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Episode 194: How to Survive an Elimination Diet (Part 2)

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If you know me, you know I am not a fan of deprivation for deprivation's sake when it comes to dieting.

I don't think we should be cutting out foods willy nilly, and I certainly don't think we should cut out entire macronutrients.

However the old adage is true: one person's superfood is another person's poison. And sometimes there are certain foods that cause a reaction in our body that prevents us from looking or feeling our best.

And the only way to truly know what those foods are is through an elimination diet.

An elimination diet is where you remove a food entirely for a minimum of 23 days, reintroduce it for a day, and then take it back out for 3 days while you watch for a huge range of potential symptoms.

Why is it necessary to do this when we have things like food sensitivity tests? 

First of all because food sensitivity tests are still in fairly new and they're far from perfect.

I may use them in my practice as a starting point, but I still recommend doing an elimination diet utilizing the results those tests give you to confirm whether or not they hold true. 

Also there are literally hundreds of ways you can have a negative reaction to a food. Sensitivity tests only test one of those reactions.

How do I know so much about food sensitivities? Well besides being a gut health expert, I myself had to go on a 9 month elimination diet.

For me, the foods I was eliminating were feeding opportunistic bacteria in my gut that I needed to kill off. And so the journey began.

In that time I couldn't eat chocolate, coffee, grains, legumes, sugar, dairy, alcohol, garlic, onions, or fermented foods.

Here's how I did it without losing my ever-loving mind. (Click here to start with part one.)

7. Take it one day at a time. 

The fastest way to get overwhelmed is to think about allll of the meals you have to get through over the course of an elimination diet, whether it's for 30 days, 90 days, or 9 months like me. Don't let your mind go there. 

Keep your focus on the present, and know that as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other you will get there.

I can tell you there were plenty of times it felt like my elimination diet was going to last a lifetime. But here I am on the other side of it, and looking back the time feels like a blip on the radar. And that's always how it goes. How many times have you looked back and thought, "Man, if I had just started last year I'd already be done with that journey"?

8. Prepare, prepare, and prepare some more. 

Most people don't fall off the wagon because they just say 'fuck it, I quit'. They usually fall off because they get caught in a situation where they're tired, stressed, and hungry and they don't have any options that fits the plan so their survival brain takes over and they just eat what's available. 

So never be caught unawares. I always had compliant bars like chomps sticks, RX bars, and larabas in my purse, or a bag of mixed nuts, or some fruit. Even if I didn't think I'd be away from home long, I was aware that sometimes life throws you curveballs and it was up to me to stay one step ahead of them. 

Bring food to parties, eat before you go places, keep snacks in your purse or car, look at menus ahead of time, make multiple servings every time you cook and freeze the leftovers for 'those kinds of nights'. 

9. Use this time to develop your healthy coping skills.

If you use food to deal with sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration, and boredom, there is no better time to work on this than during an elimination diet. 

You can't just rely on willpower to get you through, particularly if you're on a longer healing journey. Again, you need a plan. How are you going to handle those hard, long days when you can't turn to a glass of wine or a pint of ice cream?

What are you going to do when you're watching tv with your partner and they start munching on a bag of chips? 

You need to think about these scenarios and give yourself multiple healthy courses of action to choose from.

Will it be as satisfying as muting those emotions with sugar and carbs? Nope. But it will make them more tolerable for you to get through them without sabotaging yourself and your progress. 

10. Surround yourself with supportive friends.

This is not the time to be hanging out with a bunch of food-pushers, they will make your experience miserable and way more stressful than necessary. 

Instead, spend time with friends and family who 'get it', who will help remind you why you're doing this when you want to quit, who will look at ingredients lists and restaurant menus to make sure you're good, who will be open to spending time with you in ways that don't always involve food and drinks. 

11. Know that a year from now, you won't regret the fun you missed out on during the elimination diet. But you will regret quitting and still feeling like shit. 

Were there times I was frustrated during my elimination diet? Of course. There were new restaurants I wanted to try, there were cravings, there were times I wanted to get tipsy with my friends.

But now that it's all done and over-with, none of that sticks. What sticks are the lessons I learned, the pride that I finished, and the joy of being where I am in my health journey. 

I hope you found these tips helpful, but if you feel like you need someone to hold your hand through this process, to make sure you're on the right elimination diet for your goals, to help you navigate the inevitable ups and downs that come, that's what I'm here for. 

Click here to book a free consultation with me and let's find out if we're a good fit! 


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