How Elimination Diet can Improve our Quality of Life

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We save ourselves from trauma when we are conscious of what we put on our plate.

It’s not easy to make good food choices and eat healthy in this culture. Luckily for us, our built-in body intelligence  knows when have eaten something that we shouldn’t. With awareness, time, and practice, we learn to understand this intelligence. Eating and doing good by our bodies are habits that drastically improve our quality of life.

On occasion, I indulge in something I know that contains one of my allergy triggers like red wine. Food additives that trigger my allergies which can cause body inflammation and my skin to break out are: sulfites, tartrazine, benzoates, grains, sugar, and other processed foods with preservatives. These are the ones that I know of so far that cause suffering and stress to my body.

Dealing with suffering takes away so much of our good energy. I remember being at the peak of feeling unwell (inflamed skin, abdominal pain, leg cramping, low energy, frequent migraines, and insomnia all at once) I felt powerless, I just kept asking how much more of this I can handle. All I know in that moment is that if I go see a doctor, they will put me on a medication that can potentially destroy my organs and affect my fertility over time. My health is not an option I can risk or gamble. 

The reason why I got into elimination diet is that I needed to be done with my physical and internal suffering so that I can focus my energy on my passion and my essential task (my family and my work). I had every reason to believe that I can gain control of what’s happening to me. 

One of the first things I had to remove were all highly processed packaged foods. If it comes in a box or a bag, I’d avoid it. I got into reading ingredients list on everything that I am buying. I stopped shopping at places that sell foods that are unfriendly to my body. If a store is not transparent on where they are sourcing their food from, we don’t go there. A year later, I followed it by detoxing from cannabis (both THC and CBD). Then I developed an exercise routine that can easily be done at home. I was surprised to find out how much it made me feel better and more connected to my body. I am reminded of how sacred life is. Now I have the energy and the will to focus on what matters most in my life (my marriage, our beautiful dogs,projects and little things that gives me happiness :)😘) 

What I would hear from my community when I tell them that I cannot eat from certain food group was, “oh how sad you have to give it up, it’s so delicious,” or “that’s so crazy” or “oh that’s great, but are you actually happy?” Insome ways, elimination diet may appear or sound extreme. But the results that we get when we eat only the food that’s good for us is priceless. 

We all have different body types, blood types, and allergy triggers. That’s why I recommend elimination diet by personalizing your journey. It’s easy to follow health gurus and popular diets. It’s hard when there’s something in that box that doesn’t suit us and we only get frustrated and give up hope.

What we mostly do in our home is a hybrid of Ketogenic and Paleo Diet. I mention these two diets because it is easy to find recipes online and modify them if there is something in the ingredients list that you are allergic to. The foods in these categories have eliminated highly processed foods + bad oils and is a good start if you want to learn what whole foods are. 

This article by Mark Sisson from 2012 helped a lot when I was beginning this journey, he has a good list of what to avoid when learning to eat clean and only shopping for what is good : click here to read it

When doing elimination diet, it is important to: 

  • Pay attention to the way your body feels after having a meal. If you suspect something on the food triggers negative impact, write it down. You will need to test it again in two ways: both in its isolated form and combined (mixed with other foods) form.
  • Make notes to remember what foods trigger your allergies. This is only until you remember what to avoid.
  • Read labels when food shopping (pay special attention to ingredients). Do not shop in a hurry. Allergen triggers can hide in those bottles of condiments that are sold in the market. 
  • Choose organic produce when you can. It’s better to know that somehow the food you are buying passed certain standards (organically grown fruits and vegetables still has pesticides but it is grown with limited application and the pesticides used are derived from organic matter instead of harmful chemicals that not only poison us, it also poisons the environment). 
  • Buy meat and dairy (if you tolerate it) that are not treated with antibiotics.  Although the labels will claim that there is no proof that this impacts us, the consumers, do we really want this stuff in our bodies when our goal is to kick what doesn’t serve us?
  • Get into meal preps and DIY snacks of only stuff that you know that’s good for you. The internet is filled with amazing resources. Find your favorite food blogger who is on a similar path. 
  • Prepare and eat meals at home as much as you can. This way, you have full control of what’s in your food. Most restaurants will cook with bad oils / fats to cut cost. Our  brain is made of fat and needs good fat to power through life. So learn to use and cook with good fats.

