Elimination Diet Results: Week 1

I am a week into this Total Elimination Diet (TED) and, well, I don’t love it. I mean, I don’t hate it. But I could really go for a cookie. Actually, that’s not even true. I’m not missing cookies or really any other sweets. I miss beef. Like a good medium-rare burger. I did suffer from anemia in the past, so totally legit reason to introduce beef sooner rather than later because of how delicious it is iron. Right? I digress.

Day 1:

Woke up feeling ready to go! So excited! Loving life! I had prepped and prepared and felt good to go. For the most part the day went well. I definitely crashed into bed that night, so happy that one day was down!

Day 2:

I slept really well last night. I woke up feeling pretty chipper. It might be my imagination, but my bloating doesn’t seem as bad as usual. My acne looks a bit better, too, but that must be unrelated because seriously 24 hours of this TED could not have made a difference, right? We’ll see.

I also am unusually cold and tired by 8am. Then I see my beautiful Keurig. Did you ever notice  how pretty they area? No? Oh, okay. Well, I miss my coffee. I think at this point it’s more the warmth factor than the caffeine factor. I do some jumping jacks instead. This helps for about five seconds. It is also freezing outside, so that probably is not helping things. I decide to start cooking dinner at about 10 am, just so the house warms up. I make butternut squash soup and roast the seeds (yes, just like with pumpkin!). So delicious and makes for a wonderful early lunch.

When Cupcake goes down for her nap, I try to lay down, too. I’m just so tired. I walk over to the Keurig and think that maybe just a half cup of coffee couldn’t be that bad. I debate asking a babysitter to come so I can go out and get decaf coffee. I Google “Can decaf coffee really cause migraines?” The answer is yes. I feel sad. I make an allowed tea (green and black tea is out) and barely drink any of it because I cannot add anything to it and I want to have a pity party. At this time, I develop a headache and become pretty darn cranky.

I struggle through the rest of the day snacking on chicken breast and grapes. After dinner, Cupcake desperately wants to go outside. I take her on a walk. I end up even more cold, so we come home and have warm bath/showers. I feel much better. I go to bed without my late night treat and that feels weird, but also ok, because I’m pretty full from my dinner- spaghetti squash with chicken, zucchini and onions. So yummy. I crash into bed and fall asleep very quickly.

Day 3:

Cupcake woke up at 3am for.the.day. I amazingly feel not too miserable, but know this day would be a lot easier if I had some coffee. I make myself hot water. I seem to have lost 3 pounds- probably from an insane amount of fiber I am now consuming. A lot of water weight, too, as I definitely am noticing less bloat. My muscles hurt a little and I am very cold. I eat ground turkey for breakfast with quinoa and feel quite full. Acne seems to still be improving. My headache is going away, but my legs kill. It feels like I did 100 squats. I have no energy to do even one, so not sure what that is about.

I am really liking most of the food I am eating, but I am running out of my butternut squash soup, so I know I will need to get that. Soups have been my best friend in keeping me warm! I manage to take a nap midday, which usually is really hard for me to do. I go to bed at 7:30pm and fall asleep very quickly.

Day 4:

Today was NOT good. I wake up feeling well rested, despite having crazy dreams all night long. I have lost another two pounds, bringing my total to five. I am back to my “normal” zone after having been insanely bloated for the last few months. I don’t actually want to lose anything below this, so am hoping to regulate out here. My skin feels very smooth. My headache is definitely gone. My leg pain is better and I’m hoping I’m through the worst of it. Then, I get to church.

I kind of did not think through the whole “communion” aspect of church. We only have communion once a month, so it was not even on my mind as I planned this out. I get in the line for the gluten-free communion. I seriously debate getting up in the middle of church to find someone to give me the ingredient list, but don’t. I should have, but I didn’t. If I had a real allergy, that’s one thing, but this is just to identify migraine triggers and potential intolerances-so I feel silly. I say an extra prayer and eat my communion. I also took my old multivitamin out of habit, which includes trace amounts of soy. WHOOPS. This all happens within a 2 hour time frame. I get a small tummy ache, but I’m not sure if that’s just because I’m worried that I just messed it all up.

Part of me thinks, screw this plan. I already messed up, might as well have something I really want. I go to the grocery store as planned and see so many things that are on the “banned” list. Nothing actually seems appealing, except maybe the coffee. Mostly, I just want to get home and start making more butternut squash soup. So I buy my squash and go on my way.

