Posts Tagged weight

The Elimination Diet

The Elimination Diet is by far the hardest, and most effective, diet I’ve ever been on.

The point of the diet is to isolate food sensitivities and allergies (not the same thing). And it is brilliant for doing that. It also, as a side effect, is brilliant for weight loss.

I went on the Elimination Diet in November of 2008 as a result of a visit to the Crazy Docs. And when I say crazy here, I don’t mean they were psychiatrists. They were nutritionists and they were very eccentric. Hence, the Crazy Docs.

A friend had recommended them to me, saying they’d helped her with problems similar to the ones I was having at the time: fatigue, brain fog, and sudden weight gain. Add in, in my case, constant allergic rhinitus, hormonal irregularities, and frequent bronchitis. Sounds like a party, no?

Their answer was the  modified Elimination Diet. Their suspicions was gluten sensitivity, or full blown Celiac Disease. I did not realize, at the time, that this was actually their answer to everything. In my case, it turned out they were right. (I will talk more about Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity in a future post).

Gluten, however, was not the only thing we were taking off the menu. No dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no vinegar, no citrus, no soy…  Here’s The List of Noes:

Everything that's not allowed on the diet.

That’s a pretty big list of things you can’t eat. Add in the complication of eating out, and you’re totally (pardon my language) screwed. Citrus, for example, is problematic. A surprising number of people don’t realize that lemons are citrus. Vinegar is in most condiments: mustard, ketchup, mayo, salad dressing. And try finding a satisfying dessert that fits that list. It’s not impossible, just hard.

The Elimination Diet doesn’t stay that limited forever. The idea is to do it strictly for two weeks and then slowly start reintroducing foods. Each reintroduction takes three days. The day you eat the food and then two days following for it to get fully out of your system. If you have any problems, and I mean any, while testing a food, that food needs to be retested. Dairy shouldn’t be reintroduced until you’ve been on it for several months (I waited six months, and man was I happy to have it back). Gluten is last of all.

It took me months to reintroduce all of those foods. And, honestly, I fudged on the last few. During that time, I lost nearly 20 pounds. In part because my food choices were significantly healthier, in part because there were so few foods I could eat. I did find some decent substitutes. Pure Decadence has a great coconut milk, agave sweetened, mango flavored ice cream.

Pile o' death.

I also learned even the Modified Elimination Diet wasn’t actually limited enough. Mind you, thanks to the limited types of foods I could eat, it was a lot easier to isolate the real problems. Like tomatoes and potatoes. Turns out they give me eczema. Brussel sprouts = migraines. And anything with capsaicin is inimical to my existence. I am allergic to capsaicin. I just always avoided it instinctively, and never had much. I thought I was breaking out for quite possibly years. Turned out it was hives from spicy peppers and their kin. (For some reason, almost every guy I’ve dated seriously over the last seven years has really, really liked capsaicin).

Ironically, aside from the gluten, everything I reacted to was actually on the list of allowed foods. If you’re interested, here’s a detailed list of the foods on the diet, including an annotated version on the second page: The Elimination Diet.

The Elimination Diet  improved my health. A lot.

(Addendum: There are food sensitivity tests out there that are certainly easier. However, the jury is still out as to the effectiveness of most of them.)

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The Weight Loss Quest: How Much OCD is Helpful?

Notice the animals instead of numbers? Maybe I should get this scale instead...

My endocrinologist wants me to lose 50 pounds. Yep, 50.

This presents me with a challenge to figure out how to use my OCD to facilitate weight loss, without letting it get out of control.

Before anyone tells me that I don’t need to lose any weight and I look fine (and thank you if you were going to say that) it’s not about the way I look. It’s about hormones. Insulin, to be specific.

I have PCOS, which means that I’m more at risk than average for diabetes or other insulin related problems. Weight is a big factor there. (I’ll go into more about this in a future post because I have, of course, obsessively researched it).

I do have to say, I think I’d be unhealthy (and damned unattractive) if I lost that much. I also think I wouldn’t have breasts if I lost that much. This would make me sad, as I rather like having breasts.

Me at my current weight. Wearing a pink wig.

The first challenge is figuring out how much I want to lose, instead of obsessing on 50. My endo pulled that number from a BMI chart. My current BMI is 28.2, which puts me solidly in the overweight category, nearing obese. However, I don’t buy into BMI.

In truth, although I weigh 20 pounds more, now, than I did when I got out of college 10 years ago, I’m smaller and stronger than I was then. The same clothing is looser on me now. Which means my muscle density has increased. Which is a Good Thing (TM). However, my BMI is higher.

Personally, I’m thinking 15 pounds, although that leaves my BMI in the overweight category, at 25.8. I’m picking that as my initial goal and ignoring that little obsessive voice that keeps saying, “He said 50. He did say 50, you know. How about 50?”

The next challenge is using my OCD just enough to be helpful but not so much that I’m miserable. As we already know, I’m good at tracking things. So, I’m tracking my intake. I know that if I follow that primrose path too far, I could end up in serious eating disorder territory. I have, luckily, never been in that territory, so for now I’m going to say my obsessive tracking will probably be fine. Thanks to my lovely iPhone, I’m using LoseIt to track my food intake. More later, no doubt, on that.

FitBit

I’m using my FitBit to track my exercise (this is where my Christmas money went – thanks Mom & Dad!). More on this in another post, too.

I’m also walking more.  Last weekend, J and I walked to a party 3 miles away instead of driving. There and back again gave us 6 miles, and two hours of conversation.

The most challenging thing, however, is not looking at the scale. Strange, to say I want to lose weight but then say I don’t want to look at the scale, no?

Thing is, for me, looking at the scale is self-sabotage. If I see that I’ve lost a pound or two, then I feel like I can relax, which means I end up gaining. If I see I’ve gained, or that I’m staying the same, I get discouraged and don’t want to continue. If, on the other hand, I don’t look, I keep eating and exercising according to plan. And the plan is a good one.

But every morning, I feel the absolute need to weigh myself. It’s not optional. I need to. I will stand there, frozen and unhappy, staring at the scale and not stepping on it, knowing I shouldn’t do it, but unable not to. This tends to slow the morning down considerably. Finally, today, I closed my eyes, stepped on the thing, and asked J to look – but not to tell me any numbers. Just to tell me if I was doing all right.

So far, so good.

Here’s an interesting BMI calculator in case you’d like to play with it.a.dir_resource_link{color:#a0a0a0;} More Diet Resources: Diet Reviews, Healthy Recipes, and Health News

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