This article is the last in my 5 part series dedicated to the gut and digestion. 
Last week’s article listed what I believe are the 6 main reasons you could be suffering from IBS or IBS like symptoms.  
This week I wanted to give you a short-term fix to help you feel better while you look into what may be the underlying cause(s) of these symptoms.  
Today we’re going to explore what an elimination diet is, what it involves and why I recommend all my clients do it, regardless of IBS symptoms or not. 
Now before delving deeper, let’s just address the negatives associated with the word ‘diet’. According to Dictionary.com the word diet actually means: 
 
1) Food and drink considered in terms of its qualities composition and effects on health. 
2) A particular selection of food prescribed to improve a person’s physical condition or prevent or treat a disease. 
3) Anything that is habitually provided or partaken of. 
 
That puts the modern day view of the word ‘diet’ in a different light doesn’t it? Diets are often seen as negative, faddy and potentially harmful. The dictionary definition is a little rusty and boring for my liking, so when you see anything to do with an ‘elimination diet’, weather mine or anyone else’s, I’d like you to think of it as ‘The way you eat every day to look, feel and perform at your best’, yep, it’s that simple! 
 
As mentioned in the last article, testing for potential issues and working with a qualified professional is the best way to get effective accurate results. But it can be costly and you may have to wait patiently for the results to come back. That’s why I find the ‘gold standard’ for identifying the source of your discomfort to be the removal of all foods that could potentially be the culprit for 1 month, work on fixing your ‘leaky gut’, assess how you feel and then reintroduce them back into your nutritional plan. 
So how do you make an elimination diet easy, effective and not complicated? Here are my 6 easy to follow steps to create your personalised elimination diet. 
 
Assess where you are at 
This may sound silly, but if you don’t know how you are feeling now, how will you know if you are feeling better after eliminating certain foods?  
I suggest that before you start, sit down and, working from your head down to your toes, write down any little issue you have, whether it be the occasional migraine (also how often), foot fungus, skin rashes etc. write them all down, and be specific about when the symptoms occur. 
In this section I’d also write down things like energy levels throughout the day (e.g. do you crash at 3pm), what’s your sleep quality like, do you wake up in the night, do you take 3 hours to get going in the morning and how is your memory.  
Every little thing will help you realise how much you are improving through this journey. 
 
Eliminate the usual suspects for 30 days 
The elimination diet is very simple, all you need to do is remove gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fast food, processed food, alcohol and caffeine from your diet for 30 days. 
The reason for it being 30 days is it takes around 21 days for your body to calm down and the immune system to relax after an attack. In this case, if you respond to any of these foods then your body will still be trying to return to normal for the next 21 days, meaning that you won’t get the full effect of the eliminating them and letting your body recover before this time is up. 
Why alcohol I hear you cry! Eliminating alcohol is good for the detox factor, but alcohol also has lots of sugar which can help things such as yeast and harmful bacteria thrive in your gut. By eliminating all forms of bad sugar and adding in things to help support gut health you can change your gut microbime, as discussed in great detail 2 weeks ago. 
Add in supplements to help heal and breakages 
I like to imagine food that damages the gut as prisoners banging a cell wall with a sledge hammer (the wall being the intestinal wall). A few hits from a hammer won’t cause much damage, but after a while the wall will crack and the prisoners will escape and once outside the perimeter wall the guards will be alerted (immune system). The elimination diet removes the prisoners from both inside and outside the wall and confiscates all the hammers. However, the wall (intestinal wall) remains broken, which is why it’s important to add in supplements to help rebuild the wall. 
During the elimination diet try 20g of glutamine in water 3 times per day. Along with that, take 2 high potency probiotics ( I recommend Nutri-advance – Probioplex IB) and ½ a scoop of prebiotics (Seeking health – Probiotabase) just before bedtime , all of these should help good bacteria to thrive and start healing the gut wall. 
What to avoid and what to eat 
Here is a table of all the foods that you should and shouldn’t eat during the elimination diet.  
Please feel free to print this off if you feel that it would help you. 
How to re-introduce foods 
My final point if the most important.  
Once you have spent all this time fixing your gut and making yourself feel great, it’s important that you don’t undo all of your hard work. Keep taking all the supplements listed in Point 3 so that you are constantly keeping the wall strong and healthy and feeding all those good bacteria. 
 
But when it comes to re-introducing foods it’s important to take your time. It’s essential that you re introduce foods one at a time and wait at least 48 hours to assess how it made you feel and if it’s safe to add in another food. The last thing you want to do is add in 4 different foods and feel awful, as you would have no idea which food caused the problems. By adding in foods slow and controlled manner you will be able to make sure that you know which foods do, and importantly don’t, agree with you once and for all. 
 
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