It’s been a full week since I started the elimination diet, and I’ve had my ups and downs. On the one hand, I’ve been surprised at how well I’ve been eating and how seldom I’ve experienced any cravings, but on the other hand, I’m looking forward to bringing a few things back into my diet sooner rather than later.
While I’ve been fine without alcohol and gluten and even soy, I miss tomatoes, peppers and oranges. Caffeine, I’ve found has been hard to give up in a different way.
Prior to starting the diet, I was only drinking about 12 ounces of caffeinated coffee each day. I would occasionally have a cup of black, green or white tea in the early afternoon, but that would have amounted to a “high-caffeine” day for me. Yet I suffered from serious withdrawal headaches for the first three days on the diet, and milder, more short-lived headaches through day five. It surprised me that caffeine would have such an effect on me. It makes me wonder if I’ll go back to it at all after the diet trial is over.
Sugar has been tough to leave out, not so much for the cravings, as for the role it plays as an ingredient in things like salad dressings and sauces. I have been eating lots of fresh fruit for dessert, and more dried fruit than usual (which I’m not even sure is strictly allowed on the diet, but I couldn’t find anything saying one way or the other).
The most disappointing thing is that so far, I haven’t noticed any big changes. I feel well enough, but my energy levels are pretty much the same. I still experience an afternoon lag and my workouts have been mediocre. I have noticed a slight improvement to the quality of my sleep. I’ve slept for five hours straight without waking up the past two nights in a row, which is about 90 minutes longer than usual. So far, that extra sleep hasn’t translated to extra daytime energy, but it’s a positive sign, so I’ll stick with the elimination phase of the diet a bit longer to see if that turns around.
I should mention that a few days before I started the diet I also started the first run streak I’ve ever attempted – running every single day for a stretch of days. I’m supposed to tough it out for the month of January, and I suppose I will. Perhaps starting these two unusual challenges at the same time wasn’t the wisest decision, but I’m keeping the runs short and easy, so hopefully that isn’t interfering too much with the diet experiment.
I’ll check in again in a week or so, when I may or may not be eating tomatoes, peppers and oranges again. So far, I’d have to say that embarking on an elimination diet without having a specific list of foods to exclude, provided by medical testing, feels a bit haphazard, and I don’t know that it’s worth the bother. Then again, my “symptoms” are not really symptoms at all. Those experiencing real health concerns should probably feel very differently. After all, this is a completely risk-free way to determine potential dietary triggers for a variety of symptoms. How great would it be if you could just stop eating or drinking something and experience relief, rather than have to take prescription medication for the rest of your life?