We’re finally in the home stretch – ONE WEEK LEFT! I’m incredibly proud of all of you for making it this far. How do you feel? I wish I could sit down with each and every one of you and hear all about it.
This week, we’ve finally reached what we’ve been leading up to for the past 21 days: an elimination diet.
As I mentioned in week one, elimination diets are a form of cleansing that help you uncover food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, which can cause symptoms such as:
- Anaphylactic Shock
- Acid reflux
- Dark circles
- Mouth sores
- Weight gain/loss
- Ear infections
- Joint inflammation
- Mood swings
Alexandria Crow and I have both experienced symptoms that we had no idea were food related. For example, I was confused as to why I had heartburn when I was eating well – it turns out the culprit was dairy. I’d also been dealing with fatigue for so long that it felt normal, but my energy level sky-rocketed when I cut back on gluten. Doing an elimination diet was a truly eye-opening and life-changing experience for me, and I recommend that everyone does it at some point in their life.
You might be wondering, why should I do an elimination diet rather than an allergy test in my doctors office? The latter is typically for the type of food allergy with immediate and obvious reactions in your body such as anaphylactic shock or hives. But there are certain food intolerances/sensitivities with symptoms that may take time to develop and/or may not seem food related (e.g. dark circles under your eyes or mood swings). Also, some tests require you to regularly eat the food that’s making you feel sick before testing in order for the results to be accurate. At the end of the day, an elimination diet is the most effective way to pinpoint what’s plaguing you.
That said, they can be difficult, but you’ll notice that the foods you’ve been adding the last three weeks are ones that you can continue to eat this week. Hopefully that makes it much easier for you!
Week Four: Elimination
- Make a list of your symptoms.
- Avoid the following common trigger foods for the next 7 days: dairy, wheat, gluten, eggs, corn, nuts, citrus, soy, yeast, nightshade vegetables, chocolate, shellfish, coffee/caffeine, alcohol, sugar, food additives.
- After day 7, introduce one food at a time back into your diet. Be sure to eat the amount you would normally so you can feel its full effect. Watch for the reappearance of symptoms. If possible, wait 48 hours before introducing the next food to give your body time to react. You may find more severe reactions, minor sensitivities (e.g. I found that I can tolerate a tiny bit of gluten), or no reaction at all!
- If eliminating all of these at once seems too overwhelming, try a couple at a time. It will take longer, but it’s far less restrictive. I recommend starting with gluten and dairy. From there, continue with what you eat the most of and work your way through the list. Oddly we tend to crave the foods we’re sensitive to, so you may also want to eliminate other foods that you eat very regularly (e.g. maybe you eat pineapple every morning for breakfast).
- Figuring out what works best for your body is not something that happens overnight, so have fun with the process and practice patience. Think of this as an exercise in listening to your body.
- Drink plenty of water. The general recommendation is half of your body weight in ounces per day.
**Please note that you might feel relief from symptoms immediately, but sometimes they take longer to go away. If you are still feeling symptoms that you think are food related after 7 days, consider extending your elimination diet for up to a month.
What to focus on
- LOTS of Vegetables (not nightshades or corn). Organic whenever possible, plenty of leafy greens. See week one for more info.
- Whole Grains. Be sure to avoid grains with gluten. See week two for more info.
- Beans. BPA-free cans if you aren’t cooking them yourself. See week three for more info.
- Fruit (not citrus). Organic whenever possible.
- Fish. Wild and low mercury. Use this great guide for the most sustainable seafood choices.
- Meat. Organic, grass-fed, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, cage-free, happy, etc. Remember that 3 oz fits in the palm of your hand, and that plant based food should make up around 3/4 of your plate. See week three for more info.
- Healthy Fats. such as olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, and avocados.
- Whole Foods. make sure whatever you eat is in its whole natural state – nothing processed or refined.
- Variety. Mix it up and try not to eat the same thing every day.
Joanna Berman is a holistic health counselor, writer, recipe developer, 500-hour certified yoga teacher, and the Content & Communications Manager at YogaWorks and MyYogaWorks. She believes in finding balance, figuring out what makes you feel your best, and most importantly enjoying the process. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram at @peppermysalt for all things food and yoga, including in-post recipes! peppermysalt.com