Elimination Diet Experiment

Hey folks,This post comes with some hesitation from me because I don’t feel super comfortable sharing my health issues with the world, but I am posting it anyway in case others have useful info or if it helps someone else.  So here goes…I’ve been struggling for about a year with acid reflux issues.  It started with a stressful semester in grad school and I would often feel nauseous, wake up with a sore throat, and burning in my chest.

I immediately took action by significantly reducing my alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and tomato intake, which was NOT easy.  I also stopped eating huge meals when possible, but the pain continued.

I’ve been to the doctor and a GI specialist numerous times.  I’ve done tests and taken meds, but the pain continues and has only escalated.  The doctors don’t seem to know why I have this because I’m not overweight and the dietary changes and stress reduction didn’t help much.

Recently, I had the bright idea to try home remedies (e.g., apple cider vinegar at mealtimes), but they only led to worsening symptoms.  My doctor recommended stronger meds, which also led to increased pain.

So here I am–medication-free, but not symptom-free, and I’m looking for a cure.  All of this led me to try an elimination diet (a drastic measure, to be sure) to help identify foods that might be the cause of my pain AND to give myself a month of clean eating so my stomach can get it’s act together.  After a few weeks of this diet, I will slowly start adding foods back into my routine.

I’ve been reading up on different elimination diets and talking to friends who have tried them, and here is what I plan on doing for the next month:

-Eliminate gluten, dairy, eggs, citrus fruits, and nightshade veggies (e.g., tomatoes, eggplant)

-Continue eliminating alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate.

Good for you foods:

-almost all fruits (except citrus like oranges)

-almost all vegetables, leafy greens

-rice, quinoa, other gluten-free grains

-chicken, turkey, beef, and other meats


-coconut oil, olive oil, and other healthy fats

Sounds terrifying, right?  I have no doubt it will be a challenge, but I’m really hoping for positive results.  I have a food journal to track what I eat and how I’m feeling, and I will also blog my weekly menu and a few recipes.

Have you ever dealt with health issues that forced you to change your diet?  What words of wisdom can you pass onto me?

Thanks for reading this exceptionally long post!


New year, same old me

I have set broad New Year goals for myself each year I’ve been blogging, with some success!  I know goals are supposed to be specific, attainable, and measurable in order to succeed, but somehow I find broad overarching goals are more attainable and easier for me to remember.  For example, my goal of eating less and moving more is way more attainable than working out three times per week and eating 5 servings of vegetables per day.  My life isn’t that rigid and I’m much more inclined to actually follow through if there is less pressure.

Does that make sense?  I guess what I’m trying to say is, the more specific I make my goals, the less attainable and more stressful they become

In any case, I thought a lot about my goals for this year.  I have the standard big goals like getting a job, moving into a house, etc., but I also feel like I need something more.  Some way to improve my life and to extend myself.  So I came up with a list.  I hope to accomplish some of these this year, but the real goal is to at least start on these before I’m 30.

  1. Attend a concert in a new venue with a band I’ve never seen before.
  2. Get my thesis published.
  3. Create a morning and bedtime routine that reduce stress and can easily be incorporated into my life.
  4. Volunteer for an organization working with animals.
  5. Reduce meat consumption and maximize vegetable consumption.
  6. Keep a sketchbook journal and start creating.
  7. Attend a photography class and practice honing my skills.
  8. Send letters/cards/notes to the people I love.
  9. Join a recreational sports team.
  10. Practice cooking more Asian food.

Whew!  That’s a tough list, but I think I should be able to get to most of them over the next three years.  I’ll check back in throughout the year and mark my progress.

Do you have any New Years resolutions?  What goals have you had the most success with in the past?



Hello internet friends,

I finally graduated from my masters program!  Two and a half years flew by, but it also felt like an eternity, if that makes any sense.  My classmates and I went out for drinks after our last class of the program and that was the moment I started to have an existential crisis.  I have been in academia my entire life (with only a brief hiatus to move across the country) and I’m not sure what life looks like without it.  I will certainly enjoy not having to walk back and forth across campus all day, but there’s something about school that always reels me back.  While everyone else was celebrating and cheersing, I was wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life and what goals I had for myself.  Switching gears to something new is hard and scary!

This sunset pic taken from my balcony felt appropriate here.

