Fall has officially arrived, the days are shorter, the air is cooler and the leaves on the trees will soon be on the ground. Fall is also the beginning of the yin cycle according to Chinese medicine. It is the time of year where we harvest our last vegetables and fruits for winter storage, get out our warm clothes, carry in wood and prepare to settle in for the long nights and colder days.
Chinese Medicine and the Metal Element
Autumn in Chinese medicine relates to the Metal element which governs the mind, communication, order and organization, setting limits and protecting boundaries as well communication. It is a good time to settle affairs and finish projects and to let go of what is unnecessary. It is a time for storing what we need for the coming winter months, a time for reflection of the progress made through the seasons and for giving thanks for the abundant harvest.
Emotionally, this season is associated with grief and sadness. It is important to let go of negative emotions, which can also impact your health more strongly during the fall.
Lung and the Large Intestine
Fall also corresponds to the lungs, large intestine and the skin according to Chinese medicine. The lungs and large intestine are in charge of digestion, elimination and respiration. Common imbalances are respiratory problems, such as frequent colds, asthma, tightness in the chest, sinus infections, excessive crying as well as constipation and skin problems.The following tips can help keep you more balanced this fall and avoid catching colds.
8 Tips to Prevent Colds and Flu This Fall
The body is particularly susceptible to wind and cold during the fall. By following these eight tips it can help you maintain balance this fall and avoid getting colds and flu.
Eat with the season: We naturally want warmer, heartier foods this time of year. Eat less uncooked, cold foods such as salads and switch to soups, stews and steamed vegetables. Incorporate foods high in vitamin C and Zinc such as winter squashes, broccoli, kale, collard greens, lamb, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts into your diet.
Protect the Back of your Neck: Wear a scarf or turtleneck to protect the back of your neck from the wind, cold and rain. According to Chinese medicine the back of our necks is where we are most susceptible for an invasion of “evil qi” to enter and cause illness.
Sleep with the Windows Closed: Protect your body from cold and drafts during the night. Close windows, turn off fans and keep your chest and back covered with a pajama top or t-shirt. Our defensive qi of our immune system flows more deeply at night, which leaves us more vulnerable to invasion.
Refrain from Foods and Substances that Weaken Your Immune System: Foods such as alcohol, refined sugar, dairy products, processed, greasy or raw foods all inhibit the immune system. It is especially important to avoid these foods if you feel that you are coming down with something.
Wash your Hands Frequently and Avoid Touching your Face:Washing your hands frequently is probably one of the easiest ways to avoid getting sick. We touch and pick up all sorts of viruses throughout the day and then we touch our faces (nose and mouth), which provides a direct route to our lungs.
Use a Saline and Sodium Bicarbonate Solution to Irrigate your Nasal Passages: Irrigating your nasal passages with a neti pot a few times a week can help keep airborne allergens, bacteria, dirt and other pollutants from collecting in your nasal passages.
Boost your Immune System with Herbs and Spices: These may include ginseng, astragalus, cordyseps. Herbs are very effective and powerful in preventing disease. However, certain herbs may be harmful for certain individuals. It would be advisable to consult with a qualified practitioner before taking any of these herbs on a regular basis even though they can easily be purchased in health food stores.Spices can be easily added to your diet and the following are great immune boosters: cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic and onions.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine: Getting regular acupuncture treatments can also help keep you balanced and healthy.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can also be extremely effective in shortening the duration of a cold or stopping it from starting.
If you feel you need a little extra support or would like to strengthen your immune system, call today for an appointment.
Finding your Optimal Health this Summer
Summer is here! It takes a little longer in Portland to arrive, but we can all be grateful for the sunny weather and warm days we have been experiencing lately. Summer is a time of growth and abundant energy. Following the natural rhythms in nature, we should mirror the movement and growth that we see around us. Gardens are flourishing, trees are full of leaves, animals in the wild move about freely, plants are blooming and movement and growth are all around us.
Summer is about the fire element and the time of the year when yang energy is at its peak. In Oriental medicine the element of fire represents moving outward (like fire raises up and moves outward), heat, maximum energy or yang, being more outgoing, having more passion, enthusiasm, drive and a higher level of energy. We need to harvest this energy and also cultivate our yang.
