two unsuccessful challenges…

After sticking to my elimination diet for 2 weeks and being symptom-free for at least 5 days in a row, I did my first challenge. I finally decided to go with something I thought was relatively safe: creme fraiche! High in fat, low in protein and lactose, I thought it would be a yummy treat and indeed, it was! I wanted to check if dairy products were a problem for me. I was still eating butter but not quite sure whether it was a good idea or not, so I did this creme fraiche challenge.

I ate the whole tub at once (200 g or something like that). It was like delicious fatty yogurt. It didn’t take long before I had bloating, abdominal pain, insomnia, increased heart rate, nausea, headaches, bad mood, brain fog, lack of concentration and fatigue… It lasted 2 days and I even had withdrawal symptoms (pretty much the same symptoms) three days after.

Although my challenge was unsuccessful, at least I now know for sure that dairy don’t agree with me. The full tub of creme fraiche I ate contained 4 g of protein (mainly casein I suspect) and 6 g of sugars (which are lactose in this case). Because I didn’t have diarrhea, I suspect that the casein was probably the culprit. So I decided it was probably better to let go of my beloved butter and fully transition to ghee instead to be on the safe side and avoid eating any casein that could prevent me from fully recovering.

my homemade ghee made from organic butter from Australian grass-fed cows

It took me almost a week to recover and then I waited until I had 4-5 days in a row without symptoms before doing my second challengedark chocolate! If you read my blog in the last month, you know how much I love my dark chocolate and I haven’t had any for…. quite a long time! I actually never thought I could live without chocolate… but wait a minute, I also thought I couldn’t live without my oatmeal, cheese and peanut butter either! lol Nothing is impossible!

To make sure I would be able to detect symptoms without making me too sick, I decided to have 20 g of 85% dark chocolate (without dairy, but with a bit of soy lecithin) to check my tolerance to amines… It was good, but not as good as I expected actually after wishing to eat chocolate for so long, my expectations were a bit too high I guess!

I had some symptoms within a few hours: loud and fast heartbeat, abdominal pain and a restless night. The next day was not so bad, but the day after, I had cramps, nausea, bloating, brain fog, fatigue and insomnia…

So no more chocolate for me… It is actually sad for me to admit that I am completely turned off by chocolate for now…


Just as I started to feel better, I had a delicious Australian grass-fed rump steak last Sunday and started feeling sick within a few hours and the next day… Because I didn’t eat anything different, I suspect it is the meat, which has either 1) been aged to long or 2) be browned too much.

Fresh beef is relatively low in amines, but aging it over 14 days increases its amines content. Cooking it until it browns also increases its amine content and as you can see on the pic below, I wanted nice grill lines on my steak… Next time I go to the butcher, I’ll ask about the aging of the meat to figure out if it was their fault or mine! 😉

Australian grass-fed beef + green beans (I can't have that many at one time though!)


After my few unsuccessful attempts, I will not be challenging any new foods for a few weeks. Up to now, I have been working for home and I am happy I did because I don’t know how I would have managed to keep a “real” job in the last months. It is only a 6-wk contract and I don’t want to be sick while working and being away from home.

I will take advantage of the next 6 weeks to stick to my safe foods to make sure I feel good. I believe it is probably a very good timing because I am actually pretty happy to have figured out a list of foods that I tolerate well and that help me be symptom-free. In the last months, my ratio of bad days to good days is pretty high and I think my body probably needs more good days to heal and recover fully.

Each time I get a bad reaction, I gain 2-3 lbs, probably because of the inflammation and cortisol I suspect and it takes me almost a week to recover. Once I get better and become symptom-free, I can lose the weight relatively easily.

Here are my safe foods combining Paleo + low food chemicals (FAILSAFE) + low-FODMAPs (fermentable carbohydrates): beef, chicken, ghee, peeled zucchini, peeled cucumber, green beans, carrot and bean sprouts (except for the bean sprouts, which I can have 2 cups a day of, I limit the other vegetables to less than 1 cup a day)

My goal is to be symptom-free until the end of September and I hope my body will then be ready to try new foods…. Wish me luck!

Learn more about the Personal Paleo Code

15 thoughts on “two unsuccessful challenges…

  1. Good luck my dear!
    I’m so sorry about the chocolate. I am happy to say that is one thing I can eat. However, the brands to seem to make a difference. There was one brand at a local store that was the first one I tried after elimination. It was wonderful! 85% delicious dark chocolate, but it still felt creamy. And the ingredients were minimal.
    unfortunately, they stopped carrying the brand…and for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. I just knew where it was on the shelf. Feels like a true duh, moment.
    I will Godiva…oh no…it does me no good. Lindt…so, so. it doesn’t really harm me…but it’s not great, and I know their truffles have barley in them, I’m thinking it’s probably made on the same equipment. Green and Black…was very good…and expensive.

    Well, my point was…perhaps when you are tying again, you may want to try a different brand of dark chocolate. I only eat 1 or 2 squares at a time, it satisfies that urge. So perhaps I haven’t indulged enough to make me sick. I’m ok with that.

    Still struggling with the Meniere’s right now, so the weight loss is on the back burner. My hubby is doing all the cooking, and it’s not worth the aggravation for him….especially since he’s doing everything else too. Poor guy.

    I had to take some cough medicine night before last. I ran out of my sugar free brand, but was desperate…not sleeping…hacking cough. So I took a small dose of something else…it definitely was not a good thing to do with my digestive track. But it did help the cough that night. Now I have the Sugar Free stuff back…just in case. (love that it says right on the lable – gluten, sorbitol, and fructose free!) It has a tiny bit of saccharine…I’ll live with that I guess.

