Discovering Your Optimal Healing Menu: Elimination Diets Made Easy
It regulates our immune system, moods, energy levels, metabolism, focus and even the way our genes are expressed.
Imbalances in the gut can cause depression and anxiety, create a hormonal imbalance and may even lead to cancer.
In order to heal from any ailment, we must begin by soothing inflammation and restoring balance in our gut.
To do so, we must identify the foods that are fueling inflammation and disturbing balance. This is where the elimination diet comes in.
See, some foods are universally problematic, while other foods only cause problems for certain people. Plus, once we are in a state of inflammatory distress, our bodies can begin reacting to foods that we don’t have problems with when our gut is healthy.
An elimination diet is a fail-proof method for identifying your unique food sensitivities and allergies. Although seeking the guidance of a root cause practitioner can be helpful with this step, it is by no means necessary. With care and commitment, you can conduct a diagnostic elimination diet on your own and free of cost!
There are two methods for you to choose from. Select from the options below according to your needs and realistic ability to adhere to a restricted diet.
Classic Elimination Diet
If we do have a negative reaction, we’ll have identified a food that must be avoided – at least for the time being. Once our guts are healed and our microbiomes are rebalanced, we may be able to reintroduce and enjoy these foods.
Negative reactions to look for include typical maldigestion: bloating, cramping, gas, constipation or diarrhea. You’ll also want to pay attention to other symptoms like feelings of depression or anxiety, disturbed sleep, headaches, joint pain, dizziness and brain fog.
A food diary is the ideal way to track your intake and reactions.
Gradual Elimination Diet
This method will not get results es efficiently as the classic elimination diet, however it can be easier to adhere to for someone who struggles with restrictive diets.
If you have a busy lifestyle and a lot of daily stress, removing many things from your diet all at once can leave you feeling more stressed and confused about what you should eat.
If you follow a standard western diet, you may suddenly find that most of the foods you consume on a daily basis are no longer available to you.
In either case, gradually eliminating foods may be a more gentle change. You’ll also be more likely to stick with it, which is the most important thing.
So choose the schedule that best suits your lifestyle and let’s get started!
What Foods Should I Eliminate?
Unfortunately, the wheat on the market today is not the product it was 50 years ago. We’ve hybridized species to create a high-gluten variety that is also highly resistant to pesticides. As a result, conventionally-produced wheat crops are treated with noxious chemicals twice, including just before harvesting. When we eat wheat, we’re taking those poisons in with every bite.
Also, gluten prompts our bodies to secrete more zonulin, which contributes to Leaky Gut and inflammation. Zonulin weakens our gut junctions, allowing toxins to leak directly into our bloodstream. That’s why we’ll be eliminating wheat and any other foods that contain gluten, like barley and rye.
The good news is, you can cut wheat from your diet while still enjoying many of your favorite foods. Thanks to alternative flours made from almonds, rice, coconut and other nourishing foods, we can prepare baked goods without wheat. Many gluten-free, wheat-free products like breads, cereals and even frozen pizzas are commonly found in grocery stores these days. If you don’t see gluten-free options where you usually shop, check with a health store in your community.
Dairy fuels inflammation and congestion. Humans are the only mammal that consumes milk beyond the breastfeeding years and many scientists and nutritionists insist that we simply lack the enzymes to properly digest dairy products by the time we are eight years old.
When it comes to inflammation, leaky gut and dysbiosis, dairy has got to go. Fortunately, you can enjoy dairy-free versions of many of your favorite foods. Veganism is a popular lifestyle choice that is quickly gaining traction in the mainstream market. As a result, you’ll find many dairy-free options at pretty much any grocery store.
Milk, cheese, yogurt, cream – you name it, there’s a dairy-free alternative available. Many of these products are highly processed and contain undesirable additives so use them sparingly and pick the options with the least ingredients, or make your own…
Coconut Milk: All you need is an 8 oz. bag of unsweetened, shredded coconut and 4 cups of hot water. Combine the coconut and hot water in the blender and allow it to sit for several minutes to give the coconut time to soften. Blend thoroughly. Strain through a nut bag, cheese cloth or a clean rag. Your coconut milk can be used right away or stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Instant Sesame Milk: Simply blend ¼ cup raw, organic tahini with 2 cups water. Sesame milk is protein-rich, fiber-rich and an excellent source of gut-healing nutrients like magnesium, zinc, selenium and Vitamin B1. Most nuts and seeds create acidity in the body, but sesame is alkalizing. This recipe can be adapted to use any other raw nut butter for a quick and healthy alternative to dairy products and store-bought plant-based milks.
