Friday, June 29, 2012

Elimination Diet, and Getting Closer to Primal

So with the Whole 30 thing, I have been doing some reading. I am not looking at it as another diet. I have a diet aversion right now. But I *am* seeing the benefit of it as an elimination trial, where everything that might be affecting your health and body negatively is cut out for 30 days.

Whole 30 = meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats, some fruits
No dairy, sugar, artificial sweeteners, legumes, grains, alcohol, processed foods, white potatoes

Then, you reintroduce food groups slowly to see what effect they have on you. If you add dairy back in, and the next day your skin breaks out and you feel like crap, you know to cut it back out for good. If you add beans back in and have a stomach ache for 3 hours, you know they are a problem. But if you add them back and still feel good, you can incorporate them if you want to. But stay off the junk.

This is the same idea behind Medifast and their Transition plan, which introduces dairy one week, fruit another week, grains the next week. It is supposed to allow you to see what foods are 'bothering' you. And that is a very good thing and it *has* helped a lot of people. But that is not a true elimination diet, because while you are limited to Medifast meals, non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats, even if you stick 100% to the plan you are still eating *some* of every food group. There is dairy (whey) in many Medifast meals. Dairy can be a Lean food choice instead of meat. There is gluten (from oats, wheat, rice, etc) in many Medifast meals, so while you are not eating grains with your real food meals you are eating them in the Medifast meals. There is fruit in some of the Medifast foods (bars, oatmeal, etc) and sugar in others (hot cocoa has 10g). Some of the soups contain legumes (beans, peas, and peanuts) and there is soy in others. Many contain artificial sweeteners as well. So you never truly eliminate all dairy, fruit, legumes and sugar from your diet. And that is fine for weight loss, but doesn't really meet the criteria for an elimination diet, making it harder to discern which foods are causing what responses in the body.

I am somewhat hesitant to start the Whole 30 *now* because in just a couple of weeks it will be my birthday and my daughter's birthday. I don't *have* to eat cake, but with calorie counting I have that option and more flexibility. My son has been planning my birthday for months. He said some time ago he wanted to make me a special cake without sugar in it. I can get him a recipe for a gluten-free, refined-sugar-free cake, but not if I am doing the Whole 30. That would eliminate all grains, dairy, starches, sweeteners, etc. Anyone have a recipe for a Whole 30 cake??

Anyway, the 30 days are not supposed to have ANY slip ups in order to be a true elimination diet. So I may wait and start in mid-July, counting calories and eating grain-free and sugar-free until then. I am trying to get my eating as close to Primal as possible within my calorie goal right now. Not perfect, but close. I figure that can only help my health.


Andra said...

No cake during the Whole 30, not even with "paleo" or "primal" ingredients. Better keep to mindful eating until after your birthday. From the Whole 30 rules.

"In addition, no Paleo-ifying dessert or junk food choices! We call this “Sex With Your Pants On” (SWYPO), and it will ruin your Whole30 faster than you can say, “Paleo pizza.” Do not try to shove your old, unhealthy diet into a shiny new Whole30 mold. This means no “Paleo-fying” desserts or junk food – no Paleo pancakes, pizza, brownies or ice cream. Trying to replicate junk food with “technically approved” ingredients misses the point of the Whole30 entirely."

There is a great user forum that has tons of information about the plan.

Anonymous said...

What I've learned as someone who lost 75 lbs, gained back 40 and is now back (100% eating clean) and losing is that there are ALWAYS celebrations: birthdays, holidays, etc etc. What better time is there than now? There will still be cake after you've gotten closer to a healthy goal weight and, at that time, you can enjoy it in moderation. Buck up buttercup. *My husband told me that* :)

Karen said...

Make the Whole 30 a birthday present to yourself. Start now and celebrate your birthday later.

Put yourself and your health first. Might keep you off blood pressure Meds and keep you out running around with the kiddos and the dog. Best birthday present ever! Better than cake.

Change your mental game and the weight will come off. But you' ll have to prioritize yourself over any sort of food/event first. Even after your birthday celebration.

Good luck and stick to it, that's where the life learning and success are -IMO. Can't get to it if you are always detouring or eating cake. Stick to it!!! Karen P

Michelle Himes said...

