Trying Something New (Again)

IFM Elimination Diet logo courtesy of the Thrive Carolinas website

Sorry guys, no recipe this week; I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this new month-long thing I’m going to be trying starting next week: an elimination diet. No, not Whole30, and not FODMAP – this is called the IFM Elimination Diet, and I’ll be undertaking this journey with the functional fitness doctor I just started seeing to see if we can get a handle on what exactly is going on with my gut, what foods I’m actually sensitive to – and what foods are causing reactions due to something else going on in my body.

This particular diet aims to give the body a chance to just chill out and not have to work so hard processing foods it’s not super happy processing – which in turn should cut down on things like digestive issues, headaches, sinus issues, low energy, depression, mood swings, eczema, skin irritations, joint aches, asthma, and possibly weight gain. Well. Since I’ve been plagued by most of that ish for quite awhile, let’s go into this new thing with an open mind and see what happens.

Of course, I’ll be taking y’all along for the ride and giving you updates as I go along – just in case this info could help some of you some day (hello, my Nerds!). This month will also include a week-long vacation, so let’s see what happens there – I may have to end up stretching this to two months in the process, since the national foods of where I’m going are things I can’t have on this protocol (and vacation yolo).

Foods to Eliminate

  • Corn
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Gluten (barley, rye, splet, wheat)
  • White sugar
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Processed meats
  • Caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks (even diet), and chocolate)
  • Alcohol
  • Peanut butter

Foods to Enjoy

  • Fruits
    • Especially red & blue
  • Vegetables
    • Ideally, 10-12 servings a day – colorful, but especially green, red & blue
  • Nuts & seeds
    • 1-2 servings daily
  • Legumes
    • At least 1 serving daily; hummus is ok
  • Non-gluten whole grains
  • Healthy oils
    • minimally refined, cold-pressed when possible
    • coconut milk
  • Lean meats
    • Ideally, in every meal

Some things that may cause issue, and I’ll be mentioning to my doctor at our next visit: Legumes. I know (or at least I think I know) that lentils and beans hurt my stomach – this is one of the first things I discovered issue with waaaaaay back when I did my first elimination-style diet years ago. Do I need to reintroduce them? This protocol seems to love legumes even if they’ve caused an issue in the past – and gives ways to deal with gas and bloating. Does that include stabby-stabby pain? Hummus seems to be ok – so what gives there? Green peas are also fine with my body.

Histamine reactions. Since my current big issue the doc wants to work on first is my sinuses, should I also cut foods that may trip a histamine response? Those that are on the ‘to be enjoyed’ list would include:

  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spinach
  • Eggplant
  • Vinegar
  • Canned fish

And then there are two other classes of foods that may cause issue: oxalates and salicylates – and those groups would whittle down my pool even further – lots of berries and some of my favorite greens are on that list, along with almonds – citrus is also on one of those lists. Let’s hope I don’t have to go that bugnutty. It is summer after all, and my body craves fruit + shellfish (R.I.P. shellfish) + avocado when it gets hot.

Since inflammation is an issue in my body, these are some suggested foods to help with that:

  • Omega 3s from fatty (wild caught) fish and grass-fed lamb (I don’t think this exists in Qatar), almonds, walnuts, flax seeds
  • Dark leafies (kale – which is exorbitantly expensive here), cruciferous veggies (my favorite – but they’ve been killing my stomach lately and where the actual trigger to make me finally go see someone and talk about this drama)
  • Red & blue veggies
  • EVOO and olives
  • Moist heat cooking under low temps (like crock pot cooking)
  • Spices like turmeric, ginger, oregano, garlic, rosemary, cayenne, cloves and cinnamon

It looks like I’ll be eating things from different food groups than I was when I was eating Paleo (which is the last time, consequently, that I felt I had a good handle on my digestive issues) – I’ll be incorporating things like oats, quinoa and rice into my diet – but most of the rest of this is familiar territory.

What’s going to be hard is the no caffeine – while I’m not physically addicted to it and don’t get the great energy boost other people enjoy, I am definitely psychologically addicted – I need a nice warm mug of something in the morning – and socially addicted, since most of my outings these days revolve around morning meals. Eggs are also going to be difficult. And where I live in general is going to be throwing me curveballs – I can’t get my compliant ingredients in any sort of quick timeline here. My Paleo faves – coconut aminos, collagen peptides & Red Boat fish sauce all take a few weeks to arrive from Amazon; juuuuuust in time for the protocol to be (mostly) over. So, most Asian food is out unless I want to go for sushi only – and with no soy sauce. (which is actually only kind of a pain in the ass: I can eat rice! but not anything else on the menu …)

Things to also take into consideration: drinking enough water (the protocol suggests 6-8 230ml glasses (which is about a cup or 8 ounces per serving – so the same as the generally-held standard for the US even though this business is in metric), eating enough food (since this is not a calorie-restrictive diet), not going too HAM at the gym (because the body may super not want to play along here – the doctor may or may not limit ones’ exercise while on this protocol – I think I’ll be fine, since I currently only do yoga 2 – 3x a week + try to walk a 5k a time or two on top of that).

Other than that, I think I’ve got a handle on this thing – I found some sample recipes online I’ll be starting with, and have made myself a big master spreadsheet for meal planning (I’m going to still at least keep an eye on hitting the non-paleo macros I just set for myself, but I’m not going to get too crazy about it – especially on Week 1). If you want me to drop my spreadsheet, let me know – I’m happy to share.

Week 1 Meals


  • Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancakes
  • Overnight Oats (made with water instead of almond milk)

Lunches / Dinners

  • Baked Chicken with Cabbage
  • Coconut Chicken with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
  • Quinoa Salad with Chicken, Grapes & Almonds
  • Walnut-crusted Fish with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice & Spinach


  • Fresh Berries with Coconut Mango Ice Cream
  • Roasted Beet Hummus with Savory Seed Crackers


  • Sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus at night
  • Hot herbal tea in the morning
  • Hot herbal tea while out with friends
  • Sparkling water while out with friends

Emergency ‘I’m In A Social Situation And Don’t Want To Bounce To Go Eat At Home All Sad And Alone’ Food

  • Order the fruit plate for breakfast
  • Order a salad with no cheese; oil & vinegar dressing
  • Go for sushi and have rolls with no soy sauce
  • Return to traveling with ‘purse nuts’
  • Make sure to also have ‘purse tea’
  • Grab some rice cakes at the grocery – if by some miracle they have squeezy almond butter, grab that too
  • Consider traveling with a bigger bag 😉

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