Oct 24, 2007

Addendum C: How to Test Foods

For several weeks, I strictly followed the McDougall Elimination Diet. (See http://www.drmcdougall.com/med_allergic.html under "My Recommendations" a little more than half way down the page.) It is a short-term diagnostic diet limited to a small set of presumably non-inflammatory foods. On the McDougall Elimination Diet, my skin problems diminished somewhat within a week, indicating that some foods I had been eating before had been causing my skin and perhaps other inflammation problems.

The Elimination Diet is very lean and very bland to anyone accustomed to the Standard American Diet. Following the ED consistently, even for only a few weeks, is a major challenge to individuals accustomed to rich, spicy foods. If you have the virtues of courage and persistence, you can follow the ED without making any exceptions whatsoever. (Making exceptions in the middle of an experiment is self-defeating.)

I have only one change to suggest for the McDougall Elimination Diet, if you have the same type of medical problems I had: Replace the brown rice with white rice or, better yet, avoid rice altogether. White rice is much less acid-producing than brown rice, according to Berardi's PRAL list, but it still is somewhat acidifying. Eat other alkaline-producing starches instead -- roots (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.) and gourds.

After you have followed the Elimination Diet for several weeks, making no exceptions, and if you see some improvement, then perform the standard re-introduction test: Eat at least one official serving (typically one-half to one cup) of the suspect food per meal, for six meals in a row (generally, two days); and then wait a few days for a flare-up, if any.

An example re-introduction test-food might be pinto beans. If the standard serving size is, let's say, ½ C cooked, then I would eat ½ C of beans at each meal for six meals in a row. I definitely had a flare-up each time I tested one of several kinds of bean. Beans, I concluded, were not an acceptable food. Much later I found -- from Berardi's PRAL list and from further experimenting -- that green "string" beans are acceptable, but all others are bad for me. That is probably due to the fact that green beans are more "green" than "bean."

I started each six-meal test series on Monday morning at breakfast, finished it Tuesday evening at dinner, and waited until Sunday for results.

If there was a flare-up of inflammation in my skin (the most sensitive tissue) from testing one food, it usually occurred by the third or fourth day after the first of the six test meals. (For example, starting on Monday, I nearly always saw a flare-up, if any, by Wednesday.) I returned to the Elimination Diet and waited two or more weeks for that flare-up to clear as much as it would ever clear at that stage. Sometimes test results were confused and I had to restart.

If there was no flare-up from testing one food, then on the following Monday I tested the next food (in a different category -- for example, a certain kind of beans and then oranges).

Testing every food in every category -- for example, 15 kinds of beans -- is unnecessary. If you test a few foods in one category, and the results are consistent, you can safely generalize, at least temporarily. For example, if you get a reaction from almonds and then, six weeks later, you test and get a reaction from pecans, you can provisionally assume that nuts are a problem as a category. (Afterwards, you may discover some exceptions, as I did with hazelnuts -- listed as alkaline-producing on the PRAL list.)

Be sure to test only one food at each test. Trying to save time by testing two or more foods at once is a waste of time. If there is a flare-up, there is no way to know which of the two tested foods was the cause. Then you must start over again, waiting for the flare-up to diminish.

Writing a log of dates, foods, and results helps keep track of what you are doing. Be sure to record whatever else you are eating at each meal -- including all medications, condiments, and drinks. You might see patterns.

Burgess Laughlin
Author of The Power and the Glory: The Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith, www.reasonversusmysticism.com/


Corey H said...

My name is Corey and I feel like you are on the only one on the planet who understands what I am going through. I wanted to share with you that I am feeling much better after being on the elimination diet for about 5 months now. I also wanted to thank you for posting your story because I'm still not sure if I would have found out what was wrong with me. I just have one question for you if you don't mind. My elbow tendonitis is pretty much the main reason for me trying to find out what was wrong with my body and according to your story it will be the last thing to fully heal. I am fine with that but I wanted to know if you did anything special to get your elbows healed? I was told that I might have to let them rest for a while but unfortunately I am a computer technician and I use a computer every single day. Also, I am enrolled in online college which requires the frequent use of a PC. Did you regularly use a computer and if so did you have to temporarily stop using one to allow your elbows to heal?

