Elimination Diet Day 1

And so it begins…

I woke up this morning, ready to go.

Breakfast before…

Oatmeal with a scoop of peanut butter and cinnamon. Half a cup of coffee with soy milk and sugar. Water with lemon.

Breakfast now…

Homemade Cream of Rice (recipe to come!). Grapes. Water.

Breakfast was easy. I’m used to oatmeal, so cream of rice was not a huge departure. In the days leading up to the diet, I knew I had to learn to make some yummy cream of rice, so that’s what I did! I find it much harder to get in my water without the lemon in it. I suppose I could try putting berries in it? Or apple slices overnight to infuse it with flavor? Hmm.. Without my peanut butter and coffee, I definitely felt hungrier earlier than I usually do, which lead to SNACK TIME!

Morning snack before…

Share whatever Cupcake is having- graham crackers, animal crackers, veggie straws. More water with lemon.

Morning snack now…

Apple. Water.

I  know that I snack whenever I am bored, so thankfully we had a fun morning outing. Cupcake and I met up with friends and went to a local library with a giant playroom. That helped distract me enough until the ride home. I was so hungry! I got a little grumpy when Cupcake wanted to nurse before lunch because this mama wanted to eat. I also made the foolish mistake of not prepping any protein last night, so thankfully we had stocked up on some smoked salmon. Yum!

Lunch before…

Typically leftovers from the night before or a sandwich. Other half a cup of coffee with soy milk and sugar.

Lunch now…

Smoked salmon over a big salad (no tomatoes or peppers). Water.

I put Cupcake down for a nap and sat down at my computer. Nap time is usually the time I do laundry, clean the house, blog, work my online job and…snack. I love a good afternoon snack. I started getting really cranky as I opened the fridge and started the mental list of no’s.

That delicious looking cheese stick that is for Cupcake? No. The empty space where my beloved peanut butter used to sit? No.  The leftover deli meat that my husband is using for sandwiches for a few more days until he joins me on this torture plan? No.

But then I gave myself a mental pat on the back because most of the other temptations were gone. What I had to begrudgingly admit was that I mostly saw yes’s. Grapes? Yes. Apples? Yes. Leftover Cream of Rice? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

So I reached for an apple and some baby carrots and settled back down. I also drank a ton of water, hoping to fill me up. I certainly took care of my physical hunger. My emotional hunger was not satisfied. I moved my laptop from its normal place within eyesight of the kitchen to the basement and did the rest of my work there. Cupcake woke up ready and raring to go! We ran around the house and colored and read. She even helped me while I prepped the butternut squash for an amazing new soup recipe!  

PM Snack before…

Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies (delicious!), Teddy Grahams, Cheese Sticks, Yogurt- not all of these at once!

PM Snack now…

Apple. Water.

My husband is working nights this week, so he joined us for an early dinner before he had to head off to work.

Dinner before…

Typically protein (beef, pork, tofu, or chicken), grain (typically pasta or rice) and a side vegetable

Dinner tonight…

Rosemary chicken and butternut squash soup (recipes soon!). Water.

This was the easiest meal of the day! It was pretty typical for us. We usually include tomatoes and peppers in most recipes, so that was a little odd, but nothing that couldn’t be worked around!

I was feeling great! Hubby went off to work. I gave Cupcake her bath and put her to bed. I was on a roll!

But then I was alone. No one would know if I snuck some of Cupcake’s snacks. I could open up the peanut butter jar that I know is hidden somewhere in that pantry and just have the tiniest little bite. But then I realized that if I did that, I was just making it harder on myself. I would have to start over. It would take longer to get all of the crap out of my body. It was not worth it. I mean, maybe it’d be a little worth it in the moment, but it wouldn’t be worth it in the big scheme of things. Instead I settled for an approved dessert.

Nighttime Snack before…

PEANUT BUTTER, chocolate, ice cream, popcorn

Nighttime Snack now…

Leftover Cream of Rice with vanilla, cinnamon and chopped apples. Roobios tea.

I am not even kidding. I think I liked my dessert better than usual! It was so good! I also think I should probably take out stock in rice because I will be going through it like a crazy person! I am so full and that dessert was definitely satisfying. 

