It may require serious dedication to revamp your kitchen and pass up on all those tasty comfort foods, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll need to ensure you’re doing it correctly! It takes real focus and discipline to get the best results; this article will show you how to do it.
So, What’s An “Elimination Diet?
Forget about weight loss or traditional dieting – an elimination diet has nothing to do with that. It’s a two-part process lasting anywhere from three to eight weeks.
- Part One: Start by getting rid of any food that might be causing poor physiological reactions
- Part Two: Slowly add it back into your diet and see if it’s the culprit.
Sometimes symptoms can be delayed, which means it may take a few days before you start to notice them. These symptoms can range from belly pain to nasal congestion to headaches. That’s why it’s essential to reintroduce each food group for at least three days. Providing a longer time frame allows you to observe how your physiology responds to each food, so you can decide what to keep in your diet and what to avoid. Plus, it helps ensure that you can capture any delayed symptoms that may occur. So, if you’re looking better to understand your body’s reaction to different foods, give each one a fair shot for at least three days.
Once the foods that trigger symptoms have been identified, it is possible to make dietary modifications that can help improve a person’s health. These modifications are tailored to each individual to ensure that they benefit most from their diet. Individuals can see improvements in their digestion, absorption, microbial balance, and inflammation through these changes. A proper diet is essential for maintaining good health; making the correct modifications can be especially beneficial. It is crucial to consult a doctor or nutritionist to ensure you are making the right changes for your body and your health.
Is It Feasible for Me to Do an Elimination on My Own, or Is the Assistance of a Professional Required?
Before trying out an elimination diet, it’s a good idea to chat with an expert to do your due diligence and ensure you get all the proper consideration and nutrition your mind and body need.
For example, if you decide to cut out gluten and dairy from your diet, you must be extra careful about getting enough essential vitamins and minerals. Without gluten, you may not get the necessary fiber your body needs, and if you take out dairy from your diet, you may not get enough vitamin D and calcium. So, if you’re going gluten-free or dairy-free, focus on getting enough of these vitamins and minerals from other sources. Plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free options are packed with nutrients, so you don’t have to worry about missing out. The message is to be mindful of the nutritional underpinnings of trying any new diet. Stay on top of your diet and nutrition, and you’ll be good to go!
If you’re having any issues with eating disorders, anxiety, or anything else that’s impacting your mental or emotional health, it’s imperative to talk to your doctor about it. Whether you’ve had struggles or are currently dealing with something, your doctor can provide you with a wealth of information and resources to help you manage your mental health and get any additional help you may need. Don’t suffer in silence – your doctor is there to help you find solutions, so don’t be afraid to speak up about what you’re going through.
Especially in those with a tendency towards food restriction and controlling their eating, an elimination diet can be daunting and cause a heightened focus on “good” and “bad” foods. For some, this can cause poor food and nutrition, as it can lead to a mindset of avoiding certain foods rather than focusing on a balanced diet. When following an elimination diet, it’s essential to be mindful of how it may affect your overall relationship with food and ensure that it doesn’t lead to a pattern of restricted or cumplusive eating.
Your health professional can help ensure you’re following your elimination diet healthily by discussing and considering your desire to improve your physical and emotional well-being.
What Is the Best Way to Start an Elimination Diet?
Before you start an elimination diet, it’s essential to keep a food and symptom diary. This diary can help you identify patterns between what you eat and how your body reacts. It’s beneficial to track your food intake and any symptoms you may experience – that way, you and your healthcare professional can work together to identify which foods you might need to eliminate.
It’s also helpful to keep track of portion sizes and other observations about the food and how you felt afterward. It’s a great way to become more in tune with your body and what it needs.
For example, if you notice that you regularly get itchy after eating walnuts and almonds, try eliminating tree nuts. You may decide to eliminate multiple foods or food groups based on tracking data.
To establish a baseline, it’s imperative to eat as you have been all along, documenting everything you eat and how you feel after eating is essential. Track for at least a couple of weeks before deciding what to try cutting.
You may feel compelled to start your elimination diet when you notice a connection to a particular symptom in your log. Don’t do that. Keep eating as you usually do, keep tabs on your symptoms, and focus on getting all matters prepared for starting the diet.
On day one of your new diet plan, you should have a strong sense of what foods to avoid. It’s important to know what you can and can’t have so you can stay on track with your goals. That’s why spending time tracking and making salient observations is crucial. Use those notes and time during the tracking period to develop a good list of recipes to choose from, too, so you have plenty of options. Not only that but make sure you brush up on your food label reading skills. That way, you can check the nutritional facts and decide what you should or shouldn’t eat. With this knowledge and preparation, you’ll be ready to make your diet journey successful.
Strategies for Achieving Success on an Elimination Diet?
