A Different Kind of Elimination Diet

If you’ve taken an interest in diet and exercise (which I’m assuming you have since you’re reading this), you may be familiar with an elimination diet.  If not, or if familiar in name only, an ED is a diet where you eliminate certain foods for a period of time and slowly reintroduce them, monitoring your body for reactions or symptoms.

The best ED will eliminate the greatest amount of food.  The more restrictive the better.  If you suffer from gastrointestinal discomfort or issues, an ED may be extremely useful to you.  It may help identify foods that keep you from feeling, looking, and performing your best.  Because of this, even those without GI issues have taken an interest in an ED.  Foods eliminated on an ED may include:

  • citrus fruits
  • nightshade vegetables
  • gluten
  • lentils
  • nuts and seeds
  • beef, pork, and eggs
  • dairy
  • alcohol and sugar

If interested in an ED, I wanna recommend a modified version of a more traditional ED.  I find this version to be a little easier to understand (I mean, honestly, without looking, do you even know what a nightshade vegetable is?!).  Items eliminated on this ED include:

  • donuts and pastries
  • breakfast cereals (regardless of the health claims, if a box has a cartoon character on it, eliminate it)
  • fruit juices
  • chocolate, cookies, and candy
  • chips, cheesy puffs, and crackers
  • boxed and instant foods (foods that require “just adding” something or that end in “-roni”)
  • ice cream, sweetened yogurt, and frozen yogurt
  • fruit, cereal, and granola bars
  • fast and fried foods
  • sweetened condiments and salad dressings
  • soda, energy drinks, and other sweetened beverages
  • alcohol
  • processed meats
  • chronic dehydration
  • a few hours spent binge-watching television shows
  • poor sleep habits
  • unimportant tasks that rob you of your workout and family time
  • constantly checking your social media accounts
  • distress
  • doubt
  • fear
  • toxic relationships
  • excuses as to why you “can’t” (my Uncle Jack used to say, “Can’t means you don’t want to!”)

Something else that makes this ED different from others is that instead of eliminating everything at once and then slowly reintroducing them, you eliminate just one thing at a time, reintroducing it rarely, if ever.  Instead, you replace it with something better.

Ultimately, if you remove something without replacing it with something else, you’ll simply go back to filling the void with what’s familiar, easy, and comfortable.  Some things to consider replacing the old with the new are:

  • lean proteins such as lean cuts of beef and pork, poultry, fish, plain yogurt, and beans
  • colorful fruits & vegetables
  • smart carbs such as oats, brown and wild rice, quinoa, potatoes, lentils, and beans
  • healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and nut and seed butters (whose only ingredients are nuts and seeds . . . and maybe salt)
  • zero-calorie beverages, e.g., water and green tea
  • reading
  • a sleep ritual
  • stress-reducing activities such as prayer, meditation, breathing, yoga, etc.
  • exercise
  • time for family and friends who encourage you
  • boundaries
  • hobbies
  • faith
  • courage
  • reasons you can

I often quote Richard Bach.  “You teach best what you most need to learn.”  I didn’t make a list of only things I’ve eliminated.  I made a list of many things I need to eliminate.  Some of them I’ve already eliminated once (or ten times) before.  There are several things I have eliminated that will likely find their way back into my diet and life.  Like a junk drawer, no matter how often I eliminate the “junk”, things find their way back in.  And when they do, I’ll eliminate them again and again until I need a smaller drawer or no drawer at all.