Burgess Laughlin said...

I am always glad to get feedback from individuals who have actually tried the anti-itis diet. Here are a couple of responses. If more questions arise that have not been answered on this website, please ask.

1. As I noted elsewhere, not all the pain problems I had were due to the leaky-gut problem. Some of my pain problems, especially in the joints, were caused by or at least made worse by poor posture. See Addendum B:


2. I was indeed using a computer alot. To help correct the problem, I had to make an effort to make sure I spent as little time as possible sitting in front of my computer, but I did not give it up, only cut down on the time somewhat.

The bad news is that to correct the posture problem (which caused or made worse the pain in my knees, elbows, and shoulders), I had to spend a lot of time every day doing exercises compensating for the many hours of bad posture while sitting, standing, and walking. This is a fact of reality that must be accepted and dealt with. Of course, as you gradually improve your posture, you can cut down on the daily exercises. Mine are down from an hour per day to about 15 minutes per day, every day.

Summary: The more time you spend sitting in bad posture, the more time you must invest in doing compensatory exercises.

I highly recommend the book mentioned in the posture addendum: Pete Egoscue, Pain Free. There is another, specialized book called Pain Free at Your PC, designed specifically for computer users who work long hours at a keyboard.

I recommend starting with and mastering the appropriate exercises in the basic book, Pain Free. Invest the time into reading it slowly and carefully (to understand the principles and to properly analyze your own posture) and following the appropriate instructions with exactness. (After reading the intro chapters, you pick the exercise set that applies to your issue; you don't need to do all the exercises in the whole book.)

The Pain Free at Your PC book is much more advanced and a whole lot more time-consuming to apply. (Up to two hours per day of exercises!) Read it only if the basic book does not give you relief (assuming you are following the exercise and posture recommendations exactly, day in and day out, without fail).

3. I am puzzled by one comment. The purpose of the Elimination Diet is diagnosis of the problem. The diet that I am on, which I call the anti-itis diet, is not the Elimination Diet. The Elimination Diet is called that because it deletes all the foods most likely to cause reactions. It is (one hopes) short-term only.

The anti-itis diet I am on is therapeutic and preventative. It is not a diagnostic diet, that is, not one designed to determine which foods are problems.

Again, if there are any further questions, please ask.

I greatly admire anyone who can follow the ED, even short-term, and then follow the anti-itis diet for the remainder of his life. Both are very difficult for people accustomed to richer foods.

Corey H said...

I apologize, I should have provided more back story for how I discovered your story.

I am a 28 year old male and I have been battling with severe gastrointestinal and inflammation issues for several years now. The inflammation includes a horrible rash on nearly 100% of my head/scalp, my eyes are constantly bloodshot and I had to stop wearing contacts, my feet hurt after walking a long period, my back hurts, and the worst are my elbows which both have severe tendinitis.

I have been to countless physicians who tell me it's because I work at a computer all day and I have bad posture. I took their advice and had a complete ergonomic evaluation done on my desk at work including a new chair, monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. However, after several months my condition only worsened and nobody was able to tell me why.

After several years of frustration, I decided to take matters into my own hands and started doing research on the internet and at the library to get to the root cause of my problems. After doing some research I discovered that Celiac disease might be part of the problem. I received some advice that I should eliminate all gluten and dairy from my diet and see what happens. I did this and noticed immediate results. Approximately 75% of my scalp cleared up and I started to feel a bit better. However, I knew that I still wasn't 100% cured. I continued to search on the internet for other people who were experiencing the same symptoms I ran across your McDougall All Stars page and you seemed to have almost every single symptom that I did. . This led me to find Dr. McDougall's book, and thus starting the elimination diet.

I have been following the diet for approximately 5 months now and have established most of the foods that were causing problems. I am allergic to wheat, almost any type of bean, almost any type of nut or sunflower seeds, mushrooms and black pepper. My dermatitis has almost completely healed and other than my elbows I am feeling much better all around.