This Could Take Some Time
Reflect on the duration of time you have been feeling less than 100%. It may have been for several months, perhaps even a few years. And let’s imagine you’ve been doing your best to become the “new you”; to execute your elimination diet, to care for yourself – eating the right foods, exercising, taking the right supplements, and getting enough sleep. But after all that, you may still not feel any better in the first few days or weeks. It can be disheartening, and it can be really easy to throw in the towel and give up. But here’s the thing – you have to keep going. Just because you don’t experience any change in symptoms after a week or two doesn’t mean you should stop what you’re doing! It may take time to see and notice differences in symptoms.
Most people following an elimination plan typically need to stick with it for at least three weeks or 21 days to see some results. Of course, this depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with the elimination plan. For example, if you’re using it to help with a digestive issue, you may notice a difference within the first week or two. On the other hand, if you’re using the elimination plan to address a more complex health issue, such as chronic fatigue, you may need to follow the plan for longer than three weeks before you start to feel better. In any case, giving the elimination plan enough time to take effect and make changes in your body is essential. The time it takes is not a certainty and could be anywhere from three to eight weeks but don’t think in terms of time; instead, pay attention to results.
Guidelines for an Elimination Diet and Supporting Gut Health
That’s right. Your gut health is the key to your overall well-being. So, to be healthy and feel great, you must take care of your gut! Plain and simple. Unfortunately, there is no alternative to this, making it essential you consider your dietary decisions carefully. Feeding your gut nutrient-dense, whole foods containing plenty of fiber, healthy fats, and phytonutrients is vital. Additionally, it’s important to stay hydrated, as this helps to keep your gut bacteria in check and your digestive system functioning correctly. Lastly, make sure to get enough sleep, as this helps to reduce inflammation.
Most of your immune system lives in your digestive tract – we want to do our best to keep the negative influences out. Good flora and bacteria are our first line of defense – they keep an eye on everything we eat or breathe in. They help to control our immune response.
When our gut gets inflamed, it’s usually because the bad guys (harmful bacteria) have overpowered the good guys (good bacteria). To restore balance, we have to focus on two main points:
- Cutting out foods known to cause inflammation (as well as anything we’re intolerant to) can significantly reduce inflammation. Identifying and eliminating these foods gives our immune system a chance to recover.
- Add nutrient-packed foods like phytonutrients, prebiotics, probiotics, and protein-rich sources to your diet.
What Those Words Mean
Phytonutrients: Plant-based foods have thousands of natural chemicals – phytonutrients or phytochemicals. That’s ‘phyto’ from the Greek for the plant. They help plants fight germs, fungi, bugs, and other nasties.
Kale is a veggie superstar known for packing in many phytonutrients, like kaempferol and quercetin. This helps protect your body from the nasties that can cause cancer and other diseases. So, make sure to get your greens in and enjoy the healthy benefits of kale.
Snacking on Blueberries is a great way to get your daily dose of phytonutrients! These little berries are full of f ber and vitamin C; they have tons of antioxidants and phytonutrients like resveratrol and anthocyanins. Resveratrol is a potent phytonutrient with anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergenic properties. Anthocyanins, which give blueberries their red-blue coloring, have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties and can help lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Avocados are a must for a natural, healthy snack or side dish packed full of carotenoids; these phytonutrient-rich fruits are loaded with antioxidants to help fight aging and even help with immunity, blood sugar, and cancer prevention. All around, avos are a great choice!
Spinach is an excellent veggie to have around, not just because it’s got high levels of iron and nitrates but also because it’s loaded with vitamins C, K, and folate. Plus, it packs some excellent phytonutrients – like polyphenols and alpha lipoic acid – that have been linked to all kinds of benefits, like protecting your body from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and more. And the alpha lipoic acid? It’s a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from da”age and replenish”vitamins like E and C.
Probiotics: When dealing with an infection, your body tends to get out of whack. That’s because there are too many harmful bacteria and not enough good stuff. Taking probiotic supplements can help res ore the balance by adding some of the good bacteria back in. These probiotics are made up of bacteria and yeasts already in your body.
Kefir is a probiotic-rich, dairy-based bever e that’s fermented. Sauerkraut and pickles are often fermented, as well. Tempeh and natto are traditional soy-based fermented foods, while miso and kombucha are fermented teas. Kimchi is a popular fermented, spicy Korean side dish. Buttermilk comes in two forms, traditional and cultured; both are fermented dairy drinks. Lastly, many types of cheese are fermented, but not all have probiotics, so check the labels!
Prebiotics: Prebiotics are special plant fibers that act like fertilizer for your gut, helping to encourage the growth of good bacteria. You can find prebiotics in various fruits and veggies, particularly those with complex carbs like fiber and resistant starch. Your body can’t digest these carbs, so they go through your digestive system and become food for bacteria and other microbes.