The hard work is only in the beginning. This is a path that will have long term positive results that will improve our quality of life. Know that there are others from all around the world that’s doing this journey. This is the truth that I keep reminding myself as I go along. I am not alone. 

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Meat and vegetables make me feel at my best.

REVITALIZING the Body Doing KETOGENIC and PALEO DIET

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I’ve been on several diets since my 20’s. It’s been 8 years of diving into the world of food and nutrition through self study and research on reliable materials I can find online, in print, and the physical results I’ve gotten from trying these diets.

I’ve tried the vegetarian diet, the vegan diet, the raw food diet, the body ecology diet, the paleo diet, and the ketogenic diet. I read, find recipes, and prepare the food that’s within the umbrella of the certain diet, and stick to it for as long as I can…and for as long as it feels right and it feels good to my body. I have certainly pushed it at times. What I have learned is that my body cannot sustain being boxed in on certain diets that don’t include meat for a long period of time.

Only the our body can tell us the pros and cons of being on a certain diet and eating with restrictions because our bodies respond differently to different foods and food groups. And although this is said so many times by health bloggers and health articles, I cannot stress this enough: it is important to find what works best for YOU.

Developing a curiosity for this has been my saving grace in discovering what it is that makes my body thrive–food & nutrition wise. I have had lung issues that required so many antibiotics at a time and skin issues that I’ve lived with pretty much my whole life. Until I saw a glimmer of light in this dark path I’ve been on. 

If you are feeling like you need to create the change, I invite you to dive in. You will not be disappointed. It will take time, but take all the time you need to do your research and find a good reliable source of ingredients for your home cooking, and most importantly, do take time to get acquainted with your body and learn how to listen to it when it tells you what it needs. This is a life long learning process because our bodies change as we get older and our needs change along with it. 

I used to think that the weighing scale and tape measurements are the tellers if I’m on the right track. I was wrong. The true teller whether we are doing right by our body is the way we feel. 

Questions I ask myself to check in on how I’m doing…

  1. Do I feel strong doing this?
  2. Is my energy level good?
  3. How does my belly feel after eating this?
  4. How does my skin feel after eating this?
  5. How often do I get sick? (this is a teller on how well my immune system works, I used to get sick a lot when I didn’t have meat in my diet)

Out of all these diets that I’ve been on, I found that the Paleo and Ketogenic are the ones that worked for my body. So I’ve been doing both, having their principles meet in the middle and avoiding sweets and processed foods altogether.

The Paleo Diet a.k.a. The Caveman Diet

I first heard about this through my husband who by the way has been battling with an auto-immune disease called Psoriatic Arthritis for 10 years now, and winning by eating good and wholesome foods coupled with his bi-monthly medication that suppresses this active disease.

We bond on food & nutrition and he is the one who introduced me to the work of Mark Sisson. 

I am a fan of Mark Sisson for the reason that his philosophies and ideas that he proposes about how a human body thrives makes sense to me. He is the author of the following  books: Primal Blueprint, Primal Endurance, The Primal Connection, The Keto Reset Diet, and cookbooks accompanying these textbooks.

For the first time in my life, I have a clear understanding of what processed foods are and how frequently I have them in my meals. The truth is our food market here in the United States is deeply saturated in highly processed, high-fructose ingredients. When I was first learning about this, I took my time to re-evaluate my grocery shopping list and I would read the ingredients of every packaged goods that I buy and their nutrition facts. This helps an individual in  getting acquainted with the good and the bad in the food industry. If I don’t understand it, I don’t buy it. I consider them as laboratory created food as opposed to whole foods that are direct from farms like vegetables and animal products that does not need a label on them because you know exactly what it is already.

