More than a nutrition challenge

On Saturday June 6th at 10 a.m., Dr. Kyle Chavers of Foundations Medical Center will be at 30A CrossFit to talk about the benefits of an Elimination Diet. We will then challenge you to embark on an Elimination Diet for three weeks to uncover any food allergies or sensitivities you might have that are affecting your health, wellness and performance.

Unlike other nutrition challenges we have done in the past that have focused on body composition, the Elimination Diet is meant to be diagnostic tool to help you better understand your body's reaction to various foods.

The Elimination Diet is stricter than other challenges we have done but it’s worth the effort!

The strictest part of the Elimination Diet is the first three weeks after which you will slowly reintroduce foods and take note of any symptoms that occur. Like other nutritional changes the first few days are the hardest, particularly when having symptoms of withdrawal from the foods commonly eaten several times daily (breads, desserts, milk products, processed and sweetened fast foods, pasta, etc). Be sure to shop ahead  and be prepared for quick meals or snacks when necessary. This dietary program may initially require more time and energy than typically spent preparing foods for each meal. It is worth your time – and remember that it is temporary. Most people feel so good that they want to continue eating this way!

How long will it last?

Typically, the Elimination Diet is followed for three weeks. Shorter time periods than three weeks may not yield the same results, as the body needs time to clear its reactivity to foods that are triggers of your symptoms. Initially, current symptoms may worsen for a short time, rarely more than a few days, due to withdrawal from the foods commonly eaten. Transient reactions may be experienced in the first four to seven days as the body adjusts to the intake of different foods. These reactions include changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, lightheadedness, headaches, joint or muscle stiffness, and gastrointestinal complaints. Such symptoms rarely last for more than a few days and will vary depending on the person’s body and lifestyle factors.

What foods can be eaten?

It is necessary to eat ONLY the foods that are on the food list. If a food is not on the list, then do not eat it. By the end of the prescribed period of the Elimination Diet, it is common to note improvements in many symptoms. People report increased energy and mental alertness, decreased headaches, decreased muscle or joint pain, decreased GI symptoms, and a general sense of improved well-being.

What about snacking and eating out?

It is typical to snack on whatever is available at work or at home.When following the Elimination Diet, have only acceptable foods around in the event of hunger. Have snacks and salad dressings at work for a quick snack or lunch salad. Eating out is generally not recommended since you will not be aware of all that is in the food served. Traveling is also best avoided during this time for the same reasons. It can be quite challenging to eat while on the road or in an airport. In the case of travel or visit with friends and/or family, it would be helpful to have food available to eat. Bring along fruits and vegetables that will travel well.

Here are some more helpful hints to prepare you for the Elimination Diet:

  • Plan from the start: Before starting the Elimination Diet, it is important to have everything required within reach as planning ahead and strategizing will greatly improve chances of successful results.
  • Don’t go hungry! Be sure to eat enough food to avoid hunger when there is no food available. If there is a question about a particular food, check to see if it is on the food list.
  • Read all ingredient labels. Check the “Hidden Foods” list for various foods and ingredients to avoid.
  • Eat enough food: Add extra vegetables and fruits as needed.The menu is a basic one and needs a personal touch.This is not a calorie-restricted plan. Be sure to eat adequate calories for adequate nutrient intake.
  • Eat regular meals: Eating consistently throughout the day will help keep blood sugar stable. Use the suggested snacks as needed for hunger or cravings.
  • Choose organic: Whenever possible, select fresh foods and organically-grown fruits and vegetables to reduce the intake of pesticides and chemical residues.Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Choose cold-pressed oils: Cold-pressed oils are not heated in the processing and tend to be healthier than oils that have been heated, as heat breaks down the oil. Organic oils are always preferred when possible. Note that it is difficult to find organic canola oil.
  • Eliminate caffeine: Caffeine-containing beverages are not on this diet. If consuming these drinks on a regular basis, reduce caffeine intake slowly prior to beginning the Elimination Diet to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms.Try drinking half decaf/half regular coffee for a few days, and then slowly reduce intake of all caffeine. It is a good idea to first transition to decaffeinated coffee in place of caffeinated coffee (the same with tea), before removing all coffee and/or tea.
  • Drink enough water: Remember to drink adequate amounts of plain, filtered water each day: six to eight 8-oz. glasses daily should be your goal. Add freshly squeezed lemon or lime for extra flavor.
  • Get rest: Strenuous or prolonged exercise may be reduced for part of this program or, in some cases, for the entire program, to allow the body to heal more effectively without the additional burden from exercise.Adequate rest and stress reduction is also important to the success of this program. A light,daily walk may be the perfect exercise during this time. We suggest you follow the Transformation Track while you are on the Elimination Diet.