How to survive the first week of an elimination diet. Tips on making it through the first week and what I ate each day of week 1.
I’m chronicling my elimination diet and have a week 1 update for you. In case you missed it, last week I introduced the concept of a vegan elimination diet and talked about why you might want to do one yourself. Check it out: Vegan Elimination Diet!
In my last post I didn’t go into too much detail about what specifically I’m doing, but I will here!
Day 1: My elimination diet started with a 24 hour fast. I drank nothing but water for the first day. As you might expect, fasting isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but the key is to keep yourself busy without engaging in too much physical activity. I spent much of the day working on blog stuff (including starting this elimination diet series!).
While you’re fasting, don’t go to the grocery store. Somehow, I found myself at the grocery store on Day 1. Whoops! It wasn’t too bad, but it’s hard to look at all the food you’re not eating. Try not to think about food.
Day 2: If you read my first post on elimination diets, you know that I chose Option 2 for my fast. I had a pretty good idea of what foods I could be sensitive to but I wanted to be thorough, so I decided to introduce one food at a time during the first couple weeks. My food of choice: sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are low in FODMAPS and packed with nutrients and fiber. I eat sweet potatoes regularly daily and thought they would be a safe choice to use as a staple food during my diet.
I woke up on Day 2 feeling weak and very hungry. Normally, I practice intermittent fasting, but I wanted to listen to my body and give myself food. So I roasted myself some sweet potato rounds (at 6:45 in the morning lol).
The elimination diet process is all about listening to your body. Keep a food journal with what you eat, how much you eat, and how you feel afterwards. At the end of the fast you can look back at your journal and identify patterns.
Throughout the rest of Day 2, I ate sweet potatoes when I got hungry. I even made Sweet Spiced Sweet Potato Fries (recipe coming soon).
Day 3: I woke up on Day 3 feeling pretty good. I was debating between eating sweet potatoes only for Days 2 and 3 or adding a food on Day 3, and since I felt good, I decided to add my next food: spinach.
Since I was only eating sweet potatoes and spinach, all my meals were the exact same. Since I was trying to avoid other vegetables, I sautéed my spinach in water. But plain spinach is pretty boring to eat so I spiced it up with a bit of cumin.
Day 4: The next food I decided to add was blueberries. Berries in general are so good for you, but some are high in FODMAPs. Blueberries aren’t. Even though I was eating so few foods, I wanted to make sure I got a variety of nutrients. And, in general, foods of different colors provide different nutrients. So the more color I could get, the better. Blueberries for the win!
Consider tracking your food intake on Cronometer or another similar food-tracking app. Cronometer shows you which nutrients you’re taking in, which can be very useful when you’re only eating a few foods. You can use the nutrient data to help you decide which food to add next. (Side note: Spinach packs in A LOT of nutrients. I ate 24 oz. of spinach each day and reached most of my nutrient targets just from the spinach.)
Day 5: On Day 5 I added carrots. I didn’t realize how much I missed carrots. Before starting the elimination diet, I ate carrots as a snack every day! Thank goodness I didn’t have a bad reaction to them.
Day 6: The next day, I added oats. I debated with myself a lot about adding oats to my diet. Servings outside of 1/2 cup are considered high-FODMAP. And oats can contain trace amounts of gluten if they’re not certified gluten-free. But I was pretty confident (and still am) that I don’t have a gluten allergy, so the trace amounts of gluten wouldn’t bother me.
I realized that oats are a great staple food and they add so much variety to your diet. I knew that after eating them every day and then not eating them for 5 days, I would probably have a pretty bad reaction when I introduced them. Luckily, I didn’t. Yay! I can keep making you delicious oatmeal recipes like this one.
Day 7: On the seventh day, I rested… I planned to reintroduce flax seeds. Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3s. I was getting a lot from spinach, but I know how healthy flax seeds are and I wanted to make sure my nutritional profile was well-rounded. But I ended up making a delicious bowl for breakfast (pictured above — recipe coming soon!) and didn’t include flax seeds.
I think that was a good thing. My body probably needed a break. It was nice to have a day where I wasn’t introducing anything and let my body rest. After all, God rested on the seventh day. I followed His lead.
Somehow I made it through the week. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I definitely felt better at the end of the week than I did at the beginning.
Keep going. You might will have some moments where you want to give up. But remember you are doing this to help your body. It might be hard in the moment but in the long term this will help you feel better. It’s worth it!
That’s a wrap on Week 1. Stay tuned for my chronicle of days 8-14 and learn how to tackle Week 2 of your elimination diet.
a daughter of the Lord who eats lots of plants. I’m glad you’re here! On The Plant-Based Catholic I bring you nutritious, plant-based (vegan) recipes, explore the relationship between food and faith, and share my unique lifestyle.
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