How to Follow an Elimination Diet if You Have PCOS, IBS, or Autoimmune Disease

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It's hard to explain my diet to people. I'll eat foods that most people would consider unhealthy or fattening, such as french fries or carb-heavy noodle dishes, but I'll turn down a veggie dish with garlic, or a pesto with pumpkin seeds. While most people base their diet around weight loss, mine centers around eating foods that my body agrees with. Funnily enough, if you eat foods that your body digests easily, things like bloating, extra pounds, and even skin inflammation disappear.

Here's the key: Everyone has a different digestive system, varying hormone issues, as well as different issues related to autoimmune disease or metabolism. There is no one-size-fits-all diet, as much as the world would love you to believe. It's not that I disagree with going paleo, or vegan, or carnivore, or vegetarian, it's that the concept that there is one diet that can be prescribed to everyone is ludicrous.

So, how do you know what to eat?

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The first step is to follow an elimination diet for one month. Now, adhering to an elimination diet requires serious commitment, so I'd only recommend it if you're experiencing the following symptoms:

  • bloating
  • gassiness
  • stomach spasms, indigestion, or IBS-like symptoms
  • acne
  • rosacea
  • constipation
  • an increase in food allergies

When I started an elimination diet, I had suddenly developed an inability to digest dairy. My stomach felt off, and it was becoming harder and harder for me to digest foods in a way that felt light and easy. The particular elimination diet that I followed is called the GAPS diet.

It's an extreme diet, as it meant that I mainly ate bone broth and mushy vegetables for a month, but I felt that it was worth it, as I uncovered a sleuth of valuable information about my body as a result.

Here are a few things I learned as a result of following the gaps diet:

  • My body is sensitive to seeds; this includes mustard, sesame seeds, and cumin.
  • Eating butter or eggs can make me break out.
  • It's very difficult for my body to digest dairy.
  • Garlic gives me serious indigestion.
  • I can have foods that are a little spicy, but too much spice gives me indigestion.
  • All beans give me indigestion.
  • I can eat gluten, but my body feels best when I don't eat too much.

With all of this information, I am able to eat mindfully, making choices from a place of knowing full well how my body is going to respond to different dishes. While it might make sense for someone to choose the vegetable quiche while at a party, I'd be more inclined to go for a rice dish, or something not egg-based. The more I listen to my body, the more effortless my "diet" becomes, as I recognize that it's not my mind calling the shots, it's my stomach.

Everything we read, learn, and think should be taken with a grain of salt. The beauty of following an elimination diet for one month is that you can't argue with what your body says! As you slowly begin to reintroduce foods, and you feel the difference that one small ingredient makes to the way you feel (sometimes for days!), it will be easy for you to give up that particular food or spice. With just a few changes, you can lose weight naturally, feel less bloated, and clear up your skin.