This sunset pic taken from my balcony felt appropriate here.

It seems like I should be able to enter the world of full-fledged adults at this point, but I still have to complete 4,000 supervised clinical hours before I can get licensed as a therapist.  I’m 1/8 of the way there! haha

My plan is to search for full-time employment at a job where I can continue to collect clinical hours.  If I don’t have luck there, I will try my hand at starting a private practice, but it’s a dog eat dog world out there.

In the meantime, I plan on taking a long vacation.  Rejoice!

I’ve already started celebrating my exodus from academia by feasting with friends.  With more free time, I plan to blog a bit more and to spend some time fueling my creativity (probably by reading and taking photographs).

Have you ever switched career gears?  What made it easy or challenging?



Balcony Garden Pests

Hello friends,

Summer is in full swing in sunny Ca-li-forn-eye-ay and my balcony garden has come to life!  It’s quite the jungle out there on the 4 X 10 space reserved for a table, two chairs, a grill, and an overflowing garden of herbs and vegetables.

Then and now garden

To update you on a few things from the last post, I ended up not using fertilizer.  About once per week I dumped my used coffee grounds in the soil, but the plants grew just fine without chemicals.

I pruned the basil here and there for sprinkling on dishes, but I also had enough to make pesto every few weeks.  Having homegrown and homemade pesto on hand at all times was well worth the effort.

And it was an effort.  Let me tell you.

About a month into the gardening endeavor I started to notice giant holes in my basil.  Soon the holes spread to my tomato plant and eventually spread to my bell pepper.  Somebody was eating my hard-earned vegetable bounty!

I read about all sorts of natural bug repellent remedies on the internet like creating a beer/soap trench for the bugs to drown in, sprinkling banana peels in the soil, etc.  As it turns out, it is much more effective to identify the pest and then find the appropriate remedy.


I posted this picture on Facebook and instantly got several comments that I had caterpillars (caterpillar=not pictured, caterpillar poop=full frontal).  Sure enough, I found one big beast wrapping himself in a cocoon in a basil leaf.  Filthy bastard!

The trick to killing the little jerks is to mix in a saucepan over medium heat 2 cups water with anything spicy and a small amount of dish soap.  I added what we had on hand, which was chopped garlic, onion, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Then I put the concoction in a spray bottle to spritz the plants down every few days (make sure to spray at night because the soap might burn leaves in hotter temps).

The pest situation is finally under control AND the tomatoes are actually starting to ripen!  Tomatoes are ready to eat when they turn red and pulling them off the vine takes almost no effort at all.


I made a lovely caprese salad with these 3 beauties earlier this week.  They were sweet and mild and oh so satisfying.  I highly recommend planting your own mini garden because it is definitely rewarding.

How do you deal with garden pests?  What’s the worst critter you’ve battled?


P.s. If you noticed I neglected to mention the cilantro, there is a reason.  More updates to come.

Weight Loss Motivation

The last time I checked in with you about my weight loss journey (9 months ago), I had lost 20 pounds overall. I wrote about how it took me 2 years to lose that much weight in a daily uphill battle. I pointed to my friends as a source of strength and motivation on that journey. My friends still support me each day.

The biggest change I’ve made to my life is to eat less. I still eat pizza and drink beer, but I do it less. I pound back the caramel banana bread pudding, but I make up for it by eating greens the next day.

How do I accomplish this “eating less” business? By judging myself less. This is not easy. I constantly have to tune out the little voice in my head that says, “You’ve ruined your whole healthy eating plan,” whenever I slip up and have too many brownies. That voice is not helpful. That voice gives me permission to continue the downward spiral of eating all the things. That voice is a judgmental bitch. So I ignore her and tell myself things like, “Wasn’t that brownie awesome? SO GOOD! If you want another one, take a nibble on that salad for dinner. I know you want another one.”
I have lost 2 pounds since my last post on the subject, and I’m happy with that. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of days where I say, “Mads, you can do better! I can’t believe you’ve only lost 2 pounds in 9 months! What have you been doing that whole time?” That judgmental bitch again. But there’s an even bigger part of me, one that knows I’m worthy, that says I’m still moving, inching, crawling, clawing, in the right direction. I know I can keep going and I know that progress is progress.

How do you keep motivated to stay healthy? Do you use self-talk to stay on track?