    I really hope you can stay Symptom Free!!
    the steak looks good. I’m hoping you just had some left over icks in your gut, and the meat was fine.

  2. So sorry A. (not sure you want your name here?)
    How FRUSTRATING. Even ‘safe’ meat. I could SCREAM for you.
    Best of luck to you and thank you for all the support you give to US even when you are struggling.


  3. Thanks for your encouragement and support!
    mcoffeesnob: btw, I decided to no longer receive notifications from the yahoo group, but if anyone needs me, you know where to find me! 😉

  4. This sounds a bit like me. I’ve struggled with all kinds of symptoms this year, starting with proctitis, which was treated with mesalamine, after which I developed fatigue, stomach pain, neurological symptoms (pins and needles, muscle fasciculations), bloating and (later?) SIBO and inflammation (TMJ, bad skin, proteinuria) to top it off.
    I was only really tested for acute infections and sugar intolerances (fructose was positive… at 50 grams). Not for parasites.
    The first step that led to some improvement was going low carb. At that point I was still eating a variety of foods I don’t tolerate now: In the last few weeks I did a few challenges and reacted badly to cocoa, egg whites and/or nuts, cream, FODMAPs including fructose. I’m not sure about egg yolks. I eat them still. Grains and starch are out of course. I seem to get fatigued from a grated carrot, though it might have been something else. I had been eating ghee before the reaction to cream, but I don’t trust my homemade ghee anymore – going by the thought that if it has a taste, it might still contain traces of protein. I also had reactions to whey protein (bloody mucus). Probably an immune reaction, but I also considered the lactoferrin.

    Anyway I now seem to have SIBO (causing upper gastrointestinal gas) and leaky gut. But I didn’t have those at the beginning. It started with proctitis and nothing else. Doctors have been less than helpful.
    The GAPS diet was not enough, presumably because of FODMAPs. I also didn’t react well to multi-strain probiotics, which might explain the SIBO. I’ll try l. acidophilus and Ozovit next, along with a strict paleo/low FODMAP diet. Like you, I’ve had a taste of energy inbetween the challenges, and I want more.
    But I really would like to know the CAUSE of all this too. Bad gut flora and overgrowth of bad bacteria, that I suspect. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I took antibiotics or antiparasitic medicine.

    • Thanks for sharing Dean. Your story looks a lot like mine and unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for your questions. I think that a dysbiosis or gut flora imbalance probably has a lot to do, but again, it is difficult to find answers, let alone doctors that are willing to do the right investigation to get to the bottom of our problems… I am looking into trying a probiotic in the near future to try to re-balance my gut flora but am afraid because I read it can cause a lot of symptoms, at least in the beginning, for people like us… Good luck and keep in touch! 😉

    • I am glad it is helpful to you! 😉 I can handle 10-15 green beans, but have stopped eating them for now and am now having a bit of lettuce, cooked carrots and cooked peeled zucchini and tolerate them well.

  5. Chocolate: Lindt 90%. No soy lecithin.

    Green beans: I believe the tiny beans inside the pod are legumes, but are small and contain little lectin.

  6. I feel so blessed to have stumbled across this blog today as I can’t believe there is someone else out there that is following a fructose free Paleo diet! I have been doing this on my own for a few weeks now and am struggling abit with variety in my diet and I have to admit I have had my little cheats here and there as I have been feelign so deprived! 😦

    I would so love to talk to you in more details abou this (I love that you’re an RD) – I am also based in Melbourne and have sent you an e-mail so would love to hear back!

    It’s so refreshing to hear there are other people out there that have the same symptoms in the respect of knowing it’s not all in our heads! 😉


  7. Hi,

    as to your reaction to beef:

    In some cases (approx. 20%) there is a cross reactivity between dairy and beef, since both share some proteins. (especially bovine serum albumin & bovine gamma globulin)
    The longer you cook it the milder the reaction will be, but you possibly cant rule out 100% of the allergens.


  8. Hi,
    Just wondering if you are still doing FAILSAFE and Paleo together? We are going on two years of gluten/casein/soy free FAILSAFE and are thinking of trying Paleo but I know for a fact that kid kids are salicylate reactors. I’m not sure if it the diet combo can be done but it would be great to have a few more food options. Thanks!

    • Hi Casey, the combo is definitely possible. THe Paleo diet is already gluten-, casein- and soy-free, so you would only have to chose fruits, vegetables, tubers and fat that have a lower salicylate content. However, I am curious whether you have looked into the GAPS diet. The GAPS diet claim to be able to heal dietary intolerances by healing and sealing the gut. The GAPS diet include bone broth and fermented foods (probiotics) to rebalance your gut. Many people with food intolerances, such as food chemical sensitivities, may improve their tolerance significantly with the GAPS nutritional protocol. And the GAPS diet is mostly Paleo too! 😉

      • Hi again! Thanks for the suggestion, I have only briefly researched GAPS but I guess I need to give it a closer look! We started a few years back with Feingold, then cut gluten then soy then casein and FAILSAFE and the list goes on. We tried low oxalates late last year but it was a horrible failure. I was hopeful about paleo but the more I read, the more scared I get about the salicylates. Myself and my kids all have horrible food and chemical sensitivities so the GAPS diet does seem to make sense. I am also about to start the Andy Cutler chelation protocol with my son to see if it helps. Too bad there’s not one easy answer out there. Thanks for your help and good luck to you!

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