The Egg-Free Saga

Some of you may know from the ongoing saga on Facebook and Twitter that after going on the WTF Plan, Stacy found that she was having a strong digestive reaction daily after breakfast (which included eggs) that she hadn’t noticed before.

I made her a breakfast of stirfried veggies with bacon (no eggs) and amazingly, no reaction. So, as you do with elimination diets, she decided she would be giving up eggs for the remainder of the plan in order to find what her best diet might be.

Remember, as Diane Sanfilippo says in Practical Paleo (review forthcoming!), eggs have anti-nutrients, too!

As the reproductive force of the chicken (or other animal laying them), eggs contain built-in defense mechanisms that help them to resist predation beyond simply their thin, easily cracked shells… While most humans are well adapted to eating eggs without issue, some people are sensitive to them for this reason.

Image credit: The Parts of the Egg

So it makes sense to try to track down where your bad food reactions are coming from when you notice a suspect, and eggs are reactive in many people! In fact, it’s so common that it is part of the paleo auto-immune protocol that is advocated by many superstars, Robb Wolf included. Diane’s auto-immune meal plan in Practical Paleo is completely egg-free.

For those keeping score, Stacy is currently not eating the following:

  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Nightshades (including tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant and peppers)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Eggs
  • Sugar of all kind except for some nonreactive berries (self imposed sugar detox)

Additionally, she’s adding to her plan the following:

  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend
  • Daily fermented foods (kombucha and sauerkraut)
  • Sleeping when she’s tired, no later than 11pm at night
  • Supplements to support digestive function
  • Adding in dense carbs (butternut squash and sweet potato) to support intestinal healing (per Practical Paleo instruction)
  • Bone broth

“If I had this affliction, I would probably buy myself a gun..” – Facebook follower

You might say, and many have in not the nicest of ways, that this is a super harsh list of restrictions. You’d be right! But first of all, this is a temporary experiment and some of these might be added back (we do not suspect that she will react harshly when we add the nightshades back in, for example).

Second, this is nothing compared to real dietary hardships that others have. Do you remember when the hospital pricked your baby’s heel and administered a “PKU” test? They told you it was a super rare disease and not to worry about it. Well, they were testing for Phenylketonuria, which is an inability to process protein. If you have Phenylketonuria, you are doomed to a life of a low protein diet from birth. That means, for starters, no breast milk. Then, as you grow up? No ribs, no steak, no bacon. The HORROR! If the face of that kind of hardship, giving up eggs for two weeks isn’t that hard!

We think that Stacy may eventually be able to add eggs back. She doesn’t remember having issues before we bought eggs from an unfamiliar farm. They claimed to be pastured, but may have had soy or wheat in their supplemental feed. Stacy, as a self-diagnosed Celiac (will discuss in the Practical Paleo review), has a strong reaction to eggs from chicken not completely pastured.

But really, finding a proper diet for yourself will likely mean not getting to eat everything. Is that so bad? Is health worth giving up some pleasures? There are many things, many hardships on this planet that are devastating. Eggs avoidance doesn’t make the list. So the Pitchfork Inquisition can come to an end, no need to freak out – Stacy’s just figuring out what to eat in order to feel her best. We promise she’ll survive 2 weeks eating lots of meat & veggies.

That said, yes it’s been stressful. For everyone. I’m having the dickens of a time figuring out what to cook, although Practical Paleo has been a huge help! On top of all the things Stacy does, the job, the family, the site, our upcoming move, she has to worry about everything she eats and cross-reference her avoidance list against everything. The other morning we were unable to eat breakfast at home due to time constraints. Stacy had a bit of a mental breakdown on the road from the hunger and the stress. Everything had eggs, butter, soy, nuts or fruit.But we’re making it through. We made more homemade beef jerky and life goes on.

Life is a series of discoveries. And you can’t discover unless you’re willing to undergo some pain and sacrifice along side the good.

