Soooo, you might remember the naturopathic doctor I visited a few weeks ago, to get started on some alternative treatments for the pesky "thumb arthritis"? Well, I had my first follow-up with her, to go over the lab work and discuss some concrete suggestions for addressing the issue. In a nutshell, the good news was that the levels of...everything...she had them test my blood for, fell in the range where you'd like to see them. (I won't bore you with the details. You're welcome.)
The...other info...as expected, was that she wanted me to try the much-feared (by ME, at least) Elimination Diet. Now, she tries to sugarcoat it by re-christening it the "Discovery Diet" (picture me waving my hands airily and saying this in a lilting tone...of utter sarcasm), but don't be fooled--this sucker calls for some serious...deprivation. (But if they went ahead and put that out there, "Hey, folks, step right up and give the Deprivation Diet a whirl!" how many people do you think would actually stick around to hear the next sentence? Right...)
Anyway, the list of...Stuff You Can't Have (nyah nyah nyah...okay, okay, that last part MAY have been implied...) is downright daunting. For example: no corn, wheat, barley, rye, oats, bulgur, couscous, citrus fruits, dairy, soy, eggs, tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, peanuts, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup. Um...hold on just a cotton pickin' minute, lady...you've just pretty much rejected...MY ENTIRE MENU.
And then...she began speaking in tongues. Well, maybe not, but it sounded crazy to me when she--with a completely straight face, mind you--informed me that coffee, tea, and (wait for it...) chocolate were also restricted during this trial period. Nope. Nuh-uh. Clearly, some negotiation was in order. She might have gotten the idea about what was coming when I became extremely quiet and just sat there staring at her, my face probably reflecting a mixture of disbelief...and horror.
I decided to tackle the ridiculous banned items one at a time. "Coffee?" I asked, "What about decaf?" She quickly conceded, "I'll let you have decaf." Score! Let us continue: "Tea?" She was probably sighing inwardly about her difficult, argumentative patient at this point, but she maintained her professional demeanor and replied, "Yes, you can have green tea." Then, considering that I'd won two very important battles, I opted to just suck it up and live without chocolate for a few weeks. (I know, I know, it'll be hellish...but I want to figure this stupid "inflammation thing" out, so I'm committed to making it work...for a very brief, temporary period of time, anyway....)
So, I got right down to business the next day...and immediately realized just how...challenging...this regime could be. I stood in front of the pantry at breakfast time and stared into its depths...and realized there was virtually NOTHING there that I could eat. I ended up with a banana and a pack of almonds--before making an extensive shopping list and heading for the grocery store to stock up on....non-swell-inducing foods.
Even in the packed aisles of edibles, I found myself picking up packages, scanning labels, and returning things to the shelves when I stumbled upon sneaky ingredients such as "corn flour" or "3 grams of sugar" or even "egg whites". It was exhausting, I tell ya--I mean, even more so than usual, when I'm simply looking for partially hydrogenated oil. Fortunately, I'm allowed some staples that I actually eat quite often, like rice, quinoa, beans, sweet potatoes, fruits other than citrus, and most salad vegetables (although I'll be making my own dressing....sigh...). Honey is also okay, which is what I already use in my tea, as is almond milk, which I use for my protein smoothies.
Whew! This is obviously not going to be your proverbial walk in the park, by any means, but I think I can do it. I had a verrrry bad headache on the second or third day--which the doctor warned me could happen. Many people experience a drop in energy or an increase in symptoms during the initial stages of the body detoxing, before they eventually rebound. But I'm now only on Day 5, and I think things are progressing in a positive direction. My pants fit a little bit better this morning when I got dressed for work--less belly bloat going on there. And my hand? Definitely less achy.
I don't know if it's the supplements, or the meal plan, or a combination of the two, but it's absolutely motivating me to stick with the program...at least for a few more weeks. Then, let's be honest here, it'll likely be "Hand over the chocolate, and get out of the way!"