So, Day 1 is done. Food wise it wasn’t toodifficult, in retrospect. It definitely is more of an emotional challenge than I expected. I love my food! I had been warned that it could get worse before it gets better, so my current problems include acne, minor headache (probably due to lack of caffeine and weather changes), bloating, fatigue,  and hair falling out (could just be postpartum hormones since Cupcake has cut back on nursing lately). Hopefully these will start to lessen soon!

I won’t be posting every day with what I eat, but will check in soon with updates on how it’s going!

Talk to you soon!

Lindsay

The Night Before…

You know how right before a big storm the whole town seems to shut down? The birds flock home. There are no squirrels in sight. The whole world is eerily quiet, holding their breath, waiting for the storm to appear. That’s my world right now. Okay, maybe that’s a tad bit melodramatic. But, I really feel like I am preparing for something bigger than just an elimination diet.

Today I did our grocery shopping to stock up on all the goodies I need to get me through the next few weeks. It all started with cleaning out the entire pantry to remove any of the major temptations. I moved on to not restocking the fridge as we ran out of delicious things like cheese, and tomatoes, and eggs. I have not made any homemade bread in two weeks. It had been feeling a bit empty (although our food budget was sitting more happily than ever!).

Today I went out and stocked up on turkey, rice, quinoa, fruits and vegetables galore. I feel ready.

But, now I am just waiting. It probably shouldn’t be such a big deal. It’s not like I will be restricted on my calories. I think I’m just scared to have to change everything. There will definitely be no eating out over the next few weeks. I will legitimately miss peanut butter. Nearly all of our favorite recipes are on the “not allowed” list. Even when we can start adding foods back in, it will  be a slow process. I love to cook, but having to prepare every meal from scratch feels a little daunting. Will I be able to resist when Cupcake tries to hand me a piece of cheese to lovingly share? That kid LOVES to share and I realllllly love her snacks! Ugh.

I know this all will probably seem silly in retrospect, but I am honestly nervous about the next few days. I say this completely seriously, how am I going to be without any caffeine? I have been slowly reducing my intake, but I am still nervous. Will I be cranky? Will I be able to be patient with Cupcake? I’ve used coffee as both a pick me up and a appetite suppressant at times, so how will that change? I will miss my coffee! Clearly therein lies the problem. Since when should we have such a relationship with a specific food?

What makes peanut butter, coffee, or sugar so special? Okay, maybe the coffee has an explanation. But, still! I really want to consider why I have such a dependence on these food items.

For much of my life, I relied heavily on prepackaged foods. Diet sodas and low-fat foods were the norm. I thought I was being healthy. As I’ve started cooking more and exploring what food I’m putting in our bellies, I’ve realized how important food is. It is not just fuel. It is more.

So, while it might seem silly, I think I’m ready. I am ready for the mental part of this elimination diet. I am ready to start feeling better, even if it means temporarily feeling worse. I am ready to take charge of my own body and finally know which foods are causing me to feel so terrible. I am ready to start to move away from my heavy dependence on added sugar. Since when did fruit become not sweet enough?

I have stocked my fridge. I have prepared extra fruits and vegetables and rice so that I never catch myself too hungry. I can do this. I am ready to see what changes happen over the next few weeks. Let’s go!

Five Steps for Preparing for an Elimination Diet

When you are about to start an Elimination Diet, you need to make sure that your body is adequately prepared. There are several steps I have taken to (hopefully) ensure that this is successful.

Meet with a medical professional

I cannot stress this enough. This Elimination Diet is not for weight loss. Some individuals will experience weight loss as a result of this program since they will be eating out less and eating more whole foods. These are great reasons to be losing weight on this plan. However, this is not a plan where you severely restrict your calories. It is important to meet with a medical professional who can direct you how best to approach the plan for you. (S)he will help ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients that you need over the course of your Elimination Diet. They will also be able to advise you how to reintroduce the food challenges.