Once I have completed the elimination diet I will seriously consider trying the anti-itis diet. It seems you have laid most of the ground work for me considering you have already been through everything I am experiencing.

Thanks again for the advice, I will keep you posted with my progress.



Burgess Laughlin said...

During ED tests, I had no reaction to mushrooms, though I have had suspicions about them.

Otherwise our experiences are identical.

I found the PRAL list on Berardi's site to be a perfect predictor. Unfortunately it doesn't cover all foods. So my general guideline remains:
- Any fruit (except seed-bags like figs).
- Any vegetable.
- Any starchy root (potato) or gourd (pumpkin).
- Any spice made from roots (ginger, etc.), bark (cinnamon, etc.), or leaves (oregano, etc.).
- No animal products.
- No seeds (nuts, beans, peas, grains, and conventional seeds like sesame, and spices made from seeds, such as pepper).

Pete Egoscue's position is that ergonomically designed furniture is junk. The solution is correcting the posture through practicing it and through therapeutic exercises.

I am looking forward to further reports, at whatever time is appropriate, no matter how long it takes.

Em C. said...

I'm currently doing the McDougall Elimination Diet. (Day 4)

I had a couple of questions and wondered if you might be able to help.

My burning question is "am I following the directions correctly"?

I have eliminated from my diet completely: wheat, corn, tomatoes, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes and strawberries.

STARCHES: McDougall states, if I reading correctly that I can eat ONLY the following starches: brown rice, sweet potatoes, winter squash, taro, tapioca, rice flour, puffed rice. Out of this group, I am eating brown rice, puffed rice, sweet potatoes and winter squash. I am not eating any starches that are not listed.

VEGETABLES. I am eating ONLY COOKED green and yellow vegetables that were listed on McDougall's site: beets, beet greens, chard, summer squash, artichokes, celery, green beans, asparagus, and spinach THOUGH I wonder if I can also be eating other green and yellow cooked veges??? For example, I am not eating peas as I consider them a starch.

FRUITs: I am eating all Fruits (cooked) except citrus, tomatoes and strawberries. Basically though the fruits I am eating are peaches, apples, blueberries, bananas.

Also, prior to this experiment I was on a diet very similar to the McDougall diet with the exception of one cup of whole fat unsweetened soy milk per day (Ornish Reversal Program). Upon following that diet strictly (though this is may be totally coincidental) I have experienced aches and pains (joint and other) and thought perhaps I was now relying on a food(s) that were causing me problems though I love the no added fat vegan diet as I have a lot of energy and feel so much better than when I was eating the traditional American diet.

Do I have the basics down? and/or am I missing something?

Other than the aches and pains (stiffness upon waking, etc.) my health is good.

- Em

Burgess Laughlin said...

It is not clear to me why you are doing the ED if your health is generally good. Is it the morning aches and pains that are your only problem? Or have I misunderstood?

At 65, I too have some stiffness and occasional aches and pains when I awaken, but that is probably due to sleeping in one position to long and not stretching. (Muscles tend to tighten when not used.) But I consider it natural, not a problem.

I am also not clear about what symptom for you will be proof of an adverse reaction. For me, a flare-up in the eczema on my face (usually within 48 hours of the two-day test) was my signal. Flare-ups in arthritis, for example, might take longer for some people.

Answering the questions in the order in which they appear:

1. Yes, from what I can tell based on my personal experiences as a layman, the approach described is exactly the right one.

What you are attempting is very difficult. Few people have the virtues required (fortitude, persistence, ambition to get better) to follow the ED consistently.

2. A general suggestion: This first week is your "base" week. Everything after this first week will be a change FROM that "base."

For your first change, I would recommend stopping the cooking of everything, and only cook the foods you want to cook for taste and nutrition. That step should make the whole ED much easier and more pleasant. If you stop cooking everything and you don't get worse in your symptoms, then you can probably assume that you don't need to cook everything. Then you can concentrate on re-introducing foods, one at a time, back into your diet.

3. About starches: I would suggest that you can almost certainly eat any starch that comes from a starchy root or gourd: celery root, yams, rutabagas, canned pumpkin (pure, not mixed with spices), and so forth.

