7 Reasons to Try the Elimination Diet
1. IDENTIFIES FOOD TRIGGERS: I don't think people realized how crappy certain foods make them feel until they eliminate it, and in my case until I tried to add it back in! When these foods are eaten every day you become more sensitized to them. Then when you continue to eat them you have problems with your digestion and absorption. Wheat, corn and soy are in many processed foods and so we are not aware of how profoundly they can affect us until we take them out.
2. PROMOTES BODY AWARENESS TO FOOD: This was my biggest surprise. I felt good during the three weeks, but I felt awful when I started introducing foods back in! So the reintroduction phase is super important...otherwise you went through the first three weeks for nothing! I'll have a future post on reintroduction. I was also surprised by my lack of sugar cravings!! It was amazing, it is as if my taste buds have changed!
3. REDUCES INFLAMMATION: When we eat foods we are sensitive to we damage our gut lining. The gut lining is already very thin (one cell thick!) so causing any more damage leads to a "leaky gut". This means that the chemicals from processed foods, allergens, toxins, or bacteria/viruses can get into our bloodstream easier. This puts our immune system on overdrive. The good news is that our lining can regenerate every 2-4 days! This means we can change it and quickly!
4. HEALTHY MICROBIOME: We all have "healthy" bacteria (and viruses) in our body...everywhere in and on our body. This helps keep us healthy. However over the past decades as we have sanitized everything, given antibiotics for every cold and sniffle and have moved towards processed foods we are losing this microbiome. In order to keep our good bacterial healthy we need to feed it what it needs. Yes probiotics are good... these are the actual healthy bacteria we try to put back in our bodies BUT you also need to feed those good bacteria or they will die like the rest of 'em. Probiotics! You can find probiotics in health food stores or you can eat foods that help such as fermented foods and certain vegetables such as asparagus, onion, garlic, bananas, jicama, chicory root, dandelion root, seaweed, oats, apples, yukon root, burdock root, flax, wheat bran, cocoa, konjac, barley, and leeks. We focus more on the microbiome during reintroduction phase but you can never start too early so feel free to add these foods now! I've never used as much onion and garlic as I have during those three weeks. Flax in every smoothie and you don't have to tell me twice to use cocoa!!
5. PHYTONUTRIENTS AND ANTIOXIDANTS TO HEAL THE GUT: Phytonutrients are chemical compounds produced by plants, usually to help fight predators or pathogens. Some examples are carotenoids in squash and pumpkin and polyphenols found in berries. Phytonutrients reduce inflammation and improve our response to stress.
Antioxidants protect cells from damage during detoxification. For instance when you drink alcohol you create free radicals when we try to break it down. Antioxidants help to fight these free radicals. Plant foods also help to make the body less acidic and therefore the kidneys can excrete the toxins easily. Antioxidants are found in certain foods. The nutrient antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E and the minerals copper, since and selenium.
6. REDUCES TOXIC BURDEN: We have so so so many toxins!! We have artificial everything, additives, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. One of the biggest issues is the amount of sweeteners in highly processed foods. Did you know the United States has the highest sugar consumption per person of any country? In 1915 the average person consumed 17.5 pounds of sugar per year...in 2011 it was 150 pounds!! The average amount of sugar eaten each day is 25 teaspoons, the recommended amount for women and children is no more than 6 teaspoons and 9 in men. And we wonder why we have an obesity epidemic and an increase in diabetes?!? Eating high fiber foods while drinking recommended amounts of water will help the detox process and lower your toxic burden as well.
7. NO CALORIE RESTRICTION: Weight loss is not a goal although often occurs especially once triggers are identified. It is not as restrictive as other diets. Once I got meal planning down and snacks I cannot say I was ever hungry. If I was hungry, bad planning was to blame.
~KNOW YOUR WHY!!! This is true in ANYTHING!!! Why are you doing this?!? Remind yourself of it often throughout the day. The more passionate you are about your why the higher likelihood of success!
~PLANNING IS KEY: you need to plan your meals and your snacks. Don't allow yourself to go hungry. Eat plenty of the permitted foods. I felt as though I was chopping and cutting all the time, but you get more efficient and learn to plan better.
~EAT REGULARLY: if you are typically a breakfast skipper, just be prepared in case you cannot skip breakfast while on this plan. Eating consistently and including proteins will help fight any hunger and subsequent "cheating".
~CHOOSE ORGANIC when you can. Wash your fruits and vegetables well (even if organic!) to reduce toxic burden
~PLAN FOR ELIMINATING CAFFEINE: if you drink 4 glasses of coffee a day you may need to wean down before the diet starts
Remember this information is to be used for education and is not to substitute recommendations from your personal physician.