Track your current eating habits

Tracking your current habits is important for many reasons. One, it lets you know the types of foods you consume most frequently. Most professionals will advise you that any food you are consuming nearly every day you should consider eliminating as part of this diet. It will also give you a sense of how many calories you are consuming so that you can aim to be close to that. This diet is restrictive enough!

Plan your meals

Planning is ESSENTIAL to this diet! Most quick convenience food items will not fall under the umbrella of “allowed” foods. This means that there is more of a push for you to plan ahead. Having fresh fruit and vegetables prepared will really help during those moments that are more difficult. You will likely need to do some preemptive grocery shopping to make sure you have all the right ingredients on hand. Knowing ahead of time what your meals and snacks will be makes it much easier to be successful. Cheating on this diet is not an option! If you cheat, you just need to extend the length of the elimination phase-which NO one wants!

In the weeks leading up to this plan, I went through every cookbook we owned looking for recipes that fit the bill or would be easy to modify. I researched websites and scoured Pinterest for ideas. There is a lot out there, which makes it a lot easier! We will be cooking extras of every meal so that when we get hungry, we already have what we need on hand.  Plan, plan, plan!

Remove temptations

People are terrible when temptations are around. If my craving is right in front of me, it is going to be difficult to say no all the time. Sure, I can say no at dinnertime when my family is right there. But what about when I find myself in the kitchen alone in the middle of the night? Will anyone notice that there is a little less peanut butter in the jar? Will anyone honestly know if I steal a few animal crackers from Cupcake’s snack drawer? Maybe you have nerves of steel, but I do not! We rearranged our whole pantry so one whole side is all acceptable foods. The other side has our not-for-nows. If there is something I know I really will want, I have boxed those up and put them in the basement. Remember, these are not gone forever! But, there is something to be said for out of sight, out of mind. Plus, with that delicious fruit salad you prepared (see tip above), you have everything you need!

Plan a phase-out week (or two)

This has been the most helpful tip! An acquaintance of mine posted a picture the night before she started a diet- she was at a restaurant with an ooey-gooey double cheese burger loaded with toppings. She also had french fries with all the fixings. She finished up with a delicious looking double-fudge brownie sundae. It all looked amazing and for some people, that is exactly what they want to do the night before embarking on a new diet.

This is not a traditional diet plan, though. By indulging in these types of items the night before, you will make it significantly harder on yourself! One hidden secret of an Elimination Diet is that you often feel worse before you feel better. Your body is going through cravings and withdrawals to the sugar and the caffeine and numerous other things you’ve been putting in your body. Instead, you want to slowly phase-out from your typical diet to make it an easier transition.

Since October 1st is a Thursday, I actually started phasing-out this past Sunday because I’d rather get a head-start. I have started drinking only half a cup of coffee in the morning and half in the afternoon, as opposed to my normal 2 cups a day. I have reduced the milk and sugar I put in my coffee, as well. Each day I have eliminated one of the foods from my diet that will not return until the challenge phase.

Armed with these tips, I hope that I can be a bit more prepared for what is to come! Wish me luck!

So What Can You Eat?

If you have ever heard of a total elimination diet (TED) before, you know they can be very restrictive. Reading the long list of items you cannot eat leads to a very important question- so what can you eat?

The answer is surprisingly a lot! Again, the TED that I am going on is under medical supervision. This is not a weight loss plan and I am not reducing my overall calories. They are just being altered. Changed. Transmogrified (I love that word).

Now before I show you what I can eat, remember that I am not going this alone. These are the foods that *I* have been told I can eat. There are certainly more limited TEDs out there, but this is the one I was given. I have more range with my meat category than some are given based on a variety of reasons. If I have no changes in my symptoms by the end of the month, some of the following items may be further restricted, but based on current evidence I am allowed all of the following:

Meat- Chicken, Turkey, Lamb and Fish (not shellfish).

Carbohydrates- Quinoa, Rice and Sweet Potatoes

Vegetables- All except for tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and corn

Fruit- All except for bananas, strawberries and citrus

Beverages- Water and herbal teas

This may not seem like a lot. Admittedly, at first I was terrified. But then I started reviewing some of my favorite recipes and realized I could make this work.

