Digging Out – or LEAP Phase 1

My husband, after a 16-inch snowstorm

My husband, after a 16-inch snowstorm

Individualized medicine rocks!

Despite my lung issues being substantially improved by relocating, I was unable to shake the high blood pressure and weight gain brought on by my prescribed corticosteroid overdose three years ago. To make matters worse, I developed as-yet-unexplained tremors (sometimes eased with megadoses of B2). After a year of working with specialists (in whose boxes I did not fit) and only getting worse, my dietitian suggested a crazy-strict elimination diet called the LEAP Diet.

The theory behind the LEAP Diet is that people can have non-allergic inflammatory responses to foods which can cause all kinds of ailments and make weight loss difficult. It requires a blood test which yields an individualized ranking of common foods from least to most reactive. A person eats only the least reactive foods for 10-14 days (Phase 1), then adds one new food a day while watching for reactions (since allergies and enzyme problems aren’t tested). After six weeks, a person’s immune system should be calm enough to allow the body to start healing.

Problem is, I ended up being allergic to some of my Phase 1 foods so my supposed withdrawl period (which was actually allergic reaction) lasted way longer than it should. It wasn’t easy to figure out what foods were creating the mess, so I had to stay in Phase 1 for three weeks. I ended up having to take one food out at a time to see if anything improved, rather than the other-way-round-method meant for later phases.

In the end, my Phase 1 list looked like this:

  • beef
  • tuna
  • sole
  • egg
  • quinoa
  • sweet potato
  • buckwheat
  • lettuce
  • yellow squash
  • beet
  • mushroom
  • carrot
  • peach
  • pear
  • raspberry
  • banana (enzyme problem)
  • cherry
  • avocado (enzyme problem)
  • peanut (enzyme problem)
  • coconut (allergic)
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • dill
  • lemon
  • baking soda
  • yogurt (allergic)

That may seem like a long list of foods to eat, but when that’s ALL you can eat for three weeks it gets a bit monotonous. And did you notice the total lack of any caffeinated substances? Yeah. It was ugly.

BUT when things calmed down, they REALLY calmed down. By the end of Phase 1:

  • I’d lost 8 pounds.
  • I was taken off my blood pressure medication.
  • The decibel level of my snoring lowered 50% (as reported by Kurt).
  • I woke up before my alarm, feeling rested.
  • My sinus headaches disappeared.
  • My mental fog cleared.

Low-salt diets, volumetric diets, no-refined-carb diets, not to mention a slew of meds… Nothing worked until this individualized plan that identified my specific sensitivities and took them into account. Individualized medicine rocks!

I won’t share any of my recipes from Phase 1 because no one wants to eat the ludicrous concoctions I made to survive. I did find, though, that a little mashed sweet potato blended with water makes a decent milk substitute in baked goods & griddle cakes. The color of buckwheat flour and the smell of quinoa flour on the other hand…


6 thoughts on “Digging Out – or LEAP Phase 1

  1. So glad that this worked for you, despite the allergic reaction issues. I have a friend who has done something similar and has easily lost much weight. Wonderful that you are off of some meds, too!

  2. What great news, Jessi! Good for you to have made the strong commitment to follow those demanding requirements and to have gotten such a beneficial result!!

    When you mention the odor of quinoa flour, I’m motivated to mention something that you probably already know: that it’s really good to wash quinoa grains in many changes of water, rubbing them in the water to remove the saponin that covers the grains. The saponin not only tastes awful but is not good for you. Being a vegetarian, I like to incorporate a fair amount of quinoa in my diet because of its high protein content. I cook up a little pot of it every now and then and keep it in the refrigerator to use as the basis for pilaf (rather than going through the lengthy process of repeated washings and then cooking the grain every time you want to eat something . You could add some mushrooms and salt–maybe even some cut up cooked sweet potato and a little fresh ginger.

    At any rate, am very happy to hear how well you are doing with this personalized diet.


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