“Food is fuel.” On the surface, that’s a statement everyone can get behind. Food does fuel our workouts and our daily lives. But for some people, certain foods may drag them down rather than pump them up and those foods have nothing to do with your stomach. We’re talking about things like headaches, migraines, skin rashes, acne, joint pains, mood changes, low energy levels, runny noses, hives and itchy eyes. You might think they’re just allergies, or you “always get tired after lunch,” when in fact it’s a FOOD you may be allergic to and chances are, you’ve been eating it for a while.
The solution? That’s what I’m here to talk about. Elimination diets.
What Is An Elimination Diet?
An elimination diet is a short-term eating plan that eliminates certain foods that may be causing allergies – then reintroduces the foods one at a time in order to determine which foods are and are not well-tolerated.
It’s estimated that 15 million adults in the U.S. alone suffer from food allergies - about 4 percent of the adult population and about 8 percent of children. But these numbers don’t even take into account food “intolerances” or “sensitivities” that don’t show up on allergy tests, so this means the real numbers are likely a lot higher.
The most common culprits include… drum roll...
- Tree nuts
You want to eliminate these suspects for 23 days.
Why 23 Days?
Antibodies, which are the proteins that your immune system makes when it reacts to foods, take around 21 to 23 days to turn over, so if you don’t quit things to which you're sensitive to for at least that amount of time, you won’t get the full effect of eliminating them.
Eliminating alcohol is partly for the detox factor. But alcohol also has a lot of sugar that helps things like yeast and harmful bacteria in your gut thrive. So when you eliminate alcohol, you may feel better, because you've actually changed the flora in your gut that are critical to keeping you healthy!
But Seriously... What Do I Eat?
- 30% “clean” protein, i.e. organic, hormone-free, grass-fed, happy, lean beef, chicken and wild fish and shellfish (you can also have an Organifi Complete Protein shake everyday to help fulfill your protein needs and also get a great boost of nutrients)
- 70% vegetables, legumes like beans and lentils and gluten-free grains like quinoa and rice
How Do I Reintroduce Foods The Right Way?
This is also much simpler than people make it out to be.
On day 24, pick one thing you eliminated - like gluten, OR dairy, OR eggs - but not more than one and eat it.
See how you feel over the next 48 hours. If you have no reaction after two days, eat that same food again and for a second time, notice how you feel. From there, it’s up to you whether or not to re-incorporate that food into your diet on a regular basis.
Once you’ve made a call on the first food you reintroduced, pick another one and follow the same steps.
This all works best when you pay attention to YOU.
Throughout the diet and the reintroduction process, notice how you feel. Maybe you'll see changes you weren’t expecting. Maybe your sleep quality or your energy level will be better. Maybe the redness in your skin will be gone, or your belly will be flatter.
But before you jump in head first, let’s talk about the common misconceptions & mistakes:
#1. DOCUMENT YOUR DIET
Before starting… keep a food and symptom diary to help identify patterns between eating habits and symptoms.
Track for at least a week before making any decisions about what you'll try cutting.
#2. TIME IT RIGHT
On day one of your diet, you should feel knowledgeable about the exact foods you'll need to avoid, prepared with lots of well-rounded recipes and be ready to read food labels with confidence, because a lot of the common allergies are sneaky little buggers.
In terms of picking an actual day to start, choose a time when you know that you will easily have complete control over what you do (and don't) eat. So, no, vacation isn't the best time to try out something like this
#3. AVOID MAKING SIMULTANEOUS LIFESTYLE CHANGES
For example, if you start taking probiotics at the same time you eliminate eggs, it will be hard to know if you’re feeling differently because of the supplement or because of the elimination.
Check out the video above for more info!
Abbey Gibb is a multimedia entrepreneur on a mission to empower a billion women around the world. She creates content and stories for her personal brand and for other impact entrepreneurs. Her focus is on helping women define success in health, hustle, and happiness.
She’s also an Emmy-winning TV journalist who over the past decade has traveled the country covering some of America’s biggest stories and a Board Certified Holistic Nutritionist. Her passion project is supporting education for orphans in Mexico through a non-profit called, Corazon de Vida.