When I first started on my health and fitness journey around 2009, I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life and just didn't feel good in my own skin. With the help of my new boyfriend at the time Chris, now husband, I started putting more focus on the food I ate and my fitness routine in order to lose weight.
The more I changed my eating habits from eating whatever I felt like at the moment to switching to eating healthier meals, I could finally begin to see how my body was reacting to certain food. Meal prepping and planning played a big role in changing my eating habits and being consistent!
While I was eating healthy at the time, I had doubts about dairy and thought it could be a big reason I wasn't losing as much weight as I should have been.
I then removed all dairy from my diet for 2 weeks and then added it back into my meals. I immediately had uncomfortable symptoms like gassiness and extreme bloating. It was downright embarrassing!
It was very clear that I was lactose intolerant and had probably been for quite some time BUT I wasn't able to see the symptoms because on a daily basis I was eating dairy in some form.
After my dairy epiphany, I thought to myself: No big deal, I will replace it with soy! Big mistake for SO many reasons but one being that soy is not a healthy food despite what many health websites and labels tell us. We will have to save that conversation for another day.
So I went to the Starbucks on Astor Place in NYC and ordered a large soy milk latte. My body quickly told me that I couldn't tolerate soy either as I was having the same symptoms as dairy but on a bigger and more embarrassing level.
I later confirmed with my doctor that it was a true soy allergy, but again, I had no idea for so long since I unknowingly ate soy all the time (hint: it's in most packaged foods at the grocery store). My body was in a constant state of inflammation from the food I was eating which may have been the very thing holding me back from losing fat.
Without knowing it at the time, I had done an elimination diet!
The elimination diet is now the tool I use not only with my clients but also anytime I ever have a question about a certain food that seems to be bothering me or if I ever need to do a healthy reboot when my digestion seems off balance.
So, what is the elimination diet?
The Elimination Diet is an approach used by the Functional Medicine community, health practitioners, allergists and nutritionists to figuring out which foods you have a food sensitivity, food intolerance or food allergy to. This is done by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, removing a specific group of foods that are known to cause issues which allows the body to remove symptoms it may have. Later you will reintroduce certain planned foods back in one at a time to note any reactions creating a personalized eating plan.
Having this information about your individual health is important to understand so that you can eat mindfully, keep your digestive symptoms at bay, start healing your gut, and lose fat. So many benefits!
How does the elimination diet work?
The elimination diet works in two phases: The elimination phase and the reintroduction phase. I will explain both.
Phase one - Elimination: During the initial phase of an elimination diet, you will remove common culprits of digestive upset and common food allergens from your diet for 2-3 weeks. Most commonly you would remove some of the top 8 allergenic foods: soy, dairy, corn, egg, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. As well as any other food you think you may have an issue with such as nightshades, citrus fruit, yeast, legumes, etc. Please note: You should not test any foods that you believe you may have anaphylaxis reaction to.
This is so you can allow enough time for food allergens as well as other gut irritants to fully get out of your system. During this period you will naturally reduce inflammation in order to allow any symptoms to go away. You dial down your daily meals and snacks so that you are only eating real, nourishing foods that will not hurt your gut. In fact, you can begin to heal your gut with a proper elimination diet.
You will want to be strict during this phase in order to have success. Keep a list of all the foods you can and can't eat during the elimination phase so that you are very clear on which foods you need to avoid. It's very easy to forget and slip up on the foods you are used to eating.
It's important to keep meals simple and stay on track during this time so your body will be somewhat of a blankslate making it easy to figure out which foods work best for you!
Phase two - Reintroduction: Then after the 2-3 week elimination phase is over, you will enter the reintroduction phase. Gradually reintroduce the foods you removed during the initial elimination phase back into your diet one-by-one to see how your body reacts. We always suggest that our clients add back in the one food that they missed the most during the elimination phase but you can add them back in any order that you would like!