So how about the good? Stacy is feeling BETTER. She’s digesting, sleeping soundly, her facial stress acne is clearing up and she’s lost 8.2lbs in 9 days. If I had to guess, I’d say she’s on to something.

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  • We’ve found one farm so far with soy-free fed chickens whose eggs my son can handle and he’s on such a restrictive version of grain-free diet that I can totally relate to what you’re going through.  Hope you find healing soon!

  • Guest

    Curious as to whether you were using soy-free eggs or regular eggs when she was having the reaction. We raise our own chickens and we were reacting to their eggs and meat prior to switching them to a soy-free feed.  Ohio State did a pretty conclusive study showing that chickens fed soy-containing feed have eggs and meat that contain soy proteins.  When the chickens were given soy-free feed, their eggs and meat were cleared within a couple of weeks from the soy proteins.

    So, I am curious as to whether – for Stacy – it is the ‘anti-nutrients’ she is reacting to, or rather what proteins have been laid down in those eggs from the diet of the chickens.

  • Consider giving up those ferments during an elimination phase. Kombucha benefits are dubious, don’t discount the “anti-nutrients’ in fermented crucifiers as well (histamines, goitrogens and more!) And hey, I’m all about the ferments, but there’s nothing sacred.

    • I mention in my WTF plan that we’ll do FODMAP removal (goitrogens) if I don’t feel better. So far, short-term elimination and reintroduction produced no negative affect.

      • Sorry to drive this down a rat hole- but, I maintain that kombucha is often not an optimal beverage. Chris Kresser said in his experience it’s the least beneficial ferment (or something to that effect). If you’re gonna continue brewing/drinking kombucha at least get a hydrometer, or a brix meter (refractometer) and measure just how much sugar you’re drinking.

        • Seriously?
          I’ll continue my plan that’s working, thanks.

          • OK then. Sorry for offering practical wisdom from a highly respected clinician, and a wee bit of self science fun from me. I’ll take my leave of this site now.

          • Practical wisdom isn’t telling someone what to do “If you’re gonna continue brewing/drinking kombucha at least get a hydrometer, or a brix meter (refractometer)”

            I have to maintain this site as a space I’m happy to come to or else it will ruin me with stress. I don’t take kindly being told what to do – especially when I’ve said I’m on a major sugar detox so I’m clearly already aware of sugar. Chris’ concerns, as I understand them, are from overly sugary fruity kombucha drinks (which we have written about on this very site via Diana from Radiance Nutrition guidance) and people not getting probiotics from any other healthful sources. None of this applies to me.

          • You don’t take kindly being told what to do? You’re neurotic! Was a suggestion, it’s a bit of easy science, is all. There’s hidden sugar in kombucha, home brew kombuchas often have 50% of the sugar remaining. Screw it. Feel free to delete my evil demands (like purchase a $6 hydrometer) if it gives you peace of mind. Sorry I bothered your space. 

          • Bryan, I’m defensive about comments on the blog – especially related to judgement in our doing things “right” or “wrong.” For me, I end up feeling like your “suggestions” for refinement end up
            feeling like judgement and being told I’m doing something wrong.

            As I see it, we’re a family sharing our story, we’re not Chris or Robb or Diane giving new information or telling people how they should live and eat. FWIW, the 21 Day Sugar Detox and many experts in the field recommend kombucha – so if you take issue with that I suggest talking to those creating the programs directly.

            I overreacted, and for that I apologize. It was an outlash at the frustration I’ve had for a long time – dating back to last year when Matt’s time was wasted on a lost podcast and many comments since whose tone I was not fond of.

            I think it’s a good idea to not follow a blog that frustrates you, I know that’s what I do. So hopefully this issue is resolved with your decision to no longer follow this blog. That said, raging out on Twitter and name calling isn’t going to win anyone over.

