November 3, 2010

Elimination Diet

About 4 years ago, I began to experience very troubling acid reflux.  Taking the traditional route I saw a GI doctor and had an endoscopy.  The test came back showing mild irritation so I was tried on several different proton pump inhibitors but got no relief.  The only thing that seemed to help was TUMS, which I began taking several times a day.  About 2 years later I started seeing a new doctor who put me on Aciphex, a proton pump inhibitor I had not tried before, and told me that I had a large list of food allergies (corn, cow’s milk, tomatoes, yeast, and all red, blue, and purple fruits).  I felt some relief but not completely so I continued with the TUMS and continued to deal with the discomfort as best I could. 

My symptoms were manageable until March of this year when I went to the emergency room with stomach pain so severe that I thought my appendix was bursting.  I was evaluated and sent home with a week’s worth of pain medication.  I was told to follow up with a GI doctor if my symptoms did not resolve by then.  After a week spent hugging my heating pad, I was out of pain medication and left with serious discomfort so off to a new GI for another endoscopy as well as a colonoscopy.  Both came back negative so I was given a diagnosis of IBS, the diagnosis you get when you have lower GI issues with no visible explanation.  I was put on every anti-spasmodic medication available but they did nothing.

As a result of this negative experience, I began seeing a chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia specialist who told me that the allergy test I had been give 2 years earlier was a scam and that I had avoided the list of foods for nothing.  At this point, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  I believed that if there were no visible abnormalities in my esophagus, stomach, colon, or intestines, then my problem must stem from what I put in my body.  Based on my own research and discussion with the new doctor, I decided to try an elimination diet. I went on and settled on the book “Dealing with Food Allergies” by Janice Vickerstaff Joneja (to look into it further or buy one for yourself, the link is available in "My Favorite Things" section). 

The diet begins with 10 days of the “few-foods elimination diet” which includes a small (emphasis on small) list of food that do not cause allergies in the majority of the population.  This was not easy.  By the end of the 10 days I would sit and watch people eat because I was feeling so deprived.  The next phase of the diet is called the “challenge phase” in which food groups are reintroduced sequentially.  I am still working on this phase but so far I have discovered that I have sensitivity to egg yolks, uncooked tomatoes, cauliflower, and sugar in large amounts.  I have still not reintroduced dairy, wheat, yeast, and alcohol (except for vodka in honor of my 21st birthday). 

The results?  The feelings of starvation and deprivation were totally worth it.  I am not completely symptom-free but my upper and lower GI issues are the most controlled they have been since they began.  If anyone out there is struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia and GI issues I would definitely recommend looking into food allergies and trying an elimination diet. 


  1. I will have to pass this post on to my BF. He has been having major GI issues for awhile now and with very little help from doctors or specialist figuring it out and getting it under control. Sounds like you've made progess! Thanks for the for the post. Very informational.

    ~ M

  2. Please do pass it on and let him know that if he has any questions, I'd be happy to talk with him further.

  3. This is so hard to deal with. Hope gets me from one day to the next. I have food cravings, but am trying food elimination. This makes it even harder. I have lost weight. My town is small and I cannot find a doctor. I miss shopping, dressing up, and eating. Right now I just want a diet pepsi and a "stage plank"(a ginger cookie with pink icing). Although symptoms add up, I have not been diagnosed with anything. Be blessed.