With certain food, you may notice reactions from it immediately and with others you may feel the effects a day or so later. During this phase, you will keep a food reaction journal so that you can pinpoint exactly how you are feeling both mentally and physically. Take note of any headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, constipation, gas, bloating, low energy, mood swings, fatigue, foggy thinking, etc.
Pinpointing the way these foods affect you are the key to your health success! This helps you to discover your personalized eating plan and you now know which foods to avoid in your daily life in order to avoid symptoms that may make you feel bad plus get healthier while at it!
An entire elimination diet can last between 1-3 months depending on how many foods you reintroduce back into your diet. The great thing about the elimination diet is that it can be tailored specifically to your personal needs with your health coach or practitioner.
In our Beat Belly Bloat program we have our clients go through a simple elimination diet that lasts only 28 days and then they have the freedom to add in extra foods if they would like to extend it. I believe 28 days is more manageable for client’s busy lives!
Many people discount the elimination diet because they think they don't have food allergies or intolerances and it wont help them, but it goes way beyond just discovering foods you can't eat.
The benefits you can receive by doing an elimination diet are transformational in so many ways! So I wanted to share just a few with you today!
Here Are 5 Amazing Benefits of Doing an Elimination Diet:
1. Helps to uncover food sensitivities and allergies
When your body sees certain foods as a danger its natural defenses overreact creating a immune response to let you know in the form of digestive upset, IBS, constipation, hives, acne, excessive gas, bloating, wheezing, watery eyes, puffy skin, eczema, hives, etc. When you eat a food daily that you can’t tolerate, it puts your body in a constant state of inflammation and can later result in disease and weight gain. Once you uncover these foods, you can then take steps to heal your gut and later you may be able to eat that specific food again if desired.
2. Clears your skin
As I mentioned above, eczema which can come in the form of itching, dry, cracking red skin and even acne are often an immune response from certain food. What you think is just normal acne, could actually be your body telling you that diary or another food doesn't work for you and needs to be removed for a time. We’ve had clients in our program report back that their skin cleared up within days of the elimination phase after years of skin issues!
3. Start to lose fat
It has been discovered that when your body is in a constant state of inflammation, it can’t lose fat. It's hard to know what foods are inflaming your body if you are eating them often which is why elimination diets are so important to give your body a break from those foods. Also other foods like rancid cooking oils such as canola and soybean oil are also very inflammatory whether you have an issue with it or not, so during an elimination diet you can give you body a break from those foods as well.
4. Helps to fight migraine headaches
It was shown in a study that when people who suffered from frequent migraine headaches went on an elimination diet, it significantly reduced the number of migraines they experienced monthly. Rather than reaching for over-the-counter medication that only masks symptoms, you can use the elimination diet to uncover trigger foods that may be contributing to migraine headaches.
5. Helps to heal leaky gut
When you have a leaky gut, it often comes in the form of multiple food sensitivities, inflammation, bloating, weakened immune system, etc. A common reason for having a leaky gut is caused by poor diet, stress, internal and environmental toxins. Inflammation is your bodies natural defence mechanism against harmful invaders and its main purpose is to help remove those invaders and heal your body. Leaky gut is when there’s a lot of inflammation in the gut and large holes develop in the intestinal lining allowing food, toxins and other foreign things to bypass into your bloodstream. As the undigested food or toxins pass into the bloodstream, it causes an immune response in your body and over time can lead to food sensitivities or more serious autoimmune diseases. During the elimination diet, you will remove inflammatory food and discover which ones are making you feel sick. You can then start to lower inflammation since we have removed gut irritants and make gut healing a priority.
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We are Chris and Amber, a husband and wife team dedicated to helping you improve your nutritional and personal fitness habits for a better lifestyle. If you have issues with bloating, inability to lose fat, brain fog, or are in need of a proven nutrition and fitness plan to get you out of a rut, then sign up for our 28-Day Beat Belly Bloat Program today!
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