One of the most common questions I get from my clients when we talk about their food sensitivities and other foods they should avoid during their healing journey is:
Can I ever eat that again or do I have to avoid it for the rest of my life?
I used to think this too when I began eliminating foods that were bothering me (nuts, seeds, raw greens, and of course gluten and dairy). But I know how restrictive this feels and how limited a menu of foods you have left after you remove all the foods that aren’t serving you.
I’ve been on my own healing journey for eight years now. I’ve cut out more foods than I can count. I’ve run several food sensitivity tests and recorded pages and pages of food journals. I’ve done a lot of that work while simultaneously healing my gut.
But I never thought I’d be able to introduce many of the foods I was taught to avoid with a digestive health condition.
In the last few months as I’ve reached the tail end of another big gut healing endeavor, however, I’ve been able to reintroduce many of these foods, and for the first time in many years, the reintroduction has been SUCCESSFUL!
Aside from dairy, gluten, and refined sugar, which I will avoid for the rest of my life, there were many foods I was avoiding indefinitely but hoped one day I could tolerate again. These included:
I’ve been reintroducing one of these at a time in small portions and have realized over the past few months in doing so that my stomach has felt fantastic! White potato was one of the very first foods I ever cut out of my diet starting at age 16 because they’d instantly put my stomach in a tailspin with terrible pain and instant urgency to “go”. That was my first ever experience with a severe food reaction. I’ve now been able to make homemade potatoes in the Instapot or roasting them in the oven and even adding them to my Jerusalem Artichoke soup recipe. While they are a nightshade food, they are also a rich prebiotic food, so they hold many benefits IF you can tolerate them. I’ve generally been fine with nightshade foods, with the exception of tomatoes and potatoes, but recently both have been going quite well!
Kombucha is another one I had to cut out for a few years. Kombucha and other fermented foods can be tricky for some – while they’re generally good for us since they’re so rich in probiotics, they can also trigger the growth of pathogens like yeast or cause bloating and gas. For me, I was almost instantly bloated from kombucha a year into drinking it. I even got my own SCOBY to make gallons of it at home…but just as soon had to cut it out for a while due to digestive upset.
Since I’ve addressed gut pathogens (via testing and customized protocols), I’ve been able to reintroduce kombucha successfully.
Many of us with inflammatory bowel diseases or conditions also can’t tolerate or break down foods like beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These foods are on the AIP don’t-eat list, are excluded from the paleo diet, and much more. So, naturally, I cut them out for quite some time. But now I’m able to tolerate many kinds of beans and legumes without any digestive discomfort, in fact, I feel pretty darn good on them!
Raw foods are another tricky one for many of us with compromised digestion. If you don’t have enough enzymes and acid, or poor motility or muscular function along the GI tract, these foods can show up nearly intact in the stool, causing pain and bloating along the way. I was so bummed when I had to cut out raw foods because they can be so good for you!
Last, a note about coffee. While I can now tolerate it without instantly feeling like I have to run to the bathroom and have a burning feeling in my gut the entire rest of the day, I still rarely have it. I used to RUN on coffee but gave it up almost instantly when I realized how damaging it was to my gut and my adrenals. I’m still very cautious about my adrenal health so I rarely ever have coffee (maybe once a month if that now) but I now can have it without any of the negative digestive symptoms I used to get.
This is all to say that you CAN eat the healthy foods you are recommended to avoid during the healing journey IF you do the right things along the way during your healing journey.
Here are a few things that I found most healing for me and that are extremely helpful for my clients, too:
Depending on what’s going on for you (low acid, pathogen infections, stress, slow/fast motility, etc.) will determine which of these tools and others will work for you.
But I want to inspire hope that even if right now you’re on quite a restrictive diet, it doesn’t always have to be that way. With dedication to your health and following the right protocols to heal what’s going on inside your gut, you very well may be able to reintroduce whichever foods you had to cut out, whether it be beans, seeds, or raw foods.
It’s an amazing feeling to be able to eat a bit more “normal” now, and sure makes traveling and eating out easier.
I hope each of you reading this gets to reach this point in your life. While it may take many years as it did for me, if you do the right things, you can truly heal your gut and begin reaping the benefits of the healthy foods that just weren’t serving you at the time.
Need a roadmap to make this happen for you? As a functional nutrition practitioner, I run some of the most advanced lab tests on clients (GI-MAP and Viome stool pathogen test, DUTCH hormone test, Cyrex food sensitivity test, SpectraCell thyroid panels, Quicksilver heavy metal tests, etc.) to identify what imbalances are going on in the body that are causing chronic or acute symptoms. Working together, I help you create a custom plan to detox the body of the bad stuff and heal and seal the gut, all the while nourishing the digestive tract, adrenals, and more, so that you can restore full body health.
Apply to work with me today and request a free introductory call: thrivebyfood.com/consultations
Kristin Thomas is a health coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner specialized in helping women with hormone, digestion, and autoimmune health concerns. Having gone through these health challenges herself, she now helps clients find their own path to complete wellness through practical and natural diet and lifestyle changes.
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