          • Apology accepted. I’m sorry for wasting Matt’s time. I invited him back on Twitter via both of your twitter accounts. He wasn’t the only lost interview, fortunately the other interviewee didn’t think negatively of me for a technical issue. 
            So we’re agreed to part ways. Peace to you and yours. 

          • Polkadotmommy

             I like kombucha. . . so do my kids.  We keep our own mushroom in the fridge for ready use. 🙂 

            Keep up the good work Stacy!

  • Guest

    Ha!  I just re-read and see that she has had problems in the past from chicken products that are not completely pastured, but has not historically had issues with poultry products that ARE pastured.  That is what I thought.  Good luck to all of you as you  discover the path of health that works best for your bodies.

  • N19j18

    So, so glad she’s feeling better.  That’s all that truly matters.  Way to go!

  • Marcus

    Hey, we have recently gone on the autoimmune protocol as my wife has MS and I have psoriasis which I recently discovered also has autoimmune underpinnings. The interesting thing is that as you take things out, reintroducing them lets you know if you have a problem in no uncertain (rushing to the toilet) way so it’s certainly a useful process. Additionally, we went paleo, then we discovered paleo baking, so it’s all to easy to eat paleo foods but still skew the diet in the wrong direction with nut flours and the like. 

    So, we are looking at our autoimmune period as a Paleo Reboot – get the bad stuff out and truly personalise the diet for ourselves. After all, we want nothing more than the best possible health! 

    Ultimately, like everything in life, this is just a matter of perspective – period of intense restriction OR a period of dietary exploration to jazz up your diet. To help us on our way I created a list of all of the foods that we can eat and posted it here: http://www.primod.co.uk/food/shopping-for-the-paleo-autoimmune-protocol/

    After all, what’s the problem with bacon and mushrooms or smoked salmon and mushrooms for breakfast? 

  • Kristin

    aah stacy, you are having the fun egg reaction now! the same thing happened to me – the longer i was paleo and the more i healed, the more i started reacting to eggs. at first i would just react to scrambled/fried eggs but could eat omelets and frittata, but now i can’t do anything but egg yolk mayo or eggs in baked goods (e.g., paleo muffins).  i have found that i react to any eggs, soy free or not. i think it is entirely the lysozyme protein for me, not the diet of the chicken. for example, i don’t react at all to soy if i happen to eat it, so i don’t think the soy in the chicken egg is an issue for me. my grandma (who is not paleo) has the same sensitivity, so apparently it happens. both of us test negatively (blood and skin tests) to egg allergy. good luck w/ your healing and keep up the great work!

  • Removal of eggs, niteshades and some other things are part of the paleo protocal for auto-immune diseases and similar disorders. See no contraversy with their removal.

  • BTE mom

    Good luck Stacy. I’ve done several 2 week experiments myself and strongly believe in them. I can’t eat eggs daily either since going Paleo. I struggle with breakfast but bacon stir fry sounds great! 

  • Peg C

    I hardly ever eat eggs. Not because they bother me, but because I have a breakfast burger just about every day! Yum! I pre-cook a bunch of hamburger patties on the weekend, then reheat one in the morning with bacon and other good stuff–sometimes avocado, sometimes mayo & homemade (sugar free) barbecue sauce…so delicious!

    • Caro

      I love breakfast burgers but I don’t pre-cook because I hate microwaving.

  • Polkadotmommy

    Rock on Stacy!  I wish we could 100% pasture our chickens. . . but our yard isn’t big enough. 🙁  I can find soy free feed but not wheat free feed. . . and we are a household of celiacs. . . that said, I can’t say we react to eggs. . . they are a main staple in our diet.  Maybe I need to experiment though because it’s obvious my middle celiac daughter is reacting to something in her diet. 

    I was just thinking how bored I am of eating eggs. . .but the thought of trying to not eat them for a couple weeks is distressing. . . Guess it’s time to suck it up.

