LEAP Program Phase 3-5

It’s been a little while since I’ve shared an update with how my LEAP eating program is going, so I figured I better¬†do that. I know you are all just sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to hear about this… ūüėČ (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you may want to start with the first post I wrote in this little series: LEAP Eating Program: MRT Test Results & Phase 1)

So, how is it going? Overall, it’s going fairly well and I’ve stuck to the program 100% (even if it hasn’t always been easy).¬†It’s taken a lot of planning ahead any time I’ll be away from the house for longer than a couple hours and in two months, I’ve been out to a restaurant ONE time, which was this past weekend. I had 2 eggs over easy, bacon (which I actually questioned the waitress if there was celery powder in the bacon ingredient list), and a fresh fruit cup. Considering I can make that same food at home, it wasn’t the most exciting meal out…but…at least I didn’t have cook/clean up myself AND it was better than being hungry for the 1 hour trip back home.

Anyway, I’m exactly two months into my¬†LEAP program. I still cannot eat my ‘moderately reactive’ foods, which I admit is getting harder and harder all the time. The foods from this list that I miss the most are: oats, corn (tortilla chips!), almonds (almond butter, almond flour/meal¬†in recipes), chicken, beef, rice, shrimp, walnuts, and cumin, cayenne, and oregano (all of which are in my homemade taco seasoning). Oh…and did I mention that I haven’t had any regular flour or gluten-containing foods in two full months, as well??? That’s been really hard for me, too. No pasta, no homemade bread, no regular pancakes, birthday cake, etc, etc. I felt like it was easier to deal with this early on in the program, but now that I’ve been “at it” for a while, I’m feeling like there is a big lack of variety in my diet. I know a lot of that is based on my own cooking “limitations” and lack of proper meal planning with the ingredients I’m eating right now…but I’m getting bored with my food choices…and that’s not a feeling I enjoy.

So, here’s the deal… At the 3 month mark from the start of my journey (which will be October 15th), I can start reintroducing my ‘moderately reactive’ foods back in one at a time. But, first, let me back up a bit. I’ve shared what I could eat during phase 1 and phase 2 with you, but what about phases 3-5? Well, those phases were simply¬†adding back in the remainder of the ‘tested foods’ that I had no adverse reaction to. Those phases saw the reintroduction of strawberries, oranges, green peppers, quinoa, raspberries, avocado, paprika, vanilla, and some other foods that aren’t a regular part of my normal diet (dill, papaya, cabbage, tea, coffee). I’ve pretty much made it through the three final phases of this eating program. I didn’t eat everything I was ‘allowed’ to eat, simply because I didn’t want to go out of my way to eat something I had no interest in to begin with. However, I did add each of these foods back into my diet one day at at time, so it did seem slow at times. And I will say this…adding cheddar cheese back into my diet was definitely beyond exciting for me!! There is just no good substitute for cheese!!

After I finished adding back all of my ‘non-reactive’ foods, then I could move on to the ‘untested’ foods. This has been things¬†like¬†medjool dates, pomegranate, blackberries, mozzarella cheese, etc. Thankfully, I’ve had no adverse reactions (that I’m aware of!) to anything I’ve added back in so far.

I’m super excited to add back in some of my moderately reactive foods. I can’t decide what I’ll eat first…but I’ll have to add them in EVEN SLOWER than the other phases. With these foods, I need to wait 3-5 days before adding anything new again, because sometimes it takes a couple of days for any reactions to show up. Even though it’s not the healthiest choice, I’m thinking my first food to add back in will be organic tortilla chips. I have sure missed those… ūüôā

And what about the foods I test ‘reactive’ to? Well, there were only two: crab and eggplant. I’ve never had eggplant before (that I can remember, anyway) and maybe someday I’d like to eat¬†crab cakes again…but I’m not in any rush to eat those two foods. However, at the 6 month mark from starting this journey, I can try them again.

And as far as the gluten goes…that’s a little trickier. Gluten-free for life? Not sure I can do that…or if I¬†even want¬†to do that.¬†I tested very low¬†reactive¬†to wheat and some other gluten containing flours, but because I have hypothyroidism, that’s where the issue lies. If I do include them in my diet going forward, I would like to buy the organic version. It may cost more at the grocery store, but my plan is to eat much less gluten-containing foods than I did before. No more eating pancakes for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner. Maybe just one meal every day or even every couple days. I need to add more variety to my diet and I need to stop eating the same foods over and over. I’ve already impressed myself by trying some new foods lately…remember my Brussels sprouts post on Facebook? It was quite popular with a ton of suggestions on how to make them so they are super tasty! And even though I didn’t love them at first bite…they grew on me as I ate the leftovers and I’m already looking forward to eating them again soon. ūüôā Who would have thought??? Brussels sprouts!

I’m a little torn on eating gluten again. On one hand, if it’s going to be better for my hypothyroidism, then I know that’s a good thing…however, I don’t know if I really WANT to avoid gluten for the rest of my life. No more rolls if we go out to eat? No more sandwiches or hamburger buns? Ahh… It just makes life way more complicated and that’s not something I ‘really’ want to deal with. Maybe I’m just lazy, but it’s been hard these last two months and I’m not sure at what point I’ll reintroduce it. I guess the answer to my question will really come when I do decide to give it a try again. How will I feel after eating gluten for the first time again after a long break?

