New Gut, New Me – Part 2 of My “Healthy Gut Experiment”

So my two week elimination diet has come and gone, and will probably be sticking around a little longer, for reasons I will elaborate on shortly.  I had totally intended to write a post at the one week mark, and then again at exactly the two week mark, which would have been this past Saturday.  But life kind of just happened to get itself right in the way, as it so frequently seems to do.  I am so proud to say that I was actually successful in completely sticking 100% to the goals I set for myself (in regards to diet at least).  I usually go into any sort of elimination phase with a “so-so” mindset, like “Oh I’m giving up cheese, but it’s okay if I just have a little bit of this feta with my dinner.”  And then the next thing you know I’m housing a whole wheel of brie cheese.  This time there was no brie involved.  I did not eat cheese for the full 14 days.

I even bought myself a colada (Cuban espresso blended with sugar for those non-Miami folks out there) 12 days into the elimination.  I bought the coffee.  Didn’t drink the coffee.  Decided at the last minute that I had more willpower than that and ended up sharing it all with my coworkers.  But in the end I successfully eliminated coffee from my diet for the whole two weeks as well.

The first week went by uneventfully.  Overall I felt sort of better, because I wasn’t drinking any alcohol which meant I was sleeping better and feeling more clearheaded.  And removing the caffeine resolved a lot of my anxiety.  I have been making a conscious effort to drink more green tea in the mornings, as well as decaffeinated teas such as Trader Joe’s Ginger + Turmeric Herbal tea.  Ginger and turmeric are both high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and supposed to work wonders for your digestion.


But despite my efforts, that first week I DID NOT EXPERIENCE ANY NOTICEABLE IMPROVEMENTS IN MY DIGESTIVE HEALTH.  I still felt bloated and had major abdominal discomfort.  I still was not able to use the bathroom on a consistent basis.  I felt more than a little physiologically and psychologically frustrated.  But despite this frustration I remained persistent, hoping that maybe after two weeks I would notice a difference in my health.

And then on Monday of the second week, a miracle happened.  I was finally able to use the bathroom WITHOUT the aid of medication (constipation is definitely not fun, my friends -_-).  And then again on Tuesday.  And Wednesday.  And Thursday.  What’s more, I felt good, no GREAT, the whole week.  My stomach was not uncomfortable, I felt full of energy, I had a lot of good days at the gym.  I cannot say for certain that it was the lack of coffee, cheese, or alcohol, because during all of this time I was also not eating bread, grains, or anything with gluten.  Not because I was specifically eliminating them, but because I already know from experience that my body does not digest these substances very well (In fact, I finally got tested for Celiac’s and will find out the official results in about a week).

The only thing I guess you could say I sort of cheated on during these two weeks was the alcohol.  The second week was rough, mainly because I found out my little cat has lymphoma.  I spent almost the whole week in and out of the vet’s office, worrying myself sick.  I was sad and decided to have a glass of wine this past Thursday, after going 12 days without.  Even though my stomach had been feeling great the whole week, I woke up on Friday feeling less than stellar.  I could not use the bathroom that day.  What was the one variable that changed?  The alcohol.

On Friday I didn’t drink, and felt normal again on Saturday morning.  Then on Saturday night I had two vodka soda’s at dinner.  Can we guess how I felt on Sunday morning??? Yeah.  So there you have it.  A two week elimination diet has led me to the conclusion that I’d rather not drink at all.  I’ve never really been addicted to alcohol per se, but I’ve definitely overdone it more than a few times throughout my  life.  It’s been years since what you could call my “partying” days, but these days if I ask you to meet me at the bar, I’m probably talking about my crossfit box.  There comes a moment when alcohol just kind of ceases to be worth it.  I think this was that moment for me.

So now I’m about halfway into week three, and I still haven’t added cheese or coffee back into my diet.  Perhaps I will re-introduce them slowly, gradually (because let’s be honest, there are few things I love more than cheese)…but why ruin a good thing?  This was only supposed to be a two week experiment, but given the success I’ve had I think I will continue it a little longer.  I have my doctor’s appointment next week to find out the results of my bloodwork and abdominal ultrasound, but it seems to me the gastrointestinal issues I’ve been experiencing my whole life are nutrition-related.  Fingers crossed that I’ve finally solved this mystery once and for all.

I cannot emphasize enough, if you are experiencing any sort of bloating or gastro issues, carefully analyze what you are eating!!  Maybe choose one potentially aggravating item (such as cheese, bread, or lactose) and try removing it for 2 weeks-30 days. You don’t have to remove three at a time like I did, because that might be a little extreme. But, what’s the worst that can happen?  You might find out that you actually are not intolerant to that food item!  I’d say that sounds like a pretty good outcome to me.  And if you do feel relief after elimination, you’re just one step closer to lifelong health and wellness.

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