The fire element also relates to the heart as it provides a residence for our mind and spirit or shen. The heart is the ruler of all the organs and like western medicine is responsible for pumping blood to all the organs, but is also involved in mental and emotional processes in Oriental medicine. When the heart is properly nourished and balanced it maintains our innate wisdom, contentment, and emotional balance and will allow us to be more focused, calm, have a clearer memory, and sleep well. When it is out of balance a person may experience insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating easily, mental restlessness, talking too fast or too much, insomnia, forgetfulness, chest pain, sores on the mouth and tongue, and excessive joy such as laughing inappropriately or for no reason.
Living and eating according to the seasons can help us maintain the necessary balance of our organs and elements. In the summer, because there is so much yang energy or heat, it is best to consume some yin or cooling foods and beverages to provide the necessary balance. Inherently cooling foods tend towards the green end of the spectrum. Few vegetables are warming. Essentially eating foods that are in abundance in nature right now.
Recommendations for Summer Eating and other Helpful Tips
These fruits and vegetables will help your body adjust its temperature and protect you during the long, hot summer days: Apricot, Asparagus, Bamboo, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Cantaloupe, Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro, Corn, Cucumber, Dill, Fish, Lemon, Mint, Mung Beans, Orange, Peach , Seaweed, Spinach, Sprouts, Snow Peas, Summer Squash, Tomato, Watercress, Watermelon and White Mushrooms
Green Tea, water with cucumber and/or lemon (room temperature – never with ice), chrysanthemum tea – most importantly stay hydrated!
Other Helpful Tips to Keep you Healthy this Summer:
Eat in moderation. Over consumption of any food, especially cooling foods, can lead to indigestion, sluggishness and possibly diarrhea. Again it is about balance and still having some warm or cooked foods is necessary. This is just the time of the year where it makes sense to eat more salads and cooling foods.
Make sure to avoid dairy, fried and greasy foods, and other heavy foods which may cause you to feel sluggish and lethargic.
Open your heart – try moving through your day without readily passing judgment. Be kind and try to find joy in life…always a good thing to strive for.
Cultivate your fire energy by being active, enjoying nature, be outgoing, bright, and look for ways to expand your life.
Consider setting routine bedtime hours and sticking to them even on the weekends.
If you are struggling with your health are interested in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, contact Green Lotus Acupuncture at 503-789-7661 and we can discuss your needs.
On August 1st, I will be moving to a beautiful new location in the Foster/Powell area of Portland. I will be joining Apex Wellness Center (Opens in a new window) located at 5308 SE Rhone. Apex is an ideal location with a chiropractor, naturopath, another acupuncturist as well as four massage therapists all practicing out of one location. You can meet all your wellness needs under one roof.
My new office hours effective 8/1/12, will be Tuesday and Thursday from 10am – 7pm and Saturdays from 9am – 5pm.
Looking forward to welcoming you at my new space!
As always, you will receive 40% off your next service for any new referrals.
Springing into a Healthier You!
I love spring…the earth starts to awaken again after a long quiet winter. Flowers and trees are in bloom and seeds start to sprout as the sun reappears. While winter was the time to conserve energy, spring is about renewal, regeneration and starting fresh. What we see in nature is a reflection of what is within ourselves. This means that right now we have a great opportunity to open ourselves to new ideas, perspectives, and lifestyle habits.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Spring
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the season of spring is connected to the wood element and to the liver and gallbladder organs. Wood symbolizes life and the process of renewing life. Wood is associated with traits of ambition, motivation and assertiveness. When the wood element is out of balance or when it becomes stagnant, negative emotions such as anger, frustration, irritability or impatience can arise. When the wood element is weak, you may have a diminished drive and feel depressed or discouraged.
The liver is often called the “general” of the body in TCM because of its many important functions. The liver is in charge of removing toxins, storing blood, regulating Qi (life force), nourishing the tendons and sinews and it houses the Hun or ethereal soul. The ethereal soul gives us guidance and a sense of purpose. When the liver is weak or deficient the ethereal soul can not root and we lose direction in life, which can be indicated by a sensation of fear or floating prior to sleep.
The gallbladder has the primary function of secreting bile to aid in digestion of fats. The gallbladder regulates judgment, decision- making and the ability to carry out plans. When the gallbladder is weak, you may feel indecisive or unsure.
The health tips below are some great ways to help harmonize both your liver and gallbladder during the spring season.
