What An Elimination Diet Is Really Like

Two Septembers ago, I went on an elimination diet.

It was the hardest and most interesting experience of my life (so far). And nope, I don’t think I’m being too dramatic!

We often hear about elimination diets since food allergies have become so common these days. We read about them in magazines and wonder if we should give it a try. We figure, how hard could it be to cut out gluten and dairy and eggs and refined sugar? No big deal, right?

Turns out it’s a pretty big deal.

And it’s also no big deal at the same time.

I’ve been through it and I wanted to share my own elimination diet experience. Maybe you’ve been through one too, or maybe you’re considering it. I hope my story helps you.

Here’s what an elimination diet is really like:

1.) It’s Hard

It’s honestly a daily mental and physical struggle, at least for the first 6-8 weeks of the elimination diet. You get headaches, feel exhausted, just have no energy, and basically feel pretty terrible. At first I didn’t realize there would be so many side effects, and that made it really hard to stick to the plan. After all, if you feel awful, why would you keep going??? But I kept going. Because I knew I was feeling terrible anyway and that one day there would be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Well, hopefully…

2.) It’s Lonely

The first Friday of my elimination diet, I went out for drinks with some journalism school friends.

Almost immediately, they ordered everything I couldn’t eat. It was almost funny. Okay, it was pretty funny. But I wasn’t really in a laughing mood when I saw nachos, cheesy quesadillas, dip and white bread… Eventually, once I stopped the pity party and realized that so many other people have the same allergies and that it doesn’t mean life is over, I didn’t mind going out and seeing friends eating nachos and pizza.

But at first, it really sucked, to be totally honest!

3.) It’s Empowering

After I got over the first two months, I went to Charleston for a few days for vacation/a literary festival. I felt super empowered that I could travel, eat in restaurants, and take care of myself… without getting sick once! Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I got with the program and committed myself. I ordered a bunless burger with fries at a fun burger joint. I had salmon for breakfast because I was eliminating eggs, but instead of wishing I could be “normal” and get toast and scrambled eggs, I enjoyed every last bite.

These days, I don’t throw myself a pity party (if I do, it’s super rare and lasts five minutes). I appreciate how healthy I feel, how much energy I have, and how different things are today from how they used to be!

There’s more to the story — I will be sharing some other personal health stories this month, so be on the look-out for those!

Have you gone on an elimination diet? Would you?

Aya Tsintziras is a food blogger at www.ahealthystory.com. She posts gluten-free, dairy-free and mostly sugar-free recipes, lifestyle and pop culture stories on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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3 comments

  1. Wow, this sounds intense Aya, but I really love how you persevered through it, and you learned so many things that you could share with others. I’ve thought about doing one some time, but I’m still kind of divided on the subject.

    1. Thanks so much, Emily! I really believe in perseverance (but not in everything, of course…)

  2. Wow, that s a huge list!  And, with more research, the list grows.  In fact, because of the number of conditions now correlated to either gut dysfunction or food sensitivities, anyone who feels like their GI system is working sub-optimally should at least consider trying a dietary approach known as an Honestly, there are many ways to treat GI-related health conditions.  But the first, easiest, and most effective place to start is by eliminating or removing foods that might be causing a problem.

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