Ch-ch-changes: Identifying Food Sensitivities with an Elimination Diet

Hey, gang.  You may have noticed my blogging schedule has been a bit off lately.  There have been a lot of changes happening in my kitchen, and more recipes failing to thrill than I’ve experienced in many years of cooking.  I’m feeling like a novice again as I tackle an “elimination diet” to try to suss out food sensitivities that may be contributing to my inflammatory autoimmune conditions.

Research suggests a strong correlation between gluten sensitivity and Sjogren’s Syndrome, so I’ve got my eye on wheat and other gluten-containing grains.  Other common food allergens related to inflammation include dairy, corn, and nightshade vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and white potatoes.  Right now, I’m on week three of a two-month diet which eliminates all of the above.  And I’m still off added sugar — I’m pretty sure that’s a necessary, life-long commitment.

Journal of Gluten Sensitivity: The Connection Between Gluten Intolerance and Sjogren’s Syndrome

Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology: Gluten Sensitivity in Patients with Primary Sjogren’s Syndrome

Gluten Free Society: Gluten, Dairy, and Sugar Free Diet Reverses Sjogren’s and Hormone Problems

Cooking without wheat/gluten, corn, dairy, or nightshades has been a real challenge for me.  I have to do a lot more thinking about each meal, and my go-to cooking techniques don’t always hold up in this strange new culinary landscape.  So, please bear with me as I dip a little deeper into research and recipe testing.  (I can promise I’m putting the final tweaks on a pumpkin tart recipe that is low-sugar, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and so tasty that the Gent’s first bite elicited the response “<expletive> <expletive> this is a REAL dessert!”)

Julie Daniluk’s new book Meals That Heal Inflammation (2012) has proved to be a gem, not so much for its recipes (which I haven’t tried yet) but as a guide for approaching the elimination diet in a sane and sensible way.  If you’re struggling to revamp your diet and commit to a healthier way of eating, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Since starting this elimination diet, I’ve already noticed a significant difference in how I feel.  My joint pain has completely disappeared.  During yoga practice, I’ve been enjoying a surprising — but welcome — increase in strength, flexibility, and stamina.  My overall energy has also dramatically increased.  I feel good.  Really good.  In fact, some days I forget I have a chronic illness at all — and that in itself blows my mind.  So, even though it’s a pain in the patootie, I’m sticking with the plan until I’ve deduced which dietary culprits have been aggravating my inflammatory conditions.

Going out to eat during this two-month elimination period seemed impossible until my friend Laura found a curious restaurant in Minneapolis called Ecopolitan.  This gluten-free, vegan, raw foods joint caters to bereft foodies like me.  Nothing on the menu contains the most heavy-hitting allergens (wheat/gluten, corn, potato, and dairy), and most items can be made nut-free upon request.

The Gent and I headed to the Twin Cities last weekend so he could run the Surf the Murph 50 Mile Trail Race, and Laura was coincidentally in town for a concert.  While the Gent was tackling the endless hills of a 10+ hour run, Laura and I met up for lunch at Ecopolitan.

Laura ordered the Red Onion Avocado Pizza, a crisp flax flatbread topped with olive tapenade and veggies.  I indulged in a hearty helping of Savory Casserole, thinly mandolined zucchini with mushrooms and other vegetables bound by a creamy avocado and cashew sauce and accompanied by mixed greens with garlic-tahini dressing.  Heaven!  We both sipped Sweet Beet juice from the raw juice bar: a spicy blend of beet, kale, carrot, apple, and fresh ginger.  I miss that juice.  I may even be pining for it.

Our visit to Ecopolitan prodded me to remember that healthful food can be delicious, comforting, and even indulgent — just the inspiration I needed to get back into the kitchen and keep on learning this new way of cooking.

This entry was posted in Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients, Beverages, Dairy-free, Domestic, Entrees, Gluten-free, Just Keep Me Movin', Travel, Vegan, yoga. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Ch-ch-changes: Identifying Food Sensitivities with an Elimination Diet

  1. Suzanna says:

    We have many tasty options here in pdx – you will just have to come visit! xoxo

  2. bornbyariver says:

    I love the Ecopolitan!

  3. Mira Jamadi says:

    Those dishes look sooo good! Radiating Prana!

  4. Mary says:

    The restaurant sounds like a great find! Reminds me of Planet Raw in LA. It’s so nice when you do find that rare restaurant that has a lot of things you can eat! I’m glad the elimination diet has been helping you, hard as it is. I hope cooking this new way gets easier soon.

  5. Pingback: Pumpkin Mini Pies (Naturally Sweetened, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free) | What IF…? Gourmet

  6. Pingback: Anti-Inflammatory Snacking: Roasted Moroccan-Spiced Chickpeas | What IF…? Gourmet

  7. Pingback: Picky Bars: It’s Freaking Science, Dude! « Chasing 42

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