One of the most important parts of an elimination diet is planning. By planning and working ahead, your job will be easier and less time consuming the day of. This will result in healthier meals, less stress, more free time, and a greater chance that you will stick to the diet.
For me, there are 4 types of planning and preparation to do:
- Menu Plan
- Ferment Vegetables
- Make Broths and Soups
- Soak and Sprout bean, seeds, and grains
This is the big one. If nothing else, I strongly suggest you do this. An elimination diet is very restricting, so you need to think in advance about what you can and cannot eat. You don’t want to wait until you’re hungry to have to figure out if you can eat that hummus or not (you can’t). It doesn’t have to detail every bite you take. That is just too much prediction. You don’t know how you’ll feel. But get a general idea. For example, I picked out 4 smoothies to try during my smoothie fast and listed the ingredients it would take to make 1 batch of two of them and 2 batches of the other two. I figure 6 batches of smoothies that serve 2-4 should keep me going over two days and have leftovers for the next few days (we’ll find out!). Now I know what produce to buy right away for that.
For a more practical example, I picked an entrée for each meal during Phase 1. I have also started collecting ideas for future phases and challenges. This also gives me an idea of what I will need to buy (lots of rice, quinoa, carrots, and sunflower seeds!). The day of, each meal will get lots of veggies added to it and my snacks will consist of fruit and more veggies (unless I’ve specified a snack I want to make). If you haven’t meal planned before, start small. Plan for a few days or a week. Give yourself time to figure out how much you eat (maybe you don’t need to plan 14 lunches and dinners, only 12) and what you like from the okay list. You don’t want to find out you hate sweet potatoes and have to find alternatives for a months worth of sweet potato meals!
Not only will meal planning save time and make the diet easier to follow, but it has also helped me feel better about the restrictions. When I search through recipes, it can be disheartening to see all the things I can’t eat. But as I find ones I can, I create a list that beings to show me all the things I CAN eat and give me ideas for making my own meals. Seeing all my options laid out before me makes me feel confident that I can go weeks without my favorite foods.
Something that is very important for the healing process is probiotics – or good bacteria that are found in the gut. These can be ingested through products like yogurt (no dairy, shoot!), supplements (expensive!), or raw sauerkraut (gross!). Luckily, there is another option that I discovered. You can lacto-ferment ordinary vegetables to eat with salads, grains, or just to snack on and get your probiotics. Nourishing Meals has a really good tutorial on how to do this yourself with salt, filtered water, vegetables, and mason jars. However, depending on the climate, this takes at least 5-8 days, so you need to plan ahead when making them. I will be making 4 quart sized jars 7 days before I begin Phase 1, so they will be ready for me to eat! I then intend to make more whenever I finish a jar (remember to label!) so I have a constant supply. I plan to just do simple jars of carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower with simple spices like dill, basil, and pepper. But if you’re feeling creative, though, go crazy!
I’m saving broths and beans for future posts. Stay tuned!