My Gut Healing Journey: The Elimination Diet & Quitting Birth Control
About six weeks ago, I began my gut healing protocol as prescribed by my new functional medicine doctor at Parsley Health. Starting with the elimination diet, I cut out gluten, dairy, and refined sugars. However, I also knowingly have negative reactions to corn, soy, and eggs, so those were out as well.
As you can imagine eating at restaurants has been incredibly challenging and holiday gatherings are a bit, eh, unexciting since I can't partake in all of the cheesy creamy goodness and holiday sweets (see my vegan cheesecake recipe that's elimination diet friendly). I'll survive, but damn, it's teaching me some real discipline.
In addition to changing my diet, I was given loads of herbal supplements and was strongly advised to stop taking birth control (more on this below). I wanted to start documenting this journey, and share with you my personal learnings so far. However, just remember, everyone is different, so what is working/not working for me could be a completely different experience for you. Always consult your doctor.
My Thoughts on the Elimination Diet So Far
Since being on this diet, I have been feeling worlds better. Here's how exactly:
The swelling and pain in my small intestine has significantly decreased.
My chronic constipation is no more (yay, I can poop!).
I'm not nearly as bloated. I still have my days, but 5/7 days I'm in the clear.
I haven't had a single hive on my face in the past six weeks! I would get 1-2 small itchy hives near my chin/mouth/cheek area multiples times a week... for YEARS. This is my biggest victory, since it's a big reflection of what's improving on the inside.
Technically, I can start to introduce gluten and dairy back into my diet now (one at a time) to see how I react. However, I'm on the fence about it, since I also just stopped taking birth control. I am trying to keep the inflammation down to prevent hormonal acne breakouts, so I have no plans to introduce gluten or dairy any time soon. Which brings me to my next topic...
Quitting Hormonal Birth Control
I've been on birth control for NINE years. Crazy, right? I initially started taking it to heal my cystic acne after exhausted attempts with benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic pills (which most definitely altered my gut flora and probably contributes to my GI issues today), and lots of concealer. Turns out, coconut oil was the answer to all of my skin issues, but nonetheless, I continued taking birth control.
After meeting with my doctor, she concluded that birth control was probably affecting me more than I realized. I get frequent headaches that last days at a time, I often feel cloudy, and I guess I just don't know what I don't know since I've been on it for so long.
Deciding to get off of the pill was an easy decision to make. I had considered quitting for months, but my excuse was always that I didn't have time for acne or crazy mood swings. There will never be a 'good' time to have freakouts, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be. So, it just took my doctor ordering it for me to finally take it seriously.
How I Feel Post-Birth Control
I've been off of the pill for one full month, and it feels like a veil has been lifted. I feel more clear. I'm not sure how else to describe it.
I feel more energized. I've been an even crazier workaholic than I already am.
I got my next period right on schedule. So, I'm hoping it continues to be regular. Time will tell.
I've started to get some pimples... uh oh.
This is what I've been worried about all along. I've worked so hard to have beautiful, clear and glowing skin, and I'm proud of that. I am trying not to get too worked up, and hope it will pass or at least not worsen. It's not too noticeable at the moment.
Re-balancing hormones, decreasing inflammation, and learning about my body...
Here's what I'm personally doing to combat this transition off the pill:
Continuing the elimination of foods that inflame my gut (gluten, dairy, corn, soy, egg, and refined sugar).
Listening to podcasts like Fertility Friday and reading anything I can about balancing hormones, estrogen levels, and adaptogens.
Continuing my natural skincare routine with daily topical use of coconut oil and tea tree oil.
Being kind to myself and working on acceptance for whatever challenges may arise during this tough transition.
Dealing with any of the above? I'd love to chat. Share your experience with me below.
More on Parsley Health:
Parsley takes on care with a root-cause, whole person approach and a focus on data, technology, and real doctor-patient relationships. "Today medicine is failing us with temporary fixes to complex long-term problems—from medications to specialists. We too were tired of being pushed through the revolving doors of health care so we created Parsley Health."
If anyone has questions about Parsley, I'm more than happy to answer. Joining Parsley was hands down the best decision I made for my health this year.