Food Triggers Are Everywhere

Just over a week ago, I had some broccoli cheddar soup from a restaurant. I believed it was safe. I had a flare up shortly after having eaten it. At first I thought that perhaps dairy was a trigger and we hadn’t eliminated it yet, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It could also be that seeds, nuts, and/or sugar is a trigger. However, I did some digging and found that not all of the ingredients for the broccoli cheddar soup were listed on the information that I had seen. This soup also had less than 2% potato flour as a thickening agent. It was enough potato to trigger me.

Homemade vegetable soup. Chicken broth, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, butternut squash, and chives.

I went to the grocery this evening to get the ingredients to make my own vegetable soup. I also looked for some bacon, as I’m participating in The 10th Kingdom watch week this week. The only bacon I could find that didn’t contain sugar was turkey bacon.

The point is, that everything has the potential to contain a food trigger. It’s a lesson I have to keep learning because I’m okay for a while and then I get lax. Know where your food comes from and know what is in it. We have to stay vigilant. Locally grown food is always best, but even that needs to be checked for additives, pesticides, etc.

Elimination: Week 7

Today is the last day of the dairy elimination week. This was difficult because it took away some convenience for me. If I didn’t have a lot of time to cook, I would buy prepackaged fruit boxes from the grocery that had cheese and almonds in them. I couldn’t do this anymore, so it meant taking the time to meal prep. Another easy meal for me had been turkey roll ups, which is just turkey slices and cheese slices. I can’t do this anymore either. I managed. I got a bit creative one day and made honey almond chicken.

I lost some more weight this week, too. At weigh in this morning, I am now down to 243.8 pounds, which means I’ve lost nearly 12 and a half pounds since January 1st! Before too long, I’m going to have to buy some more clothes. My pants, in particular, are all getting to be too loose. I’ve already tightened the drawstrings on my pajamas twice.

Star Wars Peeking Porg mug.

To reward myself this week, I’ve ordered a new mug for my tea. I have mugs, but I saw this and thought I’d treat myself.

Next week is the last elimination week. It will be strict paleo after that and then reintroduction begins. Starting tomorrow, I am eliminating seeds, nuts, and refined sugars from my diet. This includes coffee and chocolate. I can still have honey and agave, as long as the agave is pure.

Elimination: Week 6

Today wraps up the egg elimination week. It was easy to do this one. I do love eggs, but I’ve already eliminated everything that eggs are used in, so I only had to give up having eggs for breakfast. Breakfast has typically been a banana or some other fruit. I occasionally have bacon with it.

I weighed 246.6 pounds this morning, so I’m down almost a pound from last week. It might have been more, but after I found some almond flour tortillas, I ate a bunch of tacos earlier in the week. Worth it.

Green dragonfly tea kettle.

This week, I decided to reward myself with a tea kettle. I have some elderberry tea that is supposed to boost your immune system. I also have some willow bark tea that I’m going to use for a fever reducer/pain reliever, since I’m allergic to NSAIDs and Ibuprofen has corn starch in it. I’ve actually been eyeing this tea kettle for years but couldn’t justify the purchase before now.

Tomorrow begins the elimination of dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. This will be rough. I’m not particularly fond of milk, but I do enjoy cheese. Yogurt has also been an easy way to get probiotics to improve my gut health. I can do this. It’s crazy to think how far I’ve come. I’m finishing week 6 of an 8 week elimination diet. Reintroduction will begin soon and I can start enjoying some of my favorite foods again. More importantly, I can narrow down which foods are my triggers.

Elimination: Week 5

Another busy weekend! Last week was the elimination of legumes from my diet. As predicted, soy was the most difficult. There are some protein shakes that I’ve been drinking that are banana, almond, and honey. They are delicious! However, they contain soy lecithin and I had to give them up. I find, as I progress, that it gets easier to give things up.

Hamilton Beach Personal Blender

I weighed myself this morning and I am down to 247.4 pounds! This is the first time I’ve been under 250 pounds in about seven years. As a reward for completing legume week successfully and for hitting my first benchmark goal, I ordered a personal blender so I can make my own protein shakes without soy.

Today is the first day of eliminating eggs from my diet. I love eggs, but I’ll get by. I’m a little worried that eggs might turn out to be one of my trigger foods. I don’t do well with them when I eat them in the morning and there is something still in my diet that is triggering me. We shall see.

Elimination: Week 4

Yesterday was the last day of the nightshades elimination. I am no longer eating potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, or anything that comes from those items, such as paprika. Potatoes are my favorite food, so this wasn’t easy for me. However, I have a flare-up within an hour of eating potatoes, so it had to be done.

Contour Memory Foam Pillow

I was surprised to find that nightshades are in a lot of foods, particularly potato starch and tomato paste. This was challenging. Again, reading the labels on foods is key to success with an elimination diet.