Noodles in my favorite Chicken Noodle Soup could be substituted with rice. I could make sweet potato fries with turkey burgers for our cookouts. Baked apples with cinnamon are one of my favorite autumn treats that I can continue to eat. Plus, the goal is not to eat only these foods for the rest of forever. Quite the contrary, the goal is to be able to add in most foods back to my diet! I just want to ensure that what I choose to add back in really works for my system.

Since my husband will be joining in on this with me for moral support (and because I cook most/all meals), it will be interesting when we get to the challenge phase to find out which foods don’t work for his system either! There are bound to be quite a bit of differences, but with that knowledge, I can better prepare meals for us as a family in the future.

Before the Elimination Diet

As I’ve written about, I am about to start a Total Elimination Diet (TED). This is to combat a multitude of health issues I have been having to hopefully identify if there are any food intolerances at play.

As a way to keep a record for myself, I wanted to record any symptoms and issues I am having at my baseline so that I can notice how they evolve and change over time. It will also help me as I start to reintroduce foods to my body later in the process.

My current symptoms:

  • Migraines (2x a month)
  • Digestive Issues
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Acne
  • Itchy Skin/Rashes
  • Runny/Stuffy nose
  • Dark Circles under eyes
  • Frequent muscle aches
  • Anxiety

Evaluation of Current Eating Plan-

For the past month, I have tracked all of the foods I have been eating. I was really hoping to notice a trend in my symptoms and be able to correlate them with what I had consumed so I could avoid an Elimination Diet. Clearly, I was unsuccessful. Using online trackers, I generally keep within 1500-1800 calories a day. Some of my favorite foods are peanut butter, homemade bread, tomatoes and sugary things- all of which will not be allowed on my new plan. I drink coffee daily, and have started to taper that off so that I do not throw myself into a withdrawal-induced migraine once I officially drop that habit. I have to admit I am nervous.

I am taking on this challenge under medical guidance because I want to make sure that I am eating enough. It could be really easy to drop weight if I just limited myself to salad and chicken breast! While that certainly will be a meal option here and there, I want to make sure that I am including everything I need for a well-rounded diet. As I am still nursing Cupcake, I will continue taking my prenatal vitamins to make sure that any temporary nutritional holes in my diet are filled.

I think a lot of this eating plan will be emotional. I have found that over the past few days, I have been craving all of the foods I know I will not be able to have as I get started. It hasn’t been too much of a problem (as I slowly remove my spoon from the peanut butter jar), but I will definitely be sure to include the not so cheery parts of this plan, as well.

I have been told that the first few days are not fun. Oftentimes the body goes through a withdrawal period where symptoms seem to get worse before they get better. When I heard that, I all about jumped ship. Why would I want to do this to myself? I was reminded that although it will be difficult to start, I will feel so much better afterward. The next few weeks will be trying, but as I start to add foods back to my diet, it will just get better and better.

Selfishly, I am glad we are doing this now. There are no major holidays for a little while to tempt me. By the time Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, we will be through the strictest parts and will have many more options to choose from, knowing that they are safe for our bodies. We also would love to expand our family at some point, so I want to do this before that happens. Obviously if I were to fall pregnant, that would be part of the considerations in how to proceed on this plan.

All in all, I am more excited than nervous. I am ready to feel good again! Wish me luck!

April Reflections 

Ugh. People. It’s been bad. Real bad. With all that we have to do to prep for our move, I’ve barely had time to think. Much less focus on blogging or these resolutions. This wil be brutal, but here it goes…

As part of my 2015 resolutions, I post my status each month to keep myself accountable for the goals I set for myself!

1. Design 2015 budget goals with husband to reflect past spending and current saving goals.

We found our dream place! It is in our budget, although near the top. We will definitely have some new budget changes  as we start to figure out what our new life will cost! 

Our May goal is to try and make our move as cost effective as possible! 

2. Go to the gym (or workout at home) a minimum of four days a week.

Check! 

3. Reduce my PR of a 9 min mile pace to an 8 minute mile.

My April goal was to get an 8:05 minute mile.

I ran a 7:57 mid-month! This goal is done!!!!!! In high school I could barely run a 10 minute mile so this is  huge for me! 

