I never thought I would (EVER) try an elimination diet. I love food. My diet is relatively healthy. I don’t have any major health issues. I don’t have any food sensitivities. That I know of. Why would I eliminate any food that I enjoy, nevertheless entire food groups? So when my best friend visiting from Georgia suggested I try it with her my answer was a confident, “Nope”.

Over the course of the weekend as she was reading up in preparation for her temporary upcoming diet change she oh so casually mentioned a few of the conditions affected by food allergies and/or sensitivities. Bloating, constipation, persistent diarrhea, acne, chronic pain, autoimmune diseases. So far I’m still feeling good in my decision. Seasonal allergies, sugar cravings. Meh. Yes, but who doesn’t. Circulation issues and eczema—Ding, ding, ding. She got my attention. I’ve battled eczema for years and have been unable to find any medication or home remedy to relieve it long term. I also have Raynaud’s disease which is more of a nuisance but currently has no cure. Reluctantly, I agreed to participate in the program at the very least to support my friend. Maybe, just maybe I’d find a trigger for my eczema and Raynaud’s and get a grip on my sugar cravings.

My friend headed back home to Georgia having won me over and we embarked on this journey together. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy but having someone along for the ride made it better. For 30 days we complained to each other, sent proud pictures of our meals back and forth, encouraged each other and ultimately celebrated our accomplishment.

So what did I learn? First, I was constipated and didn’t even know it. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” I won’t go into details here but…Relief! Second, sugar cravings managed. I still love a bite of something sweet but I after the initial “detox” I really don’t feel the urge to snack on baked goods and sugary sweets and am more likely to reach for some fruit instead. Eczema completely cleared. In addition, the itchy scalp and temporary rash on my face and neck after showering (I thought was from shampoo ingredient sensitivities) also cleared. It also confirmed what I already knew about a milk sensitivity. Last, I didn’t have one headache during the 30 day program. That could be a coincidence but I had them frequently enough to make it worth noting.

The dirty details. It takes planning, preparation and time. Initially I spend more money and time trying to find foods that were “on the list”. Thankfully there are multiple resources for recipes and products on Pinterest, Instagram, internet blogs and online grocery stores. The good news is I could make dinners that my whole family enjoyed without them knowing the difference.

When systematically adding foods back I should have taken a little more time. My eczema didn’t flare back up right away so I’m still tweaking my diet to find the exact culprit. Though I’ve read that other people found relief, my Raynaud’s actually seemed to get worse. Also, I started having leg cramps at night. These could both be due to a vitamin or mineral defiiciency which is a potential consequence of eliminating foods long term without finding adequate nutrient replacements. Both are also great reasons to talk to you doctor before making any major changes to your diet!

The biggest piece I’ll take from this experience is how much the foods we consume actually affect our bodies. Weight management aside there are so many reasons to be deliberate in our food choices. Overall, what I learned was totally worth it.

Want to know if an elimination diet may be for you? Check out this article from Dr. Axe for more info and schedule an appointment to talk to Dr. Brooke about what issues you’d like to resolve.

Have you tried an elimination diet? What was your experience, good or bad?

*The information in this article is not meant to treat, diagnose or serve as a replacement for medical advice. Please schedule an appointment with Dr. Brooke or your physician before changing your exercise or diet, including adding supplements. If you experience any pain or discomfort during or after exercise that you think may be more serious, stop and call Dr. Brooke or your medical practitioner immediately.