Hi, Lyn! I've been slowly reading your blog starting at the beginning, and I've laughed and cried along with you. Some of those conversations that you've had with yourself look like they could have been taken straight out of my own head. LOL I have a lot of the same issues with food addiction and obsession, on and off diets, painful joints. etc. I'm at 203.5 today after a lot of hard work. I can't imagine how you have managed with five kids and health problems. I'm a 67 year old widow, so I only have myself to worry about most of the time - well, unless I am having a visit by my 10 wonderful grandchildren. I need to get myself healthy so that I can play with them. But MOST of the time it's only me. So there is the problem with eating because of loneliness, but at least I don't have family members bringing in trigger foods. Anyway, just wanted you to know that I admire you for all your efforts and for blogging honestly about them.

Lyn said...


I think eating Primal will do those things, don't you? If I decide to do the Whole 30, I want to do it at a time when I am most likely to be successful.

I've been reading a lot of Mark's Daily Apple and adjusting my intake accordingly. I'm still counting calories for now.

Jules said...

I'm with Karen... There's no better time to start than NOW. Imagine feeling good. Cake isn't worth it and I'm sure your son would understand your reasons for not making cake. Birthday's are not supposed to be about cake, they are celebrations of your LIFE. I'm cheering you to go ahead and start the Whole 30 now, because after all it's about your LIFE!

Karen said...


I think many plans do work ( primal, paleo, weight watchers, medifast, county calories,county carbs). They are all tools that we choose to work and focus on our goals.

It my opinion that Primal is very flexible. ( great once you've done your elimination diet) but so flexible that you'll keep triggering yourself with foods on the 20% that is off primal

It took a long , long time for me to figure out that eating grains and processed sugar were causing huge problems. Wheat more than anything. All it takes for me is one trigger food and it takes all my strength and focus to remin at goal.

The way I see it your risk level is super high with the
Borderline high blood pressure
Knee injury
Sick family members

You can only control your own health and environment.

If you plotted your weight since the low numbers at medifast on a graph at my fitness pal or spark people and studied it, would you want to risk additional health problems? Knowing that you have high blood pressure, in the absence of weight loss, that's a huge risk IMO.

IMO the day that you wake up and say, that's it I'm taking action and NOTHING will get in my way. That's the perfect time to start. It's got to come from deep inside. Or you start on a Whole 30 and fake it until you make it. If that isn't working then see a counslor or life coach and work on small goals.

Either way the window for your health is open very narrowly. If you want to escape obesity, get out of that window before your health slams the window shut. That would be no bueno for you, your kids, Or the pup.

Good luck. You can do this. You are with it. We are all worth the work it takes to make changes in our life. But first youll have to stick to it. Safe travels Karen P

Jac said...

In case you're interested, here are 2 recipes which include only Whole30-approved ingredients: (But use melted coconut oil instead of olive oil!! The olive-y taste comes through.)

Or my favourite: Just use a fourth banana instead of the honey. I let my bananas get a little brown and spotty on the counter, throw them in the freezer over night, then let them thaw. They get extra sweet, and they get a little runny which is perfect for baking.

For "icing" for either of them, put a can of coconut milk in the fridge over night, then whisk it with the seeds from a vanilla bean (no vanilla extract allowed) and a little cocoa powder if you want it "chocolatey".

I understand the rule about not paleo-fying treats. I get WHY it's a rule. But I see it like this: It's MY Whole30, not someone else's. I'll get from it what *I* need, and if seeing that I can still have a special "treat" for my birthday without loading up on wheat, refined sugar and additives, then that's a HUGE lesson for me to learn. Melissa and Dallas would never condone it, of course, it's just my two cents. It certainly didn't "ruin my Whole30 faster than I could say Paleo pizza." I guess I was a bit of a Whole30 rebel. :)

Caz said...

I agree with Karen. There will ALWAYS be a reason to not start now. Next it could be your kids' birthdays or a vacation or a dinner at a friend's place where you feel obliged to eat. You just have to say now is now or it will NEVER be now.

Let everyone know that it is very important to you to do this. Ask your son to make the cake after your birthday and then you can paleofy or primalise the cake. Not starting something which could dramatically improve your life because of a cake is just shortchanging yourself.

Lyn said...


you make good points, as always.

I agree about Primal bring a bit too flexible even with the 80/20 thing. I am taking some of the 'flex' out of it, for me, by removing all, 100%, of the sugar and grains right now. I wasn't eating a *ton* of grains before today but I decided to remove them 100% now.