Spring into a Healthier you – Health Tips for Spring
Eat Green Foods – Green is the color of the liver and the color for spring. Eating leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, cilantro and parsley or chlorophyll rich foods such as cereal grass sprouts (e.g. wheat grass) can help cleanse and your liver and improve the liver’s functions and therefore allow your qi to move more freely. Avoid overeating and in particular avoid rich, greasy and heavy foods as that can cause your liver to become sluggish, which can lead to stagnant liver qi.
Give your liver a break – It is good to cut down on your liver’s workload. Refraining from alcohol, excess sugars and refined foods as well as from herbicides and pesticides, found in conventional produce (buy organic!), will help you and your liver feel better.
Exercise and Stretch – Movement is what spring is all about as seen by the increase in windy days in the spring. Get outside and move! Also, stretching is great for your tendons and ligaments. The liver controls the tendons and maintaining tendon health will allow for greater flexibility. Yoga, Tai Chi or simply stretching after your workouts will help increase your mobility and keep your tendons healthy.
Sour Flavor – The flavor of the liver is sour and foods and drinks with sour tastes can stimulate the liver’s qi. Lemon or lime slices in your drinking water, eating pickles or putting vinegar on your salad or drinking apple cider vinegar mixed with sparkling water makes an enjoyable beverage.
Eye Exercises – The liver opens into the eyes. Proper eye function is connected to the liver and doing eye exercise or giving your eyes a break from computer monitors or TV’s is important for the health of your eyes.
Forgive Someone – Holding onto anger and resentment constrains your live qi. Let it go!
Get Acupuncture treatments- Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration which are often associated with liver qi disharmony.
Referral Rewards Program: Refer a new patient and receive 40% off your next visit. 40% will be taken off whatever amount you owe, whether that is a co-pay or full office visit payment.
Mary Jean Brinkman MAcOM, LAc
2100 SE Lake Rd Suite 1
Milwaukie, OR 97222
As the nights grow longer and the temperature dips, I would like to take a moment and send some warm holiday cheer your way and share some helpful health tips and recipes for the winter season
Following the natural rhythm of the seasons, winter is a time of reflection, conserving energy and going inward. According to Chinese medicine, winter is the time of year where yin energy is strongest and yang energy the weakest. Yin energy refers to such characteristics as slow, soft, conservation, cold, quiet, water and darkness. Whereas yang energy is the opposite and has characteristics like fast, expansive, active, focused, fire, heat and excitement. Due to our yang energies being at their lowest, we need to naturally conserve that energy and be more yin in our approach to life during the winter months.
You may ask just how does one be more yin and conserve our yang energy? We can start by doing what feels natural to us at this time of year…slowing down. Here are some other daily lifestyle guidelines to help you achieve that goal.
Daily Lifestyle Tips
Going to bed and rising with the sun. Go to bed earlier and sleep later which allows your body and mind to get adequate rest. 7-9 hours each night is optimal.
Exercise without exhausting too much energy. Doing gentle moving exercises, such as walking, hiking or yoga, and not overly exerting yourself and sweating a lot will help to conserve yang energy. This is a time where it is okay to move slower…
Eat warming foods and avoid eating a lot of raw, cold foods. Eat soups, stews, meats and eat what is available seasonally. See recipe section below for a yummy lamb curry. Lamb is one of the warmest meats and curry powder contains turmeric or curcumin, which has powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds as well.
Drink hot ginger tea from fresh ginger root after breakfast. This will help to charge and build up your yang qi for the day. See recipes section below.
Drink water warm or at room temperature. Drinking ice water can be very cold to our stomachs and may harm digestion.
Support your kidneys. Our kidneys in Chinese medicine are the root of our yin and yang energies and winter is also kidney time. By supporting our kidneys we also support our basic life force and energy. My qigong teacher, Master Liu He, from the Ling Gui International Healing Qigong School talks about supporting your kidneys by tapping your teeth while urinating or soaking your feet before bed in hot water or hot salt water for 15 minutes. There are over 60 acupoints on the feet alone and this soak will tonify the kidneys as well as activate the abdominal area.
Hot Ginger Tea
2 inch piece of fresh ginger root
4 cups of water
Grate, thinly slice, or chop the fresh ginger root
Bring the water to a boil, add the sliced ginger root and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. You can add honey or lemon slices if desired.
This recipe was developed by my sweetie, Morgan. He is a great cook and I am lucky to reap the benefits.
