After I wrote this book and started to get feedback and questions from the readers, I realized that I totally left out one of the major techniques I used to improve my health. I also left out the fact that, as a kid, I tried to launch a frisbee repair business. That venture was not successful and it probably would have been okay to leave that out of the book, but the other oversight was a big deal and lead me to add this entire chapter. To properly explain what I did and why, I first need to explain how food sensitivities work. This initial section was pulled from the old chapter four, but the rest is new.
The New Chapter Nine – Remove The Trouble
Conquering Our Food – Food Allergies & Sensitivities
When you eat a salami sandwich (and no, I’m not recommending that you eat a salami sandwich… it’s just fun to say salami sandwich), the goal is to conquer that sandwich instead of having it cause all kinds of trouble and carry you off captive. Food allergies are a very hot topic these days; and people come to me all the time and tell me about the testing they had done for food allergies. They tell me their tests showed they’re allergic to nuts, dairy, wheat, gluten, soy, pork, turkey jerky, the board game Parcheesi, and Lou Diamond Phillips. Well, at what point does this person have to leave Earth in order to eat lunch? He’s been told that he’s allergic to just about everything on the planet. If you get to the point where you can eat only things that resemble Al Roker, it might be time to understand food allergies.
You may have already come across some of the rules or diets to help those with food sensitivities. There are gluten-free diets, blood-type diets, food-combining diets, raw-food diets—this list could keep going all the way down to the “Saved by the Bell, Zack & Kelly” diet. Most of these diets can actually benefit some individuals, but many people who need to employ a diet like this in order to feel better could find long-term relief by correcting any digestive issues. Once you can fully digest what you’re eating, the need to complete the “Screech-free” phase of the Zack & Kelly diet becomes less of a requirement.
So, what are all of these theories about food based on? There are so many books and diets and “gurus” out there it’s enough to make you lose your appetite, even if you did know what you were supposed to eat. So, who’s right? Do I eat for my blood type? Do I alkalize? Do I avoid carbs? Do I eat whatever I want as long as it starts with the letter “B”? Who’s right? Well, I don’t know. Whose research was everybody using as a basis for fact when they came up with these diets? Maybe most of the test subjects they used did, indeed, thrive on the ice cream sandwich diet. But, if you’re interested in how the human body works, which I know I am, you first need to know how that particular human’s digestion is functioning. If digestion is not so great, there is no diet that will fix all that person’s woes.
Improper digestion is the reason juicing and blending have become so popular. Many fancy-pants gurus advocate buying these blenders that cost as much as a car and can liquefy your iPhone in thirty seconds. They tell us that we need to liquefy our food or we can’t pull the nutrients out. And they’re right, if you’re a person with horrible digestion. That’s why so many people feel better when they start to juice—they’re actually getting some nutrients into the system. I do find that these juicing maniacs get a little upset when they learn that simply fixing their digestion can give them the same benefit. “You mean it was unnecessary for me to blend my turkey meatloaf and brussels sprouts and drink it through a straw?”
Let me get back to the point and break down these food allergies a little bit. Enzymes can play a factor in food sensitivities. If people don’t have the correct enzymes to break down a specific type of food, that food can give them trouble. Take dairy for example. Many cases of lactose intolerance are just situations where people are lacking the enzyme lactase. If they supplement this enzyme, they may see improvement with their intolerance. Though the Digesti-zyme supplement I mentioned in chapter three is a broad-based enzyme that includes lactase, it may not be a suitable amount of lactase for some people. Many lactose intolerant individuals may need a product like Milk-Gest from Daily Manufacturing. Milk-Gest is available on NaturalReference.com and from health care practitioners across the country. If you find a similar product, you may find success with that as well, as long as it doesn’t include cheap binders, etc.
The main cause for food allergies, however, often has more to do with improper digestion than a lack of enzymes. In chapter three, I talked about how your body can’t use a peanut butter sandwich until that sandwich has been broken down into elemental nutrients. This same understanding is used when looking at food allergies. Once you break down that peanut butter sandwich, it’s no longer a peanut butter sandwich. Instead, it is now minerals, fats, amino acids—the things your body needs and recognizes as nutrients that can be used to rebuild your body.
