With the three-day detox phase completed, it’s now time to head into the elimination phase. You will expand on your foods from phase 1, yet still eat foods free from the most common allergens. This means no dairy, gluten, corn, soy, yeast, nuts, caffeine, eggs and more. (Click here for a more extensive food list for phase 2.) This part is followed for 11 days, or until all of your symptoms have disappeared.
These symptoms may include headaches, foggy head, cramping, anxiety, constipation, insomnia, acne, dandruff, depression, bloating, or joint pain. This is just a short list. I believe that all disease starts with an inflamed gut, and because the Elimination Diet works to restore your digestive system, you can find relief from virtually any symptom. This does not mean you will never again be able to eat the “no” foods; but you must give your digestive system time to restore so that it can properly digest these foods in the future. Everyone’s “no” list will be different once the diet is over, and it will be much shorter and unique to you.
Preparation & Simplicity
For me this elimination phase actually took longer than 11 days: nearly four weeks! I attribute the success of my staying on this tough diet to the same thing my colleague Heather preached during her Whole30 experience: Preparation! I cannot stress this enough. It keeps you from going hangry (hungry + angry) and grabbing whatever is in reach. With the Elimination Diet, you really need to follow it 100% to find answers. Hence, why preparation is key. I have found that I like to try out some recipes and build about three options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that I enjoy. This way I can keep these ingredients in the house and not have to expend too much energy thinking about what I’m going to make.
The other thing that goes hand in hand with preparation is simplicity. You are limited with your food options. At least it may seem that way since you have probably not been eating very many vegetables, and your meals are likely currently carb-centric. When you think outside of this box, you realize how many different vegetables and fruits you can enjoy — and focus on those.
Not without struggles
If I have painted a rose-coloured picture of the Elimination Diet, I apologize. While it has mostly been great (thanks to the absence of my symptoms) it certainly has not been without some struggle. I experienced strong cravings for cheese and bread. Noting that cheese is salty, I made sure to start including pink salt in my meals (including smoothies!) and my cheese craving disappeared. I was actually surprised that my sugar cravings were fairly low, but I attribute this to my regular consumption of fruit. What is left behind is my pesky bread craving — and with de la terre bread in fresh at the store everyday, you can understand my pain!
When some symptoms reappeared, I felt like giving up and just eating what I want. Everyone else in the world is! Did I mention irritability could pop up? But I continue to revisit my why and I am motivated again to eliminate my headaches. And my bloating and adult acne. This makes for excellent motivation.
Smoothies: my fast food!
My typical day has been smoothies for breakfast and lunch. I ensure the vegetable intake is at least twice as high as the fruit in these smoothies. It is the easiest way, in my opinion, to get a generous serving of vegetables that is easy to digest at both meals. I use hemp seeds as my protein source. (They flow like water in our kitchen!) For fat, I use MCT oil, but you could also use coconut oil or avocado. I make my smoothie for lunch before my breakfast smoothie and pour it into a mason jar to bring to work with me. Fast food at its finest! For dinner, I have a large salad or roasted vegetables with free range chicken or wild fish. My new favourite combo is roasted parsnips and broccoli. So yummy!
While it took longer than I had hoped, the elimination phase is finally complete. Now for the final leg of my Elimination Diet journey: reintroduction. Stay tuned for the last chapter!