I wish I could say it’s discipline.
That’s what people have been thinking when they hear about the elimination diet I’m on – no gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, citrus, added sugar, processed foods, or nightshade vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant…).
“It’s good you have the discipline to do that.”
But I can’t credit discipline.
If you don’t already know, an elimination diet is when you eliminate certain types of foods to test for sensitivities to them. Often, many categories are eliminated at once. After a couple of weeks, if you notice a positive difference, you reintroduce the foods one at a time to determine which are causing symptoms.
I’m not doing this to get abs. I’m doing it because I noticed concerning symptoms and I want to nip them in the bud before they become a serious problem.
Of course, there is some discipline involved. Even everyday tasks like waking up for work when you want to stay in bed require some level of discipline.
However, the main factor is that I am trained in how to overcome obstacles to dietary changes and successfully make new habits stick. I knew exactly how to set myself up for success and make it feel as easy as possible.
Here’s what I did:
1) I gave myself a week to prepare. I figured out what I would eat, finished perishables in my house that didn’t conform to the diet, and ordered groceries.
2) I started planning from scratch. Starting with what you’re currently eating and trying to find substitutes is a sure way to end up feeling deprived. I see this mistake all the time. Sorry, blended bananas, avocado, and cacao nibs will never be ice cream, so no use pretending.
3) I identified all the foods I like that fit within the diet and built my meal plan from there. What fruits do I like? What non-nightshade veggies? What fish? What nuts, seeds, and nut/seed/butter? Gluten-free grains? Non-soy legumes? Preparing my meals from scratch makes it easy. Cutting up fruit or roasting fish and veggies while I work doesn’t take much time, and I don’t have to worry about unexpected ingredients.
At this point, if I didn’t already know plenty of foods and recipes I could use I would have given myself a couple more weeks to learn and experiment. Because I have to help clients with situations like this, I already knew how to make a diet like this work.
4) I decided what my meals would be for the first week and ordered groceries accordingly. I added nonperishable/frozen backup plans just in case. Looking around the house to see what I’m running out of would have kept me focused on things I can’t eat or dissatisfying substitutes for them. Plus, shopping that way wastes money and hurts the environment as half of it rots.
5) I leveraged ways to reduce my cravings and appetite. Too much to detail here, but I’ve posted about it before, or message me if you want me to go on a super nerdy rant 🤓
6) I avoided mindset traps:
I reminded myself that diets don’t continue to feel as hard as they feel in the first few days, while your body is adjusting, as long as you don’t slip up (then you start from zero).
-I reminded myself that it’s only for a few weeks, and then I’ll begin experimenting with reintroducing foods to see how I react.
- Most importantly, I reminded myself that no matter the results I don’t actually have to do anything forever. If the difference I see isn’t worth it, I can go back to what I was eating before. Knowing will simply give me control over my symptoms instead of keeping me a victim to them.
Someone asked me what I’m actually eating since compared to a typical American diet it sounds like there are no foods in the world left to eat except lettuce. I’m actually doing great! Considering I was eating healthy, to begin with, it wasn’t that much of a transition. I’m simply eating certain foods more often while eliminating others.
- All the fruits I would normally eat: apples, bananas, berries, kiwis, grapes, dates, raisins
- Wild caught fish
- Brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, gluten free oats, red lentil pasta (one of the few substitutes I enjoy as much as the original)
- Beans, lentils, peanut butter, almond butter, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed butter
- Asparagus, greens, onions, squash, zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, radicchio, scallions, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes
- Olive oil, coconut oil, coconut cream/milk, avocado oil, sea salt, fresh herbs, certain spices, tons of garlic
- Favorite indulgence: cinnamon “cookie dough” made only with dates, pumpkin seeds, ground flaxseeds, gluten free oat flour, vanilla extract, and spices. Never would have guessed it wasn’t real if I didn’t know.
Of course, if these were the only foods I could eat for the rest of eternity it would be disappointing. But these are great foods! If I served these foods to guests over the course of a week they probably wouldn’t even notice it was part of a diet.
Yes, it takes some discipline. The hardest part is trying to have a social life when I can’t eat the foods most people want to eat. But the main reason I’ve been able to stick to it for the past 3 weeks is that I know tricks that make it easier.
Plus, now that I have more energy, am sleeping more deeply, can focus better, feel less stressed, and am dropping weight effortlessly while eating more calories (even though I can’t work out due to injuries), do I even want to go back to eating the way I was before?
I don’t have to decide now. I’ll choose when the time comes.
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