March 23, 2010

The Elimination Diet: What, How, and Why

I'm going on a diet. I know, I know. Even I'm rolling my eyes a little.

But I've never actually been on a real diet before. Sure, I did the classic "I haven't had anything to eat today" diet in high school every once in a while, but I've never researched and stuck to a real diet. And this is definitely a real diet.

What: A fellow teacher and coach has started an elimination diet, and, as a result, has started raving about it a lot. After asking lots of questions, I learned that an elimination diet allows your body to detox by eliminating the most common food allergens for three weeks, and then reincorporating them step by step to examine which foods might be causing you to feel less than your best. Generally, most people with serious food allergies know about them already, but this is a great way to find the foods your body has a hard time with, and eliminate or at least cut down on your intake of them.

The goddess of elimination diets (for me, at least) is Jackie. In exchange for getting to blog about all of my elimination diet wins and fails in detail, I promised to let you know that you can contact her here:

Hungry for Health Nutrition Therapy
Jackie McNamara, Master Nutrition Therapist
(440) 552-8824

How: So, now I'm going to share the part that makes most of my colleagues roll their eyes and tune out. There's something about a dieter that people just hate, and I totally understand. Usually, I'm the one proclaiming my love for cheese and ignoring the diet freak. But for now, I'm defecting to the diet side.

Here is the list of foods I'm not eating: eggs, dairy, margarine & shortening, gluten, citrus (except lemons and limes), nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant), corn, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, soy, beef, pork, packaged cold cuts, hot dogs, sausage, shellfish, alcohol, and caffeine (coffee, black tea, soda, and chocolate).

Here is the list of foods I'm enjoying: everything else.

It all feels limiting until you start thinking creatively about elimination diet recipes, and you realize that the possibilities are really endless. For example: last night, I ate almond-encrusted cod, brown rice, and sautéed zucchini. It was fantastic.

Why now? Well, for a few reasons. One: I have a terrible caffeine dependency, and I would like to, well, stop it. Two: my skin is completely unpredictable. One day, I look like a healthy 23-year old. The next, I look worse than my students. And they're freshmen. In high school. So if my skin issues are food-related, I'd really love to get that sorted out. Three: I am a mindless eater extraordinaire. Put candy in front of me, and chances are I'll eat it. Same thing goes for Cheez-Its and Goldfish, which are ubiquitous in a high school setting. I want to be more aware of the food I put in my body.

While I don't plan to eat this way for the rest of my life (come cut out wine and cheese forever? not. possible.), I'm really excited about trying it out and creating some diet-safe recipes that I can share with you here. It'll be a challenge, for sure, but that's a good thing!


  1. someone once told me that a good thing to ask yourself before eating is, "is this fuel for my body, or am i just a trash can for everything that comes my way?"

  2. I've been meaning to do something similar for a long time because I have recurring skin-related issues, but currently I just don't have the will-power.

    [The only thing I've successfully given up for a couple of years now is white rice and potatoes. And HOW I love potatoes :( ]

    Looking forward to reading how your diet goes & might just join the bandwagon ;-)

  3. It's funny that you mention will-power! I'm one of the most notoriously weak eaters of all my friends and family (meaning I eat everything). For some reason, having the mental goal of accomplishing this diet makes it easier for me to avoid those foods I crave. I don't know how I've managed to give up something like cheese for almost a whole week (listen to me...pathetic), but I have and I crave it less and less. Thanks for the comment!