Even you may not realize it, the foods you're eating every day could be slowly corrupting your health and shortening your lifespan. But how do you know? For many people, toxic foods are hard to spot, especially for those who've already cleaned up their diets and feel like they are eating healthy.
If you might suspect about having an allergy, and you want to find the triggers, typically you have to choose between two diagnostic tools. The first is a laboratory blood test which are not totally reliable. They sometimes fail to detect food allergies. Sometimes the tests cross-react with other antibodies and get the causes of the allergy confused.
The other option is to give you the opportunity to be your own ‘detective’ and try to figure out if foods are causing inflammation (contributing to everything from autoimmune arthritis, to irritable bowel, to acne). In that case you need to cut out the foods that can irritate for about a month and see how you feel when you reintroduce them.
I consider important that everyone do an elimination diet, completed with a Detox Program, at least once a year.
So how do you do it and not make it complicated? Here is an easy plan for doing your own elimination diet. You might be surprised by what you learn!
1. Take a minute and listen to your body. It’s hard to know where you're going unless you know where you are.
Do you have skin issues? Digestive issues like gas, bloating, or intermittent constipation? Bad allergies? How's your energy level? What about your mood? Do you sleep well? Ever feel like you suffer from brain fog? These are just some potential symptoms of food sensitivities.
Take a journal about the symptoms you have starting at your head and go to your toes, and make a list of everything you notice in your body.
2. Eliminate the usual toxic triggers for 21 days.
The basic elimination diet is as simple as eliminating these products from your diet:
No gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fast food, sugar, trans-fats, corn coffee and alcohol for 21 days.
Why 21 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 for at least that time, you won’t get the full effect of eliminating them.
For those who think: why alcohol? 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 in a few weeks, not just because of the absence of a sleep disruptor and a depressant in your life, but because you've actually changed the flora in your gut that are critical to keeping you healthy. You will notice the benefits.
3. What CAN you eat?
The diet requires a little grocery shopping and taking a few extra minutes a day to prepare food.
Nowadays there are people who are habituated to fast-food, easy prepared and packed dished they heat in the microwave, etc. The problem is that typically food that can be prepared and consumed this way makes us sick over time.
21 days is the amount of time, studied by psychologists, it takes to build up a routine, new habits, which is also why we’re doing a 21-day elimination diet.
So you CAN eat:
30% “clean” protein, i.e. organic, hormone-free, grass-fed, happy, lean beef, chicken, and wild fish and shellfish. Eat fish. (But watch out the mercury like tuna and swordfish.)
70% vegetables, legumes (think beans and lentils), nuts, seeds, seaweeds, and gluten-free grains like quinoa. Eat lots of fiber, fresh whole foods, and unprocessed meals you make yourself. And eat lots of healthy fats found in olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, flax oil, walnut oil, and avocados.
Watch out for oats, they almost always have gluten! They shouldn’t but normally they are treated in places together with other products which have gluten so then they can be contaminated.
See, it’s that easy!
4. How do I reintroduce foods the right way?
This is also much simpler than people make it out to be.
On day 22, pick one thing you eliminated — like gluten, OR dairy, OR eggs— but not more than one, and eat it.
Observe and feel what happens over the next twenty-four hours. Notice the following:
- How do you feel immediately after eating it? Are there any sensations in your belly?
- Does anything happened shortly after you eat it, such as a runny nose or mucus in the throat (typical of milk), or fatigue, bloating, or head-ache (typical of wheat)?
- How are your energy levels? A bowl of wheat pasta at night, for instance, may make your feel very tired either immediately after eating it or on waking up the next morning.
- How are your bowel movements the next day?
- How did you sleep that night? Was it a heavier sleep, or were you disturbed?
Any noticeable change in your physical or mental experience is an indication that you might be sensitive or fully allergic to that food. To make this process even more accurate, eat the same food the next day and see if it provokes a reaction (that second day the reaction maybe slightly milder). Again, notice what happens for a full day after eating the food. It is likely that some of the foods eliminated during the 21 days will reveal themselves to you as toxic triggers. Repeat the same process with every food included in the list (gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fast food, sugar, trans-fats, corn coffee and alcohol).
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.
The most common foods people find to be toxic triggers are: dairy (predominantly cow’s milk and products made from it), eggs, wheat and other gluten-containing grains such as rye and barley; fatty red eat, soy products, corn (corn tortillas and corn chips could be your testing food), and chocolate.
Once you’ve made a call on the first food you reintroduce, pick another one and follow the same steps.
5. 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 is better. Maybe the redness in your skin is gone, or your belly is flatter.
It’s really important to listen your body as you are the one who know better yourself!