    • jcblank

      We keep our own chickens and can’t fully pasture them, either.  So, we mix a whole grain feed that is gluten-free, corn-free, and soy-free.  We get comments from others that they can tolerate our eggs, but not others.  So the feed definitely matters.  And, by the way, if your daughter handles the feed, she could be reacting to that.  That’s actually the reason that we’ve made our feed gf and cf.  My son and I react to just touching the stuff.  

      • stephanie babin

         Love to hear what your mix is.  We are experimenting with the same thing.

        • Jcblank

          I’ve written up a fairly long description of how we feed our chickens, for a chicken group that I’m a member of.  I don’t feel like it’s fair to use up so much space in the comments here.  I could email it to you, though, if you give me your email address.  Or, you could join the Yahoo group Organic Chickens:  
          http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/OrganicChickens/  I’ve shared my feeding practices there.  You can do a search for Christie’s Chicken Feed Recipe, and you’ll find it. 

          • stephanie babin

             Yes, very considerate of you!  Just sent the joining request and I will look into it. Thanks so much!

          • Jcblank

            Good!  Hopefully you’ll find the group helpful (I know I have).  If you have any questions about what I’ve written about the feeding, just ask.

  • Katherinekelley

    People criticize out of fear of failure if they have to do the same.  Do what you need to do for your health and family.

  • cocobean

    So great to read this post!  I have recently started having a very bad reaction to eggs.  I suspected it for awhile but refused to listen to my body.  I didn’t have any eggs for about a week and then tried them out and sure enough not good!  I’m currently 20 weeks pregnant and have been angry about having to cut eggs out of my diet.  Food is already very difficult while pregnant and not being able to have eggs makes it so much harder!  I have not been eating nearly as healthy/paleo of a diet as I normally do, but right now I’m just settling for eating something that doesn’t make me sick!  I’m definetly going to get a copy of Practical Paleo and look forward to hearing about Stacey’s journey with food!

  • jcblank

    I really don’t know why people get so emotional about what OTHER people eat or don’t eat.  I get that all the time from people, and it just doesn’t make sense to me.  I’m not telling THEM to eat the way we do…

    LOL  I was going to ask about the diet of the chickens, but then you covered that.  We keep our own chickens, and we feed them gluten-free, corn-free, and soy-free.  We have to have our own whole-grain mix made for us (per my own recipe, developed after a lot of reading and research).  There isn’t a commercial feed that meets those specifications.  We do this because my son and I can’t even come into contact with gluten or corn.  Now that we’ve seen how healthy it keeps our chickens, we’re even more sold on it.  Others have told us that they can tolerate our eggs but not other eggs.  

    I am in total agreement about a diet/lifestyle change being well worth it to have good health.  Anyone who says otherwise either doesn’t have enough motivation (doesn’t have health issues) or are too afraid to make the changes themselves.  I have MS, and I know for certain that I would be in a wheelchair if I hadn’t made the changes I’ve made.  I am hoping for even better health than I have now, but it’s a long road, and I have to remind myself of how far I’ve come.  

    If you don’t find what you’re looking for doing this, you may want to look at Dr. Terry Wahls’ diet (paleo, with emphasis on certain foods).  She doesn’t eat eggs, because she doesn’t do well with them, but says that people who do OK with them should go ahead, and she suggests high-quality eggs for them.  She also says people shouldn’t eat nightshades, but with the same suggestions (and she does eat them).  Anyway, she’s a very inspiring woman (has MS, was in a wheelchair long-term, but has improved her health dramatically through diet and lifestyle).  Personally, I’m doing a combo of her recommendations along with the GAPS diet (to heal the gut).  For that matter, the GAPS is also a good thing to look at.  It can be done while staying paleo, but isn’t quite paleo.  It has improved my son’s gut so much that he’s eating foods that he couldn’t eat before (eggs, strawberries, cherries…).  It’s been really helpful.  

    Good luck in your journey, Stacy!