However, if you never break down that peanut butter sandwich because your digestion is not working properly, that food still has its own identity since it was never conquered. That identity says, “Hi, I’m a peanut butter sandwich.” Well, there is no use for a “peanut butter sandwich” in the body. The body can use only the nutrients that are pulled out of that peanut butter sandwich once it has been broken down by a functioning digestive system. If this peanut butter sandwich enters the system absorbed by the bloodstream etc. and still has its own identity, it is looked upon by the body as an invader and will be attacked and removed. A peanut butter sandwich is not going to be recognized as something that can be used. For this reason, the defense system is going to run and scream and sound the alarms. As your immune system creates antibodies to deal with this invader, an imprint of those antibodies is saved in the “security files.” Now, the next time you eat a peanut butter sandwich, all hell breaks loose as the system comes down hard on this “invader” and you can feel an “allergic response.” And why wouldn’t you? Your body just went to war against a peanut butter sandwich for cryin’ out loud. You’re not supposed to be trying to digest a peanut butter sandwich in your bloodstream using your immune system. PLEASE NOTE: This is not to say that those with a peanut allergy or something as severe and life-threatening as that should not take it seriously. They absolutely should. That is not what I’m talking about here. Most of those individuals were born with an allergy like that. I’m talking about sensitivities that people have developed in their life due to an inability to digest, or conquer, their food.
When Can I Reintroduce Troublesome Foods?
Once digestion is fully corrected, for many people, foods that caused distress in the past will once again be well tolerated. However, there are two points to consider. One, how does anyone know when digestion is truly fully recovered? Moving up to a full dose of HCL with improved bile flow is not a slam dunk for perfect digestion. Some people will be dealing with major bacterial infections in their stomachs, small intestines, or even further down the intestinal tract. Other digestive disrupters can include parasites, intestinal permeability issues, bacterial dysbiosis, along with many other possible issues we’ve heard of, and probably a few more we don’t even know about yet. Conclusion: It’s complicated. You may be able to fix digestion enough to improve some major symptoms and even speed up weight loss, but that may not mean that you’re truly breaking down everything to the point to where it no longer has its own identity. Two, even if you are fully breaking down your foods, if a specific food has been sounding the alarms for your immune system for some time, doesn’t it make sense that even the remote suggestion of that food could send the body into a bit of a panic? For these reasons, some of you may need to avoid your trouble-causing foods longer than others.
The first step should be to improve digestion so you can stop the full out assault, and then give your body a rest from that food to see if it’s possible to reintroduce it again later. How long is later for you? I don’t know. A month appears to be long enough for some issues, while other individuals have reported seeing success after three to six months. In some cases, specific foods may need to be avoided for the long haul if those foods continue to cause trouble.
How I Fixed This For Myself
As I mentioned in chapter four, when I was very sick and toxic and my digestion was not working well, most things I ate made me feel lousy. I didn’t understand how to correct digestion at the time, so I simply did what made sense to me. I started entirely removing any foods that did not make me feel good. First I removed gluten. (Keep in mind that my first step was to go to Whole Foods and buy every processed, garbage product that said “gluten-free” on the label. That was the ignorant move that led to my fasting glucose rising to 126, which is only 2 points from where many doctors start to diagnose a person with Type II Diabetes. Don’t do that.) When that failed miserably, I removed all dairy and then all grains of any kind—not just gluten containing grains. I eventually whittled things down to about four different things I would eat. I now know this is not a great idea either.
To make a “here’s where I was dumb” story much shorter, once I fixed digestion, I was able to eat a lot more foods. Looking back now, the foods I continued to avoid (I was mostly avoiding grains and dairy back then.) are the same foods that many elimination diets include on their “remove” lists as well. For that reason, I will cut to the chase and give you a breakdown of steps you might want to take for crazy fast improvement and results. If you can remove troublesome foods while you fix your digestion, you may be able to add many of them back in later. When I show you the list of foods to remove, keep in mind that this is not a standard list of foods everyone should avoid. The goal is to remove the foods that most commonly cause trouble for the largest percentage of people. Once you have experienced improvement by removing these foods, you will listen to your body as you add them back in so you can determine the foods that are right for you.