One pound of ground lamb
Two cans of full fat coconut milk (do not be afraid of the fat content – coconut milk is high in saturated fatty acids and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are both easily burned as fuel by the body)
Half to one small onion – adjust to liking
2 – 3 large garlic gloves – adjust to liking
¼ of a large purple cabbage
2 – 3 large carrots
2 – 3 small potatoes
Any other vegetable you want to add. We have also added zucchini squash, peeled broccoli stems or kale.
Salt and pepper to taste
About 1 T of curry powder
About 1 T of cumin
About 1 T of fresh ginger, chopped
About 1 T of cider vinegar
Coconut oil for sautéing
Heat the coconut oil in a large pot and sauté the onion with the carrots and fresh ginger. Add the spices, cider vinegar and salt and pepper. Once onions are translucent, and carrots slightly tender add the ground lamb and cook through. Then add the coconut milk and potatoes and bring to boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until almost done. Add the cabbage, zucchini, broccoli stems or kale at this time. We add the garlic at this time as well to allow for a fuller flavor and to retain more of its health properties. You can also sauté the garlic with the onion, ginger and carrot if desired. Taste the curry and adjust seasonings, we often add another splash of cider vinegar if needed.
Happy cooking and here’s to staying warm and healthy this winter season!
Referral Rewards Program
Refer a new patient and receive 25% off your next visit. 25% will be taken off whatever amount you owe, whether that is a co-pay or full office visit payment.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine for insomnia may be the answer you’re looking for. If you are like one of the 70 million Americans who suffer from sleep disorders and wakefulness, then keep reading. It is estimated that 1 out 3 people suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives. Not only is it extremely frustrating when you can’t sleep, it may also lead to health problems, decreased immune function, headaches and dizziness, as well as impair your memory. Insomnia can be characterized by various presentations, including difficulty falling asleep, frequently waking during the night, wakefulness, light sleep, dream disturbed sleep and inability to sleep the whole night through. Ideally we should all be getting 6-8 hours of sleep each night. With our busy lives and hectic schedules it can be difficult to shut our brains off when we lay our heads down on our pillows. With some simple changes to your nightly routine and your bedroom as well as with the help of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, you too can be sleeping like a baby. From a Chinese medicine point of view the amount or quality of sleep depends on your state of mind, which is rooted in the heart and nourished by heart blood and yin. Insomnia is caused by factors that may agitate the heart or malnourish the mind. Things such as emotional stress, prolonged illness, and improper diet are all factors that may lead to insomnia. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help to bring your body back into balance by treating the body and mind on an energetic level. Acupuncture is extremely relaxing and provides deep restoration and balance to the nervous system. An acupuncturist will take your individual symptoms into account and develop a plan of care that specifically addresses your particular imbalances. In addition to acupuncture and Chinese medicine, here is a short list of things that you can start doing right now to help you get a better night’s sleep:
Sleep in complete darkness: Getting black out curtains in your bedroom or a wearing an eye mask will help with your melatonin production. You should not be able to see your hands in front of your face when you lay down. Any thing that emits light, such as alarm clocks, cover them up and place away from your head.
No TV, computers, work, etc. before bed: These things are too stimulating to the brain right before bed. Try shutting these things off or stopping your work at least one hour before bed. Two hours is optimal. This will give your mind a chance to unwind and take the focus of any deadlines or tomorrow’s to – do list. Also, reserve your bed for sleeping and not for watching TV, working on the computer, etc.
Get to bed before 11:00 pm: Try to be in bed and asleep before 11:00 pm. This is the time where the yang energy (signified by movement, sun, energetic, etc) starts to come back into the night and getting to sleep before 11:00 can greatly enhance your ability to fall asleep. Between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am our bodies also do most of its recharging, especially our adrenals and the gall bladder also dumps toxins during this time.
Establish a bedtime routine: Try to find something that relaxes you and do that consistently before bed. This could be mediation, getting a massage from your partner, deep breathing, soaking your feet in hot, salt water, listen to a mediation CD
Stop drinking liquids two hours before bed: Stopping liquids two hours before bed will help with needing to get up to use the bathroom.
If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, then call my office today at 503-789-7661 to schedule your first appointment and see how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you. ..
