Autoimmune Disease

Five tips for elimination diet success!

An elimination diet changed my life, and I’m not even being dramatic here. After struggling to find out what diet worked best for me, I took the time to do what amount to a two-month experiment to find out what was harming my body. This has lead to so much freedom and healing.

What is an elimination diet? It’s is simply removing certain types of food from your diet completely for a certain period of time and then adding those foods back to your diet one at a time to figure out which foods are problematic for you.

“Could you be more vague?” you might ask. And the answer is yes, but I won’t.

You see there are tons of elimination diets out there. The popular Whole30 is essentially an elimination diet. It allows some foods other programs restrict and restricts foods others leave in.  I did an elimination diet that removed five foods — wheat, soy, eggs, corn, and dairy — recommended by Dr. Blum in her book the Immune System Recovery Plan. 

Dr. Blum’s is just one of many elimination diets created to help people with autoimmune disease. The most popular is the Autoimmune Protocol Diet which removes several foods like nightshades, grains, legumes. It can be followed for several months to help heal the gut, but the ultimate goal is to reintroducing foods to see what triggers you and what does not.

So which one is right for me — or you? It really is what resonates with you and what you feel you can be successful at. I think part of the beauty of most elimination diets is that it gets you cooking and eating whole foods.  I chose to do the program I did because, at the time, I knew that that was what I had the energy for and could stick to it. Luckily, it out really well for me and is one of the main reasons my gut is healing and I’m in remission. One day I may do the Autoimmune Protocol Diet just to see if I can’t crank up this energy even more.

No matter what you chose here are some tips to make sure you are successful.

  1. Time it well. Pick a good time to do the diet, starting with the main period you will be eliminating and the period you will be testing. While you certainly can do any diet over the holiday season it’s hard not to feel resentful of everyone around you.
  2. Get your people on board. Tell your partner, kids, roommates, and BFF what’s going on and ask them for their support. They may want to join in too. This is also a good time to ask them, very politely, not to bring any crap (especially crap you love) into the house/office for a period of time.
  3. Approach this with your glass half full. One thing that really sustained me was not to think about what I couldn’t eat but rather what I could. I took the ingredients I had to work with and made some masterpieces. It may have been my most creative period to date.
  4. Distribute the work. While you are in your planning phase, make sure to keep a list of meal ideas that you can refer to when meal planning or looking for something to eat.
  5. Remember the why! This goes for any challenge. Before you begin, write down exactly why you are doing this “crazy thing” and put it in your face. Tape it to your computer, to the bathroom mirror, over your bed, on your kid’s forehead…or not. You get it, right? Keep that intention in the forefront of your mind to get you through when it’s hard.

If you have an autoimmune disease, an elimination diet is essential to improving the quality of your life. If you think you may need extra support, contact me for a free consult to see if I’m the lady you are looking for to help you reach your health goals.

elimination diet, Recipes

Yes you can be social even with a “weird” diet and bonus recipe


Maria from sound of music saying "Look at all the food I can't eat"

Some of my healing from autoimmune disease can be directly attributed to the food I eat and the food I don’t. A few years back, an elimination diet revealed I have a sensitivity to gluten, dairy, and eggs. While I wasn’t surprised about the gluten or the dairy I was so sad to see eggs go. I live in the land of breakfast tacos for cryin’ out loud! On top of all that I make it a point to avoid processed food and sugar.

So from a standard American diet point of view, I am pretty limited in what I can eat.

While my diet is health supportive (and delicious) it tends to be different from most people’s. Because of that I stopped inviting people over for meals as much or accepting dinner invitations. I didn’t want to impose my restrictions on others and I think I felt a little self-conscious about serving people my “weird” diet.

But ya know what, that’s no way to live. I love my friends and I love to eat with them and cook for them. And bonus: participating in the community keeps us health. So I started accepting dinner invites, although it took me awhile to stop apologizing profusely for all my dietary restrictions (maybe I’m not completely there),  and I started having people over again. Last night, in fact, my dear friend (and soon to be podcast co-host!!!) and her awesome kiddo came over for a cookout.

Here is the weird meal I made.

Grilled Tempeh* and Veggie Fajitas with Guacamole

  • Servings: 8
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grilled sweet potatoes, portabella mushrooms, red onion, bell peppers, and tempeh on a wooden cutting board with a white bowl of lime wedges. Tempeh

  1. One to two packages of tempeh (I really like Lightlife’s flax tempeh). You can easily replace this with any meat of your choice.
  2. 8oz of vegetable broth
  3.  One TBS of fajita seasoning or 1tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of coriander.


  1.  Sweet potato peeled and cut into 1/2 inch planks.
  2. Two bell peppers cut into big wedges.
  3.  Two or more portabella mushrooms washed with stems removed
  4. Half of a red onion (keep intact)


  1. Two ripe avocados
  2. Three to five garlic cloves minced
  3. The juice of one and a half limes
  4.  Salt to taste


  1. Place the tempeh ingredients in a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. Simmer the tempeh for up to 20 minutes, flipping as you go. Make sure to add a bit of broth if the pan starts to dry out. You could do this step a day in advance and let it marinade in the refrigerator.
  2. Coat the vegetables, onion, and mushrooms with either coconut oil (which is constantly melted in my house this time of year) or olive oil.  Toss with the fajita seasoning, about 1 TBS.
  3. Heat the grill to medium heat.
  4. Cut the tempeh in half, making two squares. Brush with oil on either side.
  5. Place everything on the grill starting with the tempeh. The tempeh goes on the top rack and I placed the bell pepper and sweet potato in a veggie basket like this Grillux Stainless Steel Vegetable Grill Basket (affiliate link). The mushrooms and onions (cut side down) go directly on the grill.
  6. Grill everything for about 15 minutes flipping everything but the onion in the halfway through.
  7. Make the guacamole by mixing all the ingredients together. This will make a really large batch, which is a beautiful thing.
  8. Once cooked, slice up the tempeh, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and onion into long stripes.
  9. Pull out lettuce leaves, chard leaves, or a tortilla of your choice and make the best fajita ever!

We had so much fun eating and hanging out. My weird diet didn’t feel so weird and made me realize I was the only one making it weird. The adults had fun, the kids had fun, and just because I don’t dine on sugar and dairy didn’t mean the kids had to reframe. kids eating ice cream on a picnic table. A note on soy. Most soy we consume in the US is really not great for us. This soy is the by-products of GMO seeds from subsidized farming that is put into all our processed food or shaped into fake meats, soy dog anyone?  While this type of soy is not great for our health, fermented soy, like tempeh, has beneficial probiotics and has lots of vitamin K2.  While you don’t want to eat any soy all day every day, I believe fermented soy can be a part of a whole foods diet that supports our health. Check out what Dr. Hyman has to say about it here.  Or course, just like I am with eggs, you may not be able to tolerate soy and thats cool too. Stay tuned for more on elmination diets.