But I Don’t Want To Remove Foods
Many of you will be able to see great results by simply following the steps in the first eight chapters of this book. Many of you, however, will not. The bad news is that many of you will need to do more work. The good news is, those who need to do more work still get to see results if they’re willing to do that work. Some say they don’t want to put that much effort in, but they then continue to bounce from diet to diet, dealing with disappointment after disappointment for the next ten years. I’m not sure how that turns out to be less work. The main point to understand is that you may not need to follow the advice in this chapter. But if you do, just do it. It will be a month out of your life to find real answers. Most people can do just about anything for a month if they have the right tools.
By removing the foods that most commonly cause problems for the highest percentage of people, you can magnify your chance of seeing improvement. If you feel better, you can slowly start to add these foods back in, one at a time, to see if any of them trigger a response. If you can figure out which foods are causing your body to go into emergency mode, you can remove that burden and weight loss will be that much easier. Remember, just because you can eat a food without keeling over or hurling doesn’t mean that it’s an okay food for you. That food may still be creating a burden that is restricting your body from handling its everyday tasks. And an overburdened body will often store some of those burdens in fat cells.
I will explain the steps here, and then get more into specific situations where this approach may be the most beneficial so you can figure out if it’s the right plan for you. If it’s not, you should still be able to see improvements with what you’ve learned to this point in the book, and you’ll have even more tricks once you know your own body chemistry.
Become a JERFer
To JERF is to Just – Eat – Real – Food. That’s it. I’m not sure who coined this phrase, but they coined it up real nice because I like it. JERF means eating nothing processed in any way. It’s just food. Like I mentioned in chapter two, real food grows out of the ground, off of a tree, or comes from an animal. If you go to Google images, you can search for some of these terms to see what real food looks like. Search for words like broccoli, chicken, berries, or eggs. That way, when you go to the store looking for real food, you will have an idea of what it looks like. It doesn’t come in a box or a package and you’re probably not going to find a cartoon on the front. You might remember that bowl your grandmother kept on the dining room table that was filled with plastic shapes. Real food looks like those shapes. That’s what you want. You’ll find real food around the outer perimeter of the grocery store. Very rarely will you find real food in the middle of a grocery store. The middle aisles are all packaged garbage.
Real food doesn’t have ingredients. Real food is ingredients.
– Jamie Oliver
Eating real food will take more effort. Don’t think it won’t. However, when you learn how to meal plan, use a cooking day, or find restaurants where you can get real food, it will be easy, worth it, and you won’t look back. Most people feel such drastic improvement that they wonder why they haven’t always eaten this way.
Do A Clean Sweep
Mark off a four to eight week period on the calendar and commit yourself to success. During this time period, you’re going to remove all processed foods, along with any trouble foods, depending on a few circumstances I describe in this section.
If your digestion is already perfect OR if you’re going to be using digestive supplements (like Beet Flow, HCL, and Digesti-Zyme) to improve digestion, four weeks should be long enough for most people.
If you are dealing with any digestive symptoms but supplements don’t fit into your budget right now, set up an eight week period, as results may be slower and you may need that long.
Foods To Remove
During this clean sweep, you would avoid:
All processed foods
All sweeteners (table sugar, cane syrup, artificial sweeteners, etc.)
All grains in any form
All dairy in any form
All legumes (including soy in any form)
All alcohol (yes, I just said that)
It’s that simple. These are the foods that cause sensitivities in the highest percentage of people. The fact that so many foods contain one of these items allows this list to stay very simple. Corn syrup comes from a grain and is a processed food and is in just about everything. When you remove junk like that, you remove a lot of harmful foods. Soy is in a lot of products, too, so this process will include the need to read the ingredients on anything you consume.
Removing grains, and the starches found within those grains, is going to remove a lot of insulin spikes. For some people, the trouble is in the insulin spikes. A person may be doing okay with the grains themselves, yet the insulin spikes from those grains are causing a world of hurt. Many of these food sensitivity issues may be the result of stress hormones the body makes when the alarm sounds due to the fact that these foods are viewed as an invader. Insulin can also be considered a stress hormone when blood sugar is high. Therefore, removing grains may not only reduce stress hormones created from these grains appearing as a break-in, the removal of grains may also bring down insulin and reduce that burden as well.
