You’ve decided to do an Elimination Diet. Whether it be Whole 30, The full-blown medical one, Shred10, or a stint in Keto/Paleo land… you’re all bought in. Well… maybe. Maybe you’re just curious as to what I’ll say in terms of getting through it. If you don’t know this about me already, I am a master of Elimination diets. Master of failing them that is! I do succeed at them as well, but it’s the failures that have taught me the most. Since most of us aren’t big fans of failing, I thought I’d share my learnings with you to help your chances of success on your elimination diet journey. Here goes.
Have a firm start and end date and get everything in order before you begin. Trust me, deciding to start a Whole 30 right now without any idea what you have going on during the next 30 days and without a single egg in the fridge is not going to go over well. I hate it when people tell me to start ‘RIGHT NOW‘ because it’s essentially just telling me to fail faster. Go ahead and schedule the sucker. You do not need to start on the 1st of the month, a Monday, or match the lunar cycle. Schedule it around the wedding, your birthday, or your guinea pig’s gender reveal party. Whatever you have going on… work around it.
Pick the right one
For the love of God, please be honest with yourself as to why you are doing an Elimination diet in the first place. If you want to lose 10 lbs don’t lie and tell everyone you want to see if dairy is a problem for you. (Why the hell do we do that?!) Be honest with yourself about your goals and assess your options. Sure you’ll drop some serious weight doing a medical Elimination diet… but you probably won’t stick with it, won’t learn anything, and gain all the weight back if you aren’t doing it for the right reasons. Go ahead, ask me how I know.
If you are looking for a reset that challenges your eating habits and lifestyle then consider shred10. It’s honest in what it does and will help you accomplish what you’re REALLY trying to do.
Be a Boy Scout
Do you know the scout motto? No? Lemme tell you: Be Prepared. In terms of an Elimination Diet, this means having something to eat with you AT ALL TIMES. For me, this is second nature since I Have Celiac Disease and I am a Type 1 Diabetic. For most people, this will take some effort. I want you to think of every place you go, and keep a snack there, or have one of your person. Impromptu dinner out? That’s ok! You have a snack. Kid’s soccer game run long? That’s fine! You have a snack in the car. Stuck late at work? No problem! You have snacks in your desk. Attacked by aliens? Ain’t no thang! You have snacks in your purse. Get my drift? ALWAYS. HAVE. FOOD. This way, you won’t have to cheat because you won’t have an excuse.
Minimize Decision Fatigue
I do this all the times anyway, but go ahead and decide what you’re going to eat for the week at the beginning. Pick one breakfast, 1-2 lunches you can rotate, and a dinner for each night. Shop accordingly. If you don’t have to think about it every time you go to make and eat a meal, it’s a lot easier to do it. Especially if you are eating a limited diet. Oddly, things can get tricky when you are doing an elimination diet and can’t reach for the quick and easy. I know I can get overwhelmed trying to think of what to eat, so if I decide ahead of time, it really helps me in the moment.
This goes hand in hand with minimizing decision fatigue. Prepare what you can ahead of time. Think things like overnight oats, lunch bowls, hard-boiled eggs, etc. I like to do 3 days of meal prep at a time. I don’t do any further out than that for food safety purposes.
Remove Trigger Foods
If you are eliminated dairy but have a huge weakness for cheese… GET. RID. OF. THE. CHEESE. No, this does not mean EAT all the cheese before starting. Give it away, throw it away, whatever you need to do, just get rid of the cheese. Or whatever your trigger foods are. If you have family in your house, as I do, they may not like this. They will live. I promise you. Although, my kids have found a workaround. They put bread on the things they want to keep. The little punks have devised a way to use my Celiac Disease to their advantage when I am doing an elimination diet!
Have a backup plan
When I was doing the Medical Elimination diet and realized that the reintroduction phase was going to go into Christmas I knew I wasn’t going to complete it. I talked to my doctor and we agreed to scale it back to a Whole 30 because it accomplished what I needed to challenge anyway. So I started working back to a quasi-normal diet that I maintained through travel and the holidays and completed the Whole 30 as soon as I could in the new year. It worked out well for me. So while I ‘failed’ the medical elimination diet, I WAS able to successfully challenge nightshades during it. And everything else during the Whole 30.
Here’s the thing about Elimination Diets. Know what you want to accomplish going in, and know that it’s ok to take more than one round to do it. This is one thing that irritates the hell out of me about Whole 30. They claim that if you mess up on ONE thing you have to redo the whole thing. I call bullshit. If you mess up and eat a bean… I say call it quits on the beans and finish the rest. Do the beans later!
Have an SOS plan
Sometimes things go totally wrong. You eat a meal containing EVERY SINGLE THING you are eliminating, You get super sick, there is a family emergency or a natural disaster.
If you have control… bounce back! If you ate the off-limits meal try fasting for a while and take note of how you feel. you’re supposed to be testing your physical relationship with these foods anyway. It might be too soon to tell anything, but it might not be. See if you can learn anything. And then start at zero. For all of the foods or the one you cheated with.
If you have no control, know when it’s ok to hit the pause button. Elimination diets can be done LATER when it’s appropriate. If it’s been a while since you have had some of the foods you’ve eliminated, start slow with them. As slow as you can at least.
Get Some Accountability
Last but not least, get a buddy! If no one will join you at least tell some friends and family! The ones that will support you. Post on social media if you feel comfortable! And most importantly, TELL ME! I love cheering people on, hearing your stories, and encouraging the hell out of you.