  • Go Stacy, go! Her temporary restricted diet is nearly identical to my daily diet, which I have to stick to or suffer from flare ups of my plethora of autoimmune and leaky gut issues. Way to go, it’s worth it to pursue life-long health and the ultimate goal for most of us: simply to feel well and make it through each day feeling strong, having energy and experiencing joy!

    I hope the trial period brings you continued success 🙂

  • Jill

    Go Stacy!  I’m on a very similar program–but no vinegar as well.  I’ve noticed that people think special diets are contagious.  If I’m on one and able to maintain it, I must be seconds away from grabbing random strangers and forcing them to eat what I eat.  I stocked up on organic chicken organic sausage from Applegate farms for breakfast–no sugar–plus leftover veggies from dinner.  I can throw it in a tupperware and eat at stop lights on the school run if I have to.  Hang tough!

  • Sarah

    I have been mostly egg-free since I discovered my 5 month-old son was having problems with them in breastmilk.  Lately he is doing ok if I eat them (hopefully he is outgrowing it!), but for a while there it sure made it hard to find things to eat for breakfast.  I had many mornings where I ate a few strips of bacon.  We keep our own chickens so I know the eggs are high quality, and I would love to go back to eating them again.  Good luck with your elimination journey – I find so much inspiration here!

  • Carolyn Fairman

    I love people using the scientific method!  I used to have breakfast and go running.  I would run home really fast because I had to deal with GI issues.  Every time.  Well, almost.  Every time I had cereal with milk but not when I had oatmeal.  So, turns out I’m only slightly lactose tolerant.  Problem solved (and I still eat oats before I go running because it doesn’t bother me and I like it).  Sorry to hear eggs might be a problem — hopefully healing your gut is what happens and someday in the future once things settle down you can add them in.  Or not, whatever works for you.

  • Lily

    I know everyone hates to get suggestions about what they “should do” … but I feel like awareness is really low for eating based on blood type and genetics. Dr. D’adamo is a well-known naturopathic physician who introduced the blood type diet, and now the genotype diet, which is more individual. I have been amazed at the difference in how I feel following these, and it’s proven to me that there is no “one type fits all” diet out there, we are each individual with unique bodies. Just something you might want to look into!

  • Swift4jesus

    We have gone through the same types of things…lived on mainly meat and veggies and are better off because of it!! You guys can do it!!!

  • I have the same problem! It’s not like an egg allergy, but I get a lot of stomach pain after I eat them. I’ve eaten eggs my entire life and this just struck me at age 35! WHY? I’ve heard that if you stop eating something for a while you can develop an intolerance (which sounds absurd to me, but I don’t know). I DID stop eating eggs while I was pregnant and after the kids were born I tried to eat eggs again and surprise! Intolerant!

    I refuse to give up. I love eggs. I’ve experimented a LOT, and found that if I cook the wits out of the eggs I CAN eat them. For instance, I can eat hard boiled but not scrambled or omelet (apparently it’s a cooking temperature thing). If I make a quiche (baked in the oven at high temps) I’m fine, but if I eat an “over easy” egg I’m in bed half the day clutching my tummy. Someday I hope to eat a sunny-side up again, but I have more research to do.

  • Great Post.  I have an egg sensitivity too.  I would like to follow this similar diet to see if it can help my digestive function!

  • Caro

    Sometimes I just think about eating rice and only rice everyday (or maybe nothing at all) as some people are forced to.  Helps me stop bitching about sugar.

    Also, I think I have a lot more experimenting to do on myself…

  • Caro

    This is also slightly funny to me because over the years (since birth, haha) I’ve become less and less interested in eating eggs.  The smell and taste aren’t appealing anymore.  Except if it’s quiche.  I just got on board the quiche ship a couple years ago and it’s by far my favorite way to eat eggs.  

