The Torture of an Elimination Diet

My physician, Allergist and Immunologist, Dr Colin Little, has put me on an Elimination Diet. It’s horrid. And what’s worse, is that in the 9.2 years that I’ve been like this (chronically sensitive to most chemicals (luckily there were a few–chlorine, plastics and pesticides that were not a problem), then after living an extremely ‘clean’ lifestyle in virtual isolation, I was left only mildly sensitive to chemicals (unluckily, there were a few–solvents and fragrances that were still a problem), I’ve met many people–via support groups, and the internet–who have are sensitive to chemicals but also have the additional problem of food sensitivities. Often, I was told by many that I was lucky I only had the chemicals to worry about. And, as usual, looking back through my retrospecterscope, I see that is blatantly true!

This Elimination Diet consists of turkey, rice, pears, peaches, 100% pear juice, Perrier mineral water, Pureau spring water, buckwheat, quinoa, popcorn, salt and olive oil, and luckily for me, all my favourite vegetables: pumpkin, sweet potato, broccoli, spinach, celery and many others (not tomatoes though). However, there is no chicken, apples, coffee or chocolate (my seemingly safe and feel-good-happy foods that I’ve practically been living on for the last few months). Not having apples in my life is a form of torture.

The pears, and more so, the pear juice, turned into an absolute disaster: the itchiness that, for the last nine months, has appeared like clockwork every three days, mainly on my scalp and a few broad areas of my body, came out in full force after eating pears (in the same way I eat apples–en masse; for breakfast, lunch and dinner). My whole body, my face, neck, inside my ears, my nose, my eyes, between my fingers and toes itched and swelled into red lumps for around twelve hours. I then noticed in the documentation that I received on my last visit, that the good doctor had placed an asterisks above the pears, meaning that if they were a problem to eliminate them from my diet immediately. This has left me with peaches as my only source of fruit; and the question also itching for an answer: what does this mean? I’ve blogged extensively about gut issues and my efforts to heal mine, and the fact that eating fruit, apples mostly, soothes my indigestion and helps ‘things’ to run smoothy. If my tummy hurts, I eat an apple and it goes away. Luckily, seemingly so, I’m fine with the peaches…

So, yes, I feel tortured. But I also feel in good company, as there are many who have trod through this tunnel of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and come out the other side, clearer, and more knowledgeable with the learnings of how to manage chemical sensitivities via their diet!

I don’t know what the itchy symptoms caused by eating the pears means, or what the intensely maddening itchy debacle caused by the pear juice, itself, meant; but I guess I’ll find out tomorrow. It will have been seven days by then, and my follow up visit is at 11 am (in Dr Little’s Fragrance Free Clinic).

This is all weird, unknown territory to me. The symptoms I get from so many different foods have been haunting me for well over a year, and have become progressively worse, sneaking up on me, taking each food away, one by one. The good thing: I have the beach house to go to where there is clean air (most of the time), but still, if I eat the wrong foods, I pay dearly. (*Pizza anyone?) But even with the hunger pangs of missing my safe foods, and the painful gut issues, I need to keep the gratefulness I feel for my new life close to me. Let that be my focus and trust that it all will get better, and blessedly, lead me out of here… And keep eating those yummy, soothing peaches!

But, my question is this: what does it all mean? And, has anyone else had this kind of symptom from pears and/or pear juice?

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder


  1. Anaphylaxing says:

    I get itchy mouth etc to many raw fruits and veg including pears, apples, plums, cherries, carrots and peas. I’m fine if they’re cooked. Some call it oral allergy syndrome. Some group it based on certain environmental allergens eg birch trees. Some people get worse in the spring. I’ve had it my whole life. When I started having anaphylaxis, I stopped all those foods prophylactically and haven’t been brave enough to try them again. Good luck with your diet! What started to get me stable was eliminated chemicals/scents and starting an organic rotation elimination type diet starting only on rice and bananas and slowly adding one thing back at a time when stable. A year later, I’m still slowly adding things back in.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Wow, that’s interesting. I just Googled this oral allergy syndrome and I’ve found, that yes, fruit can do this. You’d think fruit and veggies would be the best thing for people like us? But no, it’s not that easy. It’s terrible that you have anaphylactic reactions, and i feel so lucky that this has never happened to me. It must be really difficult for you?! I saw my doctor today, and he said my problem is immunological. The plan: I now have to try different foods every day or two; but when I try them I need to have a large (two or three serves, or pieces) enough amount to see if I have a reaction. Coffee is first on the list, in fact, he said if it’s percolated or put through a machine, then I can have it (just not instant coffee because of the process of freeze drying it could have chemicals in it). Bananas and wheat and brewers yeast are next too (but if I react to the wheat then I’m not to bother with the yeast). I have three weeks of different foods to try while staying on the foods I’m okay with so far. Can you have chocolate at all? If I can have chocolate or even raw cocao in my life, I can be happy, not matter what I have to eat! (that and the coffee 😉 Is an organic rotation diet different form an ordinary rotation diet? Or is just that all the foods are organic? I’m mostly organic anyway but your journey is interesting, to say the least, so thank you for sharing.

