My husband and I have just completed the Elimination Diet Meal Plan with a surprising result! This is a longer read than my usual posts, so you might want to make yourself a cup of tea and get comfortable.
ELIMINATION DIET MEAL PLAN
The Elimination Diet Meal Plan takes you on a seven-week journey of cleansing and refueling your body. You get to enjoy a variety of delicious meals while identifying if there are certain foods that are causing you symptoms like fatigue, bloating, skin concerns, headaches or joint pain (to name only a few!). These types of food reactions are called food sensitivities, which Dr. Kimberley (creator of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan) explains further in this free video series.
The Elimination Diet Meal Plan consists of two phases. First there is the 11-Day Elimination Phase, during which the most common food sensitivities are avoided and the body is allowed to detoxify and relieve itself of inflammation. This is when you should expect to feel your best on the plan! The Elimination Phase is then followed by two Reintroduction Phases in which the foods that had been avoided are reintroduced strategically in a way that allows you to assess for any symptoms or health reactions. The online program includes detailed guides, tracking forms and symptom questionnaires (in addition to great recipes and meal plans) so that you know exactly which types of symptoms that you are watching for.
During the Elimination Phase, I felt wonderful! My skin was clear, and my joints felt so good that I went jogging for the first time in years! Then, during the Reintroduction Phase, one of the foods caused a distinct disturbance to my digestive system. Something had also caused my issues with joint inflammation to return.
When you do react to a particular food on the Elimination Diet, you are supposed to pause the diet and go back to the Elimination Phase to give your body a rest and allow your symptoms to clear up. Instead, we rushed the process to complete the diet before heading out on a two-week road trip to visit family. While I had expected this joint problem to show up with dairy, the pain arose before I tested dairy (although I did eventually confirm that dairy also causes inflammation in my joints). Since I already know how I react to gluten, I skipped this reintroduction during the plan.
Even though we rushed to complete the Elimination Diet Meal Plan, I learned something very interesting and completely surprising through the process!
MY SURPRISING DISCOVERY
So what was my surprising discovery? Who would have thought?!! I’ve learned that I don’t tolerate potatoes! I never would have imagined that white potatoes would be a potential allergen or sensitivity-causing food. I’ve heard of people not being able to eat nightshade vegetables, but never of anyone who could tolerate them except for potatoes. I would not have figured this out if potatoes had not been a separate test on the Elimination Diet Meal Plan.
It all makes sense now.
As I look back, this answers a previously unsolved mystery for me. I would breeze along on my gluten-free diet smoothly, especially when cooking and eating at home. Of course, when you eat out, you never know what you might have been exposed to. There were times, though, when I’ve said that there must still be a food sensitivity that I hadn’t pinpointed yet. I would be eating my wholesome, made-from-scratch, gluten-free food for days in a row and then suddenly have a reaction “out of the blue.” I was puzzled, because I would never have suspected that potatoes could be a problem. We didn’t eat potatoes very often, so the random occurrence makes sense.
I knew that potato chips did not agree with me. I would always study the labeling carefully before consuming any chips, to make sure they were gluten-free. However, even with the most basic of chips – potatoes, sunflower seed oil, and sea salt – I would react. I just assumed that there was something about the processing of potato chips that simply wasn’t good! Now, I guess it was the potatoes themselves!
To further put this to the test, while on our recent road trip, I ate a lot of Terrra Real Vegetable Chips. They’re made with a variety of root vegetables that does not include regular potatoes (sweet potatoes are okay), and I am happy to report that I got along fine with them!
Pros and Cons
So, as I continue to sort out my Phase II inflammatory food(s), let me share with you what I have found to be the pros and cons of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan.
- SIMPLE, STRAIGHT-FORWARD RECIPES Instructions are clearly explained, and there are no unnecessary steps. The most work you will be doing is the chopping of vegetables and the measuring of spices.
- WELL SEASONED AND FLAVOURFUL FOOD
- WELL ORGANIZED The prep tasks are laid out in a manageable way with some extra prep work some evenings, but not most. The recipes make large batches and leftovers are worked into the meal plans. Therefore, you don’t have to cook from scratch every time you eat.
- FLEXIBLE You can make your own variations, as long as you stay within the rules.
- HEALTH-BUILDING DIET This diet goes beyond simply eliminating certain foods to refueling your body through nutrient dense whole foods.
- LIFETIME ACCESS I’m glad that once we buy the plan, we have it for life, because the recipes very good!
- TRACKING FORMS My first elimination diet experience could have been much more productive with these.
- ABUNDANCE There is a lot of food in this diet. We certainly did not end up going hungry! I froze leftovers and took them with us for a trip in our trailer as soon as we finished the Meal Plan.
- EDUCATIONAL If you’re not used to eating this way, the Elimination Diet Meal Plan is a great way to explore healthful food.
- ENJOYABLE I so enjoyed making these new recipes that I didn’t think much about what I couldn’t eat.
- RESULTS My skin has never been clearer or my joints felt better than when I was in the Elimination Phase. It’s awesome that we can eat this well, lose weight, and feel so great! And I thought I had been eating well before!
- OBVIOUS RESTRICTIONS I really can’t think of many “cons” to this diet, aside from the fact that you cannot eat just anything and everything you might want. I have found that the Meal Plan keeps us so entertained with such a plentiful variety of interesting foods that there’s little time to think about what we might not be eating.
- TRAVEL CHALLENGES Now, of course, the diet is easiest to follow when we stay home or pack lunches. However, putting off starting the diet is obviously not a good solution when you’re consuming something that’s harmful to you! When we did go out while on the Diet, we either took our food with us or ate at a salad bar.
- FOOD PREP People who aren’t used to preparing their own food from scratch will find that they are spending more time than usual chopping vegetables as they prep for recipes. However, I don’t really know anyway around that other than hiring someone else to do it for you! I suppose you could do a very plain, boring elimination diet that focuses on what’s being left out. However, you would likely find yourself hungry and scrambling for something to eat. You would be missing out on the nutritious, health-building component of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan. I would much rather do the prep work! My food processor was a big help here, too.
The only thing I really missed on the diet was coffee. We are encouraged to give up caffeine and alcohol while on the diet to improve the anti-inflammatory effects of the plan and to make it easier to assess for symptoms caused by the various foods. I missed coffee because it is a habit I enjoy, although physically it was not as difficult to give up as I had thought it would be. I didn’t even have a “coffee headache,” which I have felt on occasion in the past when I was “due” for one. After going for a couple of weeks totally caffeine-free, I had an occasional green tea maybe a couple times a week.
What if you want to follow the Elimination Diet Meal Plan, but you’re feeding a family?
I would suggest that if only one or two people want to follow the diet, you could follow the recipes and menu plans and serve them to the whole family. As long as the people on the diet get enough of it to eat, the rest of the family could supplement with whatever they want!
I would strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t have absolutely perfect health to try out the Elimination Diet Meal Plan at least once in your lifetime!
If you do check out the program, keep in mind that it’s priced in Canadian dollars. Depending on the exchange rate of the day, that might amount to a 25% discount for American readers!
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