Just to be clear, I am not talking about eating crap and junk until after my birthday. I am talking about eating Paleo + dairy for 2 weeks (while counting calories) and then at that point doing the more strict Whole 30.

Do you think that is a bad idea? I am interested in your input.

I also think I will read the Refuse to Regain book, sounds interesting and I like the blog.

Anonymous said...

I admire you for never giving up. I wrote you and email 2 years ago and you wrote me back and encouraged me with that saying. But you live it! You keep off 70 pounds and still never quit finding your healthy path. GOOD FOR YOU.

Karen said...


I'm not sure. You'll have to decide how much risk it is for you. Based on past history, there seems to be a clear cycle of going on/ off plans and eating templates.

For me , a boarderline blood pressure DX is a symptom that is an immediate cause for very quick and effective action for weight loss and BP control. Day of the diagnosis. My past had me working bedside in the critical care areas and ER. Better to make changes on your own before going down that road, IMO

Only you can decide but in a few weeks , so many things beyond your control can happen.

Lots of people wait a long, long time to take action.

It all boils down to personal choice , acceptable risk, priorities and boundaries. Typically, I think about it, sleep on it, and make a plan by the time I've had my first cup of coffee the next morning. If I haven't quite made the right decision, I'll re evaluate and make a new plan. I use both a data approach ( total data geek) and part gut feeling.

Good luck. I love that Refuse to Ragin book. That's how I got into Primal/ Paleo in the first place.

Lyn said...


blood pressure is 127/80 today, about what it's been since I cut out most sugar, grains, and caffeine. That made a HUGE difference!

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering how many of you count calories while eating Paleo/Primal?

Taryl said...

I find the Whole30 plan is useful for elimination, which I have done before, when allergy and inflammation symptoms are present. But the thing is you definitely have to stick to it hard core while you do it, or it's better to pick a different plan. Elimination diets are super useful for figuring out what you can and can't tolerate and in what quantities, but I still think maintaining is more flexible on a plan like the Perfect Health Diet ;).

Yeah, I couldn't resist propping that one again! I do all sorts of plans and hybrids, but for optimal health that one is still the MOST sensible and balanced I've found.

Taryl said...

Whole30 is great for elimination, definitely, but it takes doing it completely and just buckling down to toal strictness for the duration (not unlike Atkins induction). For maintenance I will keep propping the Perfect Health Diet to you, but for losing an elimination diet may help immensely with your triggers. I find them too hard to stick to for the long term unless the foods are ones that make you feel so terrible you refuse to consume them again (allergens, basically). But I have used elimination diets as a very helpful tool for figuring out my health issues and they may be handy for you, too.

Anna Down Under said...

If you're serious about doing Paleo, low carb, etc., then consider this - as this video demonstrates, the authors of these types of diet books are not thin and healthy themselves - why not if they follow their own diets? Whereas the authors of plant-based diet books like Neal Barnard, Joel Fuhrman, Caldwell Esselstyn and John McDougall DO follow their own diets and ARE lean and healthy. I know which diet I want to live on.

LHA said...

Lyn, your post and these comments are so interesting. I totally understand where the people who are urging you to not wait to start your Whole 30 are coming from. In fact, as I was reading your post I knew those type of comments would be there, telling you that there will always be another "excuse" to wait a while and that you should go for it now.

My view is a little different. I can sense your reluctance to go on another "diet" because you at times felt so deprived while you were following other plans strictly. I have had this reaction so many times after dieting strictly and I, for one, have given up that kind of restrictive eating forever. It has never helped me lose weight permanently and I have been dieting for decades! Severe restriction ALWAYS leads to weight gain for me, and I have had to accept that and lose weight without depriving myself, which can be done I have found.

So, I think there is something in you that is warning you to not go down the extreme restriction path, and if the Whole 30 sounds like that to you then maybe it will ultimately do you more harm than good. Maybe if you are just thinking of it as an elimination diet you won't feel as least that is one possible good outcome. These are just my thoughts. Whatever you choose, I know you are going to continue to fight your way to a healthy weight and life. Good luck!

Beth said...

Karen has made great points so I will just say that I agree with her and leave it at that.

Lyn said...


That's interesting. I didn't watch the video yet but will tonight. Thanks for sharing that info.

I wonder if something between the extremes is closer to ideal for me. Something like, a highly plant-based diet with some meats and healthy fats. The problem is the legumes. Are the legumes healthy ot unhealthy, good or bad? If you don't eat legumes it seems hard to eat a vegetarian diet and get enough protein. Especially if you cut out milk.


