21 Days to Bliss ~ an exploration of elimination

diondiorFood has played a major role in my health recovery process.  Over the years, I have made substantial shifts in the food I bring into my body, home and heart.  What I have discovered is that food choices are some of the most powerful choices you can make about your state of well-being.  From the moment you say YES to a food item, you send a wave out into the world about what you want to be connected to.

Do you want to be connected to man-made chemicals or phytochemicals (plant’s natural defense mechanisms)?  Do you want to support a small farmer or the agro-industrial complex?  Do you want to encourage clean soil and clean water and air or contamination?  Do you want to encourage diversity by selecting a variety of fruits, veggies, and animal products or do you want that waxed, overly-symmetrical, weirdly red apple?  Do you want herbs from a local farmer’s garden or artificial flavoring?

These questions run deep…  And, the answers run deeper.  It’s up to each one of us to step onto this path of healing through nourishment and right relationship with our world.  It turns out, many people are willing and deeply desiring to explore this form of healing.

I just hosted an amazing program in a town in Mississippi, called 21 Days to Bliss with two other health practitioners.  The “bones” of the programs was a 21 day elimination diet to encourage people to work on food cravings, addictions and habits.  We eliminated 7 food items/ingredients from their diet.

We met twice a week, in the evening and also taught yoga, meditation, exercise physiology, nutrition, and herbal medicine.  We’ve had tremendously good feedback from the participants, who, in their closing circle, shared how the program provided them the following benefits:

* emotional balance
* increased energy and stamina
* mental clarity and acuity
* significant decrease in food cravings
* confidence that they could achieve personal goals
* weight loss

We were really blown away by the feedback!  And, we plan to do another program soon.  In the meantime, I wanted to share the basics of the food elimination process as people have been asking me about it.

“Food is memory.  Eating is remembering.”  ~ Maya Tiwari

First take the following items out of your diet for 21 days:

* sugar (and artificial sweeteners) ~ we allowed only local honey
* gluten (gluten is a protein found in most grains, including corn)  ~ we allowed rice, millet and quinoa
* dairy
* alcohol
* peanuts (which tend to inflame mold or fungal issues)
* eggs (many people have allergies/food sensitivities to eggs, I believe, because they have been eating supermarket eggs (GMO-fed) for so long and only chicken eggs)
* soy

When I spelled out our elimination diet on the first day, jaws definitely dropped so much I had to scoop some off the floor.  However, many women, before I mentioned this approach had been talking about issues with carbs and sugar, so they understood.  Of course, we said to do the best they could.  The more they challenged themselves, the more they would get out of the process.

For the most part, we encouraged people to read about the paleo diet and raw food diets to get ideas on recipes.  Yes, these two diets seem to be diametrically opposed to one another.  But, what I have found, is that they have done quite a bit of ground-work in exploring the food realm and have ample amounts of writings and recipes that are far outside the Standard American Diet (SAD).  From the paleo community, you can find a lot of info on prebiotics and pastured-raised animals (for example).  From the raw food community, you can find a lot of info on spirulina, pine pollen, and goji berries.  Why not combine the merits of both systems and explore what feels right *to you!?*

With this in mind, I’ll quote Michale Pollen who says, “eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  And, I will paraphrase the words of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride who says that plants cleanse the body and animal-products nourish the body.

I suggested that the participants focus on eating the following items:

* pastured or wild animal products (except anything dairy)
* bone broths (that are gelatin rich to help rebuild the gut lining)
* healthy fats:  from pastured animals (lard, tallow, suet, etc), olive oil, coconut oil, red palm oil (from sustainable farms or sustainably wild harvested)
* honey (take a spoonful when you get a sugar craving)
* fruit and dried fruit
* nuts and nut flours
* vegetables
* seaweed
* local food and wild plants whenever possible!  There are exponentially higher nutrients in wild foods and heirloom varietal foods than in standard, cultivated foods.
* millet, rice, quinoa
* lentils
* herbal teas and Dandy Blend (instead of coffee)
* fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi
* spices
* introduce a bitters formula to your diet for increased digestive function (like Swedish bitters or the bitters formula my apothecary makes)
* a great resource to find nutrient-dense foods is here

With all of this in mind, they were off!  As we checked in each week, we teachers were able to see the progression of the diet.  The first week everyone was extremely tired and could barely stay awake.  They said that they were very irritable and that they wanted to fall asleep throughout the day.  We told them that this is normal as they were actually feeling how they really felt!  Fortunately they did not give up, and by the end of the 21 days, they actually felt the benefits of the elimination diet.

On the last day, I spoke about reintroduction of the foods that we eliminated.  I urged people to slowly walk the foods in and listen for their body’s responses.  I asked them to be aware of any allergic responses or any negative or positive feedback they received from their bodies.  Here is the breakdown of what I suggested in the reintroduction process;

* DAIRY ~ First of all, the pasteurized milk on the shelf at the grocery store is like an embalmed person.  It is fortified with vitamins so that it doesn’t smell like death.  Traditionally, milk is only drunk fresh from the animal it came from (which also needs to be grass-fed).  In India, they do heat their milk to bring agni or digestive fire to the milk to help with digesting the milk fats and proteins that can bring phlegm and stagnation into the body if not handled well.  They heat before making yogurt and they also heat and spice to make chai (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, and coriander are common ingredients).  They drink milk within 24 HOURS of being heated or they consider it toxic after that and don’t drink it.  It is wise to emulate India as they have been in relationship with milk for centuries!  Add back to your diet:  yogurt/kefir (made at home or if in a pinch, from the store), ghee (clarified butter, milk solids are removed, very good cooking oil), raw milk form pastured animals.