(At the beginning I would avoid any nonstarchy, "spicy" roots such as ginger, tumeric, and radish.)

As one of your early test foods, you might test baked or boiled potatoes. If they pass the test (you don't get an adverse reaction), then that will make your ED much easier.

4. if you look at Dr. McDougall's recommendations for starch overall, you will notice that, with only one exception (rice), he has dropped all seeds of all kinds: beans, peas, nuts, and grains, as well as conventional "seeds" such as sunflower and sesame. So, no, I would not eat green peas (which are seeds, but starchy) until much later.

The reason appears to be that seeds are very rich in proteins and proteins seem to be implicated, for some people, in reactions to foods. This is merely a generalization.

5. I would, at first, continue eating only green and yellow vegs. Be a little cautious about the others (such as eggplant and bell peppers of any color). In my case, I never had a bad reaction from ANY vegetable, but some people, I have heard, do have adverse reactions to egg plant, peppers, and tomatoes. So, save them for testing later.

If the only symptoms you are experiencing are aches and pains on waking, I would say you are indeed in good health.

Em C. said...

Any problem adding Vitamin D pills, multi-vitamin pills (low dose), B12 pills? I stopped them when I started the Elimination Diet. As I realize the process is a long one, I would like to add them back in - do I test for these?

Also, I used to take Omega-3 (fish oil) and would like to continue this and wondered if this too needs to be tested back in?

I am also in the process of purchasing several books and/or reviewing the resources you provide. Thank you for your site as it has been helpful.

- EM

Burgess Laughlin said...

I have no reason to believe that any vitamin or mineral supplement caused any of the -itis symptoms I had. So, I would say they aren't suspects in your inflammation problems -- whatever those are. (That still isn't clear to me.)

Personally--and as always, speaking as a layman -- I would stop all of the supplements during the elimination testing.

Besides, with the exception of Vit. B12, you will be getting all the nutrients you need from your food, especially after a few weeks of testing, because you will be adding back a variety of foods rather quickly.

I did test fish oil capsules (two a day) but I got no inflammatory reaction on my test "paper" (my skin). According to everything Dr. McDougall and Jeff Novick have said in their books and on the McDougall website, there is no need to take fish oil capsules, but I doubt that taking one capsule per day will harm you from excess fat.

You can get extra Omega-3s from plant sources such as flax seed. See the McDougall forum. Do a search. There are plenty of threads on that subject.

Corey H said...

Mr. Laughlin,

It has been a few months, so I thought I should provide you with an update on my status. I am now officially down 72 pounds and still slowly losing weight, but not nearly at the rate I previously was. The pain in my elbows has gone down considerably althought they are not completely healed. I did purchase both of Mr. Egoscue's books but I have to admit that I don't do the exercises as regularly as I should which may be why my elbows aren't completely healed. After my elbows were healed enough to stop using the braces I used all the time, I also stopped icing them daily as well which was certainly a nice treat. My skin has also cleared up very nicely as well and my eyes are getting back to normal (although I haven't tried wearing contacts again).

I did have a down period where I visited a holistic doctor who advised me to eat chicken and rice in addition to what I was already consuming. As you can imagine the results were disastrous. My skin broke out, eyes starting hurting, and elbows went back to being inflamed in a matter of weeks. After going back to my normal diet all my symptoms went away and everything was back to normal within a few weeks. I do eat 1 avocado per day and have lots of potatoes as my primary source of food intake. I also make a lot of vegetable soups which fill me up and feed me all week. I do have to admit that I get tired of only being able to eat fruits and vegetables. I certainly like having a healthy body again but the diet does wear on my pretty heavily. Have you had any success adding other foods back in to your diet? Doing a vegan diet is certainly not easy but eating only fruits and vegetables is on a different scale. I honestly hope one day to be able to at least eat a portion of other foods that a normal vegan eats.

Once again, I appreciate you publishing your story on the internet where I was able to find it. Prior to your story, I had not found one person alive that had experienced every single one of my symptoms. I don't know if I would have ever been able to find my way if you hadn't paved the path for me first. I will continue to follow up with you regarding my progress.