4. Try one new recipe a week and blog about it.

With our oven broken still, this goal is not shaping up how I want. Until we move, this resolution is effectively on hold. 

5. I want to continue nursing Cupcake through 2015, unless she chooses to wean earlier.

Check! 

6. Visit my grandma every week before our move. Call her every week after we move.

Complete failure. So disappointed in myself. 

7. Text/call/email a different friend every day to keep communication open.

Check!

8. I will cut my monthly consumption of soda.

In April, my goal was to drink no more than 3 servings of soda a week.

One week I went over, but it’s still an overall better scenario than it was before! I notice that when I’m stressed I turn to soda the way some turn to wine. 

My goal for May is no more than 3 soda servings a week again. Hopefully I can achieve this goal despite the stress of moving! 

9. Subscribe to FlyLady Emails. Complete tasks to maintain clean and decluttered home.

With packing being a primary goal, FlyLady will need to wait until we are officially settled. 

10. Reduce time spent watching TV

My goal for April was focused on reducing my overall TV watching a day. It was a really odd month because we were frequently traveling to find a. Ew place and attended a few weddings. This naturally gave me significantly less time to watch tv. Most weeks I only watched whatever I had on the DVR. 

The only exception to this was we watched quite a bit of TV relate to the riots in Baltimore. As this was a major news story in our soon to be new home- I feel like it was acceptable! 

My May goal will be to only watch something I have on the DVR (unless another major news situation pops up). This will reduce TV time by eliminating the time I spend watching commercials. 

11. Post progress each month on the above goals. 
Check! 

2015 Resolutions

I always am excited for New Years. It is a chance to reflect on the past year and all that is brought. 2014 made me a mom and gave me my beautiful daughter. It has been my most favorite year ever! Needless to say, I am sad to see this year end.

However, I always feel so refreshed after New Years. After spending nearly two weeks relaxing and enjoying with friends and family, I feel ready to turn inward and make my resolutions. I always feel like general resolutions such as “lose weight” and “stress less” are ineffective at best. They are general and lack achievable goals. Instead, I like to make so-called SMART goals.

These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound goals. Each month I will post my progress on these goals in order to keep myself accountable for my progress.

So without further ado…

1. Design 2015 budget goals with husband to reflect past spending and current saving goals.

I maintain a pretty in depth family budget throughout the year. Keeping our budget has allowed us to notice areas in which we spend more than is necessary. In order to be successful at this goal, we need to review our past budgets to find trends in spending. We will look for additional areas to improve.

This goal is not in SMART language, because I will be selecting one area to work on a month. The previous months’ goals will carry through.

For January, my husband and I decided to start slotting ourselves a weekly allowance of $10/week each for discretionary spending. This will include all coffees and snacks we eat out. Money can be carried over week to week to save up for restaurants and takeout. It’ll be like we’re dating again as we will each be able to “take the other person out.” One of our hardest areas is our spending on food outside of the house. This will definitely help control our habits since a typical dinner out is a minimum of three weeks allowance! It will also be helpful because when we meet up with our own friends we will have to use this allowance for any drinks or meals. Any food outside the home will come from this money. I think this will make a big difference over the course of the year!

2. Go to the gym (or workout at home) a minimum of four days a week.
Currently, I try to go to the gym 3x a week. Now that Cupcake is older and increasing solids, I’d like to work out more knowing my supply is ok. We will be moving late this spring, so we may not continue our gym membership, hence why I included an option for a home workout.

3. Reduce my PR of a 9 min mile pace to an 8 minute mile.

Even when captain of my tennis team in high school, my fastest mile time was 10 minutes. Due to an alarmingly low blood pressure when pregnant with Cupcake, I had to stop working out. When I started running again, I ran a 14 minute mile pace. Through a lot of hard work, I have improved to a 9 minute mile in the last few months. My goal is to continue this progress through 2015 and hit my goal of an 8 minute mile!

4. Try one new recipe a week and blog about it.

I want to be able to cook a wide range of healthy meal options for my family. I want Cupcake to start her relationship with food in a positive way. I want to introduce new foods and learn new recipes. Finally, I want to keep it real. Some will be flops- I want to be brave enough to share those, too!

