3 minute read

Do you want to know a good way to bring in the new year? My 10th answer would be to remove nearly every food item from your diet for a week and see how you feel. I do love a good n=1 experiment, and this experiment has an n=2 which I refer to as two n=1 experiments. I could have come up with approximately 5 less ascetic things to do and 4 more interesting deprivation experiments, but the chance came up and I took it.

Let’s say someone in your family gets migraines often and even the prescription drugs are only about 50% effective. You’ve tried removing gluten, coffee, dairy, and anything that might be a trigger. When nothing works, there is the last-ditch effort of trying an elimination diet. This is where you eliminate almost every type of calorie and taste source that are even remotely tied to some sort of allergy or intolerance. You do this for two weeks, and then start introducing foods back one at a time each subsequent week until you find the “trigger” of your ailments.

This is what I have been doing for the past week. It is easier to list the foods you are allowed to eat during this two-week elminination. We can have any type of rice, black beans, white beans, and quinoa. However, the only oil or fat that we can use is extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. We can season the food with salt, pepper, cumin, corriander, or any herb. We cannot use any spices derived from chili peppers or that have vinegar bases. There are many vegetables available to eat, but no night-shades meaning no regular potatoes, eggplant, tomato, or peppers. You are allowed fruit including coconut milk, but no citrus fruits. We can have sweet potato, garlic, and onion. So that pretty much covers it.

Our diet for the past week has been mainly different combination of rice (brown, white, wild) with different combinations of beans (black and white) and plenty of sweet potatoes. There were some soups in the Elimination Diet book that we tried including a Broccoli and Leek soup and a Cannellini Bean with Kale and Wild Rice soup. After a few meals of soup, our mouths really missed crunch. That is when I bought packages of plain rice cakes and rice crackers. They really helped even though they could use some salt and flavor.

The surprises of the diet: still migrainy and maintaining the same weight. Even though we tappered our caffeine intake for four days leading up to the diet, we believe the body still was craving caffeine and triggering headaches and migraines. It was either that or withdrawal from sugars or dairy causing the headaches. Regardless, some over-the-counter migraines relief pills- which contain caffeine- at two different points during this first week meant that the full caffeine withdrawal never did occur.

The other surprise that I am finding is that I don’t feel satiated after a meal where most of the calories are coming from rice products and beans. My body feels like it is in a calorie deficit. I sometimes need to warm up another bowl of rice and beans after lunch or dinner to feel full. But when I check the scale, I am not losing or gaining any weight.

The head pain has been enough that we decided to add back a half-cup of coffee on day 7 to see if that helps. We are still not eating any wheat, soy, dairy, or sugar products. We will continue the food portion of the elimination diet, but a bit of coffee has now entered the equation. One more week to go for the toughest part. The spark of adding a bit of coffee back should give us the motivation to complete week two. I will let you know how it goes.