The Elimination Diet
Struggling with your ‘diet’?
Tired of bouncing between archaic, time consuming, complicated ‘diet plans?’
Then this post is the starting place for you, to get on the path of the Agnostic Diet — which I almost debated calling the Anti-Diet… — and hopefully soon we’ll have reformed the word ‘Diet‘ into something a little more wholesome — as opposed to something you ‘go on.’
Regardless, if you’re looking for a starting point at reforming your diet, then an elimination strategy will help you realize what you might want to cut out, or what you feel better eating.
Here is a list of the foods that people are most commonly allergic to, have an intolerance to, or a sensitivity to:
- Tree Nuts
- Food Additives (Likes Sulphites, Amines, artificial colour and other preservatives)
- Bee By-Products (Honey, Bee Pollen, etc… if you’re allergic to bees…which you can be tested for easily)
- Salicylic Acid (Which can be found in many foods like blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, dates, raisins, guava, apricots, green pepper, olives, tomato, radish, mushrooms and chicory)
- Fructose (High Levels are typically more the concern, as these are processed by the liver; it’s unlikely you’ll consume too much through whole sources)
There are easy tests you can get for some or many of these these in the form of things like the ELISA Test or skin tests, but you’ll need to talk to your doctor about getting one done and be aware that they are not always reliable.
All the same though, I still recommend everybody get a standard allergy test as a proactive health assessment.
It is also beneficial to at least consult with your physician or a registered dietician before engaging in an elimination diet over the long term, as excluding certain foods may leave you deficient in certain nutrients that you could or can obtain from other foods you’re not eliminating.
For instance the lack of Vitamin B12 in vegetarian diets, usually warrants the need to supplement with Vitamin B12.
The last 4 are less common, and there are others worth noting and trying for some people, but rather than raise a panic about otherwise healthy foods that are only an issue in a very low-percentage of the population (and that your doctor/physician should probably be helping you with anyway), I’m excluding them.
Dosage Is Important
I’d also like to note that toxicity of most foods found in the diet, is a matter of dosage, and not merely consumption.
There are lots of foods that have low levels of what would normally be considered ‘bad for you‘ chemical compounds already, but these foods are often very healthful for you, because the dosage of that bad ‘ingredient‘ in the food is so ridiculously low that the dose isn’t high enough to do anything to you.
For instance, apples contain cyanide (a known and lethal poison) in them, but at such a low dose that it would never harm you, even if you ate nothing but apples all day.
You shouldn’t avoid apples for this reason, because the healthful properties of the apple, far outweigh the meaningless dose of cyanide relative to your system.
Most foods actually have hundreds, perhaps thousands of compounds in them that we are either unaware of, or have been unable to classify, and quite often we have no idea how these compounds interact with one another either because it is difficult to take a holistic vantage point in research environments.
Furthermore you see increases in levels of potentially toxic substances after processing and through long periods of exposure.
For example, corn is only about 5% Omega-6 on it’s own, but when turned into a corn oil it’s over 50% Omega-6 oils, which once and a while probably won’t throw your Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios off that much, but over-exposure via the consumption of a lot of fast food cooked in corn oil, can and does lead to health concerns after months or years of exposure.
This makes a strong case for the consumption of whole foods, in moderation and variety.
[alert]Any toxic effects as a result of food consumption are a matter of dosage, not just the type of food.
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I don’t want people to read this and presume that peanuts or soy are ‘bad for you‘ simply because proportionately speaking, more people might be allergic to them.
Their consumption, particularly from whole sources, can still be nutritionally beneficial, provided they are not over consumed.
Over consumption can lead to the development of allergic responses.
On with the diet…
Typically it’s recommended that you remove all potential allergens, so here is a free cheat sheet I put together for you.
Then you gradually reintroduce one at a time in 3-4 week intervals, as generally not eating something for a week yields little change.
Then often, you should keep a qualitative food journal — recording how you feel daily, try this free online tool — and note how gradually reintroducing things makes you feel.
With this approach, if you feel worse, or gain weight, feel bloated, get diarrhea, get constipated, feel nausea, get headaches, or other consistently bad sensations, once you reintroduce an item, this might mean that particular item isn’t right for your diet.
Now sure the placebo effect might be taking effect, but if you feel better, then it’s probably worth it.
That’s one strategy, the more common strategy.
Do it the other way, remove one thing from your diet for a month, and gauge how you feel — again qualitative journal…
If you feel better without that food, or you notice that you stop getting headaches, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, etc… or you notice that you sleep better, perform better, have more energy, are more focused, etc… then you might want to consider keeping that food out of your diet.
Essentially with either method of an elimination diet, you keep a journal of how you feel for about a month, 28 days.
There is a possibility that a food in your diet is wreaking havoc on your weight loss pursuits and you didn’t even know it.
I encourage everyone to experiment a little with their food consumption, or hire a good coach.
** Unofficial announcement, Koachable has launched to a private group of coaches, myself included.
I’m in the process of building several little resources using the coaching software, so if you’d like to get some free coaching on nutrition, training or mindset make sure you sign-up for my newsletter below or head over to this page and get on the waiting list for my upcoming 6 month body transformation contest and coaching program.
To keep the numbers manageable, I’m only sending these invites out to the VIP’s I have email addresses for.