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Episode 149: How I'm Surviving an 8-Month Elimination Diet

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 I have a confession to make. My name is Kat, I am a gut health coach, and I just got diagnosed with 2 major gut problems: H Pylori and SIBO.

Is there part of me that's embarrassed? Sure. The perfectionist in me doesn't want to admit that as a health coach I still have health problems. 

But the truth is, I have 20 years of damage to make up for. 

Just to give you a little background on me.

  • When I was a baby, I had to be put on antibiotics when I was admitted to the hospital. Studies show when you are given antibiotics that young it can affect you well into adulthood.
  • In my teenage years I had bronchitis a lot and was given antibiotics every. single. time.
  • In my teenage years I also was prescribed long-term antibiotics for my acne.
  • I was put on birth control at 13 years old to control my irregular periods and didn't come off of it until I was 20 (when I realized how damaging to the gut hormonal birth control can be).
  • I dealt with carb and sugar binges from my mid-teens to my early 20's, which is known to feed pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
  • And I was in an emotionally abusive relationship for years that caused long-term stress, which is known to negatively impact gut health.

So to say these diagnoses were a long time coming is an understatement.

Now if you have no idea what these gut conditions are, allow me to give you a quick snap shot.
H. Pylori is a type of bacteria that produces an enzyme that neutralizes your stomach acid. Because your stomach acidity is lower, it causes you to not break down your food as well and because there isn't enough acid to kill certain bacteria, it can lead to pathogenic bacterial overgrowth further down your digestive tract. H Pylori can burrow into the lining of your stomach and cause ulcers. And symptoms usually include nausea, loss of appetite, acid reflux, and frequent burping.
SIBO stands for small intestine bacterial overgrowth and it can happen because of things like low stomach acidity, low motility, not enough bile, not enough enzymes, etc. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and fatigue just to name a few.
But I didn't come here to give you a science lesson on my gut conditions. I came because I have 8 months of healing work that is going to require me to be VERY strict with my diet.
And while I am not an advocate of restrictive dieting for weight loss, I know from experience that there are times where we have to put our health over our 'food freedom' and I want to share my approach.
So I'll be honest, I don't know exactly what's in store over the next 8 months. I know I will spend 2 months on H pylori, 2 months on mold toxicity, 2 months on SIBO, and 2 months restoring my large intestine. 
But off the bat, here's what I have to cut out:
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee/Caffeine of any kind
  • Sugar
  • Cocoa of any kind
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Processed meats (as in no lunch meats, bacon, etc)
  • Processed tomato products
  • Hot chilies
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Legumes

Not to mention I am on a strict supplement regimen that is spread over 11 different time slots throughout the day.

So how the heck am I going to do this without losing my mind??

1. I created a google doc where I wrote down as many satisfying, but simple meals as possible that I can pull from.

Some examples include: stir fries made with cauliflower rice and sesame oil, zoodles with shrimp and homemade pesto, burgers with a potato bun and lemon-herb aioli instead of cheese, a mediterranean salmon bowl, cauliflower rice tabbouleh with shrimp and dill potatoes, greek chicken kabobs, and more! I know the only way I'm going to stick with this is if I make food that I genuinely enjoy so I don't feel like I'm completely deprived for 8 months.

2. I'm finding alternatives where I can.

For this particular round there were 2 core alternatives I needed: coffee and protein powder. So far I've experimented with Rasa coffee alternative which is made from roasted chicory, dandelion, ashwaghanda, and different types of mushrooms and I have to admit, it's actually really good! As for my protein powder I will use collagen powder while I can't have legumes and will introduce Truvani when I can have pea protein again (it has just 5 ingredients: pea protein, vanilla powder, pumpkin seed concentrate, monk fruit extract, chia seed protein concentrate).

3. I am being VERY intentional about planning.

Every night I look at my schedule for the next day and map out exactly when I'm going to take my supplements and when/what my meals will be. When things are this specific, you can not leave it to chance. 

4. I'm keeping it simple where I can. 

While yes I want to make really yummy dishes that make me not miss all the things I have to give up, there are some days where I will need my food to be ultra simple.

On those days breakfast will be a shake, lunch will be a loaded up salad, and dinner will be a 1-pan roast of veggies, potatoes for starch, and protein. 

5. I am not relying on 'willpower'.

When I told my mom what I had to do she said, "I don't know how you do it, I would not have enough willpower for that."

But willpower implies that eating this way is a choice that I will have to make each day. But I don't view it as a choice. I don't view it as an option to opt in or opt out of. 

If I want to get better, if I want to feel better, if I want my skin to clear up, if I don't want my body to develop a new autoimmune disease, I have to heal my gut. And this is how I get there. 

And any time my brain wants to go into whoa-is-me mode, I remind myself why I'm doing this. I remind myself what waits for me on the other side of all this. And I remind myself that every lesson I learn over the next 8 months is giving me more tools to help my clients. 

Speaking of, if you're going through a health protocol of your own or if you want support going through an elimination diet like the one in my Follow Your Gut Program, click here to apply to the next round of Follow Your Gut! I'm happy to support you, because we all need someone to hold our hands on journeys like these!


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