There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to a "healthy" diet. What promotes health in one person can actually cause inflammation and uncomfortable symptoms in another. It can be confusing, overwhelming and seemingly impossible to know which foods are working with your body and which are working against it. And while there is no quick fix to cure chronic health conditions, feeling healthy is certainly worth the effort of finding out what is helpful for your body and what is harmful. One useful tool for learning how your body responds to specific foods is an elimination diet. There are many elimination diets to choose from, and although they differ in the specific details, the end goal of each is to remove common allergen/irritant foods for a period of time and then reintroduce them one by one to observe how the body responds. One of the most useful elimination diets I have personally used is the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) Elimination Diet. Through the elimination I discovered that corn makes my scalp itch, tomatoes give me indigestion, sugar makes my skin break out, some dairy products bring on congestion, and consuming grains too often makes my joints feel achy. I'm not saying I never indulge in any of these foods. However, I do so with careful consideration of the consequences. It is a practice of body and health awareness to understand how the foods we eat affect us. It's a practice worth embracing.
IFM’s Elimination Diet is a three-week program (some practitioners will increase the length for chronic health conditions) designed to identify and tailor a person’s diet for their unique physiology. After the elimination period is complete, a careful reintroduction of foods can identify previously hidden food triggers that may have been contributing to illness, causing fatigue, and reducing overall vitality. Some short-term benefits of the Elimination Diet include: identifying food triggers, reducing inflammation, supporting the gut microbiome, increasing phytonutrients and promoting body awareness to food.
If you are unsure whether or not an elimination diet might be helpful for you, look at the following list of symptoms and dis-ease states and see if any resonate:
chronic sinus drainage
Unlike some of the more restrictive elimination diets, the IFM Elimination Diet removes only the top allergen/irritant foods and provides detailed food lists so that followers know exactly what they can and cannot eat during the elimination period. On the IFM Elimination Diet you do not consume the following:
coffee, soft drinks, tea (other than herbal tea)
grains containing gluten
soy (and soy products)
sugar (other than coconut sugar, honey and pure maple syrup)
Some, specifically those who are experiencing autoimmune symptoms, will remove these additional foods:
After the elimination period, foods are reintroduced one at a time, giving the body time to respond so that you can observe how you react to each specific food. Reintroduction steps and food lists can be found in this helpful Guide. However, for most people it is not realistic to simply download a guide and start an elimination diet. Often it is easier to make a lifestyle change if someone is there to explain the plan and answer your questions. So, for those of you curious about the IFM Elimination Diet, we are excited to share that this week's Healthy Living Education Class is a group session on the Elimination Diet. The class will be led by Cyndi Chizek. Cyndi is completing her practicum for certification as an IFM Health Coach and Educator. In this group session she will explain the Functional Medicine Elimination Diet in greater detail and will answer specific questions. Wellness is within reach!
The group session will be held this Thursday, 2/8 at 7:30 PM at Simply Nourished and you can sign up here. Cost is $10/person. Spouses can attend with their partner free of charge.