* GLUTEN ~ Before the great, rapid migration of peoples into cultural melting pots such as the US, people lived in a *place* and evolved slowly in that place.  Certain foods were eaten and the grains that were prepared, were prepared in a traditional way.  Even though there has been trade throughout time, it was not common for someone to have any grain anytime they wanted it.  With that in mind, I suggested that people chose 2 grains and 2 beans that they wanted to explore the traditional method of preparation.  For proper preparation (therefore proper access to the grain or bean’s full nutrition), I suggested the easy-to-ready pamphlet called “With Love from Grandmother’s Kitchen.”  This book is written by a women steeped in the teachings of Weston A Price.  I encourage people to learn to soak, sprout or ferment the grain they were interested in.  Of course, if they are in a pinch, rice and millet are two good grains to prepare quickly without traditional preparation (as they are both low-phytate foods).

* SUGAR ~ Well, this is a no-brainer, if we are all honest with ourselves.  Sugar is a harmful drug.  For more on this topic, read my blog.  I asked them to stick with honey, dried fruit, and fruit.  They could now add small amounts of maple syrup (only real maple syrup!), sorghum, molasses, jaggary, and coconut sugar.

* EGGS ~ Considering that eggs sneak into so many processed foods and the fact that chickens have been so manipulated, I asked people to slowly integrate healthier forms and to pay close attention to their body’s response.  I feel that, even though they might eat a pastured egg, their body (not having had enough time to recoup from previous unhealthy egg exposure) might conflate the healthy egg with the unhealthy egg.  I do feel that our cells remember quite a bit of information, so move slowly with this food reintroduction process.  I also requested that people start with the yolks and then add the egg whites as the egg whites are home to many proteins that are hard to digest (for those with sluggish digestion or limited enzyme production).  Further, I asked them to experiment with eating duck eggs, quail eggs and any other kind of egg they could get their hands on.  Duck eggs are almost never from ducks that are given grain-based feed.

* ALCOHOL ~ Our alcohol has become a nightmare along with our food.  High fructose corn syrup is added to Budweiser and Miller and Coors alike.  I assure you most of them are made with GMO grains of some kind.  Food Babe wrote a great article on this.  I suggested people only drink bottle-conditioned or non-pasteurized beers (mostly trappist beers).  I also suggested people only drink wine from small wine-producing orchards as the traditional wine production process is still honored (also organic or chemical-free wines are a must!)!  I also suggested that they read Stephen Buhner’s book called, “Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers” for an amazing exploration on what a healthy relationship with fermented beverages once looked like and could look like again.

* PEANUTS ~ Considering that abuse of the peanut in our food system (it’s in almost every snack item and is the only nut butter you can find on the shelf in the common grocery store), I suggested to simply stay away from peanut.  There are plenty of other nuts.  Try them and explore…  Try different nut butters!  Also, try traditionally preparing them by soaking them in sea salt and water and then roasting them (so tasty!).

* SOY ~ In Asia, where soy has had time to evolve within the culture and cultural diet, soy is not eaten in large, square chunks.  Take my word of advice here, don’t eat anything in the shape of a square.  With that said, I suggested that they only eat soy after it has been traditionally fermented and prepared and ONLY in small quantities.  I suggested the following items:  natto, miso soup, tempeh, and tamari sauce.  Soy HAS to be traditionally fermented or the chemical compounds in the outer layer of skin can really reek havoc on your digestive tract.

Finally, I spoke about creating a “Network of Nourishment” in their lives.  Many had already begun doing this as a result of the program.  Husbands, family members and friends had even begun doing all or part of the program.  It was amazing to see this happen, a really nice ripple effect!  Creating a network of nourishment is so important…they can help you stay on the path to wellness.  I encouraged people to consciously ally with people that would help them stay on the path, were open to the process and even wanted to participate themselves.

And, I have to put a plug in for one of my favorite models of NOURISHMENT out there.  I truly feel that if every town and community had an operation like this, we would be well on our way to living with lower medical bills and higher quality of life!  Three Stone Hearth is a worker-owned Community Supported Kitchen (CSK).  Like a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in that it provides nourishment to the community it serves, this kitchen makes value-added, local-farm-sourced, nutrient-dense foods.

That’s all for now!  Please feel free to comment and share with me your experience on your path to health and wellness!

(art by ~ www.diondior.com)

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2 thoughts on “21 Days to Bliss ~ an exploration of elimination

  1. Excellent. Great offering and good write-up. Cannot access FB now so could not comment. Got straight on the open house… Friday, right!

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  2. Pingback: Restoring Digestive Health | Madhupa Maypop

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