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Falon and Mary Enig
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith
Primal Body – Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas
In Defense of Food and The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan
Vegetables should be the basis for your diet and should take up the largest portion on your plate. The goal is to get 12 servings of vegetables (1/2 cup = one serving; greens = 1 tightly packed cup) per day. Think variety, color, seasonal options. Examples: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, summer squash (yellow, zucchini), winter squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti), sweet potatoes, greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard, beet, dandelion, etc.), beets, asparagus, lettuces (romaine, spring mix, butter, red, etc.), onion, garlic, parsnips, rutabaga, mushrooms, brussel sprouts, cucumber, beans, peas, corn, eggplant, peppers, radish, etc.
Vegetables should be prepared via steaming, light sautéing, baking, and raw.
Note: some people with inflammatory conditions may respond to the nightshade family and may need to avoid the following: tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes.
1 to 2 servings of fruit each day. There are many varieties to choose from and again think in season. Examples: apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, avocado, pears, berries (blue, black, raspberries, Marion berries, strawberries, etc.), mandarins, satsumas, mango, papaya, kiwi, Asian pears, melons, lemons, limes, etc.
Best consumed with protein or fats, such as with nuts, seeds, nut butters or coconut products.
Limit consumption to 45 – 60 grams/day. This roughly translates into 2-3oz servings at meals. Chicken eggs are also a great source of protein. Duck eggs may be a good alternative for those with a chicken egg allergy. Always choose free-range, organically grown, grass fed meats. Examples: beef, turkey, chicken, buffalo, pork, lamb, wild game (venison, elk, etc.), organ meats, etc.
Some sources say small portions of meat consumption should be raw.
Limit grilled meats and meats that are scorched and burnt.
1-2 servings per week. Choose low toxicity, low mercury, and wild sources. No farmed fish! Examples: wild salmon, sardines, trout, etc.
Baked, poached, broiled, or steamed.
Consume only whole fat organic dairy products, including milk, yogurt, cheese, heavy cream, etc. The fat in dairy naturally balances the sugars (lactose) and slows down metabolism so your body can process it healthfully. If you use skim or lowfat dairy, your body gets a big dose of sugar which goes right into the bloodstream and then gets stored as fat. Ironically, this is in direct opposition to the reason (to lose weight) most people consume lowfat dairy products.
Raw, unpasteurized, non-homogenized milk from cows fed organic diets with little or no grain is best. If not raw, definitely organic.
Avoid if lactose intolerant, have a dairy allergy or sensitivity or have an inflammatory condition.
1-6 oz/day. Consumed raw or soaked overnight in salt water and placed in 150 degree oven for 12-24 hours or in a food dehydrator (see Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Falon and Mary Enig). Examples: almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds (soaked in water), and flax seeds (ground fresh only).
Use extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings, coconut oil or rendered animal fat for cooking, and butter on your vegetables. Good fats such as these are essential to the healing process, our cardiovascular systems, hormone production and general good health. Lowfat (and bad fat) diets are very detrimental to our health. Good fats help us metabolize our foods properly, enable us to use the fat soluble vitamins in food and makes us feel satisfied when we eat them which helps prevent overeating.
Avoid: partially hydrogenated/hydrogenated oils and all vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, safflower, canola, soybean, etc)
Avoid: all vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, safflower, canola, soybean, etc)
Either eliminate completely or limit to 2-3 servings/week. I believe a diet without grains will lead to optimal health, wellness and nutrition. See Resources and Books section for further reading on Paleo nutrition. If you do consume grains: Only whole grains and if eaten should be soaked overnight and rinsed (see Nourishing Traditions). Avoid refined grain products completely. They have had all the good stuff removed and actually deplete your body of vital nutrients. In fact, they have all the same unhealthy affects as sugar. If it is not labeled “whole grain”, don’t eat it.
Occasional use of raw honey, maple syrup or stevia. Only stevia for diabetics.
Absolutely no artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal, Nutri-sweet), Saccharin (Sweet N’ Low, Sugar Twin) and Sucralose (Splenda), high fructose corn syrup, etc,
Also avoid agave syrup, fructose, table sugar, etc.
Important Note:Read Labels. There are many hidden ingredients in foods. If you don’t understand what it is, should you be consuming it?
High fructose corn syrup is in many products, including ketchup, mustards, salad dressings, etc. Also, all commercial salad dressing has canola or another processed vegetable oil. Make your own instead with olive oils, different vinegars, lemons, seeds, nuts, avocados.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) and Good Fats: It is important to have adequate amounts of good fats in our diets. Avocados, nuts, wild fish, sardines, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, etc are an important dietary component. It may also be necessary to supplement with fish oil, cod liver oil, borage oil, etc.
