An exclusion diet
All diets involve trial and error. The two most important things you can do with the information herein are follow the diet 100% (not 80%, NOT 90% and not even 99%). And track everything you eat and drink including your symptoms even if you think they have nothing whatsoever to do with diet. You may be astonished to realise just how much influence food has on how you feel; both mentally and physically. REMEMBER: Everyone is different, what may be nourishing for someone may act as a trigger for someone else. This is all about removing junk foods, and the most likely triggers but at the same time nourishing yourself to give your body the chance to heal.
● All fresh meats and poultry, including mincemeat.
● Very fresh fish only.
● No fermented, smoked, or preserved animal products.
● Sea salt.
● Butternut squash**.
● Wild rice (100%)**.
● Bok Choy (Pak Choy).
● Red and white cabbage.*
● Fennel (not seeds).
● Sea salt.
● Root ginger.
● Nori & other seaweeds
● High-quality animal fats (ideally regenerative, organic, free-range).
● Coconut oil.
● Olive oil.
● Avocado oil.
● Flaxseed oil (high quality, cold-pressed)—never heat.
● Sparkling mineral water.
● Filtered tap water.
● Green tea (not after 1PM)
● Peppermint tea.
● Camomile tea.
* May not be suitable for IBD/IBS
** Not every day.
NOTE: Wild rice contains arsenic, it's important that you soak it in plenty of water for two hours and then cook it in plenty of fresh water. Don't use the reduction rice cooking method.
● Organic psyllium husk or powder (gentler for IBD/IBS)—to be started at least two full days before starting the exclusion. 1 Tbsp as you prepare meals, mixed quickly with a glass of water (~240 ml). Follow with
another glass of water. Continue for the initial two weeks unless it causes some negative symptoms (bloating?) (Affiliate link)
● Magnesium chloride—Capsules or powder dissolved in water (tastes bitter). Start with one, twice per day. If you have loose stools reduce to one or swap to another form, glycinate or magnesium citrate depending on your budget, but I prefer the chloride form because it's very fast acting. (Affiliate link)
NOTE: Affiliate links take you to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. You don't pay a penny more but I get a small commission for recommending the product. I personally have all of the above products and do recommend them for this exclusion diet and beyond.
Jiggle a little to get it to work for you
Without doubt, this diet will be stricter than necessary for many, and not right for some. But, it has worked for me and many of my clients with the odd adjustment as they discover their own triggers and remove them. If it's stricter than necessary but achieves its goal of reducing inflammation then who cares if it's a little too strict to begin with? I've endeavoured to eliminate some of the most likely triggers; gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, etc. Plus this is low histamine, low lectin and low oxalate. At the same time, with a little practice it can be nourishing, tasty and convenient enough to work for the committed. Some of the veg doesn't work for salicylate sensitive people and some act as triggers to those with IBS/IBD. However, if you track as you go find your triggers and remove them you should be able to find something that works for you, even if that's a complete removal of plant foods for a short period of time; as little as three days can be effective for those in an IBD flare.
If it's not in the above lists, it's not in.
Don't spend your time worrying about what's not included. This will not serve you and just infects you with negativity and ultimately failure. Coffee for example is not included because it blocks certain vitamins and minerals from being absorbed and, as a stimulant prevents you from getting energetic feedback from your body. It can also be over stimulating for exhausted people. The fact that it may be generally good for you is absolutely irrelevant for this therapeutic diet. Lot's of foods, dairy for example, are nutritious and healthy except when the digestion and the body is unwell. Fruits are not included but certain types are some of the first re-introductions.
How long does this part last?
Two weeks is the minimum time I ask people to stay on this diet. This can be extended sometimes when there may be complications. For example, when they're not going to the loo every day. This diet is largely focussed on changing the intestinal flora quickly, it's vital that people go for at least one daily bowel movement, this is why the psyllium is included. It can be done without if you'd prefer, but expect it to be harder and for the initial stages to extend by at least a week or two. Some errors people have made include, not eating enough to stimulate a decent daily bowel movement, not sticking to the diet closely and missing a trigger by not tracking.
What about macros?
You don't need to measure your macros for this exclusion, but I do recommend centreing meals around animals proteins with the suitable veg on the side because it's more satisfying and nutritious, which makes the diet easier to follow. If you want lots of veg and are happy your selections are not triggering you, that's fine. DO NOT skip the animals proteins, their nutrients are an important part of this diet. I do not offer a vegetarian version of this.
Tips to stick with it
It’s very important that each meal satiates you. DO NOT GO HUNGRY.
Clear your diary if you cannot stick to strict dietary guidelines at social engagements.
Always have compliant foods at home.
Make two our three times a portion at once, separate and use later.
Use a wide mouth Thermos flask and carry hot food with you.
Know what you're making the next day.
Stay busy, binge watching NETFLIX etc can make you crave snack foods.
Exercising is vital, at whatever level, and will help you stay on track.
Get a good night's sleep, go to bed at around 10 PM or earlier if you're very unwell. If you need lots of sleep, then go with it, 7-8 hrs per night is for healthy people. Being well rested stops cravings.
Try ricing vegetables—salt and fat are evenly distributed making them much tastier and easier to digest.
Know where and what you can buy from supermarkets to cover you when you’re out and about.
Fast or skip a meal rather than break the rules.
If you make a mistake, put it behind you and carry on.
Ask your friends and family for support, tell them how important this diet is for you. Sometimes it only takes a word from them to stop you making a mistake that you'll regret.