The rest of the day is fine, but my leg pain comes back with a vengeance and makes it hard for me to fall asleep. Boo.

Day 5:

Today was not a good day at all.

I woke up with a ton of leg pain. My congestion, which had seemed to be improving, is back. Probably due to all my mistakes yesterday. I feel tired. I also am so cranky. I owe my family apologies for this day! Literally everything is annoying me right now. Work- annoying. Cats- annoying. How cold I am-annoying. I get so fed up with the diet that I spend a good amount of time googling if I am insane for attempting this. I weigh myself and am up 2 pounds and definitely feeling bloated. I will definitely need to check the ingredients for that communion matzo we have at church! I probably should hide my old multivitamin. I finish out the day with my sweet husband making salmon and baked sweet potatoes for dinner. Cupcake inhales the salmon!

On the upside- my skin looks great! It is so smooth. I usually get a lot of pimples under the surface-so they just look like skin-colored bumps. In the last month, they have been all over my face in a level I never even saw as a teen. However, it definitely seems better.

Day 6:

I wake up an hour earlier than normal and actually feel pretty alert. I have some leftover quinoa and ground turkey for breakfast. I try to give Cupcake her typical egg breakfast, but she spies the salmon in the fridge and begs for it! I am so excited she is starting to like fish, because I still don’t really love it. I only give her a small amount (to limit her mercury intake) and mix it in with her eggs. She is in heaven and nearly licks the plate clean! I am jealous of her delicious egg and hope that when I challenge eggs, I do okay, because I love them. Also, they’re in everything- so there’s that.

We head off to our playgroup and it is at this amazing local tire park. Cupcake has a blast playing with her friends. I am completely worn out chasing after her! I need coffee. I miss coffee. ALL I WANT IS COFFEE. I am cranky. I know this. I try to not show it, but mostly I want to crawl under a blanket and cry a little. I am wicked emotional on the way home and end up crying to half of the songs on the radio. Cupcake eats a quick lunch and goes off to nap.

I turn to the pantry and thrust open the side of the “banned” substances. I think and plot and plan. Then, I remember I have a phone date with a friend and call her instead. While on the phone, I grind up some rice to make homemade cream of rice. It isn’t the most delicious snack in the world, but it fills me up to the point where I don’t want anything else even after we get off the phone. I decide to lay down and get a quick nap before Cupcake is awake.

The rest of the day is pretty busy. Hubby has to work late, so thankfully Cupcake is well-behaved, since I do not have my normal patience. I go to bed around 9 and manage to fall asleep pretty easily.

Day 7:

I cannot believe I’ve made it a whole week. I mean, I did have my whole communion-snafu, but oh well. I hate to say it. I don’t want to say it. I think I’m unfortunately feeling better. I say unfortunately because that means that there probably is something really bothering me. Aside from the initial no-more-coffee headache, I have been headache- and migraine-free! I also am definitely less bloated and my skin looks great. I am sleeping better and seem to be *ehem* digesting things better, too. The biggest negative symptoms I am still experiencing are fatigue and being emotional. I hear these can be food intolerance symptoms, too, so I will just wait it out a few more days and hope those disappear soon.

I wake up feeling relatively alert. I have noticed the past few days that my mouth still feels very clean first thing in the morning. That’s a random bonus. I am down a pound from yesterday, making it an overall total of four pounds lost this week. I really thought I’d miss sugar more, but really what I crave is salt. I am allowed that on this diet, but I want to be careful I am not adding too much. I will want to watch that in the upcoming days.

My mood seems more stable than yesterday and I have a good deal of energy. I have not yet attempted a formal workout during this first week, but decide that today is the day. I go for a run in the afternoon with Cupcake and then we play hard at the playground before dinner. It feels good and my mile time is steady, so I feel like I have been doing a good job of making sure I get enough of the nutrients I need.

Looking forward to next week:

I am starting to get a bit bored of my current rotation of meals. My in-laws are also coming into town, so I will have to carefully plan my meals so that I can be an accommodating host and not drive everyone (including myself) crazy making multiple meals. I have been told that if I go a second week headache free, there is a slight chance I will be cleared to trial a small list of foods that are unlikely to cause a reaction, but will provide me with a more well-rounded diet. Fingers crossed!