  2. Hi Michellina, i’m wondering whether the pears had ‘spray’ of some type on them, they have skins which absorb, just like us, maybe they came from a batch where they’d be chemically sprayed. I also love apples, but have taken to peeling any I purchase now, as the supermarket “crud” gets all over the fruits.
    Pears contain quite a few natural sugars, don’t they. I would definately be suspicious about sprays getting on produce. I buy organic, and grow as much as I can with limited water supply of late. Hope all goes well at Dr L’s

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Hi Lindy, the pears themselves were organic. (I never have any fruit and vegetables from the supermarket because if/or when I go in there, my hair and clothes are covered in that ‘supermarket cleaning isle’ smell, and when I remove my mask it gets in my airways and makes my sinuses play up. And if it does that to me… Oh, and even a loaf of bread or a packet of GF pasta has the residue in it. (I can’t believe people eat it, and don’t realise??!)) But the pear juice would have had skins in it, and it was the Goulburn Valley brand, recommended by Dr L, and when I told him about it, he wasn’t adamant about it being salicylates, either, so maybe it is the sprays or something? Thanks for the wish of luck :) Today, along with the ‘diet review’ I was tested for chlorine, which was horridly positive with symptoms to match, yet inspiringly enlightening for what action I need to take next. This sure is a different path we are force to take in life, compared to most people. You are so lucky you can grow food! That is one of my wishes for my future.

      It bothers me that a lot of the greengrocers are disappearing and the supermarkets are taking over. People need to support the ones that are left! Oh, I have some organic spaghetti squash coming from a farm as soon as it’s ready. I ordered 15!

      Thanks for the tidbit about peeling, as i can’t always buy organic (I’m about 80/20 — 80 being organic) and I’ve only been washing it. :)

  3. At one point in time the only fruit I had was raspberries. I never got hives but got itchiness in the mouth, ears and throat along with digestive issues and throat swelling.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Now that’s enough to make a person adore raspberries. Hives? That’s interesting! My itchiness was everywhere, even between my fingers, and every where else. I’m over the shock of having ‘digestive issues’ and ready to take action to deal with–even if that means going without many foods.

  4. I like to follow Sally Fallon and her book Nourishing Traditions, it gets everything back to its basics. I haven’t ever had that issue with Pears. I do have issue with green peppers – raw – but only green peppers and the only thing they do to me – is make my nose itch.

    Elimination diets are a necessary evil. Good luck!

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      I just Goggled Nourishing Traditions, just the cover has me adding to my book list. (Ha, never judge a book by it’s cover, unless it was recommended by a friend, of course.) And, it looks a tad Paleo? Animal fats, butter, saturated fats, I’m into that. Before my attempt at the diet, I was boiling one whole organic chicken and making a basic soup out of water and chicken, keeping the fat in it. I swear it soothed my stomach; then I found I could put it into plain homemade pumpkin soup. It was so yummy, and my freezer is full of it. I have about two weeks until I can re-introduce chicken, and I can’t wait. I’ll post my recipe under the paleo tab this week. I think you may like it :)

  5. Tina Yoxtheimer says:

    Hello Michellina!

