Let’s cut to the chase – I’ve been gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, soy free, caffeine free and alcohol free for over the past two weeks now. Yes, it’s possible to survive without these things. No, I’m not miserable and slowly withering away. To my surprise and quite possibly your own, I actually feel pretty damn amazing!
The Elimination Diet…sounds intense, right? Well, to be quite honest, it is pretty intense, but well worth it in the long run. As far as diets go, this is my first diet ever. I’ve been blessed with out of this world genetics and a speed demon metabolism, so I can eat whatever I want and never have to worry about gaining weight. But just because I can eat all of the high carb, fatty, and sugary foods without a worry doesn’t mean that I should. I had been taking my metabolism for granted, indulging in my sweet tooth and feeding the candida in my digestive tract to the point where my cravings for sugar were unforgiving.
After reevaluating my own health issues while doing research on leaky gut syndrome, natural hormone balancing and candida overgrowth, I decided that this cleanse was something I really needed at this time in my life. I wanted a fresh start to my gut health, which is a key factor to our overall health. So I looked up recipes, made a grocery list and mentally prepared myself to say goodbye (for now) to some of my most beloved foods.
With anything in life, I believe that you should modify and cater things to make them realistically work for you and your individual lifestyle. I knew that cutting out sugar in it’s entirety was going to be very challenging for my on-the-go lifestyle, as so many healthy snack foods (like fruits) have naturally occurring sugars in them. So I decided to modify this one and cut out all added sugars, sticking to only eating foods that have no or very low amounts of naturally occurring sugars. Some say to cut out all legumes, some say cut out eggs, others say eat lots of eggs, all fruits are great, no acidic and high sugar fruits, no nuts, nuts in modification, stay clear of nightshades, etc.…there are varying opinions for the guidelines depending on how extreme you want to take this diet. I say, make it work for what you are looking to get from this experience.
The basic guidelines are as follows:
- Eliminate dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, caffeine and alcohol from your diet
- Eat a mostly plant based diet, with lean protein and non gluten grains
- Eat three wholesome meals per day and cut back on unnecessary snacking
- Buy organic when possible and read labels when grocery shopping
- Get adequate sleep (at least 8 hours a night) while cleansing your body
- Drink lots of water to flush out all of the gunk
- Exercise (to stay sane…hello endorphins)
- Know that this, too, shall pass
As far as length goes, a new habit takes about 21 days to form, so three weeks or more is ideal. It also takes time for your gut’s microbiome to shed the bad bacteria and rebuild with the good bacteria. Although something is better than nothing, so don’t decide against the diet if you can only commit for a few days or a week. There’s a great program called Whole30, which I based my own Elimination Diet around and modified as needed, that sets you up for 30 days of clean eating.
Along with the whole feeling amazing aspect, my skills in the kitchen have expanded greatly due to this diet. For someone who doesn’t go above and beyond when cooking meals for myself, these diet restrictions have pushed me to experiment more in the kitchen, which I’m very grateful for. I would never have bought salmon and cooked it on my own or make my own energy bars in a blender before this, which are two things I am definitely going to continue to do after my 30-day mark has passed. The meal prep lifestyle I’m currently engaging in is definitely more time consuming than my previous cooking and eating habits, however, I’m saving money from not eating out, buying impulse snacks, or going out for drinks. I’m learning to enjoy the meal prep lifestyle and I’m most definitely enjoying its financial perks!
Whether you’re considering doing this diet yourself or would simply like to incorporate healthier, cleaner meals in your diet, I’m sharing with you a few of my favorite recipes that I’ve tried so far:
Herb Crusted Salmon with asparagus sautéed in olive oil and fresh garlic, or try the arugula salad mentioned in the recipe.
Chia Seed Energy Bars are so easy to make and considering dates have naturally occurring sugar, they are practically like my version of a sweet treat while on this diet. Instead of dark chocolate chips, I melted a little bit of organic dark chocolate and combined with the coconut oil and some Camu Camu powder to create a bitter, fruity taste with a hint of cinnamon. The texture is very satisfying thanks to the chia seeds and shredded coconut. I’m slightly obsessed with these bars and can’t wait to try different add in combinations once I’m not as strict about sugar intake post 30 days.
*There are tons of blogs and websites online that have unique, tasty recipes, which fulfill the requirements for the diet usually on their own or with a little modification on your part. So get your Google search on, be creative in the kitchen, and have fun playing and experimenting with new foods!
I’m halfway through and can say that already, this experience has been well worth it. I’m not going to sugar coat (because no sugar is currently allowed in my life) this experience and say that I felt great from day one, because that was most definitely not the case. I did feel very strong and optimistic after making it through the first day, but around day five, I was feeling the withdrawal symptoms big time, which for me, appeared in the form of weakness and fatigue. By the end of the first week, those symptoms ran their course and my energy levels were more consistent than ever before. Currently over two weeks in and the cleansing process is now going deeper than a purely physical level, as I’ve had a few much needed emotional releases.
This experience is a process with many layers and many rewards. As I honor the process and embrace the multifaceted affects of each layer, I’m able to delve deeper and continue to discover new understandings and clarities within my own mind, body, and spirit connection. Who ever thought a diet could get so spiritual?! If you know me well enough, then you’re probably not surprised that I somehow managed to make this diet a spiritual experience for myself, as I view just about every experience I have through a spiritual lens.
By sharing my own experience with The Elimination Diet thus far, I hope to inspire everyone who reads this to reevaluate his or her own health issues and realize that the answers to your problems, whether they be mental, physical or emotional, may very well reveal themselves through a deep cleansing process such as this one. Every one of us has the power within us to discover the roots of our issues and heal them to live a more balanced, wholesome, and empowered life.
Love, light, & gratitude,