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How Healing From Food Sensitivities Changed My Life

Back in January when I got screened for food sensitivities and started this journey, I was nervous about having to give up some of my favorite foods.

Even though I use this food sensitivity test and protocol with my clients (especially those struggling with digestive troubles), I resisted going through with it because I knew what a commitment it would be. It meant cooking almost all of my own food (seriously no eating out for at least 2 weeks!), tracking any symptoms carefully, and being 100% on board with staying the course.

However, witnessing so many client success stories firsthand was a primary motivator and I wanted to see what would happen to my own health if I changed my diet. (Practice what I preach, right?)

I knew it was in my best interest move forward even if it meant leaving behind certain foods (sorry, almonds) and I knew the test wouldn’t lead me astray (MRT has the highest accuracy of any food sensitivity test available at an astounding 94%.  When you implement the customized LEAP elimination diet, symptoms improve by 60-70% on average in just the first month.)

Unlike traditional elimination diets where you follow a standardized protocol and randomly eliminate foods for a month and hope for the best, MRT results guide a custom elimination diet that is made just for you. Plus, the focus is on what you are eating, not what you’re avoiding.  In as little as 7 days, you start adding in new foods, so it cuts down on the amount of time you’re stuck eating the same foods over and over again (photo proof I’ve been eating yummy food here). I’ve never had two clients follow the exact same elimination diet and frankly, knowing what I know now, it wouldn’t be ethical to recommend them.

Every time people hear about what I’m doing, I get a lot of questions.

Most of the time they are wondering if it was worth it. Did I notice a difference?

So, I figured it was time to share more of my experience with all of you. I simply can’t keep up with the private emails and Facebook messages (I love hearing from you, I just can’t always respond quickly!).

Here’s how healing from food sensitivities changed my life:


I’ve always had rosy cheeks, so much so that people would think I was blushing even if I wasn’t. (I actually don’t even keep blush in my makeup bag, because I honestly never need it.) For probably the first time in my life, my cheeks are almost the same color as the rest of my face. That may sound like a minor thing, but that means I don’t feel self conscious leaving the house without makeup. (Genetically though, I will always turn into a tomato if I get overheated.) I have very sensitive skin and used to get rashes or eczema at least once a month, but this has been a non-issue since I changed my diet. I also haven’t had any breakouts and my skin is smoother.  Luckily, I now know to avoid salicylic acid and benzoic acid when buying skin care products, so I can keep my skin looking great.


I thought I was pretty in-tune with my digestion, but going through the LEAP elimination diet was a big eye opener for me. In the first week, I was eating from a limited list of foods (25 to be exact), so if my tummy felt funny, I was able to figure out which food was the culprit very quickly. I had never identified myself as someone with bad digestion, but now more than a month into this I realize I suffered from GI discomfort more often than I thought. In the last 5 weeks, I have had only 2 stomach aches and been bloated once. Every time, I could pinpoint the source. Now I know what to expect when I eat certain foods (and that I need to be especially careful with certain fruit, vegetables, spices, and grains).


This is now a non-issue, but only after I put on my Detective Lily cap and figured out the key nutrient missing from my diet!


I have much clearer thinking, especially in the morning. I practically leaped out of bed on Day 2 (even without my usual cup of black tea) and I continue to wake up with more energy than before.  I also just feel more positive in general. We know that the gut acts like a second brain, called the enteric nervous system, and that more than 95% of the happy neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in our intestines. It stands to reason that happy intestines mean a happier you. Regardless of the “why”, I’d like to keep the happy juice flowing!


My recovery time from exercise is incredibly fast and my hip/sacrum injury (from a rock climbing fall almost 2 years ago) hasn’t bothered me at all. This was a huge surprise for me. It’s normal for my food sensitivity clients who complain of achy and stiff joints to find relief, but I wasn’t expecting my old injury to feel any different. In case you’re wondering how food could be related to joints, inflammatory mediators released in response to consuming a reactive food can be transported in the bloodstream and accumulate in joints, causing pain, stiffness, swelling, and even symptoms of arthritis. When you remove the offending foods, inflammation goes down systemically, even in places like joints.


Those recurring canker sores I mentioned have not returned. I used to get those frequently, so now that I know what to avoid, I hope it stays that way.

So overall, I’m feeling great!

You might be surprised to read all the changes I noticed that go beyond digestion, but because inflammation triggered by food sensitivities affects the whole body, my response is quite normal.

The hard part is over and it’s my chance to test the waters. I’m continuing to add in more foods day by day while keeping track of my symptoms. I’ve eaten at a few restaurants (hooray for not having to do the dishes!), and I’m just careful about what I order. Knowing which foods are reactive for me will forever change the way I eat and I’m so glad I followed through.

If you suspect food is making you sick, you can find out more about food sensitivity testing here.

I owe a lot to YOU!

I’ve felt more supported by the Pilates Nutritionist Community than ever before, so thank you for being a part of my journey. As I’ve said before, your comments, emails, and Facebook posts were a big part of my success. Nothing like a little public accountability to keep you on track!

That being said, moving forward I’d like to re-focus my blog articles on you, not me! I have so much to share beyond food sensitivities, including some really good guest posts from other health bloggers.

Plus, (most exciting of all) I have some exciting developments on the website front!

If there’s a nutrition topic you’d like me to cover in a post, leave me a comment below. Or, if you’d just like to give me an electronic high-five for sticking with it, you can do that too!

Until next week,





PS – If you’re struggling with digestive issues, you’ll want to grab a free copy of my ebook “30 Days to a Happy Tummy” below. 🙂

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


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  1. Lily, so happy for you. Seems like it was just yesterday that you began all this, although I’m sure it seems much longer to you. Kudos to you for sticking it out and making such great changes. What an example! I love that you practice what you preach and are so matter of fact about it all. Thanks for sharing it all.

    • Thanks for your support, Carol! Sharing my journey was one of the best decisions that I made. It certainly makes it easier when I have a community of people like you to cheer me on!

  2. Elimination diets are so good if there is really something toxic in your diet! I’ve eliminated soda, white carbs and added sugars–which everyone else should do!

    • I agree, however the majority of my clients have already eliminated the obvious stuff and are still suffering. That’s when a customized elimination diet based on the results of food sensitivity testing is helpful.

      (Even still, you want to be sure your elimination diet is well-planned, as sometimes they can make the original symptoms worse! Here are the top 10 elimination diet mistakes I see in practice.)

  3. Hey,

    Two quick questions. Why is that you now avoid salicylic acid in your face care products?

    Secondly, the foods that you were told that you were intolerant to, have you tried reintroducing them to see if your gut has healed enough for you to tolerate them? Or have you just permanently omitted them from your diet?


    • Hi Sarah, You absorb chemicals through your skin, so if you’re salicylate sensitive, you want to avoid both ingested and topical sources.

      Yep, I reintroduced virtually all of them over the past few years and I can clearly see which ones I still can’t have in large amounts (dose tolerance), ones I need to avoid entirely, and others that I have no issue with since healing my gut.

  4. I have completed the MRT blood tests and have my results. Most items I need to avoid are easy, lemons, wheat and so on. However how do you know about things like sour cream? I can have cows milk but should not have yogurt and whey. I also had a huge reaction to black pepper. Other than cayenne pepper, what can I use as a substitute for pepper as it is used in almost everything

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