The Elimination Diet… or how to eliminate all joy from your life

If I’ve been a bit quiet with the cooking recently, its because I haven’t had a huge amount of time to cook.  At least not anything noteworthy.  I followed up a somewhat relaxing off-grid experience in an eco-yurt in North Wales with an immediate deep dive into the Elimination Diet.  

For the uninitiated, the Elimination Diet excludes all your typical allergens from the diet.  I have pretty much eliminated all nuts anyway because of concerns about a nut allergy.. but eradicating dairy, eggs, gluten, nightshades*, soy, alcohol, caffeine, legumes really doesn’t leave much to consume on a vegan(ish) diet.  I can avoid bread or dairy.. but soy really is a protein packed lifeline to vegans.  

For the uninitiated, the Elimination Diet excludes all your typical allergens from the diet.  I have pretty much eliminated all nuts anyway because of concerns about a nut allergy.. but eradicating dairy, eggs, gluten, nightshades*, soy, alcohol, caffeine, legumes really doesn’t leave much to consume on a vegan(ish) diet.  I can avoid bread or dairy.. but soy really is a protein packed lifeline to vegans.  

Nightshades are a family of plants that includes peppers (including chillis), tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes. So all the best vegetables.

The point of this sado-masochism is to work out if my newly acquired dry skin condition is being caused by anything dietary.  It arrived not long after my decision to embrace a mostly meat-free lifestyle which is worrying.  I am 5 days into my 21 day elimination – if nothing improves then I’ll know it isn’t any of those things I hold dearly, but then there’ll be otherI don’t think I’ve ever been off spuds for so long.. 5 days and counting.  Thankfully an end is in sight.. the end of the 21 days.

So what do you eat when you can’t have any of your major food groups?  Surprisingly, still quite a lot.  I’ve been eating lots of vegetables and rice.  I made a big batch of buckwheat porridge that was.. okay.  I also discovered that there is a soy-free soy sauce made from coconut which has been a lifesaver so far.  It’s called coconut aminos, I bought it in a health food shop and it is like a slightly sweet soy sauce.  Less delicious, but equally okay, was the coffee-free coffee.  Apparently decaf can still be caffeinated so I found some Chicory coffee in the same health food shop.  It tastes just like really cheap instant coffee and is completely caffeine free.  Hoorah.

The point of this sado-masochism is to work out if my newly acquired dry skin condition is being caused by anything dietary.  It arrived not long after my decision to embrace a mostly meat-free lifestyle which is worrying.  I am 5 days into my 21 day elimination – if nothing improves then I’ll know it isn’t any of those things I hold dearly, but then there’ll be otherI don’t think I’ve ever been off spuds for so long.. 5 days and counting.  Thankfully an end is in sight.. the end of the 21 days.

So what do you eat when you can’t have any of your major food groups?  Surprisingly, still quite a lot.  I’ve been eating lots of vegetables and rice.  I made a big batch of buckwheat porridge that was.. okay.  I also discovered that there is a soy-free soy sauce made from coconut which has been a lifesaver so far.  It’s called coconut aminos, I bought it in a health food shop and it is like a slightly sweet soy sauce.  Less delicious, but equally okay, was the coffee-free coffee.  Apparently decaf can still be caffeinated so I found some Chicory coffee in the same health food shop.  It tastes just like really cheap instant coffee and is completely caffeine free.  Hoorah.

I’m trying to experiment with cooking during the diet, but the only suitable cookbooks I have are Gwyneth Paltrow’s.  So far, I’ve made the Nomato sauce from her newest book, The Clean Plate.  Its basically a very red, tomato-free vegetable soup to be used as a sauce.  I’m having it with courgetti (zoodles) and clearly living my finest life.

After 5 days, I realised vegetables and rice alone won’t cut it – so I’ve added a small amount of fish to the diet.  A lot of the elimination diet recipes I can find are based around white meat or fish and if you can’t fight it, eat it.

The Reintroduction Diet
Deep down, I had hoped that my skin was completely unchanged by all the restrictive eating so I could return to eating spuds and gluten with reckless abandon.  Two months on, after cutting and reintroducing all those food groups, nothing has changed in the skin department.  It wasn’t a completely thankless experience, I lost a few pounds and found a new appreciation for Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbooks.

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