Have you ever felt tired even after an eight-hour sleep cycle? Or felt anxious and didn’t know why? Or maybe you lacked energy even after your third cup of coffee. Maybe your heart palpitates at certain times of the day or you recently developed arthritic hands. People’s first reaction to abnormalities is to look outside of themselves rather than taking a closer look at their diet. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint the food that is making us anxious, lethargic, overweight or unhealthy but I can assure you, food is most likely the culprit. Luckily, food sensitivities can be avoided!
Our gastrointestinal tract is the phone line from the food we eat to the body we reside. Each bite we take holds special and exact information that is delivered to our body through the GI tract. When something goes wrong (like food sensitivities or reactions) we can likely trace it back to the GI tract. Symptoms such as asthma, allergies, skin conditions, arthritis, migraines, dementia, bloating, inflammation, fatigue and heart disease have all been linked to gastrointestinal disturbances, or food sensitivities. You know those migraines you have been getting for years? They might be a result of a food you are eating that is giving a bad signal to your body. That sounds depressing, but trust when I say, this is good news. If your food can give you a migraine, then your food can taketh away!
In an elimination diet, you begin to literally eliminate specific foods from your diet, then slowly (and consciously) begin to reintroduce them back in, while paying close attention to the physical, psychological and social effects. Food speaks to us. And it isn’t always telling us to scarf down the burger. Sometimes it’s telling us to slow down, cut back or stop eating specific foods altogether.
Why is This Important?
In our busy lives, it’s easy to lose touch with the foods we are eating. So much in fact, some of us have to think long and hard to recall what we ate for breakfast- or if we even ate breakfast! When we eliminate foods from our diet, we are telling our body that we are consciously aware of what we are feeding it. This is important because, (1) we have a better connection between our mind-body, (2) we are making informed decisions about what to digest and absorb and, (3) we are able to identify what is causing our physical and psychological ailments.
What Do I Eliminate?
The aim is to eliminate the most common foods linked to intolerance. This includes: gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, corn, pork, beef, chicken, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants), refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Yikes! You’re probably thinking, what is left?? Surprisingly, plenty. You can focus your food intake around most fruits, vegetables, rice or quinoa, fish, wild game, coconut milk, coconut oil and herbal tea, to name a few.
How Long Do I Do it?
23 days. Seems precise? Well it is! It takes our bodies between 21 and 23 days for antibodies to react so if you skip out too early on the diet, you won’t be able to link the symptoms of certain foods to your ailments. Stay strong. It’s worth it.
So, 23 days have passed, now what? Start with one of the eliminated food groups and introduce it back in to your diet. For two days, stay alert and notice how your body reacts. While carrying out an elimination plan, it’s important to write down what you eat in a journal followed by how you feel after reintroducing each food. This gives you tangible data to refer to after you’ve completed the diet. It’s also important to pay attention to you as a whole. If your goal is to get to the bottom of your nasty migraines, then by all means pay attention to that symptom but don’t ignore the rest of your body. Do you have more energy? Less? Sleeping better? Worse? Pay attention! There are multiple ways you can benefit from this diet, even if you didn’t expect to. In fact, the elimination diet is the only way to identify an exact food that is giving you problems. Blood tests cannot pinpoint whether or not cheese is wreaking havoc on your insides, but eliminating it can. Eliminate your food, eliminate your ailments. It’s as simple as that!