6 months on the FAILSAFE Diet. Now what?!

Six months into the FAILSAFE Diet and I wanted to share an update about how my daughter and I are doing!

The goal of the FAILSAFE Diet (aka the RPAH Elimination Diet) is to figure out what food chemicals and additives are causing you problems. You are only supposed to cut out foods for so long before reintroducing them systematically. That way, you aren’t permanently cutting out nutrient dense foods or restricting yourself unnecessarily for the rest of your life. AND you are able to know for sure what food chemicals cause what symptoms.

The Big Kid and I embarked on our first round of challenges at the end of July. We tested amines first and then moved onto salicylates. Sadly, we failed both challenges within 2 days, leaving us both a bit disheartened at our options and a lot unsure about where to go from there. We ended up going back to eating only foods from the low column and stayed there for several months before my daughter began to complain about how restricted she was; she was beginning to feel really left out at school when all of the other kids were eating the things that she wanted and was becoming really down at dinner time.

(Insert a huge amount of mom guilt here.)

After some (re)reading of the materials and talking it through with the family, we decided to revisit the challenges and start with foods from the moderate column to see what we could tolerate. Apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and edamame were the first things we added in, which are all foods The Big Kid loves. I made sure we were only have one serving a day so as not to overload our systems.

We both did well with that plan and neither of us really noticed a return of symptoms. If we did react to something, it was a quick burst of discomfort, lasting for maybe 15-20 minutes, and then it would go away. Occasionally The Big Kid would say that her stomach was hurting, but when asked she’d say it was at a 4/10 (she was peaking at 8/10 pre-diet). Excited for all of the new foods we were eating, The Big Kid decided to stick with it and see if would get better as her body got used to eating the foods again.

We added back in gluten (mainly in homemade bread using unenriched flour*) and other soy products like soy milk and soy ice creams. I find I do best eating once slice of gluten containing bread a day, as more than that makes my joints hurt and leaves me feeling a little bloated. The Big Kid didn’t notice any difference whatsoever, so she was given the green light to eat wheat-products again. Both of us have done absolutely fine with the soy-based products, our favorite being the vanilla soy ice cream.

I’ve also started to follow my cravings. With my reactions being intolerances/sensitivities and not allergies, I felt confident stepping into a food that I was wanting and seeing where it took me. Over Thanksgiving, I started to get cravings for spaghetti with tomato sauce. There is absolutely zero substitute for tomato anything, so there wasn’t any way to make this one “safe”. I decided to go for it when we got back home, just in case I wasn’t feeling great afterwards.

On a night when my husband asked me to make him his beloved meat sauce for cheese ravioli, I decided to pull some plain tomato sauce aside and ate it with regular spaghetti. The Big Kid hates spaghetti, so she chose to have something else that night (it probably involved ketchup). Surprisingly, I had ZERO reaction to the sauce (it was only San Marzano style tomatoes, olive oil, and salt) and was able to eat it a second day as well. I did begin to feel a little meh after the second serving, so went back to eating only things from the low category to make sure I didn’t overflow my bucket. The feeling passed pretty quickly and I didn’t have any other reactions afterwards.

That experience gave me more confidence to try other foods that I’d been missing (like ketchup) and going out to eat with my husband one afternoon. Sadly, I didn’t do as well with the ketchup (I get side pains, WHOMP WHOMP) and the salad definitely gave me a bit of trouble, but I think that had more to do with the dressing (it was a lemon vinaigrette) than the lettuce or tomatoes that were on it. I also started to get a bit more irritable and itchy.

I’ll be interested to see how things continue to take shape in that realm and am crossing my fingers that there will be more foods I can tolerate from each category.

I’ve also been trying to find more store-bought options that are FAILSAFE, as cooking everything from scratch gets really really old fast. So far, we’ve found the most safe options at Trader Joe’s with the Mochi Rice Nuggets, Plaintain Chips*, Crunchy Curls (lentil + potato), Trader Potato Tots, and Hashbrowns all working well. I’m sure there are other things that would be safe, but only had a limited amount of time in the store with a toddler in my arms.

Some other store-bought foods that The Big Kid and I have managed to do well with include Cheerios (both the plain* and maple* varieties), Glutino Vanilla Creme Cookies, Good Thins Rice Crackers*, Simply7 Lentil Chips*, and Utz Potato Chips (both plain and ripples).

I’m desperate to find a drink that’s not water to enjoy. I can do a hot carob drink every now and then but don’t feel great after drinking it too many days in a row. Citric Acid “Lemonade” (aka Magic Cordial) gives me side pains (thanks citric acid) and the other simple syrups I’ve tried haven’t really done it for me. So I’ve been left dreaming about my favorite warm apple cider and smoothies, wishing that I could have something to drink with flavor in it.

Phew, that feels like a lot. But that’s where we are with the FAILSAFE Diet and I thought it would be helpful to share our progress with everything six months in.

xx, Emily

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