Other considerations: Drink plenty of water! Water is the number one nutritional deficiency in the country. You need water for cellular hydration, proper blood viscosity, waste elimination and detoxification among many other things. Proper hydration can help alleviate such health issues as headaches, constipation and fatigue among many others. Choose plain, filtered or well/spring water. Avoid tap and distilled. To calculate your minimum daily requirement for water, divide your weight (in pounds) by two and then consume that number in ounces per day. Make increases as necessary to account for consumption of diuretics, exercise etc.
Avoid deep fried foods, partially-hydrogenated oils and hydrogenated oils! Hydrogenation of oils creates trans fats which have been linked to many health problems including cancer, heart disease, inflammation, fatigue, depression etc. etc. etc.
Avoid refined sugars! The average American eats over 150 pounds of sugar annually. Sugar depletes the body of important vitamins and minerals that are necessary to deal with the influx of that same sugar.
Over consumption of sugar leads to increases in emotional stress, weight gain, diabetes, candida and depression among many other things.
Avoid processed foods! Ideally, all the food we eat should be whole foods in their natural state. Shop around the outer part of your grocery store: produce, dairy, meat…all the fresh unprocessed stuff. A large majority of the food in the middle of the store is all processed and not good for us. They are often full of chemicals and additives that can lead to a vast array of health problems including cancer, birth defects, inflammation, heart disease and other illnesses.
Get regular exercise. 3 to 5 times a week. Mix up cardio, resistance and flexibility exercises (check out Crossfit).
Chew your foods thoroughly and don’t skip meals.
Try to eat in a quiet, relaxed state. This will vastly improve your digestion. Try taking 3 deep breaths prior to starting your meal.
Get plenty of good sleep (7 to 8 hours a night).
Limit alcohol and coffee/tea consumption. Choose organic.
Practice relaxation techniques. Find something that works for you. Meditation, walking, reading, long baths, gardening, whatever relaxes you. Try to do a little every day. Stress is extremely hard on our bodies and unfortunately is often unavoidable. Do what you can to fight its effects.
Many of us have hidden food sensitivities that may be causing all sorts of digestive or health issues and may be causing some or all of your symptoms. An elimination diet is a cheap and effective way to determine sensitivities. Adhere strictly to the diet for at least two weeks, or possibly three to four weeks if your symptoms do not improve in the first two weeks. Observe whether any symptoms of illness, skin rash, fatigue, congestion, digestive tract problems, joint pain, discomfort, etc., improve at the end of that time. Some people experience ill side effects, such as fatigue, headaches, foggy head, achiness, etc. the first few days on the elimination diet. This is your body detoxing and is considered normal. You may also experience strong cravings for certain foods and this is also a sign of a possible allergy.
Eliminate all common allergens: diary, wheat/gluten products (including oats), eggs, corn, nuts, soy, citrus and apples, coffee, caffeinated tea, chocolate, shellfish, beef, pork, chicken, night shades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers ), and food additives (all processed foods). Essentially, you will eat rice, most vegetables, organic turkey, lamb, fruit and water or herbal tea as your beverage and salt as your seasoning. Fruit should be limited to one piece a day and pears are the best choice. Do not eat processed foods as there are many hidden ingredients that contain corn, soy or wheat. For example “natural flavors” could contain any one of these and artificial or caramel coloring, dextrin, or vegetable gum may all contain gluten.
If and when your symptoms improve, foods can be added back, one at a time to determine which foods provoke symptoms. Add one food at a time and eat a lot of it for that day, such as when adding dairy back in drink a glass of whole milk, eat cheese and yogurt or cottage cheese, etc. If no symptoms, then that food is okay and can be added back to your diet. If you get symptoms from that food (could be headaches, fatigue, digestive upset, congestion, achiness, etc), you have a sensitivity to that food and should avoid it.
It is important to keep a food diary. When adding foods back in, make sure you are eating the pure source, such as wheat bulgar or cracked wheat as opposed to bread. Bread contains other ingredients that you may be sensitive to on their own. Wait until symptoms abate before trying the next food. This may take 2-3 days. After avoiding an offending food for at least two to three months, you can try it again. If no symptoms after three months, you can have occasionally, such as once a week. Some people need to continue to avoid all together.
For vegetarians/vegans: you can try eating beans and nuts (if you know you already don’t have an allergy to them) in place of proteins above, but best to avoid these as well at least for the first week.