As a child with a single dad, we ate poorly…junk food, fast food, and convenience store foods. Basically, I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted with little control over how much whole foods I was eating. Whatever dad was eating I was eating. When he went on a diet—I went with him, when he binged on root beer floats—I was right there beside him, when he ate salads and home cooked meals—I did too. When I began living with my mom (a naturopath), my eating habits started to get a little better. We still ate out a lot because she was a busy hardworking single mom. In high school, breakfast was chocolate covered doughnuts and Gatorade, lunch was an egg salad sandwich and Dr. Pepper from the convenience store, and dinner was something I could afford at any given fast food restaurant with the largest Dr. Pepper they could sell me. When I thought I needed to diet, I drank Slim Fast for a couple of weeks. You get the idea here right…I was a junk food, fast food, and soda junkie.
As I matured into my 20’s I still ate out all the time, unless my best friend had extra for me, which was often. So fortunately, I started eating a little more home cooking. When I got married I started cooking more, eating out a little less, and then our lives got crazy busy and I rarely cooked, we ate out at least half of our meals a day. Then my thirties came, my hormones took a dive, and my digestive system went with it. I started cooking my own meals because I could barely eat anything.
My first elimination/cleanse diet was the rice and fruit diet. It was easy to do living twenty miles from town and alone on the ranch. I would cook a huge pot of brown rice, and heat up a portion with berries or bananas, butter, and maple syrup. Alternatively, if I wanted to eat something spicy I would heat it with butter, cubes of cheese, and an all seasoning. I ate like this for two months, having lunch in town when I went to town at a favorite healthy café. I do not remember losing weight, which was not my goal, and I took supplements to make up for lost nutrients.
- It felt good; I would definitely do it again.
- Not good for long term
My second elimination ‘diet’ was Atkins Diet, in my late twenties I went from working on a ranch and clocking 13,000 steps a day to 500 steps a day (on my pedometer). I went from eating one very healthy meal a day at one of my favorite cafes in town and snacks on the ranch in the evenings to cooking for a very skinny man who ate a lot—there I was again eating to match his every bite—root beer floats included…sound familiar? While he was in Saudi Arabia just after 9/11, I took the opportunity to empty out the cabinets and jump on the no-carbs-allowed-band-wagon. I lost the twenty pounds I had gained from living in a very sedentary and calorie loaded new marriage. I stayed on Atkins for two years, even though; I never really lost much weight after the first two months.
- Good for my hypoglycemia, which thanks to Atkins I no longer have
- Lost weight
- Smaller grocery bill
- I missed cheesecake, and rice
- My husband and I both missed eating grains
- Eliminating an important food group for the long-term was not healthy
My third elimination diet came around my thirtieth birthday. I had been taking the pill to regulate my cycle when my hormones went haywire. My mind and my digestive system took the worst of it. I became agoraphobic and did not leave the house except for ten or fifteen minute trips for almost six months. My distressed digestive system could handle very little past cheese and crackers. Getting well became my number one priority. I decided only the best cleanest food would enter my body…no more eating out, period. I started buying 80% organic foods, and that turned into nearly 100% before long. For two years, I ate an English muffin and a cheese omelet for breakfast, a protein bar for lunch, and a bowl of cottage cheese, some crackers and an Asian pear for dinner…that was basically it. I gradually started adding more foods. A year after all this began I was hit with five parasites at one time, they must of saw me as an easy target. Then the battle began all over again. It took me six months to eradicate all the little beasts.
There was one major pro to this elimination diet: I took control of what I put in my body for the first time in my life in a monumental way.
- No more easy meals out
- My already skinny husband lost weight
- I lost my ability to eat anything and everything.
- My social life has been greatly impacted, no dinners and barbecues anymore.
- Today I eat no garlic and onions because of allergies,
- I rarely eat out except for sushi and occasionally for travel,
- Travel has become difficult feeding myself on the road is no fun
I just recently went gluten-free for a trial therapy for my thyroid. I am glad to say I do not have a gluten allergy so at least I can eat bread again. I feel for those people who are gluten intolerant, there are some very unsatisfactory gluten-free foods out there.
I have always loved food, savory, ethnic, exotic, traditional, comfort, junk, gourmet, etc. I would try anything at least once, and even though I was a picky eater, I loved all kinds of foods. Where I am today is not ideal but I am working on it. Right now, I am trying to add foods back into my diet, which is strange coming from where I started. At least now, I have become an educated illuminated eater, and I want only the best for my system.
~Joli A. Campbell
(I wrote this paper for nutrition school on elimination diets.)