What Do I Eat?
This is not a paleo book, but when we started to set up expert interviews for our documentary, Why Am I So Fat?, I started to look into some of the programs that paleo experts were talking about. My surprise was, “Oh, I pretty much eat paleo and I didn’t even know it.” It’s not that I cared about how our ancestors ate, it just so happened that the research I had done pointed to the same healthy food options that the paleo experts were suggesting.
This doesn’t mean that you need to eat a strictly paleo diet in order to lose weight. I’ve already covered many steps in this book that you could take to improve your bottom line without eating paleo. But if removing these trouble foods for four to eight weeks is appropriate for you to figure out some trouble foods, searching for paleo recipes will make the whole process a lot easier for you. Depending on which expert you are talking to, there are many different definitions of paleo or a “primal” way of eating. I’m not very concerned about any of those definitions or following any strict paleo guidelines myself. For many clients and readers, specific forms of dairy or other foods restricted on a paleo diet can be very beneficial for them to include. Everything still needs to go back to the individual. But I have found that using a paleo base and expanding from there is a great way to kick start someone in an effort to remove processed foods and do some JERFing.
The point is, as you begin to search for meals without grains, dairy or legumes, searching for paleo recipes will make this effort much easier. On your first search you will find thousands of websites and thousands of Pinterest boards, each with hundreds of recipes to choose from.
While eliminating grains, dairy, legumes, and processed foods, some excellent choices could be eggs (the whole egg), beef, chicken, spinach, artichokes, cabbage, seafood, butternut squash, turkey, onions, asparagus, strawberries, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, sweet potatoes, zucchini, apricots, bison, olives, grapefruit, bok choy, yams, beets, lamb (mmm, lamb), broccoli, coconut oil, macadamia nuts, swiss chard, cucumbers, organ meats, blueberries, pumpkin, arugula, kale, extra virgin olive oil, and even animal fats. This list could go on for some time. I simply want to remind you that there are more options out there beyond toaster pastries and your favorite cereal.
In Appendix E I provide a list of foods that can be appropriate for a clean sweep period of four to eight weeks. Many of you will feel so great after making this change that you will continue to eat this way indefinitely. I know I have. With my improved health, I can now slip in some junk from time to time and still feel great. But changing what I shove down my gullet has certainly changed how I feel and I like it. When you’ve completed your clean sweep, I hope you tweet at me @kickitinthethenuts, and let me know how it went.
You’ve learned a lot about cravings and how to beat them in earlier chapters. If minerals are low, fixing digestion so you can pull nutrients out of your food and taking steps to lift mineral levels can both be life-changing steps for many. If scientists are trying to create processed foods that taste as if they’re packed with nutrients–even though they’re not; doesn’t it make sense to completely eliminate these frankenfoods while you’re taking steps to improve your cravings? By removing these foods that are engineered to trigger your brain to scream for more of this junk, you could make the chore of getting past your cravings that much easier. After you have eliminated these foods for about eight days, your cravings for those foods will start to fade if you’re taking steps to give your body real nutrition. Combine this with the other steps you’ll be taking to improve digestion and your physiology and you could be in charge of your cravings once and for all.
Why This Will Be Easier Than You Think
Though adjusting to any new way of eating can be a challenge in the beginning, this won’t be as impossible as you may be thinking. The hardest part for most people is removing the grains because they have been living on carbs. Remember, most people eat a lot of carbs because they don’t process fats and protein very well. However, if you’re fixing your digestion so you can better process fats and proteins, you will be able to increase your consumption of these foods while reducing your need for grains or other carbs.
When you can properly process fats, you can add in a lot of delicious foods that will satisfy you and keep you satiated for much longer than most carbs can. Proteins, when you break them down correctly, can also act like a slow burning log on the fire and give you energy that can last. Just keep in mind, there are reasons you have needed all those grains and carbs, but if you take the steps to improve those issues, those underlying causes may no longer be part of the equation. At that point, losing the grains becomes an easier task.