Do not get other people’s opinions about this exclusion diet. There is a nutrition guru in every office and home, but it’s highly unlikely they understand what you’re trying to achieve here. Their input is not helpful. Remember, just because a certain food might be generally healthy does not mean it doesn't trigger certain people.
Simple cooking tips
Plain beef mince with ‘riced’ vegetables, added fat not required. Salt.
Roast poultry with butternut squash. Plus another suitable veg. Olive oil. Salt.
Cubed fresh meats, fried in suitable oil or animal fat. Plus veg.
Shredded cabbage, stir fry or steamed plus meat or fish & fat.
Stir-fried bok choy, with fresh root ginger. Coconut oil.
Roasted fennel with olive oil, salt.
Roasted pork ribs, salt.
Boiled wild rice, fat of your choice. Add a protein. Salt.
Tools to make it easier
Buy organic frozen veg and chives.
Mixed broccoli, cauliflower and carrot is a great choice.
Try ricing to improve flavour and digestibility.
Use an air fryer for quick and easy roasting. They're more economical, heating up in a minute vs 10. (Affiliate link)
Use a multi-layer steamer. (Affiliate link)
Instant Pot—slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker etc. (Affiliate link) (no pressure or slow cooking in the first 2 weeks)
Large glass of filtered water
1 Tbsp psyllium / another large glass of water. Beef mince with riced roasted veg, chives & salt. Supplements where appropriate.
Roasted chicken thighs, stir fried shredded red cabbage, olive oil. Salt.
Herbal tea / water
1 Tbsp psyllium / large glass of water. Roasted pork ribs, olive oil & salt. Roasted butternut squash.
45 mins walk this PM. Heart rate ~120
Things to add
Try not to snack. If you’re genuinely hungry and have already tried having a drink of water, just eat a meal even if it's a fourth.
If you feel like you’re allergic to all your normal foods, try replacing your favourites with things like goose, game, different fish or anything else you don’t eat often. You can also try exotic meats like kangaroo, bison, reindeer etc which can be bought easily online.
If you suspect that you’re reacting to certain foods, leave them out.
For those with IBD, some of these foods listed will not suit you. Any food that bloats you or in some way worsens any symptoms at all should be removed.
This diet may help with weight loss but that is not the goal of it. However, once you're underway and well-settled, you may reduce added fats, fatty meats, or limit portion sizes of the butternut squash and wild rice as you see fit. If things get harder take your self-imposed limits off until the trial is finished.
Wean yourself from coffee at least a week before starting. Try replacing it with green tea to reduce withdrawal headaches for a few days.
When trying MCT oil, don’t use more than about a tsp to begin with. If you get a stomach ache, don’t worry it’s a strong antimicrobial and you’ve had a little more than you can handle. This will go away after a few times.
Check your environment! If you're living in a mouldy home this can cause serious illness in susceptible people. This is a part of what happened to me. Learn how to check for mould because it's not just about visible black mould. My large bedroom plant pot was leaking into the carpet beneath it for years. A mould grew concealed beneath the pot and I was breathing it's spores each and every night. By the time I discovered it, the carpet had been eaten through. A good account on Instagram is Moldfinders.
Potential side effects
Sometimes people can experience unpleasant side effects. When there's a shift of the intestinal flora people's symptoms can worsen, normally just for a day or two. For example, Meniere's sufferers may have an attack depending on how seriously they suffer from the disease. I always used to get an attack on day two of this programme before I stopped going around in circles. Be ready from day two to five. For most people the symptoms tend to be like a cold.
If symptoms get worse in the second week, this may be a sign that you're 'dumping' oxalates. This is a frustrating complication that can be off-putting. This, and the reason above, is why I've included the psyllium husk in the first few weeks of the programme. It's also why it's not 100% free of oxalates but much lower than the average diet, this makes any dumping less severe. I also went through this, for me it manifested as very itchy and red skin for about a week or so. The best courses of action, if it doesn't get too uncomfortable, are:
To include the psyllium—make sure you're drinking a large glass with each serving, the more fibre people eat the more water they need.
To exercise and sweat as much as possible including using a sauna (IR saunas are more gentle for those suffering from low energy)
Drink plenty of water—it's possible to overdo this so as a rule of thumb just include a standard glass of water two or three times per day on top of your teas etc. A tiny pinch of salt, not so you can taste it, improves hydration.
Colonic hydrotherapy can help if it gets really uncomfortable—check for your own contraindications.
Take calcium citrate (or magnesium citrate if you'd prefer but it's not as good)—citrates bind onto oxalic acid in the gut making it easier to excrete and impossible to pass into the blood.
Citric acid—try drinking filtered water with half a lemon or lime squeezed into it. Citric acid also binds to oxalic acid as above.
If it does get too uncomfortable you can actually increase the amount of oxalates you're eating again to shut off the dumping. A pure acerola cherry vitamin C supplement (affiliate link) can do this without interfering with the diet, allowing you to get into the swing of it. Taking two with each meal (x3 per day) for one week, then reducing to one with each meal for the next week, then x2 per day the following week, x1 per day the week after that and finally dropping them. The way you titrate is up to you, it can be done much more slowly if you experienced some nasty 'dumping'. You can read more about oxalate dumping here.
How to open the diet up as you progress
This depends on how things have gone for you in the initial few weeks. If you're not dealing with oxalate dumping and feel like things are improving quickly, some foods can be added. I work closely with people during the initial stages of this process and the weeks afterwards when we decide which foods to add in, sometimes one by one. We may also agree on certain other supplements but it all depends on what's happening real-time.
If you would like to work with me on an exclusion diet this is a 'Close Support' package because we need to be in daily contact to discuss symptom changes and when and how we introduce new foods.