Maybe you’ve heard people say, “I’m doing a cleanse, or a juice fast, or an all soup diet, or…” The list goes on and on. The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, and that should come as no surprise, as people are seemingly always on the hunt for the latest quick-fix way to lose weight and get that “bikini body.”
Do you find yourself feeling crappy after you eat? Maybe you feel bloated, gassy, or like there is an urgency to get to the bathroom stat before an embarrassing mess ensues. Now, if this happens every now and again, it may not be too much cause for concern, but if this is happening more and more after most meals, then it’s time to see what the underlying issue may be.
Digestive issues, or gut issues, have a direct correlation to your mental health and wellbeing. Given that, it is hugely important for both your physical and emotional health to deal with your stomach troubles before they make you miserable on the inside and outside. In a previous article “Fuel or Poison”, I shared about a tool to help see if the food you are eating is nourishing you or harming you, and that is a daily food journal.
So, assuming you have kept your food journal for a week or so, then you should have some general insights into recognizing if the food you are eating or drinking is the culprit behind your bad belly. Whether it may be clear or not what the culprit is at this time, the next step to figuring it out is by doing an elimination diet.
An elimination diet may be somewhat challenging in the beginning, but the payoff is worth it because on the other end of it is feeling good — physically and mentally.
Here are the top 10 food allergens:
- Wheat / Gluten
- Beef / Pork
- Refined Sugars
Now, given that the above are the top 10 food allergens, I actually don’t recommend doing an elimination diet with all ten items at once, unless you know from your food journal log that one of the above items aggravates you. If you know that, then most definitely get it out of your diet. Otherwise, I suggest starting an elimination diet by removing the following items from your diet for at least three weeks: Wheat / Gluten, Dairy, Corn, Soy, Eggs, Soy, Coffee, and Alcohol.
I know what you are thinking right now. WHAT?!?! Well, what on earth am I supposed to eat then? Not to fear, you will be eating food, real food. It means most of what you will be consuming will be in whole food form, which means it will likely not come in a box or a bag or be highly processed. This is a good thing! You will be eating a lot of veggies, fruits, healthy oils, and nuts.
It does mean, however, that you will need to be a lot more vigilant in these three weeks about what you put into your mouth. If you do find yourself having to eat something that is processed and does come in a box, then it means you will need to read the labels. Many processed foods contain soy and corn, and they may be in another form, such as maltodextrin or soy lecithin. Also, if you take vitamins or supplements, then read the labels on those as well because many do contain soy. Now, this also means if you are at a restaurant, then you should ask the staff how the food is prepared, as in what oil are things cooked in, and find out exactly what ingredients are in the food that you ordered. As I said, it will take some work on your part to complete an elimination diet, but the payoff is so worth it.
What will you eat during this time? I suggest a lot of veggies! As far as protein goes, I suggest organic lean cuts of meat and/or poultry, seafood, and legumes. Snack on veggies and hummus, apples with peanut butter, and nuts. You don’t have to entirely eliminate caffeine during this time, as green tea actually augments effects by helping detox your body from these items which may be inflammatory to you. A great breakfast go-to is a veggie and fruit smoothie, with a plant based protein powder. I recommend this one, as it is very clean, with few ingredients, and high in protein and fiber. Otherwise, be on the lookout for a protein powder that is a pea protein powder replacement.
Swap macaroni noodles for either zoodles (zucchini noodles), brown rice and quinoa noodles (a favorite of mine!), or even lentil noodles. There are options out there to replace what you would normally eat without sacrificing flavor and taste.
Besides feeling better, another upside to an elimination diet is usually weight loss. When you are being hyper-critical about every morsel you put in your mouth, then you generally tend to eat a bit less and a lot cleaner.
After three weeks, you can begin to reintroduce the eliminated items within a 2 – 4 day period. What this means is, you will introduce one item at a time during those few days, so it will take a couple of weeks before all items are reintroduced. You will then get an idea, very quickly, if you are being triggered by any of the eliminated items.
During this time, water is your friend. Drink a lot of water, as your body is going through a detox and elimination of possibly inflammatory foods. Also, I recommend getting an accountability partner or support person to help you through these few weeks. You can go about your normal daily activities and should continue to exercise and/or move your body daily. Above all, be kind to yourself, as this is for the benefit and greater good of yourself.
*Side note: I am not a doctor or medical provider, so please consult your doctor before starting any strict diet.