Many of these changes can be drastic, I agree. However, with drastic changes comes drastic results. That’s why you’re here, right? To feel better than you’ve felt in years. Keep in mind that these drastic changes are necessary only when drastic steps are needed. If you respond well to the much easier digestive enhancement protocols, you may not need to the clean sweep. However, if a clean sweep could help you, yet the thought of all these changes at once overwhelms you, give yourself some training wheels. Once a day, make a meal that fits into your new guidelines and then build on that one meal. Start searching for paleo recipes to find creations you can make and enjoy. Develop an arsenal of foods that you love. When you’re ready to go full-force, you will have already adapted to many new foods and recipes and the transition will be a breeze. Keep in mind that your four-to-eight week period doesn’t start until you have completely removed all the trouble foods.
Now, this is what I don’t want you to do; I don’t want you to tell yourself that you’re going to start on Monday so you might as well eat every bad food on the planet for the next three days. That’s not a great move to set yourself up for success; and hammering your body with a full-fledged war is not how you want to start your improvement. And yes, I’m watching you.
Bile Flow Support
In chapter three, when I mentioned options for improving bile flow without supplements, this plan is what I was talking about as a backup option if supplements are not in your budget right now. There are interesting rumblings out in the nutritional world about processed foods and/or grains having the ability to thicken bile and restrict its ability to flow properly. I have seen some anecdotal evidence that suggests removing these foods has the ability to improve bile flow for some people. The number of success stories that I have heard are far fewer than the success stories I have heard from people using Beet Flow, but maybe you can change that. If you use this method and see improved bile flow, I’d love to hear about it.
Keep in mind that if the self-tests you run later in the book indicate that you are also dealing with a Catabolic Imbalance, you may also need to correct that imbalance to truly improve bile flow.
If you are dealing with any issues that the medical world classifies as an autoimmune disorder, you may need to eliminate a few additional foods to see improvement with your clean sweep period. It is said that an autoimmune disorder occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy tissues by mistake. I agree that this could be true for some disorders, but the term autoimmune has taken on a life of its own and seems to be used in just about any circumstance where the body is showing a reaction. As described earlier in this chapter, when undigested food particles make it into the bloodstream and the body views this food as an invader, I don’t view that as an autoimmune response. I view that as an appropriate immune response since a peanut butter sandwich should not exist in the bloodstream.
In any case, with many of the issues that are classified as autoimmune, thousands upon thousands of people have found great relief by removing troublesome foods from their diet. If you’re dealing with an autoimmune issue, you might want to try removing grains, legumes, dairy and processed foods, along with the following foods:
Nuts & Seeds
Peppers (Including black pepper)
And any other nightshade vegetables
I have seen clients dealing with crazy issues like severe psoriasis (who have not seen improvement of any kind for over a decade) watch the issue completely disappear once they removed these foods. That speaks volumes.
To find recipes that fit within these guidelines, search for “paleo AIP recipes.” This stands for paleo autoimmune protocol. Not only will the number of recipes you find make this easier, the number of people you see talking about their success following these steps will motivate you to take the plunge.
A Word On Gluten
I don’t believe that everyone needs to avoid gluten. However, gluten-free eating has now become even more popular than Game of Thrones, and gluten-free diets don’t even have dragons. Though there is a lot of new evidence suggesting that gluten itself is not the culprit for most people, it does appear that some cofactor or constituent of most gluten-containing foods is a problem and is much harder for many people to process correctly. In that regard, if you find that you do well avoiding gluten, I would continue down that path. Don’t let all this new science stating that gluten is okay steer you away from what is working for you.
The reason they believe gluten is not causing problems is because they are running trials where they give people a gluten supplement. Meaning, it’s not a gluten-containing food, it’s just a capsule that contains only gluten. Well, who is going to take a gluten supplement in the real world? It’s not really possible to suck just the gluten out of a slice a bread. For that reason, supplementing gluten is hardly proof that gluten-containing foods are not causing problems for many people. My opinion is that, though most grains are easy to pull carbohydrates out of so you can use those carbs as fuel, there are structures in most grains that are more difficult for many people to break down completely, and this is where the trouble ensues. With the huge number of people who feel better once they remove gluten-containing foods, it’s obvious that these foods are harder for many to process correctly.