On Pins and Needles 

I’m just waiting. 

Waiting for the crying to start. Waiting to hear the tummy grumbles. Waiting. 

Who knew a bite of yogurt could evoke such fear? 

The first two weeks of Cupcake’s life were magic. Nursing hurt like all hell, but she was doing great. Within three days of leaving the hospital, she had gotten back up to birth weight, plus some. She ate like a champ. I was motivated to keep nursing until finally it stopped hurting. It was heaven and life was good.  

But it quickly became apparent that something was amiss. Cupcake spit up non-stop. We’d go through about 5-6 burp cloths a day and at least two wardrobe changes for all of us. My washing machine became my BFF. 

My friends meant well, but who wants to hold a pukey baby? The answer is almost no one. We tried every trick in the book, but it was getting worse. We held her upright after nursing. We let her sleep on an incline. Nothing helped. She was miserable. Admittedly, I was, too. 

I didn’t know how to help my baby. I felt like I was failing at this momming business. I spent hours and hours researching. I kept a food diary for two months to try and identify a link with when her spitting up was worst. We put her on Zantac to stop her potential reflux. Nothing was getting better. 

One night, as I changed my pajamas for the second time, I stumbled across a webpage that changed everything. I started reading about babies that have a cow’s milk protein intolerance (CMPI) These babies not only react to any dairy they ingest, they react to the cow’s milk proteins that get passed through breastmilk due to their mother’s diet.  Nursing mothers need to completely eliminate all forms of dairy from their diet if their baby has a CMPI. 

The difficulty is that a nursing mom can’t just stop eating dairy for a day to see a difference. It takes several weeks without these foods to notice a change. Additionally, dairy is hidden in SO many foods. As hard as it would be for this cheese and chocolate lover, I knew I had to try. I figured I had nothing to lose. If I went dairy-free for three weeks and there was no improvement, I wouldn’t be any worse off. At least I felt like I was finally doing something instead of just letting Cupcake be miserable. 

On August 10, I started my journey. I read every label in our house and knew which foods were “safe” (hint, hint, not many of them!). It was hard. I missed cheese. I wanted pizza and lasagna. I missed chocolate. I missed the freedom of ordering at a restaurant without having to talk to 5 different people to get my order right. 

However, within two weeks I noticed a change in my baby girl. She went from spitting up so many times a day I couldn’t even count, to just once or twice. She slept better. She seemed so much happier. I saw a lot less of my washing machine.  As time went on, she continued to improve. 

 I went to her next pediatrician appointment and told them what I was doing. They thought that her issues were strictly reflux and wanted to increase her prescription Zantac since she was growing and needed a higher dose. I declined.

Then came the inadvertent test in October. My husband and I had weaned Cupcake off her Zantac with no problems. We were at a party and, although I had checked the ingredients in one dish, I hadn’t checked closely enough and ended up eating some dairy. I had only has two bites when I realized. 

To try and make it a true test, I didn’t even mention it to my husband. I wanted to see if he observed any changes. Within 24 hours, Cupcake had spit up a few times, which she hadn’t done in quite some time. He definitely noticed the change in her and asked me if I had eaten anything strange! Thankfully, I had only ingested a small amount, so her symptoms stopped relatively quickly after one long night of not sleeping and quite a few tears. 

So I skipped all the dairy filled goodies of the holidays and had settled myself with the idea that I hadn’t had “real” pizza since August. Eating dairy-free was becoming easier and I was starting to not miss most of the foods I used to eat. 

Although I get the feeling the pediatrician might not totally agree with me, he’s being supportive. We found a dairy introduction guide to trial slightly before her first birthday, so that we could discuss the results at her one year appointment. 

So here I am. Waiting. 

I am about to give my daughter her first taste of dairy. If it goes well, we get to try butter next (yum!). If not, I willingly subjected my poor baby to the pain and discomfort that will follow.

Here goes nothing… 



Update: It has now been 24 hours since she had the yogurt. So far, all has been good! Totally as if nothing had happened. I am frightened to get too excited yet, but I am about to burst!!! 

Easy and Clean Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

I literally have no idea how I made it the past 27 years without this recipe. My sweet friend Katie posted a picture of these delicious little treats online and I knew I had to have it. Please drop whatever you are doing and make these!

