Currently I have my favourite lamb stew simmering on the stove. It's been the first day since last Friday that I've gotten out of the house to do groceries (or anything for that matter). Most of the last week has been holed up on the couch, surrounded by Ricola lozenge wrappers, kleenex, many blankets, my new stuffed valentine's frog pillow (thanks big brother - you're super awesome), and my permanently plugged in iPad. In the last week I've watched two and a half seasons of Drop Dead Diva, part of the first season of Fringe, part of the first Season of The Glades, and trying to salvage my raw vocal chords and not hack up a lung.
Being sick is fun.
Being sick is even more fun when you have to make ALL YOUR FOOD FROM SCRATCH.
Now I'm not complaining... don't get me wrong. But it's awkward being wrapped in blankets while you feel like your head may explode, and making chicken broth from scratch just so you can have soup. By the end of the week I was down to very little in my fridge. Thank goodness that I felt human enough to go grocery gathering today.... and buy more Ricola.
I swear these little all natural candies have saved my life (and my throat) this week!
So now that the "sick" is out of the way (crossing many fingers here), I can finally report on my elimination diet progress -- which i know is long LONG overdue.
Here is how it's been going:
As of February 1st, I was able to start adding some foods back into my daily life. Each food is introduced over 3 days: a small amount the first day, a moderate amount the second day, and the third day, a bit of an overload of the food.
I've been pretty much doing this... Some foods I am bleeding together day 3 and day 1 as I've not had any reaction to them, and I've only had one reaction so far that's turned out to be a fluke... or a "bad egg". Not quite sure which.
So Food #1 (Day 32-34) was COFFEE.
Oh my. So this is the "food" I was looking forward to most getting back into my hands and let me tell you I was NOT disappointed. My first sip made me weep with joy. Literally. I am not exaggerating. It was finding a long-lost love. Again, no exaggeration. I wrote a pretty lengthy journal entry on the experience as it was so mind blowing. Let's just say I am thankful to every deity out there that I did not react to it. And since then, I will just say that (as I like my coffee a bit sweet) DARK MAPLE SYRUP is the ONLY way to supplement coffee. Seriously. I now carry a small bottle of it with me wherever I go. Sugar has nothing on maple syrup. Best. Thing. Ever.
Food #2 (Day 35-37) was Hard Cheese.
Another great and amazing addition. All of a sudden my entire food world opened up. There was now a plethora of amazing flavour to be added. I will say that I don't think a single day has gone by since day 36 that I haven't had some sort of cheese every day. I even expanded to soft cheeses with no problem. Life was definitely looking up at that point. After coffee, cheese was absolutely the best addition I could have made. Happy happy, joy joy!
Food #3 (Day 38) was supposed to be Butter but I got a craving -- I have been avidly dreaming of food these past few weeks! -- for PANCAKES. So I delved into my gluten free flour mix from Cloud 9 Flours and made pancakes. And they were DIVINE. I had them for breakfast - no problems whatsoever. I had a few leftover pancakes with dinner (they weren't sweet so they worked with savoury foods as well) and IMMEDIATELY got a headache, body aches, stomach cramps, and an hour later, a very extended trip to the washroom. Life was NOT good any longer.
When a food reaction occurs, the concept is to isolate the food you ate and remove it from your roster, then revert to the last item you added as your last "safe" food and not add anything else for a week. The only problem was that the flour was not just one type of flour - it was a blend. So now I had to isolate each item within the flour... or figure out if I had actually eaten something else that had gone bad.
Eating "safe" kept me going through days 39-44. During this time I tried to go back to the other foods I'd eaten during that dinner. My instinct wouldn't allow me to retry the meat or the cheese I had eaten that night so both went directly into the bin. Otherwise, there was no reactions to anything all that week. I also started taking ALIGN probiotic supplements at this time... though I do admit that I forget to take them everyday, I'm trying to remember. They really seem to help.
Day 45-47 I tried again. FOOD #3, was really meant to be CORN - AS A GRAIN (not fresh) but I had to retry the CLOUD 9 GLUTEN FREE FLOUR. And this time no problem at all. Which, may I say is the biggest relief as CLOUD 9 is the BEST gluten free flour I've ever tried. It's the most comparable with regular flour and far more flavour. Too bad it's so challenging to find! I also tried popcorn and corn meal with no issues. Happy day!
Day 48 & 49, was BUTTER. Now I certainly didn't want to have an "overdose day" of butter so I only tested it for 2 days. No issues. I discovered that I don't really LOVE butter the way I used to anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still love it but I now prefer a drizzle of olive or avocado oil on my pasta or rice when I used to put in a bit of butter. Strange. I guess it just doesn't taste as "clean" to me as the oil.
Day 49 & 50 and FOOD #4 was ORGANIC TOMATOES. Yes, I doubled up on day 49... I figured I would never be eating butter in such quantities that it would need more than a "small" amount. I have certainly grown out of my butter sandwiches stage that I had as a kid! But although the tomatoes were heavenly, (I tried both organic fresh and sundried) I was SHOCKED at how EXPENSIVE they were. Four organic tomatoes for just over $10.00!! This has certainly put a new fire under me to get going on the garden this year again. Although last year I didn't have time, the year before I grew over a dozen heirloom tomato varieties. And we grew them organically. What an amazing year! So much flavour! I am definitely doing that again this summer... I mean honestly. $10.00 for 4 tomatoes. I know it's the middle of winter but really??
Day 51 (FOOD #5) - GREEK YOGURT. And my new love of choice is Liberté's Greek Organic Yogurt. (or as they print it: YOGOURT - which apparently is the true "Canadian" way of spelling it -- I guess you actually do learn something everyday). Costco just started selling it in a case (black cherry, blueberry, strawberry & vanilla) and I grabbed one today. I looked at all the labels and this was the only one without any additives or unusual sounding ingredients. So far so good!
So other than the "fluke" a couple weeks ago, all is good so far. I'm still unable to eat out unless it's a designated "health restaurant". (We ate at FRESH in Toronto while I worked a bridal show two weekends ago and it was AMAZING!!). And I've only attempted the one meal out so far. I just don't trust that there won't be hidden ingredients.
I bought bell peppers today to test this week as well... I cannot believe how excited I am to get to peppers! And I've been craving apples like mad so they I'm sure will come up quickly on my to-try list.
All in all the elimination diet has been labour intensive but well worth it. I lost 21 pounds as of February 10th and have stuck right about the same number since then. I'm sure it didn't help that I was so sick this week (yet still with an appetite - go figure). Now that I am up and moving around again, hopefully that will change my dynamic and keep the scale on it's downward slope. But besides the weight, I feel good about my achievement and stick-with-it-ness which of course is a victory all in itself. Now to finally shake this cold!