  • Janbostic

    I’m not on the full on protocol but I’m avoiding eggs, nuts, and seeds. The sad thing is we have pastured chickens that are supplemented with a non-gmo, soy free feed so they are excellent eggs and I miss out. But it has been so helpful. I started making my own sausage for breakfast. We are fortunate to be able to get ground pork from a farm that is using the same feed we use so it’s gmo and soy free. My son gets eczema but we found that if the meat is 100% soy free as well his eczema goes away. So hooray for him getting to have sausage too. For 1 lb of meat I add 1 tsp sage, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp nutmeg, some all-spice and cloves. I also add a little maple syrup that you could try when you can add a little sweet back in. Keep it up!

  • Go Stacy! I’m also doing a similar plan, and you are definitely a source of inspiration. Sometimes it is difficult when you make stuff for your family but you can’t eat it (at least at that moment, like your Salted Caramel Ice Cream – have mercy!), but I’ve done one of these types of elimination diets before and the results were phenomenal. Hang in there, and wishing you all great health and a fun summer!

  • JJDs Mom

    You know when I read your story a few days ago on the page with before and after pics and you mentioned ongoing issues, I immediately thought of egg intolerance.  It’s actually not uncommon.

    Personally, I have the same experience – but with different foods.  It’s just trial and error to notice when you’re upset and if there is any common thing that could be pointed at as a cause and seeing how it goes if you avoid it for a bit. 

    I think my gut was so damaged that it just shut down on many levels.  It’s like the way allergists introduce an allergen in tiny quantities and over a period of time keep increasing it to get rid of your immune response.  I have since wondered about that and thought for some people maybe getting rid of the immune response isn’t getting rid of other damage caused by the allergen/intolerance.  My somewhat recovered gut it getting pretty good at telling me what it doesn’t like. 

    Kudos for supporting your wife so much!  I so hope it works!!

  • Erica

    I was having a lot of bloating that I couldn’t quite understand considering I eat a pretty clean paleo type diet. Part of me thought for a while that it could be the eggs but I didn’t want to admit it to myself. One day I decided to cut them out and my bloating completely went away. Mind you, I was eating the highest quality pastured eggs that live mostly on grass and bugs with a wheat and soy-free supplemental feed (I have celiac so I always verify my sources for poultry). My question is what is your take on totally grain-free pastured duck eggs? I bought a carton but I’m irrationally a little worried to try them considering I’ve been feeling so great and bloat-free these past two weeks. I know you can’t give me a solid answer considering everyone’s situation is different but I’ve heard that people who can’t tolerate chicken eggs often don’t have an issue with duck eggs.

    • We haven’t tried them since Stacy started autoimmune, so I can’t say. But we do love duck eggs and find them delicious at the very least!

  • Sarah Hamelinck

    I stumbled across this post and this is EXACTLY what my son must follow to live happily. Are there any more posts like this that can help me figure out what to cook or are all the recipes in the book?

  • Paula Middleton Reed

    Thank you for that thorough explanation – I need to read Practical Paleo AGAIN and determine if I should follow the autoimmune protocol for a while. I’m familiar with it, but I’ve been hesitant because of all the things you do need to eliminate, even for just a few weeks. I’m certain it would help me, and this may have been the push I needed. 🙂

  • Jenifer

    I say that you are on the right track to figure out exactly what is right for you. We’re in the same process with my husband right now.

    We started paleo because DH was having a strong reaction to grains and gluten. Our naturopath/nutritionist put him on a modified GAPS diet, and now he’s noticing to eggs (nausea after breakfast).

    Since we shop on Wednesdays, this week he will switch to a fish breakfast. We get smoked salmon and pickled herring from Ikea, serve it with raw crackers (seed based), and raw veggies, then berries with coconut cream and his oils (cod liver).

  • Ann

    I have been on the same protocol for a couple of years now – treated SIBO 5 months ago and on the road to healing. Not sure if I will ever tolerated any of those foods again. I do eat thai white jasmine rice and walnuts that have been soaked and slow roasted. I also can tolerate egg yolks just fine. Looking forward to some recipes !