An Elimination Diet Journey – yet another attempt to heal

My journey with chronic health issues seems unending, yet I have not reached the point of giving up. So, here I am again, trying another “diet”, this time, the elimination diet from Dr. Will Cole’s “Inflammation Spectrum”.

I’ve done elimination diets before – one I’ve done based on food sensitivity testing about 4 years ago, one called the Low FODMAP usually prescribed to SIBO sufferers (me!) – both yielding little to no results.

So what’s one more?

Since I deal with chronic health issues, I am usually one step ahead in knowing everything “wellness” as I consistently submerse myself in blogs, podcasts, etc of the leading industry professionals. That’s how I came across Dr. Will Cole.

After being aware of Dr. Cole’s work for a few years, in desperation of trying something else to help my issues, I finally borrowed “Inflammation Spectrum” from my local library.

When I cracked open the book, I was actually unaware that it was mainly an elimination diet. I started reading it and thought to myself, “well, I guess we’re doing this!”

The timeline is pretty good – I’ll be on this for 4-8 weeks depending on how I’m feeling, so I should wrap up just before the heavy holiday baking season. Hopefully by that point, I will be able to enjoy some of my favorite holiday treats because I will have achieved the following:

  • Reduced inflammation and thus less pain/symptoms in the body
  • Healed the gut
  • Identified food triggers to better understand what is/is not good for MY body

So, what exactly do I have to eliminate? Honestly, a lot.


This includes things you would normally assume like gluten, wheat, rice, rye, barley, etc… but also includes things I love like oats, rice and popcorn. This is TOTALLY throwing a wrench in my breakfast go-to, so this will be a particular challenge for me.

This group also includes things like quinoa and buckwheat that act as pseudograins.

I have been gluten free except for the special occasion for the past 4 years, but eliminating oats, rice and popcorn will definitely be a bummer for the next few weeks.

If you’re interested in going grain-free, you may have heard of the paleo diet. For more info on that diet specifically, I recommend this resource!

2. Dairy

This group is one of the least bothersome to me, as I’ve been dairy free for the most part for the past 4 years as well, except for special occasions. The only bummer is that while there are PLENTY of DF alternatives on the market these days, many of them are nut based, which if you read on, I’ll also be eliminating.

So the biggest bummer of this is that there is really minimal options for substitutions to achieve a cheesy taste.

Oh well, cheese! See ya in a few weeks!

3. Sweeteners

This is sad. MAJORLY sad. I have such a sweet tooth! I don’t consume much added sugar, but for this elimination diet, I have to remove even stevia, monk fruit, honey, maple syrup, etc. So, yeah. It’s just gonna be a sad few weeks, and I’m salty. (get it?)

4. Inflammatory Oils

Also not a huge deal for me, the point of this is to just swap out inflammatory oils such as canola, vegetable, sunflower, etc for inflammatory oils like olive, avocado and coconut.

I made this switch a looong time ago, so no adjustment here!

5. Legumes

Legumes include foods such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas and peanuts. This means no peanut butter or hummus, which are the biggest bummers for me in this group.

6. Nightshades

Nightshades include foods like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes (except sweet potatoes), and a few others. Nightshades aren’t problematic for everyone, but for many with autoimmune issues, they are. The trickiest part of this group is that peppers are often found in seasoning mixes, so that really limits what flavor I can add to dishes.

I’ll miss these for sure, so I’m hoping on the reintroduction, they don’t actually bother me 🙂

7. Eggs

Eggs can be problematic for some people. In fact, I am allergic to egg yolks, but have been still eating the whites thinking they don’t bother me. This elimination diet requires me to eliminate eggs entirely, so it will be interesting to see in the reintroduction phase whether I can actually tolerate them!

8. Nuts/Seeds

NO ALMONMD BUTTER? UGH! This group includes all nuts and seeds, so that means no almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc. and no chia seeds, flax seeds, mustard. This is another group where I will need to check spice labels – sesame and mustard are often found in seasonings.

Extra: Coffee/Alcohol

The drinks I can do without… the coffee?! Ugh major bummer. But, coffee can be acidic so if you ARE having gut issues, this can be an irritant. Coffee can also shoot your adrenals through the roof, which play a major role in cortisol and thus your body’s healing capabilities.

So yeah… what am I eating? GREAT QUESTION!

It’s going to be a lot of lean protein, approved veggies (sadly as you can see, I can’t enjoy some awesome veggies that I typically love), approved fruit, and we’re going to be experimenting along the way.

Prep Week/Week 1 Update:

For prep week, I eliminated one of the above food groups each day, until all were eliminated. Once all were out of the diet, that was the start of week 1.

I’m now at the end of Week 1, and I can honestly say my digestion does feel SLIIIGHTLY better. However, I am on a round of medication that I’m sure is also contributing, so I’m going to reserve total judgement until the weeks go on.

Although my digestion is feeling somewhat better, I have noticed some other flare-ups – probably withdrawal/detox type symptoms. Worsening joint pain, headaches, insomnia, fatigue… I’m hoping it’s one of those “it gets worse before it gets better” things.

Luckily, with Harlee (my new pup!) coming at the end of week 2, she’ll help this process go by pretty quickly!

For my week 2 update, I’ll share more of what I’ve been eating, go-to products, and more of my experience.

Check back each week for recaps on my favorite meals/snacks and products I discover through this process!


happily Haleigh

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