Corey H

Burgess Laughlin said...

I am very glad to get feedback and especially to hear good news about progress. Here are a few brief comments:

1. Once a person has found that the Egoscue-style exercises reduce pain, then that is confirmation that posture correction is the or one route to follow. Full recovery may take many months (if full recovery is possible).

2. The Egoscue-style exercises must be done every day, as Egoscue says. He does note that it might be possible to skip one day per week, but he doesn't recommend it. I do mine every day, just as I do dental hygiene every day and shower every day. Of course, one must practice the best posture possible -- sitting, standing, sleeping -- throughout the day as well. It does no good to do the exercises perfectly and then slouch during the day.

3. The "anti-itis diet" I developed for my problems is not "vegan" if that means avoiding animal products because of one's religion or other worldview. It is "vegan" in the sense that it does not include any animal products generally. However I am not opposed to eating animal products. I have recently begun adding 1 t per day of cod liver oil, for vitamin D, just in case I am deficient here in this cloudy part of the country.

4. The only other food I have added other than hazelnuts, fruit, vegetables, and root and gourd starches is quinoa. Usually considered a "grain," it apparently is technically a tiny fruit. I am not a botanist, so I can't explain the difference chemically. However, quinoa is very much like rice in preparation and taste. If you can't find it locally, you can order it from places such as Bob's Red Mill or other (and cheaper) places online. A little goes a long way. I add it as a side dish for the fiber.

I lost my cravings for other kinds of food, but the process took a long time. That for me is a small price to pay.

Again, I greatly appreciate the feedback and look forward to further reports.

Sometimes a journey back to health can be puzzling and unpleasant, but the goal makes it worthwhile.

Take care.

Burgess Laughlin said...

For anyone willing to experiment on themselves, here is a list of foods with PRAL ratings, a list that is in some ways wider than the one I have used in the past.


The hopeful point about that list is that it says -- rightly or wrongly -- that some categories I have found to be generally bad for me actually contain a few exceptions. One I already knew about: hazelnuts. Most nuts are acid-producing. I know from long experience that hazelnuts are not. You can see that hazelnuts, in the list, have a negative (alkaline, base, non-acid) rating. Likewise for quinoa, which I have tested thoroughly and found that it is not a problem.

Always remember what I have said elsewhere (and learned from generous commenters): a positive PRAL rating is merely a "confounder" or proxy for the problem. It is not the problem itself. I still don't know what the problem is.

Be cautious about the list. It is based only on calculated (not lab-tested) values. The person who compiled it is not an expert in the issues we are dealing with in this weblog.

Nevertheless, my experience conforms completely to what I have tested so far. I hope to test the beans listed, next.

Tanya said...

Hi Burgess,

I hope you don't mind me contacting you. I have followed your anti-itis blog with great interest, and have used your basic diet to help me pinpoint some foods that might be irritating me (I have rashes, acne, stomach distress, bloating, fatigue when I eat many foods).

I have been eating veggies (almost all raw), fruit, quinoa, yams, sweet potatoes, some potatoes, nutritional yeast, cinnamon, vanilla, coffee, and seaweed exclusively for several months now. My symptoms have been noticeably reduced eating this way, but are not completely gone (probably due to the caffeine and occasional glitches in my intake--like walnuts once every 2-3 months). Unfortunately, I ate gluten several weeks back and I have now been battling extremely irritable intestines for several weeks. I am low on energy, stamina, and hope now, and I have decided to do the elimination diet as McDougall outlines it.

My questions for you:

1) To the best of your understanding, would the following foods be acceptable on the elimination diet:

brussel sprouts

2) Why only cooked foods? I understand that the proteins are more easily digested and less allergenic, so i can see doing this for the first few weeks while the intestines heal. But in the long-term, I would certainly like to eat all of my fruit and most of my veggies raw. The raw foods give me great enjoyment and I really prefer their flavor. Did you test in each cooked food you were eating in its raw form before you included it as part of your diet? For example, I'm eating cooked romaine lettuce right now. If I wanted to eat that raw, would I need to devote an entire week to testing it?

