What is an Elimination Diet and how is it different from regular Detox?
There are two key levels to the Purification or Detox Process.
The first is letting go of any foods, substances, habits or abuses, even addictions in some cases. This process encourages you to take a break, which may be temporary or lifelong, from such common habits as the daily intake of what I call the SNACCs: Sugar (as refined sugar and corn syrups – the “food” industry puts them in everything, it seems), Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine and Chemicals (both in foods and our environment). It is also productive to ask what foods or substances would you have the hardest time giving up? These cravings are often the place to begin cleansing even though it can be a challenge. However, this is often the first step in health liberation, freeing ourselves from the emotional connection and dependence on certain substances that can negatively impact our vitality and moods, both immediately and over time. I have written extensively on this subject during my career, as in my book The Detox Diet.
The second level is identifying and addressing food reactions. This typically occurs from the foods we eat most often and the foods most commonly available in our society. I call these the Sensitive Seven–Wheat, Cow’s milk, Sugar, Eggs, Corn, Soy, and Peanuts. My book The False Fat Diet discusses this topic in detail, reviewing the many ways our bodies react to foods and the great variety of health conditions caused by these reactions. I call it False Fat because many of us carry a surprising amount of extra “weight” that is actually bloating and swelling caused by our body’s reaction certain foods. Once we identify and eliminate these foods we can loose that weight in addition to feeling better generally.
Food reactions are generated through multiple systems in our body – digestive, immune, biochemical, and hormonal – causing a variety of problems. Food reactions are also quite common and often result from digestive dysfunction as well as inherent allergy and overconsumption (regular use) of the particular foods. There are many factors that cause the breakdown in optimal function of the gastrointestinal tract. Overeating, too many foods combined at once, incomplete chewing, drinking too much while eating which dilutes the digestive juices, and chronic stress, depleted intestinal flora, all weaken our ability to digest foods thoroughly.
The first step is to follow an elimination diet by gradually removing commonly eaten foods and then adding them back into our diet to test our reactivity to them. The key is really becoming aware of how individual substances affect us. When you add a food back into your diet do you experience any digestive upset, or other symptoms like itchy skin? Do you feel irritable, tired, or a little foggy? Mood or energy changes are also possible symptoms of food reactions. Keep a journal of the process and use what you discover to inform your future dietary choices. You can find a more complete exploration of this important topic plus several different treatment programs in The False Diet book.
This process takes some diligence and patience, but I assure you that the benefits can be significant, as I have seen with many patients over the years. Check out the simple version of an Elimination Diet from my book Staying Healthy with the Seasons in the PDF below.