    I think his first name is/was James Pickering, the Author of Food Combining: I first learned about food combining even before I learned about combining plants and herbs in the garden for success with growth and maturity. As with birds and other animals, food combining is established in nature…a bird in the wild will eat fruit first in the morning and then move onto seeds. Food combining in humans, as classified by Mr. Pickering some several decades ago is charted as follows: #1 EAT MELON ALONE OR LEAVE THEM ALONE! (FRUIT IS NATURE’S ONLY NATURAL DETOXIFIER and must be eaten/drank with no other protein or carbohydrate. The reason why, is becasue fruit, ESP. MELONS digests in our bodies GI Tract faster than any other food. If proteins (cheese, dairy, nuts, meat) are eaten WITH RAW FRIUT the fruit will digest and FERMENT in your GI Tract before the ham sandwich and potatoe salad have even begun to digest around the likes of each other! Get it? Fruit, especially acid fruits, will push a gas line through you; especially when mixed with cheese and dairy…the “puss” foods. Fruit wants to detoxify, but we get in it’s way. Pickering says: SUB-ACID FRUITS – apples, pears, plums, apricots, grapes, cherries and thge like CAN BE COMBINED with ACID FRUITS – strawberry, citrus, pineapple, kiwi, star fruit, pomogranite and the like. SWEET FRUITS – bananas, dried fruits, dates, figs and the like, CAN BE COMBINED with SUB-ACID FRUITS. I mentioned MELONS first because a slice of watermelon going into a stomach already full of fresh greens salad with a sprinkle of nuts and hummus bits, will ferment the entire meal as it runs through your body trying extrememy hard to sort and send nutrients (now fermented and exploding) to your body’s destinations…and usually ends up a FART IN THE DARK! (Or of you have a severly sensitive system, like MCS, it will exaserbate all symptoms…depending on each persons constitution and diet.)

    Combining PROTEINS and CARBOHYDRATES: Pickering puts it simply like this: “Combine proteins with any raw/cooked vegetable or salad greens. Combine carbohydrates with any raw/cooked vevetable or greens. COMBINING BEANS & RICE CREATES A PERFECT PROTEIN AND IS THE ONLY TIME TO COMBINE PROTEINS AND CARBOHYDRATES.” SO IT’S OK TO EAT BEANS & RICE …and flatus shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve kept fruit out of the meal.

    In addition, Pickering establishes that FRUIT of any kind (*EXCEPT MELONS!) can be eaten/drank with ANY RAW VEGETABLE, CARBOHYDRATE or PROTEIN. Pickering also encouraged people to soak oatmea; rather than cook it, to avoid the gluten release…and he gave us a GREAT cold cereal recipe using soaked oats…so easy!…so good!

    I’ve known about food combining since 1977. I still use this method of eating when I am trying to heal up from a life lived with too many late nighyt pizzas, or a cold, or even just when my ragging anger gets my system too acidic. I’m no expert on Food Combining, and what I’ve shared comes from memory….but I know I’ve told you correctly. If anyone can add or edit me here, please do! Maybe combining may be worth a try; especially if it means having any kind of success with food tolerance. And one more thing…Pickering says, “only eat organic.” I AGREE!!! :)

    Also, I have been wondering (FOR YEARS!) if anyone else out there with Chemical Sensitivity has no aversion to CHLORINE? And *you*, Michellina, have no problem with it, either! Hmm, and neither do I. And it’s the only thing – household bleach with no fragrance – that doesn’t cause me to run for my life! Why, oh, why, is that, I wonder? This could be a crutial question ready to offer up some real insight. It’s got my curiosity up.

    Thank You! Michellina, and friends here. I’m on Twitter and tweet out your link. I’m not great with computer, but learning, so if there’s is a better way to spread the word about your site, please email?

    Hey! Yesterday was the first day of spring! Happy 2nd Day Of Spring!!! Everyone!!!

    P.S. Do you have a toxicologist? A gal outta have her at least one! :) Mine is Dr. Hildygard Staninger in LA CA USA. She wrote the book, author of OSHA industrial toxicity hazzards, etc. check out her site…she does phone consults and is tops!

    • I have heard of this but it has been a long time ago. I am interested in reading the book. I saw a toxicologist, Dr. Nachman Brautbar, of Erin Brockavich fame as my workers’ compensation doctor.

