Have you ever wondered what it feels like to not eat ANY SUGAR, DAIRY, GLUTEN, GRAINS, LEGUMES, PROCESSED FOODS, OR ALCOHOL FOR 7 WEEKS?!? Well, let me enlighten you.
First things first…. If you read back to my previous posts about my own self-experiment, you’ll find out that I embarked on what was supposed to be a 6 week elimination diet where I basically followed the paleo eating plan by only eating meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts/seeds. What was supposed to be 6 weeks, turned into 7 because my Dr’s appointment where I discuss re-introducing foods had to be rescheduled…meh, what’s another week, right?
So I’ve mentioned before that the reason I embarked on this experimentation was to determine if I have any food sensitivities and identify if specific foods were maybe causing my acne. See, I’ve tried just about every cleanser on the market, and nothing could cure my acne. I did not have severe acne throughout my pregnancies, and my gut was telling me that the issue was hormonal. Well, no tests ever came back irregular, and so my next step was food. I had to understand what was triggering my breakouts from the root…and the more I read, the more I realized how food plays such a crucial role in our hormones, and thus causes our bodies to respond in often negative ways.
Now that you know the backstory…. Here’s my update on how the elimination/paleo phase went. Weeks 1&2 were HELL. I pretty much hated my life, and was uncertain how I’d ever get through 6 weeks. Eating out was not an option, and I basically lived off eggs, chicken, grapes, vegetables and trail mix for a good 10 days. I was unhappy, tired, and felt very very weak. Not good. Read here and here for more specifics on these first two weeks.
Slowly the tide is beginning to turn. I’m starting to figure out my meals, dinner is the simplest, consisting of a meat, half a plate of veggies (broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, carrots, etc), and 1/4 plate of root vegetable (such as spaghetti squash, zucchini, sweet potato) or quinoa. This was how I created dinner for myself each night, and believe it or not I found that my kids and hubby were happy to eat the same things (usually). Some days I would give them pasta instead of the root vegetable that I was eating. Otherwise, we all ate the same. Breakfast was easy… eggs. This wasn’t new to me as I often ate eggs for breakfast anyways, but it usually meant bread or english muffin was involved. I replaced the carb with avocado and spinach, and added 1 egg. I stayed pretty consistent with breakfast. Lunch was usually leftovers from dinner, OR grilled chicken salad with balsamic/EVOO home made dressing.
I will say that by the end of week 4 I felt like I was really starting to get things under control. I was prepping my lunches, discovering some new recipes, and began baking snacks that were paleo friendly. I truly found that having some kind of afternoon snack already made and easy to grab really helped with that typical afternoon energy crash. I HIGHLY recommend these carrot cake energy balls from Joyous Health, and if you want any more recipes, feel free to check out my Pinterest Board.
HOW DO I FEEL?
Truthfully, I’m really beginning to feel GOOD. When anyone would ask me how I feel, my first reaction was always “lighter”. I’ve felt so much lighter, my energy levels stay fairly normal throughout the day. No major ups or downs. I feel sharper (mentally), have VERY FEW cravings for sweets, and I’ve noticed a MAJOR improvement in my skin. New blemishes are fewer than before and I’m noticing there’s a lot less cystic acne, and the blemishes I am getting are clearing up really quickly. All of these are positive signs, and after speaking to my ND she confirmed that if the acne is hormonal, it could take months to clear completely. Balancing hormones is no joke, so I guess I just have to be patient. Which by the way, being patient throughout this experiment has NOT been a strong suit of mine. I think I’ve realized that food is fuel, and without it we break down. It’s a necessity, and so all of the day to day issues we think we have are nothing compared to being hungry or going without. I’ve been more decisive and less patient with how to go about my days. I legit do not have time to hear people complain about mundane things or give excuses about why they couldn’t do XYZ. Seriously, I’ve never believed I could successfully eliminate all of these foods and feel GOOD about it. The fact that I’ve also been working out almost every day for 2 months as well, means that I’ve recognized that we can accomplish ANYTHING we put our minds to. In life we have excuses, or solutions. I’ve made a pact to myself to quit making excuses for why I can’t do something, and instead figure out a solution as to how to get it done. I know this sounds harsh, but seriously, when you set your mind on a specific goal – there are no limits on how to get it done.
The next phase of this experiment is re-introducing foods back into my diet and monitoring how my body responds. It’s a very tedious process because I can only introduce 1 new item of food every 3 days. It will require me to eat that type of food for 2 meals a day for 3 days. I’m actually nervous about this and worried it will feel like TOO much of a food that I am now not used to eating! The good thing, is that we are starting out very basic. Days 1-3 of reintroduction is white potatoes, 4-6 – oats, 7-9 – brown rice, etc etc. Items not on the list for at least another month are dairy (except feta cheese) and sugar. I’m OK with this… because I know that it’s those two foods that I feel I will struggle with the most. I’m actually really excited to eat chickpeas and lentils. Weird, I know!! Here I thought I’d be anxious to indulge in a giant cupcake, and yet I can almost feel the stomach ache just thinking about it. Who AM I????? 🙂
Although nervous, I’m also really looking forward to testing out this phase of the process. I have some suspicions of what will happen, and to be honest I feel so great lately, that I highly doubt I’ll ever go back to the way I used to eat. I’ve kind of made an agreement that I’ll follow an 80/20 rule where I’m eating cleaner 80% of the time (at home, packed lunches, etc) so that 20% of my time (out and about, at friends’ houses, parties, etc) I can treat myself to sweets and or pasta/dairy etc. As it stands now, this seems manageable long term….but I guess we’ll see how that goes!
I’ll try to document how the reintroduction phase goes, and my plan is to track in stupid detail how I feel every few days with the introduction of something new.
Has anyone else done an experiment like this? How did you feel? Was it manageable long term?? Let me know!