With a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from UT Austin, I have a very solid foundation of knowledge about the foods we eat and the role which nutrients play for our health. However, in most medical residency programs in the U.S., the focus seems to be on medications for specific diseases rather than avoiding medications altogether through proper eating habits. Since attending the Functional Medicine conference in Austin a few weeks ago, my husband and I have challenged ourselves to have a new relationship with the foods we eat. Since then, we have been eating much cleaner and are already feeling the positive effects of this behavior. As I continue to pursue certification in Functional Medicine, I will be chronicling our journey and health improvements to eating foods which are “clean”.
Day 5 on The Institute for Functional Medicine approved Elimination diet/challenge and I am already feeling better overall. In this 3-week period, the goal is to eliminate the most common foods that can cause inflammation and sensitivity ie: egg, gluten, soy, dairy, alcohol and caffeine.. I won’t lie... I has not been easy. I think for me the hardest part has been the lack of coffee while still trying to be productive. At the end of the 3-weeks, I think coffee will be the first item I plan to re-introduce (and maybe some cheese).
Planning out meals and snacks is key. Prior to getting our “clean” groceries, my husband and I purged the kitchen of refined, processed foods. We tossed out cheese, milk and froze our remaining coffee beans for later. For the most part, the process has been positive. Once you get over the caffeine withdrawal headaches, your gut starts to thank you by not feeling so bloated.
Having a partner in crime is essential. My husband and I both committed to this challenge so that we can optimize our health and support one another. Having your partner and family involved in any dietary changes is a huge part of making it work by having a strong support team in place. It’s fun to involve your family since so much of what we eat is a social event. Get your friends and family to join you in your journey too!
Get creative with the foods that are “clean.” Think of foods you love and try to modify them to make sure they include organic fruits, veggies and lean meats. If you love toast and peanut butter, a good substitute is gluten-free bread with almond butter. If you love fish, cook it up with olive oil and natural seasonings such as cilantro, lemon. Then pair it with grilled veggies.
Here are a few of the dishes we have whipped up since starting the Elimination diet: