The Last Bit on Elimination Diets (September 15, 2015)
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks telling you that many bizarre, elusive, and persistent symptoms can be due to eating a food that isn’t quite right for you. Even if it’s a food that would normally be considered healthy. And I have discussed an effective program you can follow to find the culprit(s) if you suspect this is happening to YOU.
Also, I have reluctantly confessed that this program (first water fasting and then resuming eating individual foods, one at a time) is a cure that many people find more objectionable than the disease. And finally, I teased that there are some shortcuts that, although a purist would scorn them, are almost as good as the long way ‘round.
Regarding that last, because there are two tweaks to the program that might actually make the difference for some people between giving it a shot and giving the whole thing up, they follow.
1) Instead of following a water fast to start with, you just eat rice and rice products instead, because few people in the Western world are allergic to or sensitive to rice. You can eat it in any form (boiled, steamed, rice cakes, noodles, puffed rice, whatever), plus salt, and you drink only water. This is not especially thrilling, but it’s a whole lot easier than water fasting. Of course if you do happen to be allergic to rice (far more likely if you are of Asian descent, interestingly), you are up that all-too-familiar creek.
2) If even rice alone is too difficult, here is Dr. Herman Tarnower’s version of the elimination diet. I have mentioned Dr. Tarnower before. He was also known as the Scarsdale Diet Doctor and was murdered by a jealous woman when he was 69 years old, and if THAT isn’t a recommendation for at least you boys out there to follow his advice, I don’t know what would be. [I still think that his Scarsdale Medical Diet is the easiest weight-loss diet there is for most people to follow. But I digress.]
Breakfast: Oatmeal with a little butter or sugar.
Lunch and Supper: Lamb chop or loin of lamb, either broiled or roasted or fried with butter.
Carrots and rice with butter.
Beverages: ONLY water. NO milk, coffee, tea, sodas.
Dessert: Stewed pears or peaches.
I would suggest using ghee instead of butter and maltose instead of sugar if you can find it. But otherwise, that’s it. Thank you, Dr. Tarnower. Rest in peace.
Once you’ve gotten through that first phase successfully and have started testing different foods, you need to keep a good food diary. (Best if you keep this right from the start, actually.) You WRITE DOWN what you eat, and how much of it, when you eat it, and how you feel both afterward and at regular intervals during the day (or whenever you notice a change in your physical or emotional state). Basic rules:
1. List ALL ingredients of mixed dishes and combination foods.
2. Fill in information immediately before or after you eat.
3. Rate symptoms from 1 to 4 to distinguish between mild and severe reactions.
4. Weigh yourself every morning after going to the bathroom. A sudden weight gain plus increased thirst, decreased urine output, tighter shoes or tighter rings are all signs of fluid retention, a VERY common food reaction.
5. Note any foods you crave. That’s because you may feel better (usually temporarily) after eating a food you are sensitive to. This is called "allergic addiction". Food craving may point to one of these. I’ll mention that again in a bit.
Here is a schedule of the possible onset of symptoms after eating an offending food. I can’t find the original source for it, so you'll just have to trust me on this. Heh heh.
Here are a few other tidbits:
-- Re food cravings, food addiction is a condition wherein people (ironically) feel a physical and emotional need for the very foods they are addicted to. The theory is that the body adapts to assaults from foods it finds difficult to deal with by releasing a rush of stress hormones and other chemicals that elicit a temporary "high" and a short-lived amelioration of symptoms. So people eat problem foods (often their favorite ones) over and over to temporarily feel better and to prevent uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Oh, the humanity.
-- If you’re going to go through with this, you should really bite the bullet and stop taking any over-the-counter medications and/or supplements that you generally also take as well, or else those won’t be tested, and heaven only knows what’s REALLY in those pills.
-- Since you aren't actually allergic to the offending foods, you may be able to eat small amounts of them without ill effect. (That's why you test with a large quantity of the food.) If not, you still may be able to eat them once in a while, AFTER they've been completely absent from your diet for a period.
-- If you’ve been drinking a lot of coffee or something else caffeinated, you’ll probably have withdrawal symptoms for a couple of days to a week at the beginning, like headaches and/or constipation. As though you aren’t miserable enough already.
-- Cooking breaks down food to a certain extent, so you may be able to tolerate a food cooked, but not raw.
-- Symptoms may appear only if two or more objectionable foods are eaten at the same meal, in effect overwhelming the system.
-- You may react to a food only when your resistance is low; like during hay fever season or when you have a cold.
-- If you've tested every food in your diet and still have symptoms, you will need to try eliminating additives and/or pesticides.
There! That was a lot, but it was pretty much everything. Lay on! and return with your shield, or on it!
--dr. diane holmes
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