When you are about to start an Elimination Diet, you need to make sure that your body is adequately prepared. There are several steps I have taken to (hopefully) ensure that this is successful.
Meet with a medical professional
I cannot stress this enough. This Elimination Diet is not for weight loss. Some individuals will experience weight loss as a result of this program since they will be eating out less and eating more whole foods. These are great reasons to be losing weight on this plan. However, this is not a plan where you severely restrict your calories. It is important to meet with a medical professional who can direct you how best to approach the plan for you. (S)he will help ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients that you need over the course of your Elimination Diet. They will also be able to advise you how to reintroduce the food challenges.
Track your current eating habits
Tracking your current habits is important for many reasons. One, it lets you know the types of foods you consume most frequently. Most professionals will advise you that any food you are consuming nearly every day you should consider eliminating as part of this diet. It will also give you a sense of how many calories you are consuming so that you can aim to be close to that. This diet is restrictive enough!
Plan your meals
Planning is ESSENTIAL to this diet! Most quick convenience food items will not fall under the umbrella of “allowed” foods. This means that there is more of a push for you to plan ahead. Having fresh fruit and vegetables prepared will really help during those moments that are more difficult. You will likely need to do some preemptive grocery shopping to make sure you have all the right ingredients on hand. Knowing ahead of time what your meals and snacks will be makes it much easier to be successful. Cheating on this diet is not an option! If you cheat, you just need to extend the length of the elimination phase-which NO one wants!
In the weeks leading up to this plan, I went through every cookbook we owned looking for recipes that fit the bill or would be easy to modify. I researched websites and scoured Pinterest for ideas. There is a lot out there, which makes it a lot easier! We will be cooking extras of every meal so that when we get hungry, we already have what we need on hand. Plan, plan, plan!
People are terrible when temptations are around. If my craving is right in front of me, it is going to be difficult to say no all the time. Sure, I can say no at dinnertime when my family is right there. But what about when I find myself in the kitchen alone in the middle of the night? Will anyone notice that there is a little less peanut butter in the jar? Will anyone honestly know if I steal a few animal crackers from Cupcake’s snack drawer? Maybe you have nerves of steel, but I do not! We rearranged our whole pantry so one whole side is all acceptable foods. The other side has our not-for-nows. If there is something I know I really will want, I have boxed those up and put them in the basement. Remember, these are not gone forever! But, there is something to be said for out of sight, out of mind. Plus, with that delicious fruit salad you prepared (see tip above), you have everything you need!
Plan a phase-out week (or two)
This has been the most helpful tip! An acquaintance of mine posted a picture the night before she started a diet- she was at a restaurant with an ooey-gooey double cheese burger loaded with toppings. She also had french fries with all the fixings. She finished up with a delicious looking double-fudge brownie sundae. It all looked amazing and for some people, that is exactly what they want to do the night before embarking on a new diet.
This is not a traditional diet plan, though. By indulging in these types of items the night before, you will make it significantly harder on yourself! One hidden secret of an Elimination Diet is that you often feel worse before you feel better. Your body is going through cravings and withdrawals to the sugar and the caffeine and numerous other things you’ve been putting in your body. Instead, you want to slowly phase-out from your typical diet to make it an easier transition.
Since October 1st is a Thursday, I actually started phasing-out this past Sunday because I’d rather get a head-start. I have started drinking only half a cup of coffee in the morning and half in the afternoon, as opposed to my normal 2 cups a day. I have reduced the milk and sugar I put in my coffee, as well. Each day I have eliminated one of the foods from my diet that will not return until the challenge phase.
Armed with these tips, I hope that I can be a bit more prepared for what is to come! Wish me luck!