- Chicory root is a real hot shot – it comes from a flowering plant in the dandelion fam, and people love its coffee-like flavor. It’s been around for ages and used in cooking and medicine.
- Dandelions are a type of flower; their leaves can be cooked or eaten raw. They’re packed with fiber, so it’s a great way to get your daily dose.
- Commonly known as the Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple, it is part of the sunflower family and can be good for you.
- Garlic packs quite a punch when it comes to flavor and health benefits. It’s got antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and can even help lower bad cholesterol.
- Onions are way delicious, not to mention super good for you! Like garlic, they have loads of inulin and FOS.
- If you like garlic and onions, you’ll love Leeks too! They come from the same veggie family and have fantastic health benefits.
- Not only does it make your pee smell weird – Asparagus – it’s a great source of prebiotics, too!
- Bananas are more than just tasty – they’re a nutritional powerhouse! Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Barley’s pretty popular. People use it to make beer, which has 2-20g of beta-glucan per 100g—pretty cool stuff.
- Whole oats are great for your health! They have prebiotic benefits that are good for your gut, plus they’ve got lots of beta-glucan fiber and some resistant starch.
- Apples are drool-worthy and packed with fiber. Talk about a two-for-one deal -pectin, a type of soluble fiber, makes up the bulk of the fruit’s fiber content. Plus, it provides prebiotic benefits!
- Konjac root, the one people call elephant yam, is a veggie that grows underground, like a potato.
- Cocoa beans are the seeds of the Theobrama cacao tree. They can be used to make yummy chocolate, but they’re also nutritious for you.
- From Japan is the burdock root veggie, which has some legit health benefits.
- Flaxseeds are so good for you. Plus, you get some significant prebiotic benefits from them too.
- The Yacon root is quite akin to sweet potatoes and packed with fiber.
- This root veggie is an excellent option if you’re trying to cut back on calories and increase your fiber intake – it’s loaded with prebiotic fiber (inulin) too!
- Wheat bran’s the outer layer of the whole wheat grain – and it’s a real winner regarding prebiotics. Plus, this unique type of fiber is made from arabinoxylan oligosaccharides.
- Seaweed is like a superfood of the sea – full of nutrients and good for your body!
Protein-Rich Food Sources: If you’re looking for protein-rich foods, go for chicken, fish, legumes, grass-fed beef, and seeds like hemp, chia, and flax. Avoid processed food.
Leverage Phytonutrients for Optimal Performance
If you’re looking to boost your nutrition, add some color to your plate with fruits and veggies! Phytonutrients and antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals and substances found in plants, and they’re crucial to fighting free radicals and promoting natural healing and detoxification in our organs. These hidden gems are famous for protecting plants from outside invaders; when we eat them, we get an extra line of defense. This concept is crucial for athletes since training can put cells under oxidative stress. Antioxidants help “calm” the anxiety inside cells, reducing inflammation and supporting your body.
Minimize Your Exposure to Toxic Substances
Eating a toxin-free diet is an essential aspect of health and well-being. Toxins can be found in processed foods, chemicals, and even the air we breathe. Eating a toxin-free diet can help reduce the number of toxins that enter the body and lead to potential health problems. To start eating a toxin-free diet, one should focus on eating organic, unprocessed, and non-GMO foods free from additives, preservatives, and chemicals. A diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients the body needs. Finally, it is essential to avoid the consumption of processed, artificially colored, and chemically treated foods. Following these guidelines can create an overall healthy and toxin-free diet.
Check the quality of your water at home. Water is essential for life, and is critical to ensure it is safe for consumption. Water quality can be tested for various contaminants, including lead, nitrates, bacteria, and more. Additionally, water quality should be checked periodically to ensure the safety of your drinking water. Test your water once a year or more if you live in an area with a higher risk of contaminated water. Taking proactive steps to check your water quality at home can ensure that it is safe for consumption and protect your family’s health.
When heating food, it is essential to avoid plastic containers. Heating food in plastic containers can release harmful toxins into the food. These toxins can cause health issues, such as allergies and hormonal imbalances. Additionally, plastic containers are not designed to withstand high temperatures, which can cause the plastic to melt or warp, creating an even greater risk of toxins entering the food. The safest and most health-conscious option is to use glass or ceramic food containers when heating food, as these materials are designed to withstand the heat without releasing toxins. Furthermore, glass and ceramic containers are more durable and easier to clean, reducing cross-contamination risk.
When selecting animal protein sources, consider Grass-fed, pasture-raised, and free-range animals that are raised in natural environments and fed a natural diet, resulting in a more healthful end product. These products are also more sustainable and humane, allowing animals to live naturally and without undue stress. Furthermore, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and free-range animal proteins are more nutrient-dense than conventionally raised alternatives, providing more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. Buy high-quality animal proteins from grass-fed, pasture-raised, and free-range sources whenever possible.
