Week 1 of the Elimination Diet

We’re almost through the first week on the elimination diet, and we’ve survived! Using lots of creativity and LOTS of prep, I think I’ve also made this week as easy (and belly-filling) as possible.

I really thought the first week would be filled with random cravings and terrible hunger pangs to make me want to stray. I’ve always found it hard to say ‘NO’ to cheese and bread. And tomatoes. And chocolate. But I’m surprised to say that the only thing I’ve REALLY craved is a glass of wine with dinner. I’m sure my liver could use a little detox, so I’m OK with holding out for another couple weeks. 🙂

So far, the absolute hardest thing about the elimination diet is finding food while traveling. I’ve learned that I can ‘pack’ a breakfast to take with me – a chia seed and powdered coconut milk premixed in a jar that I can carry onto a plane. The night I arrive at my destination, simply add water and refrigerate and voila! Chia seed pudding! Most hotels also have fruit in their breakfast buffet, so add in fruit for a protein and fiber filled breakfast that’s pretty darn tasty.

Chia seed pudding after soaking overnight

But lunch and dinner are difficult to find on the road. I can’t carry food into the OR with me…and most foods on the list need to be refrigerated. So I’m looking into the best options for me while traveling and I’ll report back.

And my husband is happy to report that in the first week, he’s lost 4 pounds! I never even THOUGHT about weight loss with this diet – I was much more concerned with getting his acid reflux under control. His weight tends to fluctuate normally, but he’s never lost 4 pounds that easily in 1 week before. All these good-for-you fruits and veggies apparently are helping his waistline AND his esophagus.

As for the MOST IMPORTANT symptom that we’re hoping to help…his cough…I’m super excited to report that it HAS decreased in number per day and intensity!! When we started the elimination diet, he was on Prilosec twice per day. He’s down to 1 per day in the morning and we will take it to 1 every other day as of tomorrow.

Weaning these medications can actually cause even MORE acid production, so we have to take it slowly in order to let his body adjust. I’m hoping he’s completely weaned from the meds with no cough by the time we start to work foods back into the list.

I want to warn you that I’m not being AS strict as some lists out there. Since we’re doing this for acid reflux rather than a food allergy, I’m allowing some seeds and nuts (specifically chia and flax seeds and almonds) and some vinegars (apple cider and balsamic) as well as maple syrup. I’m also allowing green tea because – really – green tea is nothing but good for you!!! I know that some studies show that caffeine may cause reflux, but really, I just KNOW that no matter WHAT we do, my husband will never give up caffeine. So honestly, cutting the caffeine down to just green tea is practically like cutting it out 😉

Download this cute meal planner here

I’ve attached our meal plan for the week with the shopping list. Most meals take less than 30 minutes to cook (not the roasted chicken, obviously, but the leftovers are well worth it!) I’m hoping to make a meal planner involving less chicken next week because I think we’re both about chickened out this week. And I’m writing up some of my favorite recipes from the week – so stay tuned!

Holistic Health meets Science

What do you think of when you think Holistic Health? Do you think of crunchy granola, patchouli oil, and Woodstock? Do you think of a crazy cat lady who rails against modern medicine? I used to think of these things as well – and I really didn’t want to be a crazy cat lady or smell like patchouli!!

My cute cat. I swear I'm not a cat lady though! ;)
My cute cat. I swear I’m not a cat lady though! 😉

Once I became a patient, I quickly realized the health care system did NOT have my best interests in mind. I was hurried through appointments, waiting hours to speak with a doctor for 20 minutes and cut off from asking questions. My oncologist actually said, word for word, “Now is not a good time to have melanoma.” OH, great, and WHEN IS a good time to have melanoma?!?! My surgeon also scheduled a second surgery for me without consulting with me about it! PLEASE research your health care team – a good team is worth it’s weight in gold! (I now have a great team, but more on that later!)

With this, I decided that I needed to take responsibility for my own health. I did not want to be a cog in the wheel of the system. The doctors and nurses who were caring for me (even me and my own career!) were a part of a system that wasn’t promoting health. I knew I didn’t want to be a patient, but I needed to understand the science of health.

So I turned to holistic health. Healing the whole body with medicine that has been around since the beginning of mankind. Mother Nature makes all kinds of natural medicines – witch hazel, coffee, cocoa, curare, marijuana, cocaine, the list goes on! We have known the powerful sources of Mother Nature for centuries, but we have come to rely on modern medicine. But sometimes science and holistic health can coincide.

I just came across this article the other day, and I love it. It has been known for quite some time that the immune function and gut microbes are linked. (I personally never knew this until I began to research holistic health and began to realize you really are what you eat.) Science journals such as Science Daily, Gut Microbes, and Clinical and Experimental Immunology (including many more!) have published on the link between the immune system and gut bacteria. But this new study goes even further, studying immunotherapy and specific gut bacteria.

Immunotherapy for melanoma patients is used to boost the body’s ability to fight the cancer cells. The theory is that for some unknown reason, a melanoma patient’s immune system is not working properly in recognizing and fighting the cancer cells. So if immunotherapy is the best that modern medicine can offer, it makes sense to try to boost your immune system, right? Well this article I keep mentioning does just this!!

Science Magazine reviewed two studies that link specific gut bacteria to an improvement in immunotherapy. The studies found that mice with melanoma, using Ipilimumab as an immunotherapy treatment, responded with slower tumor growth and better outcomes with healthy levels of Bifidobacterium present in their intestines.

Wow. What does this mean? If you read the article, I think you will find that holistic health is onto something. No doctor will educate their patients on healthy eating, nutrition, and gut health. But the science proves that all these things are incredibly important for curing cancer. Even if you solely rely on modern medicine, a healthy immune system (and healthy gut bacteria) make a difference in treatment.

Please everyone…research, research, research. Educate yourself. Learn how to optimize your treatments. Eat as though your life depends on it…because it does.