I have found it highly effective, for both myself and my clients, to eliminate the most problematic foods — wheat, dairy, alcohol and all other sugar-based or artificially sweetened drinks — for four weeks. (Visit my blog for a detailed list.)
During this time, it is equally important to eat more fresh, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods to help detoxification and support optimal health.
Dr. Mark Hyman, the author of “Ultra-Metabolism,” advocates “a period of cleansing and renewal through detoxification” as a means to improve energy, relieve many chronic health problems and lose weight. Both Hyman and Julia Ross (author of “The Diet Cure”) identify sugar, wheat and dairy as the three most menacing foods in the American diet.
These foods are all recognized as “pro-inflammatory” and have been linked to a number of maladies, including weight gain, inability to lose weight, heartburn, joint pain, headache, fatigue, sleep problems, eczema, poor complexion, postnasal drip, bloating and digestive disorders.
But don’t see this as an opportunity to raid the grocery store for wheat-free cookies, crackers and bread, soy cheese and other highly processed substitutes. The purpose is to cut back on processed foods and nourish your body with antioxidant-rich, phytonutrient-dense fresh, whole foods.
Here are some suggestions for healthy substitutes:
- Instead of eating toast with your eggs, consider a side of brown rice, oatmeal or quinoa.
- For lunch, go for soups or salads. Just be sure to pass on the croutons and avoid soups made with dairy. If you crave something crunchy, munch on a whole-grain Ryvita rye cracker.
- For dinner, enjoy a large serving of steamed, sautéed, roasted or grilled veggies, with a side of whole grains or root vegetables and your choice of meat, fish or vegetarian protein.
I invite you to join me on this journey to experience a higher level of health.
If you choose to do so, you can expect some changes:
For the first three to five days, you might experience strong food cravings, and you might feel tired due to the initial mobilization and elimination of stored toxins. Drink plenty of water to help ease these symptoms. By day seven, you should begin to notice some positive changes. My clients have experienced benefits ranging from relief of chronic health issues to better-quality sleep, improved energy levels, improved digestion and regularity and weight loss.
Once you’ve completed the four weeks, you may reintroduce one food group to your diet every three to four days. Pay close attention to how your body reacts as you do this. If you find that you react badly to a particular food, it might mean you have a food sensitivity, and you should think about whether the food in question is worth eating at all.
I strongly recommend that if you decide to reincorporate these foods into your diet, do it in moderation, so that you can continue to enjoy optimal energy, health and body weight.
Julia Blanton is a nutrition, fitness and wellness coach. An avid runner, she works at Club One in Scotts Valley and keeps a health blog at www.juliablanton.com.
Have a health or fitness related question for Julia? She’s planning a Q&A column in upcoming weeks. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org