Be Light and Healthy

Connecting the Dots

Posted on: January 23, 2011

“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.”  Herbert Otto

Today, it is common for Americans to suffer from a multitude of chronic health issues and diseases.  People have become accustomed to these conditions and expect to experience them as they grow older. Taking medication has become a way of life for many people.  It has been scientifically proven that many conditions, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, can be reversed by eating a healthy diet.  Yet, for the most part, people do not consider their diets when they experience chronic conditions or become ill.  We often don’t realize the dramatic effects food has on our health because we have not been conditioned to connect the dots between our health and the foods we eat. 

We’ve become so disconnected from nature that we forget we are natural beings.  Doesn’t it make sense that what we ingest profoundly impacts our health?  The ultimate fuel for our bodies is whole, unprocessed foods like our ancestors ate.  In addition, they ate a varied diet because they were limited to eating what was locally and seasonally available.  Unfortunately, in today’s capitalistic society we are constantly bombarded by advertising urging us to eat more processed foods.  When we consume chemical-laden processed foods, our bodies are sometimes unsure how to assimilate them and thus treat them as invaders.  In addition, we’ve become habituated to eating the same foods all the time.  These factors help to explain why food sensitivities or intolerances are more prevalent these days. 

Since our bodies are always trying to remain healthy and balanced, they valiantly try to tell us when something is not right.  A message from your body can appear in many forms, some of which are skin rashes, pain, congestion, fatigue, arthritis, itching, headaches, digestive issues, palpitations, or twitches. It is also possible to eat a very healthy diet but still be plagued with mysterious symptoms.  A food may not necessarily cause a condition, but an intolerance can exacerbate the symptoms, which vary from person to person and may change over time.   It is not unusual for a sensitivity to manifest itself as a craving.    

Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen, MD, cofounder of Omega Institute, estimates that 60-70% of people suffer from food allergies, which can develop at any time.  Many doctors don’t recognize that food allergies exist because test results are often inconsistent.  There is, however, a simple way to determine if you have a food sensitivity.  Experimenting with your diet will help you connect the dots between your health and the foods you are eating.  An elimination diet requires that you forego eating a particular food(s) for a certain amount of time to determine how the food is affecting you.  There are different methodologies associated with elimination diets; however, Dr. Rechtschaffen suggests a simple protocol that consists of avoiding potential allergens for seven days.  For example, you may choose to avoid milk, wheat, citrus, and eggs.  During the seven days, record how you are feeling.  Typically, you will feel lousy or even worse during Days 1-4 because your body is going through withdrawals; Days 5-7 you will feel better.    On Day 8 add milk for the day in the amounts you typically consumed prior to the experiment.  If you are sensitive to milk, your symptoms will immediately return.  On Day 9 replace the milk with wheat for the day; on Day 10 replace wheat with citrus for the day; on Day 11 replace citrus with eggs for the day.   During an elimination diet, consuming whole foods will help ensure that you receive conclusive results.  Seven days will enable you to compare how good you feel after Day 4 with the intensified effects of re-introducing the suspect foods after Day 7.  Feeling poorly during the withdrawal period will help you clearly connect the dots between what you are eating and your symptoms as well as provide the motivation necessary to modify your diet. 

You can choose to eliminate one or more of the following common allergens; however, it could be any food.  Eliminating the food you eat most frequently is a good place to start.  Often, we tend to consume the same food everyday for breakfast without recognizing it as a craving and potential allergen.  In addition, it’s possible that you’ve been consuming a food daily since childhood without realizing the negative impact it has on you. 

  • Dairy Products
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Processed Foods
  • Wheat and gluten-containing foods
  • Nightshades:  Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplant,  Bell Peppers, Chili Peppers
  • Seafood
  • Corn
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Citrus
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

If you are unable to identify the culprit associated with your symptoms after an elimination diet, it’s possible that the sensitivity could be caused by a combination of foods.  Consequently, you may elect to try again and re-introduce combinations of foods. 

In general varying your diet is a good practice.  In addition to preventing an addiction to a particular food, it can help ensure that you are consuming a variety of nutrients in addition to minimizing the detrimental effects of a particular food.  By varying your diet, you may be able to re-introduce the food and eat small amounts of it every couple of days.   

Years ago I gave up my one black coffee every morning when I started drinking more water.  I remember being surprised by how much I missed coffee when I gave it up.  I was, however, shocked when I started drinking coffee again after five years because I felt like I was on a drug-induced high.  Eventually, I went back to one cup every morning.  Though the euphoria dissipated, I felt like I couldn’t function without a cup of coffee and became anxious when I even thought about giving it up again.  Recently, I eliminated coffee for a week.  I did feel like crap the first 4 days, but then I felt fine without it.  I now have coffee every few days with no side effects and don’t even think about it on the days I choose not to drink it.

I invite you to try connecting the dots between any symptoms you are experiencing and the foods you are eating by trying a simple elimination diet.  Experimenting with your diet may lead to discovering a food sensitivity, which could profoundly change the quality of your life.  In addition, I invite you to tell your friends and sign up for weekly e-mail updates to get informed and inspired to Be Light and Healthy.  When you sign up, you will receive an e-mail requesting you confirm your subscription.  After you confirm, you will begin receiving weekly updates.    

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1 Response to "Connecting the Dots"

glad to be one of many visitants on this awe inspiring site : D.

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