      I will check and see if the book is still available. Thank you for sharing and refreshing my memory.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Hi Tina, thank you for your informative reply. I’m now geared towards keeping up the organic foods, expensive as it is! The replies I’ve had from my readers are inspiring to say the least. I was considering buying only my greens organic, and my fruits and avocados from the greengrocers (never, ever, the supermarket) but tonight’s insight has caused a shift in my consciousness: thanks everyone ♥♥♥

      Mmm… the chlorine. It was one of the ‘one’ chemicals that I thought wasn’t a problem, yet when I lived on an organic farm, I recovered enough to be able to socialise, shop and partake in community activities without wearing a damn suffocating mask over my face and my ‘expresivness’, and that was amazing; the thing is, Tina, that farm had no chlorinated water, and that was the only thing that I was doing differently, apart from breathing clean mountain air, as opposed to breathing clean ocean air before I moved to the farm. And, the water came up out of the ground from the Mount Macedon springs, only to then run through two filters at the pump, and then another when it came through the taps at the house. I never really thought about this until in retrospect, when it occurred to me that perhaps, that was the pathway to my previous miraculous recovery?! As today’s test was positive, which was freaky, because if I drink a glass of tap water, I don’t have any noticeable symptoms. Now, I have to embrace the necessity of trying to avoid it. Perhaps chlorine is an innocuous toxin that’s difficult to pick up as the cause of chemical based symptoms, or, maybe, it’s something that doesn’t cause problems until a person has been like this for a long time (9.2 years for me), and suffered way too many exposures wrecking havoc on the immune system, or over toxifying the organs of our bodies? Which ever of those theories is true, it’s still something we have to look out for. I’ve been drinking Pureau Pure Water since I became chronically chemically sensitive, three years ago; however, I shower and bathe in chlorinated water. And there aint at thing I can do about it, apart from put filters on my taps, which I’m yet to do, because as i said in this last post, it was one of the chemicals (besides plastic, and possibly pesticides) that didn’t cause symptoms… Or so it seemed! Be careful, my dear!

      I will email you, thank you for the contact, and the tweet. (I love twitter, not Facebook so much, but there are some great writer/author friends on there, and some MCS groups to which I adore—when I have the time. Twitter is just so fleetingly gratifying for human contact and informative links on subjects that interest me. I’m at Uni, and i think I’m heading in the direction of non-fiction because I see all these people like me, and i want the world to know so that they can help us! however, I have my head in the clouds with poetry and fiction, which I keep more private because it’s my heart and soul, you know?

      During the first five years of this, a good friend, who ran an organic shop at an organic farm’s gate, got me onto an eating plan from the Fit for Life book by Marylin and Harvey Diamond (you can read most of it here for free on Scribd, but I have the book at home. At that time I was food combining, and I could eat toast (spelt bread) and tomatoes and anything really, so I could follow it to the letter. However, these days, having fruit for breakfast, and often, until lunch or even dinner, has stayed with me. It just feels better on my system. Your reply, and information on this subject has just reinforced the practice. Thank you, Tina. Can you recommend any books on combining plants and foods in the garden, as this has piked my interest, as it’s kind of a clue as to ‘why’ the food combing could be the answer. I Googled pickering and food combining and so far, I can’t find any books on the subject; do you have any links that show more on Pickerings ideas? Perhaps that’s where the authors of Fit for life got their information and research from… Anyway, fruit has been my savour in this debacle, and that was why the pear reaction was such a scary surprise, totally unexpected. When my doctor removed my apples from my diet, I nearly cried, because when I’m sick with digestive issues, if I eat only organic apples (any type) I can get by without symptoms. I’ve only got another week before I can reintroduce them, but for now, I’ve got peaches only, which is better than nothing!

      A Toxicologist? Is this like a Doctor of Environmental Medicine? Like, I think you have Dr William Rae over there? I have one of those, he swears the chemical sensitivities is ‘a toxicological issue’; and, I also have an Immunologist/allergist, he swears it’s an ‘immunological issue’; me, I just do as they say because I’d do anything to fix this problem. Just when I think it can’t get any worse, the bloody thing creeps up on me, and shoves something else at me. If a Toxicologist is different, please let me know, and I’ll google my skinny but off and find one of those over here in Melbourne, Australia… I’ll look up your doctor, even though, you are a million miles away, but just a keystroke or two on my computer from me 😉 Such a lovely reply, thank you for your input and good luck! And please, do come back an impart your wisdom and life experience anytime.
      Michellina x

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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