Discovering food intolerance

by HealthyBeings on August 14, 2010

Two weeks ago I finally decided to put myself on the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) elimination diet to see if I could get rid of some of the symptoms that have been annoying me for quite a while now. The symptoms I was experiencing included frequent headaches, puffy eyes, dark circles under my eyes, frequent bloating, I felt vaguely unwell and I found it hard to concentrate on tasks. These symptoms have varied in severity for some time and it was very easy to attribute these general kind of symptoms to one thing or another and so I was able to ignore the possibility that these symptoms were caused by the food I was eating. A strange thing since I regularly see clients with food intolerance who benefit from this very diet!

However with my wedding day fast approaching I decided it was time to get rid of the symptoms and I started the RPAH Elimination diet myself and I am so glad I did! I am just about to finish day eleven of the moderate elimination diet which allows you to eat all low chemical foods and some moderate chemical foods. Since following this diet I now have no headaches, no puffy eyes, no bloating and no trouble concentrating on tasks. I feel so much better and I’m confident that I won’t wake up on my wedding day with big puffy eyes and dark circles! Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the first four days which caused me great discomfort. When completing the elimination diet it is expected that your symptoms will get worse before they get better as your body goes through a kind of withdrawal.  For four days I had intense headaches and felt quite unwell. I think if I hadn’t known to expect things to get worst before I noticed any improvements I may have given up. Withdrawal symptoms like this may even reoccur into the second week and it’s really important to keep going as this often indicates that you do have underlying intolerances.

At this stage I am yet to complete the food challenges to determine which naturally occurring food chemicals I am sensitive to. I am feeling a little bit anxious about reintroducing some of these foods as I am feeling so much better. However re introducing foods is an important part of the diet to ensure the long term nutritional adequacy of my diet.  So when I have had five days of being symptom free the food challenges will begin! Despite feeling a little anxious I am really interested to work out my tolerance levels for different groups of food chemicals so that I can start to increase the variety of food in my diet again and be social again!

For those of you who are also doing an elimination diet I have included some of the meals I have eaten which fit into the moderate elimination diet. If you think food intolerances might be affecting the way you feel contact Healthy Beings Dietitians today to book an appointment. Remember symptoms will vary from person to person with the most common ones being: recurrent hives and swellings, stomach and bowel irritation, headaches, feeling run down, flu like symptoms, moody, irritable or restless, aggravation of behavior problems such as ADHD and babies can develop colicky irritable behavior, reflux, loose stools, eczema and or nappy rash.

 My meals while on the elimination diet:

Breakfast:  I’m boring! I love my muesli and I’ve hated having to take out my sunflower and pumpkin seeds and change my mixed natural nuts to cashews only but it’s all for a good reason and this is what I’ve been having every morning for the last two weeks. 

  • ½ cup of oats with raw unsalted cashews, 1 tablespoon of low fat natural yoghurt and ½ a  ripe peeled pear

Lunch and dinners:I have alternated these meals depending on what’s happening and I feel as though I have been much better at having a bigger meal at lunch time and then a smaller meal for dinner. The secret is lots of veggies. They fill you up and they’re low in calories – perfect!

  • Scrambled eggs with shallot and low fat ricotta cheese and one slice of white toast (no grains allowed, not happy!) For something different add shredded chicken breast and once cooked top with bean sprouts.
  • Couscous with roast sweet potato, plain chicken breast, snow peas and a dressing from the elimination diet handbook (canola oil, water, citric acid and brown sugar)
  • Salmon with  shallot, soba noodles, bok choy and green beans
  • Lamb backstrap with grilled peeled zucchini, snow peas and home-made tatziki (yoghurt, garlic and cucumber)
  • Home -made chicken and vegetable soup – no stock just water, and lentils, carrot, celery, sweet potato and zucchini, garlic and chicken breast (I’d prefer some chilli and tomato in there but it’s really pretty good).
  • Lamb with sweet potato, snow peas, shallot and low fat ricotta

 Snacks: Special K, Vita Weats with home-made tatziki, homemade pikelets with golden syrup only, raw beans, snow peas, cucumber, peeled apple.

Sweet things: when you just need something sweet! Nestle white melts (only a couple) a tablespoon of Sara lee Butterscotch and honeycomb ice cream.

 Drinks: decaf coffee and water. This was possibly the hardest change for me. Without realizing it I had become quite addicted to my morning skinny flat white. After two weeks of consciously not having the morning coffee, it is a habit I really don’t want to get back in to so I think I’ll try and save it for the weekend only.

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