I Took Control of my Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) and Healed Myself
Updated: Aug 25
I eliminated all chemicals from my foods, created my own diet, and discovered a fourth type of eosinophilic esophagitis.
Photo by Rumman Amin on Unsplash
I Suffered for Twenty-six Years
I love to bake and my husband loves to cook. And we both love that I healed my eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) when I created my own diet — the Miriam Diet — and eliminated all preservatives, additives, food coloring, steroids, antibiotics, pesticides, and insecticides from my food supply.
For twenty-six years I suffered scary food impaction episodes. A couple of these episodes landed me in the hospital for an emergency endoscopy. My most severe episode occurred in September 2021.
Proton pump inhibitors, such as Nexium and Prilosec, prescribed in the past did not work. They made things worse and depleted my body of vitamin B12.
After my severe food impaction episode in September 2021, my new GI doctor prescribed the six-food elimination diet. I was not allowed to eat dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, tree nuts, and fish for six weeks. I had to follow the Oregon Clinic Diet. This diet made things worse. An endoscopy and biopsy six weeks later revealed an eosinophil count of 100. An eosinophilic esophagitis diagnosis is 15.
The Elemental Diet
When the six-food elimination diet failed, my GI offered a new treatment — a topical steroid used with patients who have eczema. I said no because I don’t have eczema. I also have eleven drug allergies.
My GI finally offered another treatment option — the elemental diet. In my twenty-six years of suffering with EoE, none of my previous GI doctors had prescribed the elemental diet, perhaps because it’s a very restrictive liquid meal replacement diet that has only a twenty-percent patient compliance rate.
But the elemental diet has a ninety-five percent success rate. So, I was happy to be on this awful smelling and tasting liquid diet for eight weeks. Eight weeks later, I was happier to learn that the elemental diet healed my eosinophilic esophagitis. My eosinophilic count went from 100 eosinophils to zero eosinophils. My GI doctor told me I no longer had EoE, but that now we needed to find out which foods were causing my EoE and food impaction episodes.
My GI doctor prescribed the reintroduction of foods beginning with only fruits and vegetables for eight weeks. Another endoscopy and biopsy revealed my eosinophil count went from zero to ninety. I was shocked. How did that happen? Aren’t fruits and vegetables healthy?
I then asked myself a question — What do the foods that I’ve been eating, the foods that I was allowed to eat on the six-food elimination diet, and the fruits and vegetables that I was allowed to eat have in common?
I googled “which foods have preservatives.” I did the same for additives, etc. I researched “ingredients in food.” They all contain preservatives, additives, food coloring, antibiotics, and steroids. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with pesticides and insecticides. What I learned was a game-changer. At every supermarket I shopped in, I began reading every food and ingredients label in all the foods I had been eating. Everything is loaded with chemicals, many with very long lists of names I can’t pronounce.
I had a theory. I told my GI doctor that I suspected that the cause of my eosinophilic esophagitis and food impaction episodes is not food. I’m not allergic to food. My esophagus is allergic to what’s in the food supply and the foods I’ve been ingesting — preservatives, additives, food coloring, antibiotics, and steroids, and the pesticides and insecticides in fruits and vegetables.
I told my GI that I was convinced the cause of my EoE and elevated eosinophils is chemicals, which the elemental diet does not contain and explains why it healed my EoE and reduced my eosinophil count to zero.
I was now on a mission. This is how I took control of my eosinophilic esophagitis and healed myself, and continue to maintain a healthy esophagus.
My husband and I created meals with organic grass-fed beef, and bacon, chicken, pork, and beans free from preservatives, additives, food coloring, antibiotics, and steroids. I ate only green and red cabbage. They have a natural enzyme that keeps pests and insects at bay. I also ate red and yellow onions, and avocados. I made homemade organic vanilla ice cream.
A sampling of our homemade food free from preservatives, additives, food coloring, steroids, antibiotics, steroids, pesticides, and insecticides. Photo by Miriam Diaz-Gilbert
The Miriam Diet Worked!
Eight weeks after I tested my theory and created the Miriam Diet, and a year after my scary food impaction episode that landed me in the hospital for an emergency endoscopy, my endoscopy and biopsy revealed a healthy esophagus and an eosinophil count of “up to ZERO.”
I was right! The Miriam Diet worked! It was a healthy and healing success. I have not suffered a food impaction episode since September 2021.
The cause of my eosinophilic esophagitis and my food impactions episodes is chemicals — preservatives, additives, food coloring, antibiotics, steroids, pesticides, and insecticides in the meats, poultry, fish, breads, desserts, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and other foods. I’m not allergic to food; I’m allergic to what’s in the food.
For the last five years we have been growing our own vegetables in the summer and fall. I can eat the vegetables we grow; they are not sprayed with pesticides and insecticides. While on the Miriam Diet, I was able to eat our harvest of strawberries, kale, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce from our garden. I was able to eat store-bought watermelon because it has a thick rind and pineapple because it has a thick skin. Both make it harder for pesticides and insecticides to seep through.
Vegetables from our garden. Photo by Miriam Diaz-Gilbert
We continue to eat grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, and pork that are all free from antibiotics, steroids, and preservatives. The only fish I eat is sardines in olive oil. The only liquids I drink are seltzer and the elemental diet.
I keep creating new food items, dishes, and desserts. My diet includes food made with organic flour — bread, bagels, pancakes, and pizza dough. I make flourless brownies with dark chocolate chips, pumpkin puree free from chemicals, and organic eggs.
We now have two egg-laying hens — Faith and Hope. We have fresh backyard organic eggs every morning.
Faith and Hope and their eggs. Photo by Miriam Diaz-Gilbert
I Took Control and Uncovered a Fourth Type of EoE
Everyone’s EoE journey is different. There are different types of eosinophilic esophagitis. Some people suffer EoE from atopic allergies like asthma and eczema. Others suffer from EoE possibly caused by environmental allergens like pollens and mold. For most people, food allergies are the cause of their EoE.
In my case, I don’t have asthma or eczema, I’m not allergic to environmental allergens, and I don’t have any food allergies. I’m an outlier.
Eliminating chemicals from our diet is not a treatment option offered to EoE patients such as myself. I have not seen or read about the kind of diet that I created for myself in GI journals, publications, literature, and research studies.
But I am on to something. Had I not taken control of my EoE treatment, I would not have uncovered what I call a fourth type of eosinophilic esophagitis. This one is caused by the chemicals in our food supply — preservatives, additives, food coloring, antibiotics, pesticides, and insecticides. As I mentioned earlier, I am allergic to eleven medications. What do they all contain? Preservatives and other chemicals.
Interestingly, the GI doctors I have reached out to share my experience and how eliminating chemicals from my diet healed my EoE have not responded. But patients, who have watched my video and have read my articles about my journey on my website blog, tell me I give them hope.
Doctors don’t have all the answers. But doctors have just as much to learn from their patients, if not more, as their patients have to learn from them. Listen to your patients.
If you suffer from eosinophilic esophagitis and food impaction episodes, be curious, do your research, be your own advocate, and take your eosinophils by the horns. Don’t suffer needlessly.
Do you suffer from EoE and food impaction episodes? Let me know. I hope my journey gives you hope.
Originally published on Medium
Read excerpts from, praise for, and listen to interviews about my memoir, Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times.
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel