The Elimination Plan

2-4 weeks of getting rid of the stuff you don’t really need.

Sugar

Dairy

Wheat

Caffeine

Alcohol

But Why?

Refined Sugar: This should be called the Empty Robber. Refined sugars offer no nutritional value and leaches important nutrients like Calcium, Sodium, Magnesium and Potassium from the cells for metabolism. It is an empty food that strips away essential elements. In order to make sugar “refined” it goes through a factory process that includes bleaching and extracting. Leaving the original food source (sugar beets, sugar cane or maple syrup) stripped of all the vitamins and minerals that it once had. Do you want to allow an empty robber into your home?  No way! At least not during elimination time and then maybe just for the occasional visit.

Dairy: Dairy has been shown to be a strong contributor to low-level inflammation in our bodies. It can cause excessive mucous production and has been linked to cancer markers. Most importantly, in a time of giant factory farms, we have to be careful about the source of dairy. Cows are routinely given hormones and antibiotics, which affects the purity of the milk-based product. Also pasteurization, which is widely accepted as normal and healthy, kills off many of the good enzymes, denatures the proteins and strips it of vitamins. This process could contribute to the difficulties some have with the digestion of milk-based products.  If you have access to raw milk foods, you are lucky!  For the elimination time the hope is to cut it out completely. For future, consider limiting intake to small amounts of organic unsweetened, whole milk yogurt. If you choose to have other dairy items keep it as close to the true form as possible. This means full fat and organic, maybe even raw.

Wheat and Gluten: Much of today’s wheat and grain products have been genetically modified. You may see a trend here, when we start messing with food it becomes more and more difficult for our bodies to metabolize. If the body can’t break wheat down efficiently, utilizing what is needed and excreting what is not, allergies and intolerances may begin to develop. Possibly for this reason, we see a rise in less-than-desirable effects on our bodies. Increased inflammatory markers, irritable bowel, extra insulation around the belly and foggy brain symptoms can be some of the by-products of digesting the massed produced wheat of today. If a non-genetically modified version is available as it is most places outside of the U.S. it might be a fine option for nutrients unless you happen to have a true intolerance or disease process.

Caffeine: Oh, how we all love our morning Cup o’ Joe….Daily dependence may be the greatest reason for eliminating coffee, black tea and all caffeine, from our routine periodically. Although an argument of positives can come from ingesting a little caffeine, an equal amount of questionable effects are also demonstrated. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it makes you have to pee. This is due to its influence on our cells ability to utilize water. As it draws out that water it takes with it Calcium and Magnesium. Without these very important substances our muscular-skeletal system cannot function normally. At an extreme end this might cause bone softening and loss of muscle functionality.  It has been suggested that consuming excess caffeine and other stimulants can impair and fatigue your adrenal glands. The adrenals mobilize your body’s responses to stresses, so it’s good to give them a break and keep them functioning well!

Alcohol: Elimination is the name of this game! The liver is a star player in our body’s elimination team. It is almost solely responsible for detoxifying. Alcohol requires the livers maximum attention for processing. This can cause the liver to get bogged down and then it is not available to clean out everything else. So think about this one as giving your liver a little task break so it can focus on everything else.

Remember this is just a short-term plan for flushing out the system and finding balance back to eating healthy. To identify a true food intolerance, allergy or sensitivity takes a much more scientific process.

Food for thought about substitutes:

Remember the “pink slime” that made the news a few years back. It was an additive to meat, to make meat products that had been stripped down to appear more meat like. If any food as been stripped from its natural source so that the label can read: fat free, gluten free, wheat free, sugar free, etc. It is likely food free too and should be sold in a store for chemicals not groceries. I say this to simply encourage you from replacing old habits of breads, crackers, candies… with “legal” ones. If a prepackaged food fits neatly into your elimination guidelines, please approach with caution. Think about only eating food that comes with its own packaging with no need for an ingredient list.

The Sweet Stuff

A cry of caution goes out for sweeteners as well. If you simply replace refined sugar with so called natural sweeteners like stevia or splenda you are messing with your ability to truly enjoy sweet food. I love how after elimination a “sweet tooth” can be completely satiated by biting into an apple. When an apple is not satisfyingly sweet it can be a good indication; sugar consumption should be put into check.

Learning from the wise

Author and food expert Michael Pollan recommends:

“Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Don’t forget to exercise during this process. At least 20 min of a dedicated physical practice everyday.

Now go forth and cultivate awareness around what you consume.

You are building a foundation for a more vital being.