Food is essential to life and, because of this, is at the center of our conversations and activities. In America we enjoy an abundant supply and mind numbing choices of what to eat. We also enjoy a mind numbing number of diet ideas. One which has gained a great deal of attention in the media is “food allergies”. Individuals with severe food allergies can experience anaphylactic shock and be in need of immediate medical attention. Milder food allergies are implicated in everything from gastric discomfort, inability to lose weight, to severe behavioral problems such as ADD and depression. I am not qualified to offer an opinion as to whether there is a causal relationship between food allergies and any medical diagnosis.
As an observer of people, however, I do recognize that food does influence mood and physical wellbeing; for example, coffee and chocolate have effects on mood beyond the caffeine they contain. The uses of detox diets and elimination diets have become popular in diagnosing these allergies.
I am not a nutritionist or dietician but I would like to share a simple version of a detox/elimination diet for adults that I have stolen from two medical researchers, Elson Hass MD, author of The New Detox Diet and Johnny Bowden MD, author of The Most Effective Natural Cures. Again, I stress this is a simplified version; it is for adults only and is not a substitute for medical care. One begins by making a commitment to a five- week period he or she is willing to make some significant changes to personal eating habits. The primary sacrifice is in planning your week’s meals and going grocery shopping. The plan…
Week 1, plan your meals entirely around meat and vegetables. Meat means beef, chicken, pork, and fish. A vegetarian may eat eggs. A vegetable means fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, green beans, asparagus, greens, etc. A week is seven days. So for seven days you are eating meat and vegetables and drinking water.
Week 2, add one food group to your meal plans. You choose: beans and lentils, fruit, dairy, nuts, or grains. You may have noticed I left off sweets and candy and we are still drinking water.
Weeks 3, 4, 5, continue to add a new food group each week and keep a written record of how you feel. Make a note upon waking up, mid-day, and evening at a minimal. Take note of hunger, mood, mental clarity, skin, and other physiological functions. If you react well to certain foods, make note of that. If you have an adverse reaction to certain foods, you may want to limit or eliminate them from your diet. Wait until you have added all food groups before you introduce sweets, alcohol, drinks other than water, or processed foods (food that does not spoil). Coffee and tea drinkers, if possible, go without but if you must, limit yourself to two cups a day.
This simple plan will provide you with a good snapshot of your metabolism and how your body reacts to food. This is not about restriction; it is about planning, eating well and enjoying eating.
If you suspect you have an adverse reaction to some foods, this is a simple test to find out. A side benefit is that you will most likely lose weight without going hungry. As always, if you have any medical conditions, please consult your doctor before attempting this.
John Goetz is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Edmond Family Counseling 341-3554.