The Skinny On The Elimination Diet

When you realize that your digestion is much less than optimal and you feel terrible, it is time to do something about it. I got to that point and started noticing that I had symptoms like gassiness, bloating, constipation, and sharp cramp-like pains that started happening a lot. I knew I needed a reliable way to find out WHY this was happening and, more importantly, WHAT was causing my discomfort. That’s when I found out about the Elimination Diet.

Before really becoming aware of what foods worked for me, I was consumed with calorie counting and never really looking at the quality of the food I was eating or noticing how it made me feel. It’s not until you really take time to eliminate certain foods for a period of time that you come to understand what works for you and that nutrient dense food is sustaining.

The Elimination Diet is an approach to figuring out which foods you are sensitive to so that you can eat mindfully and keep your digestive symptoms at bay. The gut is where the majority of your immune system is and is considered the “second brain” in your body, so it is important to keep it healthy and keep things running smoothly. In the elimination diet, you start by eliminating common culprits of digestive upset and common food allergens. 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. The categories of food to eliminate are:

  • Grains – The foundation of the Food Pyramid for decades, it has now been discovered that many people have a hard time digesting grains, including corn.
  • Processed Foods – There are many toxic chemicals (like MSG, artificial colors, and flavorings) and other undesirable ingredients (like GMOs, trans fats, and HFCS) in processed food that can impede digestion and even cause disease
  • High Glycemic Foods – Large amounts of starches and added sugars can feed a bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and other gut dysbiosis problems.
  • Gluten and Fructans – Found in many grains, gluten has been found to be one of the causes of leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases. Fructans are found in FODMAPS (short-chain carbohydrates) and can also feed those bad bugs in your gut.
  • Unrefined Oils – These can cause inflammation throughout your body.
  • Feedlot Meats and Dairy – Meats and dairy from the conventional food system are full of hormones, antibiotics, and even poisons such as arsenic.
  • Eggs, Peanuts, and Shellfish – All are common food allergens.
  • Gut Irritants – Caffeine and alcohol can wreak havoc on your gut. Avoid these while you are healing.

There is a 3/3 guideline for adding foods back into your diet:

“Do not conclude a food causes symptoms, unless symptoms occur within 3 days of eating the food and occur consistently on 3 separate occasions after eating it.”*

You will know, as you begin to add foods back in, what works and what doesn’t. I suggest starting slow; give the diet a few weeks to work, and start adding foods back in one at a time. If a food causes symptoms on 3 different occasions, you will know that you are sensitive to that food and to avoid it for a while and try again later. Eventually you will come up with a plan that your body will love. Everyone is different and finding your own unique way of eating to feel good will change your life.

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10 Steps To Better Digestion

Good digestion has a lot to do with clean eating. When you consume clean whole foods you experience significantly less digestive issues.  This is one of the things I love about the detox program, it challenges you to cut out many of the foods that typically cause digestion problems.   After the detox you can then add in one new food type at a time to really isolate those foods that are causing you digestive issues.

During the detox you really learn to pay attention to the following:   Do you feel like your food is just sitting in your stomach for hours after you eat? Or is the opposite happening, and are you running to the bathroom before you have even finished your meal?  If you are experiencing these issues, you are not alone  and there are things you can do improve the situation.

Here are ten steps to take now to get things moving properly through your gut:

  1. Food Combining – When foods are combined properly, they do not sit in your stomach and rot. That rotting food feeds the bad bacteria and yeast that everyone has residing in their digestive tract. To combine food, you eat protein with vegetables or grains with vegetables, never proteins & grains together.
  2. Fermented Foods – These are naturally fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, etc., that, when eaten, will feed the good bacteria in your gut and balance your inner ecology.
  3. Enzymes and Probiotics – While not everyone needs to take digestive enzymes all the time, they can be helpful in digesting certain foods, such as cruciferous vegetables.  Probiotics also help with the digestion of  food and build up your immunity.
  4. Water – We all know we need to drink plenty of water. A little known Ayurvedic trick is to drink a glass of water 15 minutes before your meal. This will get your digestive juices flowing and your food will get digested better.
  5. 80/20 – This rule is to eat until you are 80% full. That leaves 20% of the room left in your stomach for your digestion to work. No one likes that uncomfortable full feeling and your tummy will thank you if you stop just before you are full.
  6. Eat Loads of Fiber – Your body needs fiber to carry out toxins, excess hormones, and junk. Eating lots of water-soluble fiber, found in veggies, will ensure that you get plenty of fiber. Just don’t forget step #4! Drink lots of water, too, so that you don’t end up with bulky stool.
  7. Short Fasting Period – Don’t worry, I am not suggesting that you don’t eat for a day. What I am suggesting is that you take some time between meals. Give your system about 3 or 4 hours to let the food get assimilated. When your gut is constantly bombarded by food all day long, it gets confused and doesn’t work properly. Give it some time to work on that last meal before you head to the kitchen for a snack.
  8. Cut Sugar and White Carbohydrates – These foods will feed the bad guys in your gut. Avoid them for less gas and bloating – and you don’t want the insulin spike that comes with them either.
  9. Gluten – A large percentage of Americans are gluten intolerant and do not know it. Try going without and see if your digestion works any better.
  10. Bone Broth – The #1 most soothing and healing drink that you could ever ingest. Homemade bone broth contains all of the nutrients you need to heal your gut if it is leaky and also provides the minerals you need for strong bones. It’s a win-win, must-consume food!

BONUS: Eat Mindfully.  I discussed this a few weeks ago, but can not stress the importance of this. Not only will slowing down, sitting down and chewing slowly, help you eat less, and be more aware of what you’re eating, you will digest your food properly and are a lot less likely to suffer from a stomach ache.

If you incorporate some or all of the tips, you will ease in to better digestion and the tummy troubles will disappear.

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