Elimination Diet! Why Am I Doing It?
You may be wondering what exactly the Elimination diet is. I can start by telling you exactly what it is not… and that is a fad diet created to help people lose weight fast, which they then put on again (plus more), once they revert back to their old eating habits. The elimination diet is a diagnostic tool, a super awesome way to support your optimal health by eliminating potentially inflammatory foods and using a structured method to reintroduce food groups so you can monitor how your body responds.
We are all different and there is no miracle diet or magic way to eat! Each individual needs to work out what is right for them and that is where this process helps. This diet is an awesome tool for most people and I would advise anybody to try it at least once in their life so they can narrow down exactly which foods their body can digest and which are potentially harmful and inflammatory. If you suffer from any of the following symptoms then an Elimination diet is worth a go, it could revolutionise your life and provide you with an insight into how great you could actually feel!
Symptoms: Digestive issues (bloating, constipation, persistent diarrhoea), eczema, acne, chronic pain, low energy levels, mood swings, sleep issues, brain fog, headaches and migraines, sinus infections, autoimmune disease, aches and pains, premenstrual syndrome, menopausal women, weight gain, IBS, cognitive decline, chronic fatigue. This is not an exhaustive list but it highlights some symptoms which may be caused by inflammation in the body.
I have always suffered when eating dairy, nothing too serious (that’s why it has probably not bothered me too much) but I started to cut down on the amount of dairy I have over the last few years and I do feel better! However, I believe I could also have a gluten intolerance as I know that when I avoid gluten I don’t feel as bloated or as lethargic and my digestion improves. Looking into this further, I educated myself on the molecular structure of dairy and gluten. Which, appears very similar to our bodies! The processing of dairy alters the casein protein and creates a molecule that our body responds to in the same way as gluten, thus creating a similar inflammatory response. Now this makes sense to me and has given me the added motivation to complete the Elimination diet!
Another important reason to look at the Elimination diet for me is to support my body to be able to repair itself. You may have heard of the term ‘Leaky Gut’ this syndrome is becoming widespread and far more common than ever. It is basically where your gut lining (which acts as a barrier to keep out any harmful large partials) is damaged and bigger holes appear, letting larger particles pass through your gut which usually would never be able to enter. Things like gluten, undigested food and bad bacteria move through your intestinal lining and into your bloodstream causing an immune reaction and inflammation in your body. It is crazy but many people don’t even know that they have it! Leaky Gut is not just caused by diet, it can be due to other factors such as bacterial imbalance or chronic stress, but to go into this right now would take too long! Leaky Gut is a whole post on its own!
So back to the Elimination diet; I have decided to commit to the Elimination diet in order to look at how my body is responding to the food I eat. We all know that processed food and refined sugar is not good, but what about everything else? I want to know how the major foods that are responsible for most common allergens affect me personally and so I have committed to the diet to find out how good I can actually feel!
During the first phase I have eliminated the foods which can contribute to inflammation, foods that can cause allergies and other digestive reactions. By removing these potentially harmful foods, any inflammation will start to reduce and I will allow my body to heal and repair itself. If I am suffering from Leaky Gut Syndrome (which I believe I most probably am) this phase will support the repair of my intestinal wall and improve my ability to absorb essential nutrients that pass through my gut.
Phase 1 - Elimination. I will eliminate the following:
- Shell Fish
- Nightshade Vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, aubergine, cayenne pepper, paprika, bell peppers, yogi berries)
- Citrus fruits
- All processed and fast foods!
This first phase will last for 23 days, the reason for this is because the antibodies (the proteins your immune system makes when it reacts to foods) take around 21-23 days to dissipate, so it is important to eliminate the foods for at least 21-23 days to fully heal the body and to be able to notice an improvement in any symptoms.
I am on my journey, day 3 into the 23 day Phase 1 (Elimination). I am recording how I feel and what I eat each day allowing me to keep track of how my body is reacting. This food journal will be extremely useful when it is time to reintroduce the foods I have eliminated, using a process which will allow me to measure my bodies reaction!
So what am I eating? Well, it may be tricky to grab food on the go so it takes some preparation but you can eat the following:
- Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage etc)
- Dark leafy greens
- Other veg such as celery, fennel, cucumbers, peas, green beans etc
- Fruit (apart from citrus fruits) such as berries, pineapple, banana.
- Organic poultry, grass fed beef, wild game and wild caught fish (watch out for high mercury fish like tuna and swordfish).
- Herbs and spices like turmeric, oregano, basil. coriander, pink salt, garlic etc
- Fats such as coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut milk, olives, avocado etc
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, heifer, coconut yoghurt and apple cider vinegar
Phase 2 – Reintroduction
After the 23 days I plan to reintroduce one food group at a time. Eating the food daily for 2-3 days and recording how I feel. Here I will start to compare any changes in symptoms from the two phases and if symptoms return then the food group can be eliminated again to confirm if it is a trigger. It is important to only introduce one food group at a time so you can be sure of the potential trigger to any symptoms.
For now, lets crack on with the Elimination Phase! I am currently on day 3 and whilst I am most definitely experiencing some withdrawal symptoms (tiredness and headaches), I know that I will feel so much better once my body has had the opportunity to adapt and break free from the ‘drugs’ I consumed daily (gluten, dairy, etc).
Keep up with my journey on my Instagram and facebook. If you are interested then it should help you to understand the process! Feel free to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss this any further! I would love to help you reach optimal health!
Together we can do this… one day at a time!