I am now halfway through the elimination part of this and will be on strict paleo for a couple of weeks before reintroducing foods. To reward myself, I splurged a little and bought a contour memory foam pillow. I’ve been having some neck, shoulder, and upper arm pain lately. I’m a side sleeper, so I’m sure that contributes to it. I’m going to give this pillow a try. It’s supposed to have good support for your spine and it has places to rest your arms so that you aren’t laying on them.

This is what I was doing when I would normally have been weighing myself. Yes, I am riding a dinosaur. I had the opportunity to meet up with a friend at Jurassic Quest and I had a blast!

At weigh-in yesterday, I was 254.2 pounds, which is about a half pound more than I was the week before. I did weigh myself at night instead of in the morning, as I had a busy day. That could account for the difference and it’s possible that I just maintained weight. Weight isn’t really a concern for me. I’m doing this for my health, to reduce HS flare-ups. However, I am curious about this weight gain. My pants are noticeably bigger and I keep having to pull them up. I have definitely lost weight in my hips. Maybe I’ve gained it somewhere else. I don’t know.

Anyway, today begins week 5 of the elimination diet. No legumes. This includes beans and peanuts. The hardest part of this will be soy. Soy is in a lot of things in the form of soybean oil, soy lecithin, soy milk, soy sauce, soy flour, soy paste (miso), tofu, tempeh, and more. Some items may not be so obvious about their soy content, but check the ingredients. I found soy in my salad dressing, yogurt, protein shakes, and chocolate to name just a few.

Elimination: Week 3

Today marks the end of my third week of the elimination diet. Grains (and now all gluten) have been removed from my diet. Dividing gluten into three weeks does mean slower progress on the diet, but it has been really helpful for me so that I don’t feel overwhelmed. That is important as stress eating is one of my bad habits.

Salad cutter bowl.

I purchased some new jeans on Monday because I had worn my others out. At the time, they fit me perfectly. I wore them yesterday for the first time and they are already too loose. I weighed myself today and I am down to 253.8. I lost about a pound and a half this week. To reward myself, I purchased a salad bowl cutter.

I’m really excited about this! One of the reasons I don’t make my own salads to take to work is because I don’t get up early enough to wash and cut everything. I’m not a morning person. With this, it should take me a lot less time.

I can even wash everything and toss it in this bowl and take the whole thing to work to be cut when I’m on my lunch break. It’ll be good for making fruit salads, too.

Tomorrow begins the elimination of nightshades: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and spices derived from peppers, such as paprika. I’ve already stopped eating potatoes because they cause me to flare up. I don’t like peppers. Tomatoes might be difficult because this will include things with tomato paste and tomato juice. However, I have already trained myself to read labels. I can do this.

Elimination: Week 2

Today is the last day of week 2. I have successfully eliminated corn products from my diet, which is no easy task. Corn products include but are not limited to corn, corn starch, corn flour, corn meal, and corn syrup. These ingredients are in nearly everything that is prepackaged. There are the obvious things, like corn chips and popcorn. However, it is also in soda, candy, most condiments, some sweet tea, and even some meats if the animals were corn-fed. The list goes on, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole right now.

If you are looking to eliminate corn products from your diet, this website will be useful. It lists the various corn products and byproducts and what they are typically used for, including cosmetics. The most important thing is to read the labels when shopping.

The thing I found most startling was that prepackaged honey mustard contains both corn starch and corn syrup. It’s my favorite condiment, so that is a shame. Tonight, I did find paleo dijon mustard. I’ll be alright. I double-checked the ingredients and it is fine for me to use it until I eliminate seeds.

I just stepped off the scale and my current weight is 255.4. I’m up almost half a pound, but that could even be due to the fact that I weighed myself in the morning on Sunday last time. Honestly, as much bacon as I’ve eaten this week, I expected to have gained more back. Tomorrow begins the elimination of all other grains: rice, quinoa, couscous, oats, etc. I can do this.

As a reward for not giving in to the plethora of corn products in my path this week, I have ordered Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It by Dr. Josh Axe. This book was recommended to me by my dermatologist. I checked it out from the library and I’m only a couple of chapters in, but it aligns well with the other book I read and the research I’ve been doing. It has a lot of helpful information that I’d like to hold on to, so I decided to buy it.

On a side note, I learned today that potatoes are one of my trigger foods. I had eaten a small amount of potatoes three days in a row last week. On the third day, a bump appeared on my lower lip. I’ve had them before but didn’t know the rhyme or reason for it. They are like a cross between a pimple and a blister. Anyway, I hadn’t had any potatoes since then until today. Today, I had a large serving of potatoes and a new bump appeared on my lower lip within an hour.