Yep, the only way I can consider it is as an elimination diet, a 30 day period to gather data that I can use to plan my 'forever' way of eating.

timothy said...

i checked out the info and ordered the book, from what i read it's actually VERY similar to what dr atkins was saying all the far as birthdays i'm trying to make my celebrations non-food related. how about a nice birthday hike, or a group zumba class. or have your friends do a 5k in the park, etc etc. there's ALWAYS a way!

Simply Chanelle... said...

Hi Lyn,
I can't even believe I am finally commenting here after reading your blog for so long but this post really compelled me to do so.

I am 22 and back when I was 16ish, I started getting sick. Long story short, I found through a show on Discovery Health that I had something called Cushing's disease. It almost ruined my life. I am naturally thin so I went from a 130-something dancer and cheerleader at my high school to pushing 190 (at my highest), sick, tired, and very very depressed (I urge you to google Cushing's disease to get a sense for what I was going through). That weight gain and those changes came in less than 6 month, also I lost 3 close people in my life, which didn't help. I thought I was just going crazy, but luckily (by the grace of God), I was persistant and found what the doctors couldn't find.
My illness took me through 2 brain surgeries, the NIH to be tested on, and I was put in a medical journal while I was still a teenager. I graduates with honors, still, but had to take a year off of school because the stress was so traumatic. After fighting so hard from my health, my brain tumors grew back and I decided to have my adrenal glands removed in 2010. I have to take medicine for the rest of my life, but in 6-8 months I went from 187 to 119 and am now stable between 120-125 and I am now Cushing's free and am managing the Addison's disease I got when my adrenals were removed.
By that time, being in the hospital had changed the entire trajectory of my young life and one hospital stay in particular led me to my passion to study nutrition. I was at Johns Hopkins and had just had my 1st surgery. I stayed on the Oncology floor because the teen floor was full. Every day I was surrounded by people with cancer, people that would die, most likely in that very hospital. I was fortunate enough to take with some of them and a common theme among them was that, while they accepted their health as it was, when they changed their diets (vegan, no sugar, no additives, etc), symptoms of their Cancer would disappear. Let me repeat: SYMPTOMS OF THEIR CANCER WOULD DISAPPEAR. That was so amazing to me!! I immediately changed my diet (it was pretty terrible since I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight before I got sick) and I studied all I could about food and two years later, I graduated from Community College, got accepted to two awesome schools in Virginia and am going in as a Junior and majoring in Dietetics.
Now, I needed to tell you all that because I read your blog the whole time. THrough all that! I remember being in the hospital and reading your struggles, your successes and hoping I could get better and lose weight. And now, I feel as if you are really getting closer to something good for you with the Whole30 and it seems as if you are putting cake before your own health. I am 22 and at 16 I put a poor diet and abuse of my high metabolism before my health and out of nowhere I got a horrible disease that changed me (albeit for the better, but I suffered a lot from it too). Please Lyn, don't postpone making an important change because you fell that you have to have cake on your birthday! I wear a medical alert bracelet and take 6-9 pills a day just to survive and to lower the high cholesterol I got from Cushing'. I know I am too young for that but as long as we are all living, we are all too young for joint pain and soreness (which I get sometimes too). My story may not make you change your mind, but not a day goes by that I don't think about those cancer patients who only caught on to eating to LIVE after they were told that they would die.


Lyn said...


Thank you so, so much for sharing your story. I am taking it to heart. You are an amazing and strong young woman and you will touch so many lives with your studies and practice in nutrition, I am sure of that! I hope you'll stay in touch and let me know how you're doing. Thank you again.

Simply Chanelle... said...

Thank you Lynn. I just wanted to add that I didn't want to come off harsh and I have read your posts after this one. I really do understand that it's hard and you are trying your best and I am proud of you! Keep doing what you're doing. I only shared my story because it often makes me think: if cancer patients can change their lives with proper nutrition, so can all of us. I have stopped reading most (if not all) of the blogs I used to read except for the nutrition ones, but yours... I have read for so long because you are so honest, your story is so compelling and you are fighting the fight that many people are too lazy to do or too defeated to do. Do what works for you and remember that you are impacting people, but most importantly your children. And if you give them a good example and a legacy of strength and perseverance to remember, you have done a service to the world they will live in when you're gone <3