Our digestive system is a huge portal into our bodies. Lots of things can get in there that aren’t always good for us. And because the system is so complex (knowing which tiny molecules to absorb, and which keep out), lots can go wrong. And that’s one reason why 70% of our immune system lives in and around our digestive system.
This makes food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances a huge contribution to an array of symptoms all over our bodies. Things like autoimmune issues, inflammation, and even our moods can be affected by what we eat. If you have digestive issues, chronic fatigue (ME/CFS) or any other unexplained symptoms, you may consider trying an elimination diet.
An elimination diet is one where you strategically eliminate certain foods to see if you react to them. It can help immensely when trying to figure out if a particular food is causing symptoms because you’re sensitive to it.
You generally start out by eliminating the most common food allergens for a few weeks. Then you slowly add them back one at a time and note any symptoms (better or worse).
Let’s go over the pros and cons of this diet.
The main benefit is that, by tuning into your body’s reactions to certain foods, you can pinpoint sensitivities and intolerances that you may not otherwise know of. Experiencing results first-hand can be very motivating when it comes to sticking to eliminating a certain food.
Elimination diets can be less expensive, and in some cases more reliable, than standard food intolerance testing.
It can also be very empowering to be in control of what you eat, learn about food and the compounds they contain, and try new recipes that exclude eliminated foods. Having a good plan makes things much easier (even exciting). If you love grocery shopping, cooking from scratch, and trying new recipes, you’re going to draw on all these skills.
These diets can be customisable, which is a great pro (see first con below).
You may not figure out everything you’re sensitive to. That’s why testing for food intolerances can be a good idea. Your plan should be strategically created to ensure that the most common food allergens are eliminated. This will give you the highest likelihood of success. It can become complicated if you let it.
It’s a commitment for around 4-6 weeks, if not longer (which can be difficult for some people).
If you’re not used to tracking all foods and all symptoms every day, you’re going to have to start doing it.
You may find that you’re intolerant to one of your favourite foods, or even an entire group of your favourite foods.
When you’re eliminating certain foods (or parts of foods, like gluten), it can be HARD! You almost need to prepare all of your foods, snacks and drinks yourself from scratch. If you don’t take full control like this, it can be so easy to accidentally ingest something that you’re cutting out. And at that point, you might need to start all over again.
Elimination diets can be a very useful tool to identify food sensitivities. They can be empowering and customised.
However, they can be difficult to adhere to and, sadly, you may find out that you’re sensitive to your favourite foods.
Have you done an elimination diet? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below.
2 medium courgettes, sliced thinly
½ pint mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp olive oil
4 tsp water
2 boneless, skinless salmon fillets, no more than 1 ¼ “ thick
½ clove garlic, diced
2 dashes salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 200C (450F).
Toss vegetables with olive oil. Tear two sheets of parchment paper and fold in half. Open the sheets and place half of the vegetables onto each sheet on one side of the fold.
Add 2 teaspoons of water and place a fillet on top. Top with garlic, salt, and pepper.
Fold the other half of each sheet over the fish, and tightly crimp the edges.
Put packets flat on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from oven and check to ensure fish flakes easily with a fork (be careful the steam is hot).
Open each pack and place onto plates.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can mix up the vegetables or herbs, following your elimination diet protocol.
Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.
And they’re a lot more common than most people think. People which chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) can often have leaky gut and food intolerances to foods they eat regularly which are contributing to their long-term fatigue.
I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening. If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.
What I’m talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.
This is what makes them so tricky to identify.
Could my my symptoms be a food intolerance?
There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or coeliac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhoea; symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.
On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.
Chronic muscle or joint pain
Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure
Headaches or migraines
Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep
Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis
Rashes or eczema
Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”
Shortness of breath
If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.
If you suspect you have a food intolerance and are interested in further testing and specialist help, contact Kate to book an appointment.
The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.
I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.
The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.
Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.
If things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.
Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:
Lactose (in dairy – eliminate altogether, or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead).
Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).
This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while “non-coeliac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.
So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.
Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.
A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.
And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.
You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!
IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?
When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.
If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks.
Furthermore you may need to see a qualified Nutritional Therapist for help, and that’s OK. I don’t want you to continue suffering if you don’t need to! You can contact me for further help!
