This is the second post in the Elimination Diet series. You can read the first post here.
Once you have been on the Elimination plan for a couple of weeks and have cleansed your body, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to take the time to reintroduce foods slowly and systematically. I know this might seem like a long drawn out process, but it will really help you find out exactly what food sensitivities you have and learn more about your body.
Whatever you do, do NOT just go back to eating the way you used to. It is quite possible that if you do you will feel 10 times worse than you did before you started the program because when you eliminate foods that are causing you problems you are removing the foreign molecules that antibodies in your blood stream grab onto and cause allergic reactions. You are eliminating the foreign molecules but you are not eliminating the antibodies themselves and as a result, when you go back to eating the foods that you are sensitive to, these antibodies attack in full force causing reactions that are much worse than before.
Also, since you have taken the trouble to cleanse your body of problem foods you might as well take the extra step and learn which ones they are. Then you can make some intelligent choices on how to handle these foods in the future.
Even though a lot of information from Dr Hyman's book is available online, the specific list that he recommends for reintroduction is not as far as I can see, therefore you will need to read his book if you want to find out exactly what his recommendations are.
However he does say that when you are adding back foods to your diet, you should start with the ones that have been found to be the least troublesome, and end with the ones that cause the most problems for the most people.
At www.biotype.net they have published this pyramid which I think will work well as a guide. There is also a lot there that you might find quite interesting if you want more specific information on allergies.
I would start with one of the foods listed at the bottom of the pyramid and eat it once or twice a day for the next three days. Keep track of what reactions you experience. Remember that reactions sometimes take a couple of days to develop, which is why you want to allow enough time between reintroductions. After three days you can add another food and so on, continuing until you have added all of them back into your diet.
Of course when we are eating Paleo we don't eat grains or beans so you can leave these out. And when you're testing oils, again you don't need to bother with processed vegetable oils (other than olive oil) because you won't be eating these either. As for additives ... I think it pretty well goes without saying that you shouldn't be eating these anyway since they really aren't foods at all. However if you do eat a few processed items, then test these the same way, introducing them one at a time.
And while you're at it, if you eat any sweet things you should add sweeteners to the list above as well. Some people absolutely cannot eat anything sweet without causing major cravings, so even if you use a healthier sweetener such as honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar, you should test these as well. And if you use sugar alcohols at all you definitely should test them. Some will cause major gastric distress in some people and you want to know if you are one of them.
You might also be wondering why, if tree nuts are on this list, Dr. Hyman recommended almond milk and almond butter in his elimination plan. This is because almonds are the least addictive of all nuts and therefore relatively safe for the vast majority of people.
When you are adding back seafood, add back fish first, then shrimps and scallops etc. because often people who can eat regular fish with no problems have an allergy to shellfish.
In his UltraSimple Companion guide (available online here.), Dr. Hymen gives you a form that you can use for keeping a record of the tests you do. I would suggest you print out a few copies for your planner or diet Journal. Each time you eat the food you are introducing, note the name of the food, the date and the time you ate it as well as any symptoms you experience. If you do this consistently you will soon get a good picture of which foods you can and cannot eat.
If, while you are going through this process, you find you have some definite reactions, I suggest you read the book. Dr. Hyman goes into a lot more detail about how to introduce these foods, including the kinds of symptoms that you can expect if you have sensitivities. The book is now also available in a kindle version which means you can read it immediately if you want to.
Once you discover a sensitivity to a particular food you have several options. You can just eliminate it from your diet, and if you're not going to miss it this is probably the easiest thing to do. If however you would like to be able to eat it if only occasionally, then there are a few things you can do.
According to Dr. Hyman, there are two types of food allergies - acute and delayed. Acute allergies are allergies such as those to peanuts, shellfish and environmental allergants, and for these you need to see your doctor. He will probably treat you with allergy shots, and taken over a period of years these can often be treated effectively.
If you have ever had any of the symptoms shown above, you should NOT be doing this plan. DO NOT eat the food that is causing you problems and see you doctor immediately. Acute allergy reactions can be life threatening and are not something to play around with.
The second type of allergy is the delayed allergy which usually arises because of a leaky gut. A simple explanation for leaky gut syndrome is when the intestinal wall has become altered to become permeable and can no longer keep out unwanted molecules. Here is a description of this condition from aritclesonautism.com
"It (leaky gut syndrome) allows molecules and substances (such as proteins) that are normally filtered out of the intestinal tract into the intestines. Because these molecules are not usually allowed inside the gut, the body misinterprets these non-harmful substances as a virus or infection and begins to produce antibodies to attack them. In turn, this creates a process where one’s body recognizes certain foods, as well as any of the body’s regular molecules that are similar to these foods, as harmful, causing an auto-immune disease where the body attacks itself."
This kind of allergic condition is not permanent and can be reduced or eliminated when you heal your leaky gut. You do this by eliminating the allergenic foods for 90 days while eating a healthy Paleo diet and taking probiotics, vitamins and minerals and omega-3 fats to heal the gut lining. After this period of time some of these reactions may remain but you will probably find that the trigger foods can often be eaten occasionally without much of a problem.
So it really does depend on the seriousness of your reaction. If it's pretty mild, try healing yourself by following Dr. Hyman's suggestions, but if it's pretty severe please don't try and self-medicate because you might just make the problem worse. Make an appointment with your family doctor and get him/her to refer you to a specialist who has the training to help you.
Knowing how your body reacts to different foods will help you make well informed decisions about the foods that you include in your diet, and this will go a long way to keeping you happy as well as healthy.
You might also like :
A Cheap and Easy Food Sensitivity Test
Elimination Diet Update - The Virgin Diet
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