Month 1: Food & an Elimination Diet

Month 1, day 1 and I’m going on a crazy diet. Actually, it’s more of a food experiment.

colorful food

The question i’m trying to answer is:

Will cutting out certain foods from my diet make me feel any different? 

I want to know if I’ll feel better and stronger and ready to take on the world. I suspect the answer is some degree of yes, but I’m curious to know what the impact will be.

I begin with nutrition because it’s such an important part of our health that, more often than not, is an afterthought. A frozen pizza here, a diet coke in the afternoon there, martinis and sunday burgers… you get the picture.

And today there are tons of health experts even more diets (Paleo, Vegan, South Beach, Zone, Atkins, Raw) and spinoff diets which makes it really hard to figure out where to start and who to follow.

Thankfully, there are some basic truths about food that we can all agree on:

1. Processed and refined foods are terrible for you.

2. Food is emotional. Anyone who has ever had a craving for cheetos or has gone for the ice cream after a particularly stressful day will know this. Anyone who’s ever tried going on a diet will know this. That’s because we’re biologically programmed to crave certain tastes and textures – like sugar, salt and fat. And when, all of a sudden we don’t get them, our bodies respond in a not so nice way.

3. Food is individual. We are all sensitive to certain foods. My husband gets bloated when he has dairy. I have played around with removing the wheat, sugar and dairy, replacing them with more veggies and healthy fats. Not surprisingly, I feel a lot more energetic.  And, after cheat meals, I feel pretty ill.  Go figure.

I don’t think there is one perfect diet for anyone. We have to figure out for ourselves what that perfect diet is, and keep refining it as we grow older. And that’s why I’m doing this elimination diet.

The Elimination Diet

This month’s experiment is about removing all ‘gray area food’ from my diet, and then adding them back in one at a time to see how my body reacts to it. It’s my way of understanding what foods make my body thrive, and what I am sensitive to.

It’s based on the ideas in the Whole30 program which follows the Paleo template (it’s what resonates with me the most). Paleo is the school of thought that we should eat the same foods our ancestors ate because that’s how we got here. It promotes lean protein, fruits and vegetables and lots of healthy fats, among other things. Paleo fanatics call it more a way of life than a diet (not to be confused with just another diet craze). - Sorry you're basing your diet entirely on what people too dumb to invent the wheel ate.

My starting point eliminates all of the usual suspects and then some including:

1. Dairy
2. Wheat (including all grains and rice)
3. Legumes
4. Sugar or artificial sweeteners
5. Soy
6. Alcohol (I love wine. This already sucks)

Yes, it’s nuts, but it’s all in the spirit of self experimentation.

At the same time, I’m taking a food sensitivity test that measures my reaction to 96 different foods (via blood sample). While these tests are not foolproof and are known to produce false positives (as there are other things that can impact results such as stress or environment), I am curious to see how it aligns or conflicts with my elimination diet.

Wish me luck – it should be an interesting month!


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