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Elimination Diet Round Two: Re-introduction

October 31, 2012

Tomatoes

First Re-introduction: Tomato Paste

So on day one of the re-introduction part of my second elimination diet, I decided to eat two 6 ounce cans of organic tomato paste (the only ingredient being tomatoes). In hindsight, I probably should’ve only eaten one. But, the quantity seemed so small that I didn’t feel like one would be enough of a test. I heated the paste for a few minutes just to make sure it was cooked through. I then ate a third of the 2 cans at breakfast, another third at lunch, and the last portion before dinner.

Honestly, I didn’t expect to experience anything. And I didn’t for most of the day. I felt a hint of achiness when I went for a walk before I had the third portion, but it wasn’t enough to be sure it was from the paste. I had the third portion on an empty stomach, before dinner. Shortly thereafter, my joints started aching. It was a strong enough of an ache, and in enough of my joints to be able to definitely blame it on the tomato paste. I’ve never had such an experience before. I also felt a little bit bloated.

My first thoughts were: did I eat too much tomato paste? Although it was cooked, making it potentially less aggravating, tomato paste is highly concentrated. I tried to figure out how many tomatoes it takes to make two cans of paste, and googling confirmed that it was a large quantity. Perhaps a pound, or maybe 24 tomatoes? I don’t know what the actual amount is, but it’s likely a lot. Would theses symptoms have shown up eventually if I had only eaten a single can? As much as I’d like to blame the reaction on overeating tomato paste, my gut tells me that the only symptom of overeating should’ve been some sort of stomachache, not joint pain. So, on the flip side, I’m glad I ate what might’ve been too much. Maybe a smaller dose would’ve caused inflammation, but not enough to translate into joint pain. I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

I also questioned if the joint pain could have been the result of something else, and not necessarily related to the nightshade issue. For example:

  • BPA in the can
  • Something in the tomato paste that’s part of the canning process but not necessarily listed as an ingredient
  • The high sugar content of the concentrated tomatoes

While none of the factors above positively contribute to my health, I highly doubt they would be the cause of such a strong response.

I failed the first re-introduction test. Now what?

The symptoms were mostly gone by the second day, and almost entirely so by the third. But failing the first test threw a wrench in my plans. I haven’t been able to find a definitive guide to doing an elimination diet that resonates with me. My understanding from various sources is that I can continue re-introducing foods, as long as I wait a few days, and my symptoms have completely subsided. But from what I gather, the next food I re-introduce should be from another food group. I don’t know if I can fully trust the results of further testing, since something in my body has been irritated. But at the same time, I wanted to glean some more knowledge from the elimination diet, and it kind of makes sense to me that trying another food group would be okay. So, next up I decided to re-introduce eggs, which I didn’t properly get to test the last time around.

Second Re-introduction: Eggs

I had tested for eggs on my last elimination diet, but the results were inconclusive due to an unrelated mild case of food poisoning. Last time, I tested 5 soft boiled eggs. This time, in light of the tomato paste experience, I opted for four. I would very rarely eat more than four eggs in one day, so I figured that would be a reasonable amount to re-introduce. I had 2 soft boiled eggs for breakfast, and 2 more as an after work snack. As best as I can tell, I passed. I’m not 100% certain because I had some weird leg pain that day, but it felt more like a result of sitting funny or something. That’s the thing with elimination diets – I don’t think there’s such a thing as complete certainty, you just do your best.

Third Re-introduction: Raw Tomatoes

I had already bought organic tomatoes, thinking that I’d re-introduce them after passing the tomato paste test. So, I figured I’d put them to good use since it had been a week since I ate the tomato paste. I decided to eat two medium sized tomatoes in three portions – one portion with breakfast, another with lunch, and a third after work. I was fine all day, up until after the third portion. Within five minutes of eating the tomato, I had diarrhea. Some would say that that’s way too soon to react to a food. But I know my body pretty well, and it’s not the first time that I got sick almost immediately after eating something. I strongly felt that that was my body’s way of rejecting the tomato. Why did it only happen after the third serving? Was it because it was on an empty stomach? Was it because that third serving pushed me over some sort of threshold of reactivity? Pretty much the same thing had happened with the tomato paste – I didn’t really react until the third time around. Regardless, it was clear to me that I failed the raw tomato test.

Final Re-introduction: Butter

I wanted to try to re-introduce one more food to get the most “bang for my buck” on this elimination diet, and I chose what is typically a staple in my diet: butter. I had tested for it previously, and passed. To test, I cooked my breakfast in butter and then had a slice of butter to go with it. I had another slice of butter along with my lunch. There was no need to try a third time. In the afternoon, my knees started to ache slightly. The problem is that I was under a lot of stress that day as well as the previous day, and I wasn’t sleeping well. It’s possible that that was somehow manifesting in weird, random pain. But perhaps that’s just wishful thinking. However, considering that last time I passed with flying colors, I’d say based on the circumstances, this test was somewhat inconclusive. I will have to test for butter again in the future.

So what do I make of these results? Read the last post in this series:

Elimination Diet Round Two: Conclusion

Any thoughts on my re-introductions? Have you done an elimination diet? How did it go?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mickey October 31, 2012 at 5:42 AM

Your tomato paste re-introduction sounds like nightshade sensitivity to me. Most people (especially those with autoimmune issues) end up with joint pain, including me. I didn’t think I was sensitive to them for the longest time (denial!) but I have finally come to terms with it. I have found that there is a spectrum – If I use a little habanero infused olive oil, or a sprinkle of cayenne in something no reaction, but if I eat canned tomatoes I wake up the next day in serious pain.

I separated the yolk and white in my egg reintroduction. I found that the white bothers me, but not the yolk (yay!). Also, I am in the process of determining if I tolerate nuts. I ate them raw and it was a definite no, but then I soaked and peeled some almonds and it seemed to be fine. I need to re-test again before I decide…

I think you are on the right track, just don’t go too crazy all at once or you won’t be able to tell what is affecting you. :)

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[email protected] November 1, 2012 at 7:43 PM

I’m curious to test the other nightshades as well. I couldn’t care less if I never eat eggplant again. Ditto bell peppers. But I love me some curry! Symptom-wise, I would never have known that I’m sensitive to tomatoes if not for doing this elimination diet, so I’m even more glad that I did the elimination diet and made this discovery. I don’t care about tomatoes enough to keep aggravating my body like that.

As for the egg whites, I have heard that a lot of people can’t tolerate them, but do fine with the yolks. I’m curious if you did a test with organic, pastured AND soy-free eggs just to make sure it wasn’t something else?

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