Thank you so much for considering these questions and for sharing you experience with all of us. It has been most helpful to me.

Take care
Tanya S

Burgess Laughlin said...

As a layman, and based only on my own experience, I would suggest:

-General point: Eat only those foods that you are convinced (from testing) are safe for you. Never, ever, make any exceptions whatsoever.

I would also suggest that if you are in the same situation I am in, then abandon the idea that your gut will heal. It may not ever heal. It may always be leaky. The sooner one accepts that, the quicker life becomes simple and manageable so that we can concentrate on more important things in life.

- Question 1. If bloating is a problem, I would definitely avoid turnips, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower until much later in the series of tests. I never got an inflammatory reaction from eating them. However, I have completely stopped eating turnips and brussel sprouts because of the bloating they cause. I continue to eat broccoli and cauliflower if cooked, but if raw they cause bloating for me.

If I were doing the Elim. Diet again, I would indeed include yams (and sweet potatoes), rutabagas (thoroughly cooked), parsnips (thoroughly cooked), apples, and bananas. In my own experience, they are all safe; and none cause bloating for me either.

- Question 2. The rationale for cooked foods is that (according to what I have read) cooking breaks down certain molecules that sometimes cause problems for some people.

Personally, I would skip the cooking stage for things you would ordinarily eat raw, such as fruit. But of course one should cook some other things to make them edible -- e.g., yams, rutabagas, and parsnips.

A caution on eating raw veggies: be sure to chew them very thoroughly. It might be better -- to avoid bloating -- to cook them thoroughly.

I have had no experience with nutritional yeast except that I tested it once -- and got an inflammation reaction in my skin. It is not part of my diet. It contains nothing I need that I can't get safely elsewhere. I would avoid it until very late in the testing process.

I have no experience with seaweed, but I would withhold it until later and then test it in one week.

A reminder: On the Elim. Diet, the only flavoring is salt. You can test cinnamon later, during one week. The same goes for every other flavoring, especially those made from seeds (vanilla). If I had an irritated gut, I would completely give up coffee, as I did (reluctantly!) 15 years ago. (I have also recently stopped drinking black tea.)

If I haven't answered a question, please ask again.

I admire anyone who takes charge of his life, including his diet and exercise, and then strives for maximum health.

Take care.

Tanya said...

Hi Burgess,

Thank you so much for your helpful response.

I have indeed (relucantly)stopped drinking coffee or anything other than plain seltzer water and water. I have also discontinued the use of all spices, nutritional yeast, and seaweed.

My current baseline elimination diet consists of (all cooked):
romaine lettuce
green beans
sweet potatoes

It's actually only slightly more limited than what i was eating before and I believe it is already positively affecting my digestive tract. My skin is also almost completely free of rashes and acne once again.

I believe the biggest contributor to my recent flare-up (due to eating gluten and also some suspect foods like walnuts) may have actually been aggravated by the volume of raw veggies i had been eating. I was experiencing horrible bloating, digestive upset, and constant diarrhea. I believe all of the cooked foods i'm eating now are soothing to my system. I believe this may need to be a permanent change.

Again, thank you so much for sharing your story! I relate to much of what you and Cory (above poster) have experienced.

I also value the encouragement to "Eat only those foods that you are convinced (from testing) are safe for you. Never, ever, make any exceptions whatsoever."

I believe my most recent indiscretion in eating 'unsafe' foods was a result of feeling pressure to try to broaden my diet in the hopes of being less 'socially limited' and also to enable some weight gain (I have become technically underweight). Your comment gives me strength to do whatever I need to do to be healthy and feel strong, even if others may balk at that.

Thanks again
Tanya S

Burgess Laughlin said...

I too have become technically underweight (six feet tall and about 130 lbs). However, I have had extensive tests performed and two doctors have said, yes, you are underweight statistically, but overall you are very healthy at 66 -- not taking any pharmaceuticals and having no disabilities. Don't worry about it, just watch it and maybe add more fat.