Are you concerned about a budget?
Buying quality food is a substantial investment. Though it might cost more upfront, it is often less expensive in the long term. Quality food not only tastes better, but it is also healthier. The fresher the food, the longer it will stay fresh in the refrigerator and pantry. Buying the best can lead to fewer trips to the grocery store and fewer items wasted due to spoilage. In addition, quality food is often organic and free from harmful additives, giving you peace of mind that what you are eating is good for you. Quality food is an investment that pays off in the long run, both for your wallet and your health.
The food supply has drastically changed due to the addition of preservatives, additives, artificial flavors and sugars, pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. These substances are often used to increase shelf life, enhance flavor, and reduce spoilage. However, they can also be harmful to human health. Long-term consumption of these substances can lead to various health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. As such, it is crucial to be aware of the presence of these substances in food and to consume only those products that are the most wholesome.
It’s no secret that processed foods and conventionally grown produce are filled with toxins, so eating them all the time can put a lot of strain on your liver. To stay healthy, aim to eat fresh, whole foods while you’re on this elimination plan – you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.
What About Weight Loss?
Weight loss can be a complicated process. However, it can be made more accessible by utilizing an elimination protocol. Eliminating processed foods, refined sugars, and foods high in calories and low in nutrition may have the added side benefit of weight loss. Still, this protocol must be done gradually to ensure that your body has time to adjust to the changes. The importance of developing this plan to improve health and decrease full-body inflammation should be remembered. Regular physical activity should be incorporated into the program. Stress management should be a priority, as well as adequate sleep. Finally, it is essential to remember that lifestyle changes should be gradual and sustainable. With a plan like this, it is possible to improve health, improve mood, lose weight, and decrease inflammation over time. All these factors influence your overall health and well-being. By utilizing an elimination protocol and adding a broad spectrum of health habits in other areas of your life, you can identify the foods hindering your progress and set the stage to make weight loss less complicated.
Focus on the quality of food choices to ensure a healthy and balanced diet. Quality food choices should allow for eating until satiety. It may seem contrary, but eating fats, especially if you’ve successfully cut out all sources of sugar, will not make you fat. Making quality food choices allows for better nutrition from meals and may lead to fewer snacks. Taking the time to consider the quality of food choices can help maintain healthy nutritional goals. Ensure that you choose only the acceptable foods on your specific plan, but if you spend all your time and energy calorie counting, you may end up hungry and miserable.
If you’re feeling angry, anxious, and stressed every day from feeling hungry and are consumed with compulsive thoughts about eating, it’s likely increasing your inflammation. You may be missing out on some tremendous metabolism-boosting foods if you avoid a whole-food diet.
Implement an Elimination Diet to Exclude Potentially Inflammatory Foods
It’s easy to be unaware of how many inflammatory foods we eat daily. You might think that you’re eating relatively healthily, but if you look closely, you could be consuming more inflammatory foods than you realize. And that’s why taking a break from these foods for a few weeks at a time can positively impact your overall health. Taking a break from inflammatory foods can help reduce pain, improve digestion, and boost your overall well-being.
Planning meals is a great way to save time and money. Preparing meals for the week can help ensure that you are purchasing only the items needed for the meals you plan on having. Good planning can also help reduce food waste by having it spoil before it can be used. Meal planning is also a great way to ensure you eat your specific plan throughout the week. With an organized meal plan, you can plan the right servings. Planning meals ahead of time will help with grocery shopping and can also help save time in the kitchen when it comes to cooking.
And by the way, there is no shame in the meal-delivery service game. When eliminating certain foods, the most long-term success will be with those who have a specific game plan for meal time.
Be Cognizant of the Components of Your Mental and Physical State
When it comes to managing your health, it’s essential to tune into how you are feeling. Pay attention to how your body is responding to certain foods or activities. Years on autopilot may have dulled your senses, so paying close attention to new signals can help you identify potential triggers that may be causing discomfort. For example, if you start to feel bloated or gassy after eating certain foods, they will likely negatively impact your body. Alternatively, if certain foods energize you, they may be an important part of your diet. Taking the time to monitor how you feel after eating different foods can be a valuable way to learn more about your body and keep your health in check.
This may not be easy. Take your time, and gently steer yourself back on track if you go off course. This takes practice so rather than feeling put-upon by trying something new, instead, be curious. You wouldn’t expect to be playing guitar with proficiency in 3-4 weeks, and having a new you, thanks to a diet plan, won’t happen quickly either. That’s why I use the word “practice”. When you practice something you do it consistently over a long time with the intent of getting better at the skill in question.