Nightshade elimination is the week after grains, but I’m going to go ahead and eliminate potatoes now. The flare ups just aren’t worth it. I’ll eliminate the rest of the nightshades when I get there.

Follow-up Appointment

Today was my follow-up with my dermatologist. I dreaded going because I knew today was the day that I had to tell him that I will not take Humira. I did so, and he proceeded to ask me how he could change my mind. He can’t.

  1. I don’t do well with medication of any kind. I either have an allergic reaction, or I develop one of the side effects. Humira has too many possible side effects that are, in my opinion, worse than HS.
  2. I have read, from more than one credible source, that following the auto-immune protocol and a paleo diet puts HS symptoms into remission. The dermatologist even agreed that the root cause is leaky gut and that doing these things will help.
  3. I will not be coerced into becoming part of someone’s drug study.

He then told me that he supposed he could put me on 30 days of Doxycycline. I was beyond frustrated at this point. I had already said that I didn’t want any more medication and that the Cephalexin and Rifampin he’d just had me on to prepare me for the Humira had given me extreme nausea and abdominal pain. Furthermore, I had told him on my first visit that I’ve had Doxycycline a couple of times before and it is no longer effective on me. However, I think the worst thing is that he knows that HS is not bacterial and is still trying to prescribe antibiotics for it.

I want to give my way, the natural way, a try before I resort to any life-changing drugs. I don’t think that’s asking too much. I’ve only been on the elimination diet for two weeks, which isn’t enough to have seen many results and definitely not enough to have an idea of which foods are my triggers. So, I’m soldiering on.

I want to give a shout out to my neighbor, Sue. She stopped by the library to bring me a thank you gift for watching her pets while she was on vacation. She said she had baked some banana bread for me, but then she saw that I was no longer eating bread. So, she went to the grocery and got some blackberries, a cucumber, and an apple for me. She explained that it’s because blackberries are preventatives for cancer and auto-immune diseases, cucumbers are the best tasting green vegetables, and Fuji apples are her favorite. It is invaluable to have people who support you when you are trying to change your eating habits. Thank you, Sue!

Elimination: Week 1

Technically, my first week was a week and a half, but I have completed it. I have successfully cut wheat products from my diet! I also lost some weight! On New Year’s Day, I weighed 256.2 pounds. I am now down to 255 pounds. I had not originally planned to reward myself for this, but my planner suggested a reward for accomplishments and I think that’s a good idea.

I am a very food motivated person. As such, I have always rewarded myself with food. I do realize that this is a bad behavior and I need to change it. I decided to reward myself with items that will make healthy eating easier and more fun, but occasionally also with a book because I love books.

HydraTrak water bottle.

For successfully completing the wheat eliminating phase, and losing some weight, I am rewarding myself with a water bottle. I know, it sounds boring. It’s important. I don’t drink enough water because I have a hard time remembering to track it on my apps. One of my co-workers has the HydraTrak water bottle and I think it’s amazing! I ordered one for myself and it should arrive tomorrow. You move the rings up to the top for each cup of water you drink. I think this physical method of tracking water will be beneficial to me.

Today begins week 2 of the elimination diet. I will continue to not eat wheat products, but I am also no longer eating corn products. This includes anything with corn syrup or corn starch, so no more sodas. It will also cut out some soups and a variety of other things. Not easy, but doable.

Elimination Diet & Symptom Tracking

One of things that Tara Grant recommends in her book is tracking symptoms as you eliminate and reintroduce foods from and to your diet. I love journaling, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Clever Fox daily planner.

I have been talking to my co-workers about this and one of them recommended the Clever Fox daily planner. I looked into it and ended up ordering one because I think it’s going to be perfect for what I want to do. They come in a variety of colors. I chose purple.

One of my favorite things about this planner is all of the space for planning. Yes, I’m a nerd. There are, of course, the daily log pages. There are also weekly overview, monthly overview, and weekly review pages. This planner also includes space for encouragement and rewards for doing well.

Goal planning.
Monthly overview.
Weekly overview.

I’ve decided to ease into the elimination, as you can see from the monthly overview. Step 1 is to eliminate gluten, but that’s such a wide range of all of my favorite foods that I thought I’d set myself up for success by breaking that down into phases. I’m also spending a week and a half on the first phase. This is primarily because I’m starting today, in the middle of the week and I think it will be hard for me to remember to start a new phase in the middle of the week moving forward. Secondary considerations are that it will give me more time to get used to this new way of life, and that I have a friend joining me on this quest in solidarity.

Daily log.

I wish that I could start this year off fresh. Unfortunately, I’m on antibiotics for the first two weeks. This could interfere with the symptom tracking and it means I’ll have to pay very close attention during the reintroduction phase to see what gluten is doing to my body.

Ultimately, I feel really great about moving forward on this journey to my personalized paleo diet. I hope that you will find this information useful in some way.