I am retesting avocadoes (so far no reaction) and I am adding more hazelnuts (filberts), the one nut that is not acid-producing. Further, I am adding a few tablespoons of sugar (maple syrup on yams) weekly and taking 1 T of cod liver oil daily, partly to boost calories and partly to make sure about Vitamin D. (I live in a very cloudy environment, in Oregon.)

Two pieces of good news for those of us on a restrictive diet:

1. Tastes change (adapt). I now find delicious the foods I could barely swallow in the past.

2. As time passes, we can learn ways to prepare and flavor safe foods to make them taste even better.

Tanya said...

Hello Burgess,

I am progressing on the elimination diet and have successfully added in raw bananas. I eat a lot of them as they are much cheaper than sweet potatoes, so I favor getting quite a few calories from bananas each day. They also digest very well.

I tested in quinoa and, surprisingly, seem to have had a reaction. I am dubious because i thought quinoa was a safe food for me, so I will retest it again in several weeks. I am obviously excluding it for now.

My next test (once my skin and digestive system calm down from the quinoa) will likely be raw food. I am eating nine foods cooked right now, and about 4 of them are foods I prefer to eat raw (apples, romaine lettuce, carrots, celery). The only current raw food is bananas and they have been fine.

I am certain that I have a gluten intolerance, but because I cut out gluten for six months before I ever visited a doctor, the tests that are available would not be accurate anymore (you have to be eating gluten at the time of the test). So, I have never been able to get a confirmed diagnosis of 'celiac disease', however my symptoms are so severe when i eat gluten that I assume I have celiac disease and I avoid gluten like the plague.

I have done a bit of research and am seeing that leaky gut is something that can be tested for. Have you ever been tested?

I am wondering if you were tested for leaky gut syndrome, or if you were able to assume this was your affliction based on the results of the elimination diet.

Many thanks for sharing your experience,
Tanya S

Burgess Laughlin said...

1. QUINOA. I too am surprised that you had a dual reaction (in your stomach/intestine and on your skin) to quinoa. I think you are right to want to test it again, perhaps under low-stress conditions.

2. STRESS. I have long suspected, but can't prove even to myself, that stress does make inflammation problems worse. Likewise, I have long suspected that concentrating on breathing deeply (as many times as I can remember during the day) may help relieve some of my skin problems, especially the eczema.

I mention the stress and the breathing because (1) when I am under stress I (like most people) tend to breath shallowly, and because (2) these are examples of the fact that the elimination diet does not unfortunately always give clear and unambiguous signals. That is because other factors may be involved -- such as stress or flavorings.

I also try to keep in mind that when I am under stress I tend to touch or rub my face unconsciously. That of course causes the eczema to flare up.

3. STARCH SOURCE. Now may be the time to begin looking for alternative or additional sources of starch (for energy and sometimes for protein). For everyone's general information, here are the ones I rely on, that I have tested and eaten for years: All kinds of potatoes; sweet potatoes; yams; pumpkin; other winter squashes; parsnips, celery root (expensive); green beans; and hazelnuts/filberts (the only nuts I know to be safe through testing and because almost all other nuts are acid-producing).

4. TESTING FOR LEAKY GUT. No, I have never been tested for leaky gut. Two doctors identified it as being the probable cause based only on my symptoms. See, for ex., my Star McDougaller article.


Tanya said...

Hello Burgess,

Thank you for the helpful reply.

I too have noticed that stress seems to cause some inflammation problems. I definitely did have increased stress this week, so I will retest the quinoa in several weeks.

I will consider testing yams and then maybe rutabagas before the raw foods, since it would be nice to be able to buy starches besides the very expensive sweet potato. I am quite confident the yams and rutabagas would be fine for me.

Thanks again for sharing your experience.

Tanya S

Nikki said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nikki said...

I've read a lot of your comments and looked through you blog and you inspired me to try and elimination diet. I was hoping you could help me a little bit if you don't mind any maybe answer a few questions I have or direct me to some posts that might help. I'll try to keep this brief.