5. I want to continue nursing Cupcake through 2015, unless she chooses to wean earlier.

Fact- I type 99% of my blogs while Cupcake nurses.

Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone or every family. However, it is for us. It’s working. We love it. I never thought I’d last this long (9+ months), but I am still going strong. My ultimate goal is that I will nurse until Cupcake wants to stop. That may mean two more months or two more years.

Likely I will get pregnant again at some point, and then I may change my thinking. However, I’d like it to be Cupcake’s decision. It’s a lofty goal, but one I hope I can stick to!

6. Visit my grandma every week before our move. Call her every week after we move.

“Gramma” is 91. The reality is I don’t know how much time we have left together. I don’t want to waste any of it! While we live close, I plan to take Cupcake to visit weekly. If something prevents this (sickness, travel, etc), a phone call will take it’s place. When we move, I will be hours away so a weekly phone date will stand.

7. Text/call/email a different friend every day to keep communication open.

Since we will be moving, I plan on moving through my contact list every day and reaching out to my friends one-by-one. The typical interactions we have will be gone, so I will need to make a more concerted effort once we move. By the end of each month, I will make sure I have reached out to every one of my friends at least once in a meaningful way (i.e. Not just a “like” on Facebook).

8. I will cut my monthly consumption of soda.

Currently I tend to only drink soda on holidays and special occasions. In the past holiday week I had 5 servings of soda. I count a serving as 8oz, so that a typical can counts as 1.5 servings. My eventual goal is to eliminate it from my diet, but I do not know that it is a realistic goal at this point.

To accomplish this goal, I will set a smaller goal each month. My January goal is to have no more than 4 servings of soda a week.

As a disclaimer, I only drink ginger ale when seriously ill or pregnant. I will not count ginger ale consumption in this goal. I am not sure what the timing of my next pregnancy will be, but there is certainly a chance it could happen in late 2015. Therefore, I want to make sure I set the parameters of this resolution now.

9. Subscribe to FlyLady Emails. Complete tasks to maintain clean and decluttered home.

Many moons ago, I found FlyLady and started using her system for organizing my home. I loved her methods as it focused on progress, not perfection. Each task only took 10-15 minutes and I never had to guess what to do.

What I loved most was my house was always “company ready.” A friend could pop by and everything was as I wanted it. No last minute flurry of cleaning before company arrived! It was the best feeling.

However, life got in the way and I slacked. I returned to my clutter and my flurry of cleaning. I don’t like it. Therefore, I am resubscribing to the emails and will work to get my house in shape!

The best part is she has a whole list of recommendations for when you move to set up a clutter free house. I will certainly be employing her tactics later this year!

10. Reduce the amount of TV I watch.

This is the one resolution I am most nervous about. Why? Well I have several reasons.

-I grew up in a house with TV always on
-My husband and I have gotten in the habit of “background tv” so it’s on and we don’t even notice it
-I like the noise from it. A quiet house is irksome to me.

However, now that Cupcake is here, I am increasingly aware of my bad habits. I do not want her growing up like I did. When I think of the wasted time in front of the tv it blows my mind! What would I do with all that recaptured time?

TV has become one of my favorite ways to “veg” out. I am honestly too embarrassed to even share how much tv I watch in a day, but I’ll sum it up:
I watch the news every morning. I watch the news every evening. I have a few shows I watch weekly. It’s bad.

So since this resolution is not worded as a “SMART goal,” I will pick one for each month that falls under the umbrella of this category.

For January, my SMART goal will be focused on the amount of time I spend watching the news. This month I will reduce my news watching to only while I workout at the gym. There’s not much else on at 5:30 that I enjoy watching. On days I don’t go to the gym, I will allow myself an hour or less of tv news a day. This amount is still higher than I’d ultimately like, but if I reduce it too much, I doubt it’ll be an achievable goal for myself.

11. Post progress each month on the above goals.

So those are my 10 SMART resolutions (plus a bonus for recording them) for 2015. What are your goals for the upcoming year?