There have been a lot of comments and emails here lately about not quite being ready for a full-on cleanse. I understand completely, as it does take some time, preparation, and diligence to do it well. So I thought I’d share the Elimination Diet with you all.
Before embarking on the Clean cleanse, Matt and I began with a week of the Elimination Diet. During that week, we gradually weaned ourselves off caffeine, and eliminated the foods most likely to create body inflammation and/or allergic responses.
The Results After One Week
The caffeine withdrawal headaches weren’t great, but also not nearly as bad as I thought. I think it makes a big difference to eliminate refined sugar and starches at the same time, so you don’t have sugar highs and lows. Plus at the end I was no longer dependent on caffeine, which is liberating!
I felt cleaner, my skin was softer, any blemishes I had disappeared, I lost a couple pounds, and I was lighter on my feet. Sort of a detox-lite. Not a full-on cleanse (which is life-changing) but really, really good.
I encourage you to try it for a week and see how you feel. Everyone I know who has done this with diligence has said they felt better afterward.
Foods That Create Inflammation & Toxic Responses
Now that I’ve observed the results of de-inflaming my body, I can see the puffiness in other people. Inflammation makes you look a little bloated, and not quite healthy – it’s particularly easy to see in the face. And while I found that the puffiness didn’t correlate to weight, it most definitely correlated to clothes sizes and the difference I saw in the mirror.
The seven foods that create the majority of our body inflammation and other toxic responses:
- Wheat, barley and rye (the gluten grains – even if you’re not allergic, you may find you have symptoms)
- Refined sugar
- Red meat
Some sources put the nightshade family in this category as well (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, tomatillos). That might be just one too many to eliminate for some of us.
According to my Naturopath and Clean, even after the Elimination Diet you should try to eat these foods only once every four days. This allows your body to recover (ie detox) from the foods so that inflammation doesn’t build up. For all you gardeners out there, I think of this as crop rotation.
I know that is a hard list for most of us to avoid, but I encourage you to see how the food affects your body for just one week. Then continue for another couple weeks if you like it. And if not, at least it was an interesting study!
Foods To Eat
I’m not a nutritionist, as you know. No claims to be so! The following list was compiled using several resources, but is taken mostly from Clean. I have a copy of this list in my wallet that I pull out when I’m grocery shopping (I’m sorry the following list is so long – I can’t create a table here).
- Figs (these are high in sugar so not too many)
- Bamboo shoots
- Beet & beet greens
- Bok Choy
- Brussel sprouts
- Celery root (celeriac)
- Dandelion greens
- Mushrooms: all
- Pak choi
- Red leaf chicory
- Sea vegetables/seaweed (kelp, dulse, hijiki, arame, wakame)
- Snow peas
- Squash (winter & summer)
- Swiss chard
- Lentils: brown, red, green, yellow, French
- Split peas
- All beans, except soy (edamame)
Grains, Pasta & Cereals
- Rice: brown, red, black (forbidden rice), wild
- Puffed brown rice
- Puffed millet
- Brown rice pasta
- 100% Buckwheat noodles
- Kelp noodles
- Flours: brown rice, teff, millet, tapioca, amaranth, garbanzo bean, coconut, chestnut, sorghum
Nuts & Seeds
- Flax seeds
- Hazelnuts (filberts)
- Poppy seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Hemp seeds
Use unrefined, extra virgin, non-gmo, organic, & cold-pressed oils.
- Flax seed
- Coconut (best for cooking at high temperatures)
- Almond milk (unsweetened)
- Hemp milk (unsweetened)
- Hazelnut milk (unsweetened)
- Coconut milk or water
- Rice (whole grain, brown rice) – least optimal due to its being more processed and higher in sugar
- Teas: herbal, white, rooibos, green, yerba mate
- Mineral water
- Spring water
- Fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juice – made with only fruits and vegetables listed above
- Whole fruit sweeteners (dates, eg)
- Brown rice syrup
- Agave – not the preferred choice, but okay in moderation
- Free-range chicken, turkey, duck
- Wild game: venison, quail, pheasant, rabbit
- Cold water ocean fish: wild pacific salmon, ocean char, cod, halibut, haddock, sole, pollack, tuna, stripped bass
- Water-packed canned tuna (without added soy protein)
- Most spices are ok if they don’t contain the 7 foods to avoid above
- Mustard (made with apple cider vinegar)
- Nutritional yeast
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Rice vinegar
- Tarragon vinegar
- Ume plum vinegar
Make sure to eat a balanced diet that includes lots of vegetables!
Reintroduce Foods Gradually
If you do this for at least three weeks (the minimum time required to completely remove foods from your system), you will also have some the reintroduction benefits of a cleanse. That means you can slowly – one by one – reintroduce the 7 potentially toxic foods to see how your body reacts to them.
Briefly, you should eat each food in its purist form (not mixed with anything else if possible), preferably 3 distinct times in one day. For example, corn tortillas or chips to test corn, a slice of whole wheat bread to test gluten. Then wait 2 days and record in a journal anything different physically or emotionally. After 2 days, move to the next one on the list.