Elimination diet

I have recently been working with a holistic therapist in an attempt to reduce both my anxiety levels and the joint pain I have been suffering quite badly with. Visits to mainstream medics and specialists seem to have got me nowhere fast, so ‘alternative’ seemed like a reasonable way forward. To accompany some hands-on therapy / manipulation, I was asked to try some food supplements and an elimination diet. Normally sceptical about such things, I think my willingness to give it a go this time is indicative of the level of distress I had reached at my health situation.

I offer this blog as an insight into some of my experiences with eliminating or replacing certain foods in my diet, and would very much welcome comments and advice from people who may have more / different experience than me.

The first thing on my elimination list was coffee. Those who know me well will need no telling how badly that went down! I drink far less coffee than I ever used to, but that’s down to an average of 3 cups a day from a peak of somewhere around 7 or 8. And I am known to be less than human until I have had my first morning coffee! But I was allowed tea, so I dutifully went cold turkey on the coffee… and to be honest, it was much easier than I thought. I can imagine that if/when I reintroduce it, it will be at lesser strength and lesser volume.

Next on the list came green tea, red wine and dark chocolate. None of these were a problem… I hate green tea, I prefer white wine, and going without dark chocolate would not be a great sacrifice.

Then came dairy. No milk, I thought. But then realised also, no butter, no cheese and no milk chocolate either! And lots of cakes have butter and milk in… and I like cheese… Hmmmm. Milk substitutes have been something I have consistently scorned over the years – couldn’t see the point of them and didn’t want to try them. Until now.

I have tried both oat milk (gluten free wherever possible) and almond milk. I have found oat milk on my morning cereal to be quite delicious. So much so that I think I would retain that swap through choice going forward. Not so keen on oat milk in tea. Almond milk better there, but not so good on cereal. I would be interested to hear whether people would recommend any other milk substitutes.

Butter wasn’t a great problem, as I selected an olive oil based vegan spread. But CHEESE! Please, please if you have discovered a vegan / dairy free cheese that tastes remotely palatable and that can be used in any way like real cheese… let me know! My first experience was with a block of vegan cheese, which I tried grating on top of some enchilladas. It didn’t melt. It just burned. In strands. Next I tried ready grated vegan cheese. That didn’t melt either, and tasted vile. Yuk!

The final elimination was gluten. Parts of this have been good and relatively easy; parts have not. I have a new found sympathy for my coeliac friends, particularly with regard to the price differential between ‘normal’ and ‘free from’ products. It is, quite frankly, criminal, that a health condition should be subject to this sort of stealth tax. Anyway, I digress. Gluten free muesli and granola, whilst expensive, have been extremely tasty drowned in oat milk. I haven’t bothered with bread, so can’t give an opinion. Wraps, I have tried – sweet potato and beetroot ones. They’re ok, but have a weird after taste that detracts from the food within them. I’ve also tried green pea pasta… again, expensive and not especially pasta-flavoured. I think I’ve missed pasta actually, as it’s a quick and easy meal.

I’ve also found that when eating out, it is certainly possible to avoid gluten or dairy. Less easy to avoid both, especially when you’re a fan of tea and cake! On my holiday, I missed lovely creamy ice-creams, but Europe seem to be better at vegan sorbets than we are in the UK.

And I guess the next question to consider is whether all of this elimination has helped my aches and pains… Not sure yet, is my response to that. Another couple of weeks of elimination required before a supervised reintroduction of certain food types. I will add a further blog then, to report back on my findings. Until which time, please do comment with your advice and recommendations for dairy and gluten free eats!

Edit 27/6

I have now also tried gluten free bread rolls. Not convinced it’s worth eating bread at all if it’s going to be that bad! Also soy bean spaghetti – as with green pea pasta I didn’t find it to be the greatest substitute.

Am planning to try baking an orange and polenta cake this week – will keep you posted!

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