VIDEO: Should You Try An Elimination Diet Like The Whole 30?
WHAT IS AN ELIMINATION DIET / What is THE WHOLE 30?
The purpose of any elimination diet is to remove any food irritants that could be causing harm to your body.
The Whole 30 challenge is one popular elimination diet, although many people also seem to do it for weight-loss and as a nutrition "reset" to kick start them in the right direction.
Should you try this type of diet? Who's it good for and who should avoid them? Stay tuned to find out.
Could you have a FOOD INTOLERANCE?
Most of us know about food allergies. They come on suddenly, can be triggered by a very small amount of food, happen predictably every time you eat the food, and can be life threatening.
But there is also a lesser known category called a “food intolerance”. They usually come on gradually, might only be obvious if you eat a lot of a certain type of food, or eat it often, and are not life threatening.
Food intolerance are linked to a long list of issues, including:
asthma and allergies
atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases
neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia
How do ELIMINATION DIETS work?
You first eliminate all of the foods that we know are common triggers. The science says that you need to completely eliminate any trace of the potential trigger food for 21-days (minimum) to allow it to completely clear your system.
After that, you carefully reintroduce each food, one at a time, and look for changes/symptoms.
Each food will either end up on your ‘safe list’ or your ‘foods I have a sensitivity to list.’ Now you know which foods bother you, and you can act accordingly.
Here's a list of the foods allowed on the WHOLE 30.
Here's a list of a pretty typical medical elimination diet, for comparison purposes.
This describes the FOMAP diet, which is also similar.
You'll see many similarities, and some differences. There are multiple elimination diet protocols, and they tend to very slightly.
What Are the COMMON SYMPTOMS OF FOOD INTOLERANCE?
During the re-introduction phase, here are some things to look for:
Low energy levels/mood
Feeling under the weather
Itchy throat/roof of mouth
Phlegmy feeling in throat or nose (often associated with a dairy intolerance)
What makes THE WHOLE 30 different from other elimination diets?
I’m not sure why the Whole 30 chooses to eliminate some foods and not others compared to what I’ve seen from most elimination protocols. I believe they’re trying to simplify the process and make it easier for the average person, while sticking to the most common food intolerances.
Having said that, they eliminate some foods that aren’t commonly a source of intolerance for the average person, like white rice. I don’t know why they do that.
They also eliminate ‘approved treats’ with healthy ingredients, for example, pancakes made with coconut flour. This doesn’t make sense if the diet is strictly supposed to an elimination diet.
What the Whole 30 doesn’t seem to say explicitly is that it’s also trying to be a lower-carb, pseudo-paleo diet plan.
Arguably, maybe people do operate better when they reduce carbs. And certainly this seems to aid in fat loss for many. But that goes beyond the goal of an elimination diet, which is simply to find trigger foods.
Should you try an elimination diet like the whole 30?
In my opinion, an elimination diet is an advanced nutrition strategy. If you suffer some the symptoms I’ve listed for food sensitivities (or others, I didn't get an exhaustive list), it could be a great fit. You might just realize that by eliminating your major food triggers, you can feel a whole lot better! I've seen elimination diets work like miracles for several clients. If, on the other hand, you just want to learn more about how specific foods impact your body - to go on a journey of discovery, if you will - then an elimination diet is also worth while. Doing so will unlock previously hidden information about which foods make you feel at your absolute best, and which don't. Once you have that information, it's up to you how strict you want to be.
If you're looking for a diet re-set, it might work. But most people should plan to think about how to adjust the rules for "real life" after the 30-day window is up. Joseph Erbentraut wrote about his experience "failing" the Whole 30 diet in an article on the Huffington Post. In essence, he learned a lot, including " I had been overdoing it with certain food groups, confirming a long-held theory that I was probably lactose-intolerant and am growing increasingly unable to consume more than two alcoholic drinks in the same night, among other digestive discoveries from the month", but the diet was too restrictive to maintain. He crashed and burned multiple times when life got the better of him. Not everyone will have that experience, but many will.
WHO SHOULDN’T try an elimination diet like the whole 30?
If your goal is simply a bit of fat loss, you can see results with a much easier to follow, less restrictive routine. In my experience, the easier the plan is to follow, the more consistent the average person will be. Consistency is 90% of long-term success and should never be underestimated. Having the "perfect plan" isn't necessary. Doing something every day without fail is.
Change is hard for all of us. Make your life easy and commit to the minimum amount of change required to see results that you’re happy with.
Not sure if an elimination diet is a good fit based on your goals, lifestyle and overall situation? Drop me a line and ask.
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