The original recipe is awesome and super easy to follow. It’s dairy-free (and vegan!), which is always a big winner with me because I LOVE me some chocolate, but it can be really hard to find without milk. I knew I had to try it! I made a few substitutions based on what we had in the house and personal preference, and they came out perfectly and took me almost no time to prep. The hardest part was waiting for it to freeze!

I highly recommend using refined coconut oil to avoid an overpowering coconut flavor in this recipe!

Ingredients

Crust:

3/4 cup quick cooking oats
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Peanut Butter Filling:

1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate Topping:

1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (or use a silicone pan like mine!).

IMG_3735Mix together the ingredients for the chocolate crust. Press evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. Put in freezer to set. (Approx. 10 minutes)

IMG_3737Mix together the ingredients for the filling. Remove pan from freezer. Evenly spread filling over the top with a spatula. Return pan to freezer to set. (Approx. 15-20 minutes)

Now it’s time for the topping! Stir the ingredients until you have a smooth sauce with no clumps. Take the pan out of the freezer and pour the sauce over the peanut butter layer. Return to freezer until firm. (Approx. 1 hour) If you were using a pan lined with parchment paper, you can gently pull the paper to remove the bars from the pan after they are firm. If using a silicone pan, just pop those bad boys out!

Disclaimer: I have no pictures of the chocolate sauce stage because I may or may not have started trying to eat it the second it was ready.

Store these in the fridge (up to 2 weeks) or the freezer (up to one month) in an air-tight container. The original poster preferred to keep them in the fridge so they did not get too firm over time. I find that hysterical, because ours did not last long enough to ever get “too firm” in the freezer. Perhaps in you have more restraint than I!

Here is the one picture I managed to snag before we immediately devoured it! I cannot wait to make these again!

IMG_3743

The “V” word

In our house, we freely throw around the “v” word without any problems. Although Cupcake is talking (and definitely listening to everything we say), we feel like her use of the “v” word is totally acceptable.

So two weekends ago, we had my in-laws over to celebrate a birthday. When they walked in the house, they immediately remarked how great it smelled. I presented my cake it by my husband’s affectionate name for it- Pancake Cake. As we dug in, they oohed and ahhed over it. When it was time to wrap it up, they happily took home ALL the leftovers.

Little did they know I had really made “v” cake. That’s right, people, I served my family members a vegan cake. What “v” word did you think I was talking about?

When I told them it was vegan, they were definitely surprised. It seems like in our social-consciousness, vegan is a dirty word. It represents a lesser alternative. It’s gross. It’s out there. It definitely isn’t so delicious that you take home all of your leftover came. No, with a vegan cake, you politely smile and make up some reason why it’s really ok, you do not need the leftovers. You’re on a diet. It would go to waste at your house. Oh no, no, the baker should get to keep the leftovers. Right?

I hate to admit, I used to be afraid of vegan foods. When I was originally told I had to avoid all dairy for Cupcake’s intolerance, I was not pleased. An avid baker, I had no clue what I was going to do! I didn’t want to make gross food! So, I gave it all up. No faux cheese for me! No butter! No yogurt! No milk chocolate! It was rough.

But one day, I was at a restaurant that literally only had ONE option they could promise was dairy-free. It was called “Vegan Ravioli.” This presented many problems. 1. It had the dreaded “v” word. 2. Ravioli without cheese? 3. Ravioli without cheese? (I’m half-Italian, clearly ravioli sans cheese should count twice). I begrudgingly ordered it and awaited the disaster.

As they put the plate in front of me, I crinkled my nose and poked at it with my fork. I cautiously dug in. My husband watched as I carefully chewed my bite. And people, it got weird. It was the best ravioli I had ever ever ever tasted. Not the best vegan ravioli-the best any kind of ravioli. Shh, please don’t tell Grandma Rose! And so, my eyes were opened.

Over the past few months, I’ve experimented with many vegan recipes. I find when I present them to others, they have my former reaction. “And it’s vegan?” they say. I see the judgment happen before a single taste. So now, I let the food speak first. I just wish someone would have captured my sweet father-in-law’s face when I told him about Pancake Cake!

My sweet Cupcake is sick this week, and I hear her waking in her crib, so I will post the Pancake Cake recipe soon! In the meantime, any delicious recipes you have that are vegan? Please comment below!