For example, at the market you will see that:

Produce is produce;

Meat is meat;

Fish is fish;

Poultry is poultry;

A Cookie consists of: unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour,niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate {vitamin b1}, riboflavin {vitamin b2}, folic acid), semisweet chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, dextrose, soy lecithin), sugar, soybean oil, partially hydrogenated cotton seed oil, high fructose corn syrup, leavening ( baking soda and /or ammonium phosphate), salt, whey (from milk ), natural and artificial flavor, caramel color. Ingredients of chips ahoy.

Etc. 

You get what I’m saying when buying packaged goods? It has way too many questionable ingredients that can cause health issues later on down the road because most of us are sensitive and we don’t know it until we start paying attention, or worse, a physician tells us that one or more of our organs are not functioning the way it should.

Anything that has a chemical preservative is bad news. They contain allergens that are known to be harmful to us both short term and long term. 

This is what the Paleo approach looks like (focus on the pyramid):

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SOURCE URL: https://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-blueprint-21-day-challenge-infographic/

 

The Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic Diet is when your body uses fat for fuel. We cook our food in good, clean fats (ghee, olive oil, tallow, avocado oil). While other’s who are doing a ketogenic diet include cheese, butter, and state of the art fats like MCT oil, I stick to my own version of keto, I eat meat and only vegetables that grow above ground.

We like to keep our meals simple and we enjoy tasting the freshness of our bounty by not adding seasonings and flavors that will mask them. For seasoning, I stick to sea salt, pepper, fresh garlic, lemon or lime, and whatever herbs we have growing in our garden. 

Protein Source:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Chicken (occasional)
  • Eggs (ocassional)

Carbohydrates, Vitamins, Minerals, and Fiber:

  • Romain 
  • Brocolli
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Aragula

Probiotic:

  • Fermented Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi

Fruits:

  • Avocado
  • Olives
  • Berries (occasional)

Keto and Paleo seems like my best bet in achieving longevity. Although they have differences, they have a similar goal of healing the body through food.

On my future blog articles, I will talk more about good fats and bad fats, the whats and the whys. 

I used to feel like a victim spinning out of control. I find that the key is knowing that we can gain control in this food industry that is so out of control. We just have to seek it and take charge of the things we want to change in our lives. We hold on to the good, and we ditch the bad that is not serving us for the better. Since changing the way I eat, my body has felt so much better, I feel more up to the tasks I’m given, I haven’t been sick for a long time, I haven’t had any episode of Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH), I am hooked to exercising, I feel strong and there is peacefulness and an overall happiness in my well being for the first time in my life. 

Eliminating Sugar, Starch, and Gluten From my Diet

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To say that I do not like seeing a dentist is an understatement. So last year when I felt my wisdom tooth started growing again (yep, they do grow in spurts!) and it hurt so terribly this time around, I knew that I’ve been having way too much sugar and starch in my diet. I decided to go cold turkey on sugar and all food item & ingredients in our pantry that turns into sugar when consumed

That includes (but not limited to):

  • Rice
  • Flour
  • Whole Grains
  • White Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Xylitol
  • Stevia
  • Honey
  • Agave
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Fruits containing high-fructose
  • Beans

Initially, I planned on going back to eating my treats once my tooth and gum ache went away. Because why not when there are so many good looking recipes on the internet to try and the whiff of baked goods at the market brings back wonderful memories of childhood…

But when my tooth and gum ache healed, I found myself unwilling to incorporate sweets, starch, and gluten items back to my diet. Why? I was astonished with the results of cutting them out!

Not only did my tooth and gum ache went away, to my surprise, there were more improvements to my well being that came along with it.

