I have decided to try the Elimination Diet. Loosely this means you eliminate most food for about three weeks and then slowly add items back, one at a time, and note how your body reacts to each one. Ideally you would discover if you have any food allergies or sensitivities and then adjust your life plan accordingly.
There are many different versions of the Elimination Diet, each having you avoid some list of food and for a varying amount of time, between two weeks and two months. I have chosen to follow a list from Precision Nutrition’s Dr. John Berardi [http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet-infographic?utm_source=EliminationDiet&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=EliminationDietEmail]. I found their infographic on Pinterest and thought it seemed the most logical to me. In a nutshell, eliminate this:
- citrus fruits;
- nightshades including peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant;
- starch (wheat, corn, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, oats, all gluten-containing food);
- nuts and seeds (includes coffee);
- red meat, and all processed meats;
- fats except for olive oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil;
- alcohol; and
- sugar and sweeteners.
This is a pretty comprehensive list if you think through it (ie. cutting out sugar means cutting out soda, juice, etc.), but just to be very clear, here is a list of things you CAN eat:
- fresh fruit [my suggestion is to limit the fruit to lower sugar fruit like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries];
- fresh raw, steamed, sautéed, or roasted vegetables (other than those listed above);
- brown rice or buckwheat [my diet will not include these as I believe I don’t work well with grains];
- fish, turkey, lamb, wild game;
- unsweetened rice or coconut milk [again, if you suspect you might have a grain intolerance, don’t have rice milk];
- olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil;
- water, herbal teas;
- sea salt, fresh pepper, fresh herbs and spices; and
- stevia only if needed.
So, for me this list makes sense as I don’t eat grains, sugars, legumes, and much dairy already. The limited meat (Dr. Berardi suggests only eating turkey, fish, lamb, and wild game) might prove a little difficult and of course cutting out cheese and cream will be my hardest!
One you have eliminated all the above things for three weeks, you will have a very clean system and will then be able to add back items, one at a time, to see if any of them cause you discomfort or any of the following symptoms which would suggest you have an intolerance or allergy:
- joint pain
- brain fog
- skin breakouts or rashes
- bowel change or GI pain
- sinus or other respiratory issues
- marked increase in energy
As Dr. B. suggests “the fewer foods you [re]introduce in a given day, the more likely you are to pinpoint sensitivities.”
I hypothesize that my sensitivities are going to be cheese, cream, sweeteners (I’m a bit of a Splenda fanatic), coffee, and eggs (thanks to a failed egg fast crash diet – I should have known better!!!) I hope I’m wrong about any of those, but I’m pretty sure those are the culprits that are making it hard for my body to help me lose my baby weight.
On my first quick scan of Pinterest for information on the Elimination Diet I came across a “Baseline Symptom Assessment Tracker” from The Myers Way (if you have Adrenal Fatigue and/or thyroid malfunctions this is a good site, and she has a comprehensive plan you can learn (for a price) that will help you. I haven’t tried same yet, so I can’t endorse it, but essentially it is an elimination diet with guidance (http://store.amymyersmd.com/shop/tmw-comprehensive-elimination-diet-ecourse/). The quick questionnaire has you rate your symptoms in categories (head, mind, eyes, nose, ears, mouth/throat, heart, lungs, skin, weight, digestion, emotions, energy/activity, joints/muscles, and other). I found that my high categories were weight, mind, eyes, energy/activity, head, digestion, and joints/muscles.
I can draw a correlation with being post-natal (baby girl is now just over 8 months old), including the brain fog, the exhaustion, lack of sleep, dark circles under my eyes, etc. So for those symptoms I am not too concerned although I will still work on them! The symptoms I really want to pay attention to are my inability to lose weight, water retention/swelling, weakness/tiredness, constipation, and what I feel may be a malabsorption of nutrients.
Like any diet or eating plan, we must personalize them to our own needs. I am starting from a position of having almost three months of low carb (and in some cases very low carb/high fat). I will not be eating the grains suggested (like brown rice or buckwheat), and I won’t be going all out with fruits. I might just stick to berries, but I will revisit this later and perhaps add a few other low Glycemic Index fruits if I need a treat.
I will, as Dr. Berardi suggests, follow the elimination phase for three weeks. For week 4 I will not be adding back the grains, instead I will be adding back eggs, then cheese, and then other dairy. Finally, I will reintroduce nightshades, red meat, and alcohol. My goal is to eliminate sweetener completely and not bring it back.
For me personally, water has always been a problem. I find it very hard to consistently get my necessary daily intake. I’m not a thirsty person! I’m trying, but that can always use improvement. Water will be my best friend during this elimination diet. I’m hoping the elimination diet will help to gently cleanse my system as well. I will continue taking my multi-vitamin and fish oil (NutriSea).