Elimination diets

Some of the girls I talk with about fitness (in an attempt to have some solidarity and not bore my non-competing friends too tears) have brought up bloating. Particularly post competition, and how difficult it is to deal with. Some girls were recommending apple cider vinegar (definitely worth a go), some have suggested adding fiber or eliminating dairy or some other trick. For me, I can honestly tell you I rarely get “bloat” and when I do, it’s usually my own damn fault.

I don’t get “bloat” because I know what causes it for me. It’s that little demon called gluten, occasionally it’s from too many nuts which are hard to digest, and sometimes it’s from overindulging in salt (think Indian food). But I only know these things because I have been able to isolate the causes. If you don’t isolate the cause you might never know what is causing the issue!

This is where an elimination diet comes in. Precision Nutrition writes about the benefits of these here. In my opinion they are probably the simplest solutions to a nagging issue. Here is how it works.

1 – Identify possible allergens in your diet. Some common ones are:

    • Gluten
    • Non-glutenous grains
    • Dairy
    • Nuts
    • Citrus fruits
    • Beans and legumes
    • PUFAs (heat processed or “vegetable” oils)
    • Nitrates or nitrites
    • Other chemical additives

2 – Find a stretch of 1 or 2 weeks (1 week if these are small elements of your diet, 2 weeks if you eat these regularly) where you will be able to be completely faithful to your diet and completely eliminate these items from your diet. This is super important. You must not cheat on this because this isn’t about weight loss, this is about finding out how your body reacts to foods and if you don’t clean them out of your system, you might not react accurately.

3 – After the 1-2 week elimination period, choose 1 servings of eat of the suspected allergens and “test” them. For example, on day 1 after the elimination period you can test gluten. Take 1 slice of bread and eat it at some point during the day. Over the following hours and even the next day, monitor how you feel. Do not test more than one food per day and do not accumulate test food. So on the 2nd day, eliminate gluten again and test something else until you are through the list.

4 – Monitor your reactions and results. Make sure you write it down. Common reactions are stomach ache, bloating, acne, mental fogginess, headache, bowel issues, heart burn, nausea and fatigue. If you experience these symptoms it means you are probably sensitive to that food.

5 – Determine your next steps. If you reacted to certain allergens, decide if you can completely eliminate it from your diet, or if it will just be a once in a while thing. You can also decide what things you want to add back full-time. You may discover that something you thought was a problem is not after all.

When I have done this I found I reacted to gluten the strongest, non-glutenous grains to a small extent, dairy gives me skin issues and nuts and beans in large quantities give me stomach ache. So I have completely eliminated gluten and reduced my dairy, grain and nut intake. I don’t eat beans at all anymore.

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4 thoughts on “Elimination diets

  1. Nice article! Apple cider vinegar can even make some feel like they want to puke, because it is very cleansing. It’s also very alkaline for the body (although it’s an acid).
    You can also experience bloating from too many food combinations at one meal, but you might feel just fine eating some separately 🙂

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