Makes 3 cups
½ cup raw nuts/seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds)
2 cups water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Soak nuts/seeds for about 8 hours (optional, but recommended).
Dump soaking water & rinse nuts/seeds.
Add soaked nuts/seeds and 2 cups water to a high-speed blender and blend on high for about one minute until very smooth.
Strain through a small mesh sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze if necessary.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can double the recipe and store the milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Having a food intolerance is not fun. It can cause abdominal pain, discomfort, and nausea. It also causes embarrassing symptoms like flatulence and diarrhoea. Other symptoms linked to food intolerances include muscle or joint pain, headaches, chronic fatigue, and even skin symptoms like rashes and eczema.
Dairy intolerance (lactose, casein and whey) is common and many people a reacting to it without being aware. Let’s talk about the main components of milk that people react to: lactose, casein, and whey.
It’s estimated that up to 75% of adults are lactose intolerant. Lactose is the carbohydrate “milk sugar” naturally found in most dairy products. Lactose intolerance is so common you can buy lactose-free milk in your local supermarket. Lactose-free products are treated with the enzyme “lactase” that breaks the lactose down before you ingest it. It’s this lactase enzyme that is lacking in most people who are lactose intolerant.
The lactase enzyme is naturally released from your intestine as one of your digestive enzymes. It breaks down the lactose sugar in the gut. When someone doesn’t have enough lactase, the lactose doesn’t get broken down the way it should. Undigested lactose ends up being food for the resident gut microbes. As they ferment the lactose, they create gases that cause bloating, flatulence, pain, and diarrhoea.
Lactose is in dairy but is in lower amounts in fermented dairy (e.g. cheese & yoghurt) and butter. Steering clear of lactose isn’t that easy as it is added to other foods like baked goods, soups, and sauces. And if you’re taking any medications or supplements, check to see if it’s in there too, as lactose is a common ingredient in them.
If you have symptoms of lactose intolerance, keep an eye on food, medication, and supplement labels.
If you suspect you have a dairy intolerance (lactose, casein and whey) and would like to know more, or if you want to look into food intolerance testing to confirm your suspicions, contact me for a free 15 minute discovery call.
Milk is a known, and common, food allergen and must be declared on food labels.
So, what are the allergens in milk? You’ve heard of “curds and whey?” Well, these are the two main proteins in milk. The solid bits are the curds (made of casein), and the liquid is the dissolved whey.
Unlike lactose intolerance, casein and whey can cause an actual immune response. It’s an allergy. And this immune response can cause inflammation. In fact, we don’t know how many people have these milk allergies, but most estimates put it far below that of lactose intolerance.
Like lactose, these allergenic milk proteins can be found in other products too. They’re not just in dairy but are often in protein powders as well (Have you heard of “whey” protein powders?).
Some of the symptoms of milk protein allergy differ from that of lactose intolerance; things like nasal congestion and mucus (phlegm) are more common here. And casein seems to be linked with belly fat.
Interestingly, people who have gluten intolerance are often allergic to milk proteins like whey and casein as well. These can go hand-in-hand.
Like lactose intolerance, if you’re allergic to casein and whey keep an eye on labels so you can avoid these.
If you get gassy, bloated, or diarrhoea after eating dairy, you may have a lactose intolerance. If you often get a stuffy nose and mucus, then you may be allergic to casein and/or whey.
While dairy may be an entire food group, it is not an essential nutrient. All the nutrients in dairy are available in other foods. Bioavailable calcium is found in leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds. If you experience these symptoms, you can try removing dairy from your diet. You may find improved digestion and fewer gut issues. Or you may find improved nasal congestion, or even less belly fat.
If you decide to (or have already) removed dairy from your diet, let me know your experience in the comments below.
3 bananas, sliced and frozen
2 tsp cacao powder, unsweetened
1 tbsp almond butter
Place frozen bananas in food processor and blend until smooth (a few minutes). You may have to stop a few times to scrape the sides.
Add cacao powder and almond butter and blend until mixed well.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can make this in advance and freeze in an airtight container.
If you’re reading this, then you’re likely or are considering how to go dairy-free . You may have a food intolerance, have been told to eliminate dairy, or just want to have less of it.
