying our food are an important part of our quality of life. If I do not like the way beets taste no matter how they are cooked, it probably is never going to happen no matter how beneficial they are. Forcing myself to eat something I do not like is more stress than I need.
The family has come up with some great recipes, too. My Mom has been really creative in this department and she is an amazing cook. And recently my Dad and his wife also started practicing this diet and we have all come up with some good ideas. However, there have been some funny blunders, too. Forget making pizza dough out of oat flower (just ask my Dad) and for spaghetti I recommend Andean Dream (rice and quinoa, very good) over the others. Brown rice tortillas can take a hike! Even though I honestly do not care much for bread at all anymore I miss the convenience of a sandwich from time to time. Wraps are hard because most of those have gluten, so it is tricky, especially when eating out.
I have included some books I have here that I have found helpful hints and information in. Like everything else with my condition and others like it, there is no "one size fits all" so I use these as reference, gathering things from each one that might make a difference. While "weight loss" is a common theme in these types of books, this is not my issue at the moment. As a matter of fact, since I have dropped wheat and gluten from my diet I have lost more and I was not in need of losing any. I did it to try and feel better and improve my stomach and reduce inflammation. But for those who find losing weight a goal, some of the ideas in these books might have some insight. For those of you with children experiencing issues, "What's Eating Your Child" is not only an excellent book to review for them, but for yourself as well. After reading it I found clues to some of the issues I had when I was little and why I probably had them.