I've been on a low-fat, low-protein vegan diet for the past year. It was almost exclusively a raw diet. I love eating this way for many reasons. Recently I've decided to start eating some steamed veg (the ones I don't like to eat raw, like broccoli and cauli) and steamed squash & potatoes. I eat only fruit throughout the day and greens/veggies/potatoes & or squashes for dinner. I have been eating this way (adding in the cooked foods) for about a week or two.

I have had several instances over the past few months where I binged on cans of beans and paid the price for the next day or 2 after eating them -- bloated, constipated, stuffy nose, sluggish, etc. So I think so far I can safely say beans don't work for me.

One thing that still plagues me, though it has definitely gotten better since I started eating raw, whole foods vegan diet a year ago is my skin. I've been battling acne since I was a teen (I'm now 22). I was hoping I could finally get to the bottom of the reasons behind this, especially since it hasn't cleared after a year of a really clean diet. I wonder if maybe there are things I'm eating that are really great and natural foods that my body just may not like. Maybe a certain fruit? Who knows. This is where you come in =) hope you don't mind, lol.

I checked the list of approved or recommended foods on the McDougall website for the elimination diet. Can I eat more than what is listed? For example, there are a list of fruis but obviously not a complete list. So if I want to eat papaya and that's not on the list is it oay? Is the list exclusive or it is just an idea of thing that might be included?

My plan is to just pick a few fruits - apples, pears and grapes, which are all generally tolerated by everyone, only celery and romaine lettuce for veggies, and only sweet potatoes and/or butternut squash for my starch. I feel this is the cleanest slate I can start with while still making it tolerable throughout the process.

I'd really appreciate your thoughts on this and how you sugest going about adding in different foods and how to chose which foods to test and in what order or if it doesn't really matter. I would think trying to milder stuff like teasting all reagular standard veggies first and getting them out of the way can expand m foundation diet so it's not just celery and romaine for my greens the whole time. Then moving on to fruits and dried fruits, since I eat fruit more than anything. Then test things like ricce, or other milder grains like millet or quinoa and then go to corn and then finally things like spices and seasonings and condiments like mustard (the only processed/packaged food I really eat).

I hope I'm not overwhelming you and if you're not comfortable guiding me I understand. Thanks in advance.


Burgess Laughlin said...

I will take the questions in the order asked, with other comments interspersed:

BEANS: Beans are high fiber. High fiber eliminates constipation. So, I am bewildered by the statement that beans cause constipation. Suggestion: If you have adverse reactions to beans, don't eat them. That is the end of that problem.

1. ACNE. I know of no dietary cure for acne. I have no reason to even suspect that any fruit causes acne.

I have subcutaneous acne, which developed after eczema opened up my skin. The result was bumps underneath the skin. The diet that I follow has greatly reduced the size of the bumps, but they have not (yet?) gone away. They are however still shrinking. Perhaps there is hope that an alkaline-producing diet will eventually make the acne go away. I don't know.

3. ElIM DIET APPROVED FOODS. Dr. McDougall's list is meant to be a general guideline. I would start by eating only the specific foods mentioned on the list (minus the rice, which is the only acid-producing food on the list).

Then one by one add others in the same category as test foods, perhaps one per week.

Can you add papaya as a test food? Of course. You can add any food as a test food. If, however, your purpose is to expand your diet as quickly as possible, then test the probably safest foods first, the ones in the same categories he mentions.

For example, I have heard of people having reactions to strawberries, so I would postpone those until later. And so forth.

Since the only thing you can drink on the ED is water, you might test a favorite drink if you have one. Or since the only flavoring you can use is salt, you might test a flavoring herb (not a seed) such as garlic or sage or whatever herb (not seed) is your favorite,

4. STRATEGY. I agree about starting with a set of foods that includes all those Dr. McDougall names plus any others in the same categories but you've never heard cause reactions.

Beyond that, I would test foods in a "spiral" order by testing one probably safe food in one category and then another food in another category and so on. E.g., you might test a salad food this week, a flavoring herb next week, a drink in the third week, and a fruit (perhaps an orange, if you like them) in the following week.

The main guiding principle is to test soonest those which will make your long test be most palatable -- while avoiding for a long time, if possible, the harsher (more acid-producing) foods.

That would be my approach.