What I gained and lost from the elimination diet

(Psst. In case you missed it, I shared the biggest challenges of this elimination diet, and tips for overcoming them, here.)

It’s been a while since I ended the elimination diet, but I was waiting until I had time to experience any lasting “results” to share my findings.

To recap, here’s what I gave up for 30 days:

  • Coffee/caffeine (ouch)
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.)
  • Soy
  • Sugar (refined)

This was a fun experiment and I gained a lot. I lost a little. By a little I mean I lost a little weight. I don’t make a habit of weighing myself but I did as part of this experiment. I lost … are you ready for it? ...

Drumroll, please.

Wait for it ...

I know, the tension is killer ...

3 pounds.

And I’m pretty sure I gained most of it back, though I’m not certain because I haven’t weighed myself since.

What I gained from this whole process was far greater than the little bit of weight I lost. This isn’t life-changing stuff. But these permanent changes, however small, are making me feel a bit better.

And a bit better is better than no better and is much better than worse.

So I’m celebrating this win. Because “a bit better” multiplied over time adds up to “a lot better.”

Are you still with me? Cool.

Without further ado, here’s what I discovered as a result of this 30-day elimination diet.

Drinking less coffee makes me more alert

This challenge made me realize how dependent my body was on caffeine. The idea that my body “needs” a drink to function makes me uncomfortable. So while I’m drinking coffee again, I’m being more mindful about it. I enjoy the morning ritual and the quick pick-me-up to start the day. But I no longer continuously refill my cup as if it were water. Before I fill up I stop to ask myself, “Do I really want this?" Instead of 5, 6 … 9 (don’t judge) cups per day, I am down to 1 or 2. My sleep is better and I feel more rested than I did when drinking more caffeine. Isn’t it ironic? Alanis thinks so.

Soy isn’t my friend

You’re probably eating a lot of soy. I suspected soy might be an issue as I was eating a lot of vegan meat alternatives — most of which are soy based. But it turns out, soy is like corn — it’s in most of the processed food we buy in packages. There’s a lot of research surrounding soy, particularly about how it disrupts your hormonal balance (read: metabolism). Google it if you’re interested in learning more or even better, figure out if it messes with you. Because you know your body better than the Google machine. (You do, I promise.) I’d love to know what you discover.

Too much of most things isn’t a great idea

As I started adding the common allergens back to my diet, I didn’t have a big reaction to anything, really. Dairy was OK. Gluten was fine. Legumes were OKish. Soy wasn’t the best but in small doses it was still fine. So really my takeaway isn’t that I have specific food sensitivities. It’s that my body prefers moderation. Dairy is cool. Cheese pizza for dinner and ice cream for dessert isn’t so cool on my stomach. However, it is delicious! (And sometimes worth it.)

Eating out is actually more time-consuming than eating in

We’re too busy to cook and it’s so much easier to eat out. Does that sound familiar? That was my excuse, too. But what I discovered is that it’s actually easier to prepare meals at home. My husband and I now spend about 2 hours on Sundays preparing food and are able to knock out lunches and dinners for the entire week. We aren’t chefs. They aren’t fancy meals. But they’re pretty good and it fits our busy lifestyle. Also, it averages out to much LESS time than if we grabbed takeout for all those meals.

Drinking alcohol is usually not worth it (yes, even wine)

There’s nothing like a glass of wine after a long day. At least that’s what I used to think. It turns out I actually don’t enjoy drinking a glass of wine before bed. I don’t sleep as well and I feel fuzzy in the morning. Which is probably why I needed all the coffee. I was riding a rollercoaster of uppers and downers. I made it 38 days without drinking alcohol and I really only wanted to drink twice during that whole period — both in social settings. Now my nightcap is either fruit-infused water or tea. I sleep better and wake up more refreshed. I’m sure there will be some occasions that call for weeknight wine. But not because it’s Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday … you get it.

Would I do an elimination diet again?

Totally. Not because I think I have a food allergy but because it was a nice way to push the “reset” button and bring my body to its neutral state. And most importantly, it helped me make some small changes that are helping me feel better.

I drink less coffee and booze. I prepare more meals at home out of wholesome, unprocessed foods. These may not seem like huge changes. That’s because they aren’t. They are changes that I’m choosing to implement in my life. Because it’s obvious. Because it feels easy. Because they’re simple ways I can make myself feel better. And that is amazing.

Never before have I finished a diet and gained anything more than a failed attempt to hate myself thin.

So please. If you’re considering trying an elimination diet — or any diet — check your intention. Make sure it’s coming from a place of self-love; not a place of self-hate. And if you’re anything like me, your “results” will be better and longer lasting.

Also, check out my tips for surviving an elimination diet.