The purpose of the elimination diet is to discover how food affects your body, mind and emotions. Because our typical American diet is composed of so many different foods it can be hard to discern how the body is reacting to each food. It’s a bit like trying to see the horizon on a foggy day. By taking time to “de-fog” our system we can then experience what it is like to be in a body relatively free of toxins and as we reintroduce items back into our diet we can compare our experiences. So here’s the skinny on the 28 day elimination diet.
A few basic things to consider:
- Challenge & Opportunity. To succeed with the elimination diet you need to have the intention and commitment to go all the way with it. It isn’t something that you can just slip into without changing several aspects of your daily routines. It is an all encompassing diet as you will see below. That being said, it should be more exciting than intimidating. We can choose to embrace these 28 days as an opportunity to clear out our trenches and get excited about the opportunity we’re giving ourselves to deepen our experience of life.
- Education & Inspiration. This “diet” is more of an education process than your typical results-oriented diet. Before we get the process started we need to prepare our minds and psyche so that we will have the room inside ourselves needed to perceive any shifts that may occur. Remember, the shifts aren’t limited to just our physical body, you’ll likely find your overall sensitivity and ability to engage with life amplifies.
- Teammates & Cheerleaders. A little team moral never hurt anyone. In fact, it’s hard to make it through life without the support from others! So spread the word, tell your family and friends that you’ll be doing this diet and why. They’ll likely be really supportive and you may even find someone who wants to do it with you.
- Track it. As we trek through our journey you may find it helpful to keep some notes or a journal about what you notice. Keep track of things like common symptoms (headaches, nasal congestion, skin irritations, any kind of pain, irritability, hyperactivity, dark circles under the eyes, vomiting, fatigue, muscle aches, abdominal pain, etc.) Keep in mind that symptoms may occur instantly after eating, within a few hours or even several days later. The purpose of the journal is to help us get clarity. It is not to track calories, or obsess about how much you have eaten. Both of these behaviors undermine the purpose of this particular diet.
- 5. Check it out. Before you get started be sure to check out your nutritional supplements, over-the-counter medications, mints and chewing gum. All these can contain irritating proteins, so check out the ingredients and if you have any questions please post them on our discussion board.
- Keep it clean. Exclude all alcohol, coffee, cigarettes and other recreational drugs for the entire 28 days. If possible drink purified water throughout the entire diet, and when making teas and smoothies.
Now that you’ve got some basic preparations down it’s good to look at the territory we’ll be covering over the 28 days. There are 5 phases:
Phase 1: Days 1 & 2
First Stop Smoothie Central!
We kick of the elimination diet in style by spending the first 2 days with a green smoothie fast. This means that you get to get your green on all day long! (Puts a whole new spin on going green doesn’t it?!)
If you have the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook you’ll find some excellent smoothie recipes on pages 97-99. If you don’t have the book we highly recommend you get it, but if you can’t, you can check out this blog for smoothie ideas. Remember to use purified water when making smoothies, and since you’ll be drinking these for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2 days be sure to make smoothies that taste good to you! This is one of those things where the achievement isn’t greater because you’ve beared more! It should be reasonably painless. ;)
If you already know that you’re digestion is sensitive to cold, or you find you have abdominal cramping/bloating as you go through these first 2 days, then try making warm smoothies by using hot water. (If you do, remember to not put the blender top all the way on- this prevents smoothie explosion – speaking from personal experience here folks- defiantly not the way you want to start off your day!)
Phase 2: Days 3-9
The journey continues as we move into the heart of our inner spring cleaning with phase 2. During this phase we focus on consuming hypo-allergenic foods, meaning foods that are unlikely to elicit any irritation. This means you get to enjoy fresh fruits, veggies, some beans and some whole grains. Feel free to continue the green smoothies through this phase. While most fruits and veggies are game you will want to exclude the following as they are common irritants: strawberries, citrus, kiwi, bananas and pineapples. All other fruits are game.
Just to give you an idea of some of the veggies you can look forward to during this phase here’s a brief list of foods you can have: steamed veggies, raw salads, avocado, mung beans, adzuki beans, roasted yams with olive oil, steamed sweet potatoes, squash, lentils, quinoa, teff, brown rice, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, dried figs and currants. *It’s best to buy beans dried and cook them yourself because many canned beans may be cross contaminated with gluten.
Phase 3: Days 10-15
Movin’ on to phase 3. In this phase we get to start adding back in potentially reactive foods. So you’ll want to be sure to pay attention to how you feel and any symptoms that arise. If you do notice any uncomfortable changes take the food that you think is causing it back out of your diet.
Add in: For day 10-13 add in lemons and limes. (If you have the book be sure to check out Lemon & Lentil soup on page 150- it’s oh so good!) If its smooth sailin’ for you through these days, then on day 13 add in recipes with wheat-free tamari (wheat free soy sauce).
If you have a reaction to either the tamari or the lemons and limes remove the culprit from the diet immediately, returning to the hypo-allergenic foods for 24 hours or until the symptoms have completely cleared. Then move on to the next phase.
Phase 4: Days 16-28
As we hone in on the finish line with Phase 4 add back in all beans, including soy and nuts. If you have no problems with these you may want to add in salmon as well. At this junction of the diet you can add in tofu and/or tempeh for three days. If you have no reaction then you can follow all the recipes in the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook except those that contain gluten, eggs, corn, yeast and dairy.
You’re just about there! Food Freedom is insight! At this point you can add in eggs, dairy, gluten, corn and yeast one at a time back into your diet. Here are some suggestions: Try gluten-free rice bread to test yeast, milk for diary, sprouted rye bread for gluten, polenta for corn and poached or scrambled eggs for eggs. Eat these foods three times a day for 3 days. If you have no reaction move on to the next. If you have a reaction take it out of your diet and wait 24 hours or until symptoms have cleared before challenging the next food.
That’s it! Hopefully at the end of this journey you’ll know the foods that cause problems for you and you can take them out of your diet.
Remember, you can buy the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook here, or if you live in the Seattle area you can pick up a copy at Synergy Wellness Center in Bellevue. Also be sure to check out the Whole Life Nutrition blog for more recipe ideas and elimination diet guidelines. And be sure to check back on this blog as we’ll be posting updates and ideas we venture through 28 days to Food Freedom! Lastly, be sure to check out the Eating for Evolution Discussion Board and feel free to post any questions, comments, or just share your experience with us. We’d love to hear it as we’re all in it together!
Here’s to concious eating!