Lisa Beres got rid of bloating and fatigueCourtesy Lisa Beres
Doctors have found many ways to deal with belly bloat, but you might not even seek treatment if you don’t consider your symptoms to be out of the ordinary.
That was the case for Lisa Beres, 46, of Irvine, California, who grew up in a home that, like many in the ’80s, didn’t place an emphasis on healthy eating. The symptoms she experienced from an early age happened so frequently, she began to assume they were normal, and it was only as she aged that she was able to identify them as unhealthy. She first noticed symptoms early in life in high school, when she’d experience bloating and fatigue after eating. “I was raised on a traditional meat and potato diet with white Wonder bread, milk, sugary foods, and lots of dairy,” Beres said. “I really had no knowledge of how to eat outside what was served to me by my parents or what my friends were eating.” She loved salads, but she would douse them in cheese and Thousand Island dressing with croutons atop iceberg lettuce. “I really thought that was healthy,” she says. Beres also battled mucous and sinus issues: “I felt like something was stuck in my throat,” she says. “I would wake up in the morning with so much mucus that I had to spit it out—and I thought that was normal after sleeping. I seemed to always have Kleenex or a wad of tissues on hand just in case.”
Beres began eliminating foods at age 17. Eliminating suspicious foods to identify what might be causing an unwanted health symptom is called an elimination diet, and it’s most often done by removing foods one at a time and recording the body’s response—or you can begin with very simple foods and add others back in gradually to see if symptoms return. Foods most often eliminated in an elimination diet include dairy, eggs, corn, nuts, soy, gluten, citrus, nightshade vegetables (like eggplant), pork, and wheat. As symptoms continue or resolve, foods are eliminated indefinitely, or reintroduced after a two-week trial period for each, until you’ve identified the foods that are causing symptoms. There are several types of diets that eliminate foods, and specific diets, such as the IFM elimination diet boast that it allows followers to identify food triggers, reduce inflammation, and support the microbiome.
Beres says beef was the first to go in her quest to identify the culprits causing her discomfort. “Next was chicken, which was easy, because I really felt like it had zero flavor. Eggs followed, as they always kind of made my stomach turn if I was cooking or baking with them. Next, I eliminated milk, then cheese, and lastly fish; the latter two only a year and a half ago.”
While Beres knew her sinus issues, constant mucus production, and general unease had improved since becoming a vegan, it wasn’t until she received confirmation of her allergy to the foods she eliminated that she was certain her body had known the answer all along. “One day, I visited a phenomenal doctor in Santa Monica, and she suggested a food allergy test which is done via blood samples. Much to my surprise, the results indicated I was highly allergic to the casein in cow’s milk and egg whites. I was surprised, yet I wasn’t,” she says. “My body was already guiding me to avoid both eggs and milk, and I had naturally done it right before having the allergy test done, so it was confirmation.”
Today, Beres and her husband are completely vegan, and she says she’s never felt better. “Today, I have no sinus and mucus issues or bloating. I have clearer skin, healthier hair, a normal menstrual cycle, and loads of energy. My weight is also the best it’s ever been without increasing my workouts.” Lisa maintains that our bodies know the answers to our health problems, and we need only listen. “Our bodies are quite fantastic and if we listen to the subtle clues, it will guide us to what is best for our health and well-being,” she tells Reader’s Digest. Here’s what happens to your body when you start a vegan diet.
Linda Asaf stopped having hivesCourtesy Linda Asaf
Linda Asaf, of Austin, Texas, began noticing hives on her forearms and legs in 2011. Fearful she was experiencing an autoimmune disease, she looked to an elimination diet plan for help even though she was hesitant to believe her reaction was food-related. After removing many foods she was told could be problematic including soy, milk, dairy, corn, caffeine, processed foods, alcohol, and more, her first response was, “What’s left?” she tells Reader’s Digest.
Once Asaf began examining her food choices and development of hives, however, she saw a connection between the two. “I started thinking about what I was eating and realized my reactions were food related. For example, most mornings, I would have a big glass of orange juice and then later I’d get hives. I also noticed I would get hives after I drank milk and when I ate tofu,” she recalls. Shortly after starting the elimination diet, Asaf began to see improvements in the way she felt. She explains, “I had lost weight, I was sleeping like a baby, and I was in a great mood. I was having an amazing experience, feeling so great, plus all the other benefits just from cleaning up and personalizing my diet.” Once Asaf was able to reintroduce foods into her diet, she realized that many of her allergic reactions to them had diminished, including the hives that once plagued her. (Use these smart swaps in place of dairy.)
Today, Asaf continues to keep a laser focus on her diet. “I am so much more aware of how food impacts our lives and health,” she says. “I don’t eat processed food ever anymore and if or when I do have a reaction, I’m quick to think about how it could be related to the food I have eaten.” Restrictive diets require a commitment, but it’s one that Asaf says is worth making. “I encourage people to think about how their diet impacts their health. This includes allergic reactions or something like psoriasis, which I know can be related to diet.” (Check out the foods known to worsen psoriasis.) She recommends trying this kind of diet, as she can attest to its success. “You can avoid prescription medications that oftentimes only treat the symptoms, not the problem,” she adds. “It’s amazing what food can do for your body both good and bad,” she adds.