Don’t Be Confused
Don’t let this chapter trick you into thinking that I don’t approve of eggs or dairy or tomatoes. That is not true at all. Once you look at your chemistry in chapter ten, and we begin to look at foods that can help to improve specific imbalances, eggs, butter, heavy cream, tomatoes, and many others will all be valuable tools. Again, most foods are good for SOMEBODY, but no single food exists that is good for EVERYBODY.
This clean sweep elimination program is just one tool that can be very effective for many people. If you can figure out foods that are causing a tremendous burden, you can remove them and feel better even before you completely fix digestion or improve any imbalances.
You may see foods listed in this chapter as foods to avoid on a clean sweep and then see those same foods later in the book listed under foods that can improve a specific imbalance. That is okay and don’t let that confuse you. Depending on the issues that you’re dealing with, you might need to figure out for yourself if it’s more important to fix an imbalance or test out removing some possible trouble foods. For example, if you later discover that butter or cream could be very beneficial for the imbalances that you’re dealing with, understand that those foods can help move chemistry, but if they are creating an immune reaction every time you eat them, they are likely still not beneficial for you and you may need to find other tools to improve that imbalance. Everyone is different. You’re probably picking up on that by now.
Don’t view this plan as the “diet plan” that goes along with this book. Remember, this book doesn’t have a diet plan. This book is about helping you figure out what is going to help your body the most and this is only one possible step you can take. The goal with this chapter is to remove common trouble foods long enough so you can figure out if you can add them back in or not. It’s not a list of foods that are good or bad for all people, always. Keep your body and your chemistry in mind when putting together your action plan.
Don’t jump on this clean sweep and forget everything else you have learned in this book so far. Simply removing grains, legumes and dairy does not give you a free pass to eat sweet potatoes all day. You still need to be aware of insulin and blood sugar issues.
Once you have completed your four to eight week removal period, start introducing foods one at a time. Don’t run out and have a cream cheese, lentil pie with a whole wheat crust. If you felt lousy afterwards, how would you know which one of those foods caused the problem? Introduce a small amount of one food and then give yourself seventy two hours to see how you feel. Reintroducing only small amounts may deter the defense system from waging war on an overwhelming intruder. If digestion has improved, and the body can now see small amounts of this food in a more optimally broken down state, the body may no longer see it as a threat. If you like how you feel for the next seventy two hours after reintroducing that food, you can introduce another food. If any foods make you feel lousy, tired, or cause some type of unwanted reaction, you will likely need to avoid that food for a longer period of time. But that doesn’t mean you need to go back to avoiding all the foods you were leaving out. You have simply uncovered a food that was giving you a problem and after a few days, once you are feeling great again, you can try reintroducing a different food.
You may find that some foods, even within a “category” might work better than others. For example, you may find that most dairy foods bother you, yet butter and heavy cream do okay (these fats are lower in milk casein and lactose and are better tolerated by many individuals). Different types of proteins and compounds exist in every food. If you confirm that wheat sends you running for the toilet, that might not mean that all grains will have the same effect. I do find that most people who cut out grains for at least a month will feel so much better that they end up leaving them out indefinitely, for the most part. Journaling what you eat and how you feel is a great way to keep track of what is working and what isn’t. The more you can monitor, the more you can learn and implement into real life.
Wha’d He Say?
In this chapter, you learned:
- Many food sensitivity issues could have manifested due to poor digestion and an inability to break down those foods into elemental nutrients.
- Even after digestion has improved, there are foods that could still create an immune response and may need to be avoided for a period of time.
- The foods that most commonly cause trouble are grains, dairy and legumes. By avoiding these foods for four to eight weeks, you can then add them back in one at a time to see if any of these foods are causing an immune reaction in your body.
- With many autoimmune-type symptoms, you may need to avoid additional foods like eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshade vegetables.
- By reintroducing foods one at a time, you can more easily discern if a food creates a reaction. If so, you may want to continue avoiding this food.
Appendix E – Clean Sweep Food Lists
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