I know the whole reason I had this testing done was so I could wean myself off of my lifetime hypothyroidism medication. While I’m glad I had the testing done regardless of how I decide to proceed going forward, I’m a little unsure of how much “work” I want to put into this AND how much money I’m willing to spend on supplements, etc to support a healthy thyroid. It’s tough and it’s not a long-term decision I’m quite ready to make yet. I have not yet looked into all the costs associated with supporting my thyroid naturally (things like cod liver oil, vitamin D, and/or a thyroid support supplement). However, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be hard to “beat” my Synthroid prescription cost of $8.64 for 3 months of medication… Sigh. Like I said, there are a whole lot of ‘questions’ going through my mind right now. I also plan to write a whole blog post dedicated to the things I’m going to do to better support my thyroid health soon (one will probably be a big surprise to you!). I’m still taking my daily medication right now, but my plan is to stop taking it within the next few weeks and then get re-tested again in 6 months to see how my body is handling it. If my thyroid levels are out of whack, I’ll probably just go back on my medication again and forget about it. Of course, maybe I’ll change my mind again someday, but I don’t want to mess around with my health too much and cause any long term problems.

Anyway, that’s where I am right now. It’s confusing. And I’m not sure what I want to do going forward. Part of me wants to continue being gluten-free for the next 6-7 months while I go off of my thyroid medication (since EVERYTHING I read about hypothyroidism says I should avoid gluten like the plague)…BUT…do I really want to avoid gluten for life? Is that what is best for my mental well-being and happiness if I don’t “have” to give it up?? I’m not sure. (Does this make me sound like a hypocrite?? Continuing to take an artificially-made medication when ‘real food’ could potentially heal my thyroid naturally??) However, I’ve come SO far in the last year and a half with my family’s health…that I just don’t know how many more changes I can make right now. ūüôā I may wait several months before re-introducing gluten…or I may add it back in just a few short weeks. Technically, according to my LEAP testing results, I can add it back in at any time now…but is that the right decision? Who knows!?!

And as far as the LEAP eating program goes going forward, I’m now in “phase 6.” From this point on, I need to be more aware of rotating the foods I eat on a daily/weekly basis. It’s suggested that if I eat corn (for example) on day 1, that I shouldn’t eat corn again until day 4. This limits my exposure to the same foods over and over again, while providing a balanced, varied diet. I think this is something I absolutely need to do because even though I was eating ‘real food’ before starting this program, I still found myself eating a small variety of foods on a weekly basis. I need to get better about planning a more varied weekly dinner menu.

And I will also say this… If I thought I was eating “real” a big percentage of the time before starting this¬†journey, I can happily report that I haven’t had a SINGLE bite of anything artificial or processed in two whole months now!¬†I know this won’t last forever, but it is kind of cool to have the ‘willpower’ to complete this program. It wasn’t always easy, that’s for sure, but it’s definitely been a learning experience!

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LeAnn Nome

Hi there! Here's a little info about me: I've been married to my husband for over 10 years and I'm a stay-at-home mom to our three young kids (a six year old daughter and four year old twin boys). As you might imagine, they keep me quite busy! In early 2013, we decided that we wanted to be a healthier family. To do this, we cut out all processed foods from our home and we now eat only REAL, whole foods. (When we're on vacation or at someone's house, we're not quite as strict.) We also try to exercise every day. Our goal is to raise healthy, happy kids...while maintaining our own health and happiness along the way! I hope you will follow along with us in our journey.

2 thoughts on “LEAP Program Phase 3-5

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey thus far.
    I’m curious though about what, if any, improvements you have seen health wise as a result of this choice. I’m considering having the testing and assisting my husband to implement the eating program because of his IBS and (apparent) gluten sensitivities. However, we would have to pay out of pocket for this and I’m wondering if you found it worthwhile.

    1. Hi Berni, I don’t really have a straightforward answer for you because I didn’t really have any ‘noticeable’ symptoms before I had the testing done. I wanted to be tested for gluten sensitivities because I had been informed that gluten is a no-no when you have thyroid issues (which I do). I figured if I was going to test for gluten and try to eliminate the need to take my daily thyroid medication, I might as well check for any other sensitivities at the same time. After going through the LEAP program and then adding back in some of the foods that I was moderately reactive to, I didn’t notice any real differences…but that’s probably because I wasn’t suffering from any issues before the testing, either. However, I think someone that is suffering from more noticeable issues, like IBS, they would probably benefit much more from all the testing. I’m glad I did it…but, in the end, it probably wasn’t necessary for ME. However…if I hadn’t done the testing, I would never have known that. As far as cost, yes, it was expensive. I didn’t even turn it in to my insurance because I knew it wouldn’t be covered at all. That was definitely the biggest hesitation for me, but I’m glad I did it because now I don’t worry that I have sensitivities to certain foods and I’ve also learned to rotate the foods I do eat on a regular basis so I don’t create new sensitivities. Not sure that helps you any…but that’s my input! ūüôā I would recommend the program to anyone that is suffering from diet-related issues, that they can’t seem to solve on their own.

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