Either way, dairy is not an essential nutrient, and there are lots of things you can have instead. Dairy foods include not just milk, but also yoghurt, butter, parmesan, and ice cream!
Calcium is important for bone health and there is a good amount in dairy products but don’t worry. There are lots of other foods that contain calcium such as broccoli, almonds, tahini, salmon, collard greens and spinach.
Dairy-free products are becoming more and more popular. Nowadays you can easily find them in the grocery store. But read your labels! Some contain way too much sugar, or other ingredients you may not want to eat or drink.
Read below to learn how to go dairy-free.
I’ve put together some simple recipes to make delicious dairy-free foods right in your kitchen. Go ahead and try my dairy substitutes.
Dairy-free milk is so easy to make and flavour yourself. You can make milk out of just about any nut or seed. You can even make alternative milk out of grains like rice, oats, or quinoa. And you can flavour them too.
It just takes a high-powered blender, some water, and cheesecloth to filter out any remaining bits.
For flavouring, you can add a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla extract. You can also sweeten your milk with soaked dates, maple syrup, or honey.
To make a super-simple dairy-free milk just soak ½ cup of almonds, cashew, coconut, or even hemp seeds for a few hours (if you have the time). Soaking is optional, but it makes the blending process easier and the final milk creamier. Then drain the soaking water, rinse, and add to a blender with 2 cups of fresh water. Blend on high until smooth (about 1 minute). Add your flavourings, if desired. Then strain through a nut milk bag, fine mesh strainer, or a few layers of cheesecloth.
If you want to make a dairy-free cream, just blend your nuts, seeds and/or grains with 1 cup of water instead of 2 for a thicker, creamier, dairy-free milk.
Technically, with the right yoghurt starter probiotic culture, you can make yoghurt out of any dairy-free milk. The most common one to ferment into yoghurt is coconut milk. But you can use almond milk or other nut or seed milk.
The trick here is with the fermentation. Follow the instructions on the label of the yoghurt starter culture, and enjoy delicious dairy-free yoghurt in a few days.
Have you tried coconut oil? It’s a great dairy-free substitute for butter. You can fry with it, or even bake with it. You can even use it to pop popping corn in a pot on your stove.
I love the mild flavour of coconut oil in anything I bake with bananas. It tastes better than butter anyway.
If you haven’t tried nutritional yeast, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much it tastes like grated parmesan. Plus, it contains some B vitamins as well.
It’s a salty, cheesy, flaky powder that you can use wherever you want to add a pop of savoury flavour to any dish.
TIP: After you’ve popped your popcorn, sprinkle it with a bit of nutritional yeast for a salty, cheesy flavour.
Did you know you can make a delicious and thick pudding without dairy? That’s right; the plant kingdom has some natural thickeners that are full of fibre.
You can make a chocolate pudding with avocado. Take one whole avocado and blend it up with ¼ cup cocoa powder, ¼ cup dairy-free milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and honey or maple syrup to taste. Then add dairy-free milk to thin if desired.
For chocolate chia pudding, use ⅓ cup chia seeds and place in food processor with 1.5 cups dairy-free milk. Wait for 5-10 minutes until the seeds soak up the liquid. Then add ¼ cup cocoa powder, tsp vanilla extract, and honey or maple syrup to taste. Blend into a smooth pudding.
Chocolate almond ice cream is another delicious dessert made with frozen bananas. I’ve included the recipe for this below.
Dairy-free is easy! Making delicious dairy-free yoghurt, milk, butter, parmesan flavour, and even pudding and ice cream is simple.
Are you going to try any of these recipes? Do you have a great one to share as well?
Reply to this email and let me know.
2 bananas, chopped and frozen
1 tbsp cacao powder, unsweetened
2 tbsp almond butter, unsweetened
Add chopped frozen bananas to a food processor. Pulse or lightly blend until almost smooth. Add cacao powder and nut butter. Pulse or lightly blend until mixed.
Serve immediately & enjoy!
Tip: Try different nut and/or seed butter. Or instead of cocoa powder and/or seed butter, use just the bananas with a ½ cup of frozen berries. The recipe combinations are endless.
Finally for more information on how to go dairy free and dairy free substitutes, contact Kate to book an appointment today.