Improved Oral Health

My wisdom tooth is now growing in peace, no more pain or gum ache. My teeth feels stronger and porcelain like because there are no starch clinging on to it even after brushing them.

Facial Complexion has Improved

The tiny bumps on my face that I’ve had since entering adolescence have dramatically gone away. I used to think it’s genetics and that I have inherited a bumpy facial complexion when in fact, it was all about the way I eat and what I am eating.

It Cured my Dermatitis Herpetiformis

I have what is called Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) which is an itchy, blistering, burning skin rash and can be difficult to live with, especially when the breakout happens, and especially when I don’t know what triggered the breakout in the first place. I feel powerless when a breakout happens. I would break out on my knees, elbows, hairline, and scalp and it hurts not to scratch the itch. And it hurts even more after I scratch it and I see the damage that it’s done. The breakouts can transfer from one part of the body to another. The longest breakout I’ve had to deal with was on my scalp and hairline at the back of my head where it stayed on from 2008 to 2011, during that time I couldn’t wear a pony tail or a top bun.

So when I completely eliminated starch and gluten from my diet, I have had zero episode of a break out. I couldn’t be happier because for so many years, this has been a burden to me.

Better Energy

“But how will you have energy if you don’t eat sugar in your diet?” This is a frequently asked question by family and friends when I tell them I’ve eliminated sugar from my diet. I was raised in a country where rice is a staple in every meal–breakfast, lunch and dinner have a big serving rice, little protein, and a side of vegetables. Philippines is also abundant in tropical fruits that contain a high amount of sugar. We always have banana and mangoes in our home and I’ve enjoyed them immensely because they give me a caffeine like buzz and I will crash hard once the effect wears off…I either drift off to the dreamland or I pretend I can go on reading a book only to find myself reading the same sentence over and over.

So after eliminating rice, fruits and sugar from my diet, I no longer feel the “crash” that occurs when I was on a high-fructose, high-carb diet. I incorporate good fats with my daily meals as a source of energy.

Better Emotional Health

To say that I do not experience any mood swing after switching to a no sugar diet is BS because I still do–but now, only before my monthly cycle starts. It still happens, but its very limited.

No More Bloated Mornings

I have better mornings now that I am not waking up feeling very heavy physically and mentally.

Leg Soreness and Cramping have Subsided

For the longest time, my legs have bothered me especially in the evenings. They would feel very heavy by the end of the day and only an hour long massage alleviated half the pain that I was feeling. So to my surprise, my legs no longer feel painful and I no longer experience cramping.

If I have Bad Bacteria Living in my Gut…

I am determined to live a healthy lifestyle now that I am awake to my body and realize how much of this world there is to live for. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in our body, so if I have them, they sure are starving right now. And when something starves, I’d like to believe they just die.

Weight Loss

My weight have fluctuated for most of my life and I see now how it is hugely related to these two constant factors: physical environment and emotional state. Before my curiosity about health and food came about, I was eating anything and everything under the sun. I would try the latest crazed diet even when my body told me and showed me symptoms that I shouldn’t. When we travelled for 6 months, I did not bother taking care of my body. I would just eat what is readily available at the stores and at restaurants. This was troublesome for me. I gained so much weight in 2016 and 2017.

Eliminating grains, starches, sugar, and gluten from the diet reduces the amount of calories I consume on a daily basis–this naturally forces the body to use the fat on our midsection as the source of energy (that’s why I eat good fats so I can keep supplying my body with good, stable source of energy).

Aversion To Sweets

One of the ‘side effects’ of eliminating these food groups / ingredients is that I cannot stand the taste of sweetness. So I avoid anything that has a trace of sweet to it.

Cutting out the food groups and ingredients that caused suffering to my body and mind is  by far the most life changing experience that I have ever done. So what do I eat? I am mostly doing a ketogenic diet (meat, fish, and only vegetables that grow above ground). I will talk more about the food groups under ketogenic diet on the next blog article. 🙂