In addition to wheat and dairy, we’ll be eliminating several other foods that are problematic for many people:
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Fast Food
Any other foods you suspect are problematic for you. For many people this means beans, nuts, and anything else you suspect you are reacting to.
Elimination Diet Tips
Buy directly from farmers. Either at farm stands or green markets, you can buy your produce directly from the farmers who grow them, and personally verify that your food has been grown without dangerous chemicals.
Join or form a co-op. Increase your purchasing power by buying dry goods in bulk. You can join a co-op that already serves your community or start your own. Starting your own food buying club is easier than you might think. All you have to do is organize enough people to meet the order minimum at the company that you are purchasing from. 5 or 6 families is enough to get you started in most cases.
Grow your own. Get down and dirty! Dig your hands into the dirt to boost your microbiome and produce safe food for your family at a mere fraction of the cost you’d pay anywhere else. If you think you don’t have enough room, you’re probably wrong. Learn about maximizing food production in a small space and container gardening from Permaculture College Australia at https://permaculture.com.au/. Many municipalities also offer community gardens where you can rent a plot for the growing season for a nominal fee. Community gardens are really great for beginner gardeners because you’ll be sharing space with experienced ‘green thumbs’ who can answer any questions you may have along the way.
Citric Acid – Sounds like a healthy, naturally-derived ingredient, right? Wrong! Obtaining citric acid from plants is difficult and expensive. Manufacturers are cutting costs by using genetically modified molds and bacterias instead.
Celery Powder – Another chemically-derived, artificial preservative posing as a healthy ingredient.
Organic – When it comes to food labels, organic can be a misleading term. If you peruse the snack and candy aisle you’re sure to find junk food utterly devoid of nutrition bearing the organic seal. Even organic produce can be grown with approved pesticides and herbicides and organic leafy greens are treated with a sanitizer that destroys all bacteria, bacteria that we rely on to digest these foods. Be wary of the organic label and use your judgment to avoid dangerous toxins in your food.
You’ll adhere to your elimination diet for at least one month, or longer if you choose. Some irritants, like gluten, can affect us for several months so the longer we wait to reintroduce, the more reliable the results of our elimination program will be.
Some foods we’re just better off without. Processed, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners have no place in a healthy diet. If you like to use sweeteners, try some of these alternatives:
- Dates – rich in fiber and important minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium
Pure Maple Syrup – an excellent source of manganese, zinc, calcium and potassium
- Raw Honey – rich in antioxidants and a prebiotic that feeds your microbiome
When reintroducing a food, eat several portions of that food then wait 3 days to gauge your reaction. Then move on to the next food in the same fashion.
Try just one food at a time, then discontinue it as you move onto the next one. For instance, if you start with reintroducing dairy, eat several portions, then note your reactions for three days. Then move onto the next food. Test one food at a time until you’ve gauged your reactions to all of the foods that have been eliminated.
Digestive upset is the easiest symptom to notice. You’ll also want to pay attention to changes in your mood, energy level and mental state. Headaches, dizziness, joint pain and skin irritation can also be indicators of a food reaction.
Foods that trigger a reaction must be removed from your diet completely, but not forever. Many people find that when they’ve recovered from inflammation and healed their guts that they can reintroduce foods without having negative reactions.
How to Identify Food Sensitivities
To check your pulse at your wrist, place two fingers on your radial artery between the tendon and the bone, a few centimeters below the thumb joint. Time yourself for 15 seconds while counting the pulsations in the artery. Multiply by 4 to determine your beats per minute.
When reintroducing foods, check your pulse first then place the food in your mouth. Chew or simply keep the food in your mouth for one minute then spit it out and check your pulse again.
An increase of 6 beats per minute indicates a positive reaction. Stress from allergens triggers a response in the nervous system that increases blood flow, making the pulse test an easy way to detect a food sensitivity without actually consuming the item in question and experiencing an uncomfortable reaction.
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