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Help with elimination diet and food challenges, please!

Discussion in 'Lifestyle Management' started by EMilo, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. EMilo

    EMilo Elizabethmilo.com

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    Hi everyone,

    I have been trying an elimination diet with my doctor's directions. She wants me to challenge soy, citrus, corn, eggs, dairy, tomatoes and red meat. My problem is, I always have crazy symptoms popping up all the time from ME/CFS, so I have no idea when to do the challenges and what reactions to look for.

    First I was waiting for a headache to go away, then my sleep to get better, then my achy muscles to get better, then my utter exhaustion/vertigo/shakes to get better, then my constipation to go away and now I have something up with my sinuses and ears!

    I just want to get on with the challenges already! Can anyone tell me what the usual symptoms are that crop up to food intolerances/sensitivities/allergies? (besides the obvious like anaphylaxis and hives) What am I looking for? My doctor doesn't have ME/CFS, so I trust you all to guide me more than anyone.

    Thank you!!
  2. Sea

    Sea Senior Member

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    Usually you remove all the suspect items from your diet for a period of at least 2 - 4 weeks. If there is no improvement in any symptoms then either the elimination is not long enough, you're still eating something else you're sensitive to or food is not your problem.

    Food sensitivities can be the cause of a whole range of symptoms. Headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, mood problems, digestive symptoms, IBS (just to name a few). Really the list is endless.

    If the elimination doesn't resolve any symptoms then a challenge is probably not going to reveal anything either.

    Can you tell us a bit more about how your elimination diet is structured?
    aimossy and EMilo like this.
  3. EMilo

    EMilo Elizabethmilo.com

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    Well, I strictly eliminated gluten, legumes, dairy, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and all grains except GF oats for over a year. Nothing changed. In fact, I am worse. I've become housebound.

    Earlier this year, I added back rice and then legumes. Nothing changed. I'm still bad... up and down.

    A few months ago, I eliminated pork and red meat, soy and citrus... I can't identify any changes. I'm just always not doing well from ME/CFS.

    Currently, I don't eat gluten, corn, dairy, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, red meat, soy and citrus, but I'm just sick of this! I have every problem you listed every week and I want to figure what to eat and not to eat and get on with concentrating on other treatments. I just don't know how or if food plays a role. Thank you SO much for your reply!
    Sea likes this.
  4. Sea

    Sea Senior Member

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    I hear you regarding the frustration and confusion of it all. It doesn't really sound like food is where you're going to find your answers.

    Having said that though, regarding gluten, to do a true gluten free trial the oats would have to go too. The protein in oats is similar enough to gluten that some people with celiac (figure I have heard quoted is 1 in 5) react to it in the same way even when the oats are certified free from contamination with gluten. Because of the frequency of this cross reaction some countries will not allow oats to be labeled gluten free.
  5. minkeygirl

    minkeygirl Senior Member

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    This is just my lay, uneducated opinion, but if you've eliminated all that stuff and are still sick then it isn't your diet (gluten maybe). Is there even anything left for you to eat with all that you've eliminated.

    I eat a fairly clean diet and it hasn't made any difference in how I feel.

    Hope you can figure it out.

    Mink
    EMilo likes this.
  6. Valentijn

    Valentijn Activity Level: 3

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    Inflammation, possibly noticeable swelling, diarrhea, stomach pain/itching after eating the bad food, intense back pain for an hour or so after eating the bad food, maybe additional joint issues.
    xchocoholic likes this.
  7. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Great that you are off gluten, corn, dairy, and soy. Keep your non-gluten grains low and check that your rice doesn't have gluten because many brands add it.

    You already tried most of what she said.

    Two other things you didn't try. Maybe try eliminating citrus for a few weeks. I don't see why you should try with red meat (I wouldn't skip that one).

    I would just humor her at this point. Say you did trials as best you could, eliminating for weeks and adding back one at a time. So she can stop thinking you have a food problem.

    I think everyone with muscle/joint pain should eliminate all nightshades for 6 months to be sure.
  8. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Black, white, and green teas also give me joint pain. It feels exactly the same as what I get from nightshades.

    My only symptom from gluten is (extra) tiredness, and it's a delayed reaction. It took forever to figure out.

    My understanding of a food challenge after elimination is that you eat a lot of a food for a day, and then watch for reactions over the next 3 days.
    Did your doctor give you specific instructions? Maybe you could just keep a very detailed food, activity, and symptom diary while you do the challenges, and see what you notice.
  9. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Wow, never heard that about teas. Were they organic with no questionable ingredients? ("Natural flavors" could be anything, and conventional has a lot of pesticides.) It wasn't the caffeine I take it?
  10. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    Delayed is so hard to figure out!
  11. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    I've never heard this about tea either, but the reaction comes overnight, and it can be debilitating.

    I deeply love tea, so I've tested every possible way I might be able to drink it. The only thing I learned is that white is easier than green is easier than black.

    I can have small amounts of caffeine in coffee without any joint problems. And decaf tea causes just as much trouble as regular.
  12. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    That part makes sense. White tea is the least processed.
  13. PearlGirl26

    PearlGirl26 Living with CFS for years, recently diagnosed.

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    The only way I figured out what was bothering me was to do the strictest elimination diet possible including FODMAPS, sugars, nightshades, gluten, etc. What followed was a 75% reduction in pain symptoms including joint and bladder pain. It worked so well, I was scared to reintroduce, but I was coaxed by a nutritionist because I was becoming malnourished in the process - that and the die off was doing terrible things for my OI.

    I can tell you now that any ingestion nightshades will result in joint pain, specifically in my knees - red tomatoes being the worst. Gluten causes almost immediate brain fog, plus sore throat. Citrus and vinegar cause bladder pain. It's very empowering, but worth it to see what sets you off. I have permanently kicked sugar (except for coconut palm occasionally), dairy, soy, and gluten to the curb.
  14. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic Senior Member

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    I'd try giving up everything you're currently eating and switching to foods you've never even before. My gp suggested I try this if I didn't respond to giving up the common intolerances. Gluten, dairy, corn soy and all chemicals.

    Easier said than done but it may reveal a hidden intolerance. Still avoid the common intolerances tho. This will probably leave you with a paleo type diet minus your intolerances.

    It can take awhile to notice a difference too. Dr Hadjivassilou tells his gluten ataxia
    patients to give it a year and be strict about avoiding gluten. Trace amounts can
    keep our bodies from healing.

    If you haven't already, you can try getting tested or just treating for parasites, candida, nutritional deficiencies, etc. Testing can be expensive and time consuming but can id exactly what needs to be treated. Integrative doctors can order these tests.

    tc ... x
  15. maryb

    maryb iherb code TAK122

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    I think reactions to some foods are pretty obvious - different to the day to day ME symptoms.

    I get strange sensations in my nose and throat sometimes, tingling.....
    I feel very tired within a short time after eating.
    other times just feel very unwell

    They don't give me actual stomach or obvious digestive problems.
    Secret is listen carefully to your body.
    go slow with each food.
  16. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    Yes, and it's the not so obvious ones that are killer. I think I have layers of sensitivities. If I avoid the obvious ones but don't notice 3 mild ones that are chronic, I won't get the results I'm hoping for. But when I avoid all of the triggers (very tricky) and then put a little milk in tea, I notice I'm a bit more fuzzy. That little bit plus a few more = brain fog.

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