Just like that, I’m already done with Week 3 of the Elimination Phase of my Nutrition Self-Experiment! If you’ve been following along, you know that I am planning on doing a full 30 days, which means I’m almost there! Week 3 was a really good progress week. The shifts in my health are becoming much more evident and I’m super excited to see what Week 4 will bring. You can read more about this below in the Elimination Week 3 Recap below. This week, I discuss the importance of lifestyle for wellness and my plan for going into Week 4.
If you are new here and want to get up to speed, check out the Introduction post to read more about the purpose, hypothesis, and general plan for my experiment. To get access to the first 14 Day Meal Plan and the Daily Journal template that I’m using, go back and check out my ‘Meal Plan’ post. Read the ‘Preparation’ post to learn more about how and why I chose the foods to eliminate for this experiment and download my AIP & Low FODMAP ‘YES’ Foods list!
Lifestyle for Wellness
There is so much more to improving overall wellness than just food and nutrition. Many other lifestyle factors play just as big of a role (if not more). I am talking specifically about sleep, stress, and movement. Any time you are looking at improving your overall wellbeing, addressing sleep, stress management, and movement is crucial. I have been incorporating these into my daily journal tracking to ensure that I am paying attention to these areas of my life. I’ll share a few of my tips and tools for improving these 3 areas.
I cannot stress enough the importance of sleep when it comes to health. I recently read Shawn Stevenson’s book, Sleep Smarter, and it really opened my eyes to the many ways that sleep impacts everything we do and feel. You cannot heal effectively without good quality sleep! There are some very practical tools in regards to sleep that are definitely worth implementing. Some of the key tools that I have been focusing on are: consistency of sleep time (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even weekends), the amount of sleep each night (aiming for 8-10 hours each night, depending on where you are in the healing process), getting morning sunlight, and creating a sleep sanctuary (cool & dark room, save your bed for only sex and sleep).
You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again. Learning how to manage stress in your daily life, as well as your perceptions of stress is crucial to total wellness. Stress isn’t going away anytime soon so you might as well learn ways to increase your body’s ability to tolerate it. Did you know that stress is most likely the greatest contributor to a leaky guy? So even if you eat all the right things and remove all the toxins (basically impossible anyway), you can still end up with a leaky gut if you don’t have your stress in check.
There are a million different ways to manage stress, but I have found a few key strategies that seem to span across most recommendations. Find time for mindfulness every day. Whether that is meditating, taking a quiet walk, or doing some yoga or mindful stretching, find time to turn inward and learn to be at peace with yourself. Schedule downtime. That’s right, schedule it! If you are a high-achiever, go-getter type, then it is necessary to schedule in the downtime because it is so easily overlooked as not as important. Use this time to do whatever feels relaxing and helps you to refill your cup. My third key for stress management is connection. Our communities, our tribe, our village, whatever you call them, these people support us and help us to recharge. Spend quality time with your loved ones regularly. You can even combine this with your scheduled downtime!
Regular movement, not necessarily exercise, is an essential “nutrient” for wellbeing. We all know that we weren’t designed to be the sedentary creatures that our 9-5 job has created. Finding ways to get up out of that chair and get moving will help everything in your body, from your lymphatic system to your digestive system. Depending on where you are in your healing process, this may include anything from dedicated exercise, using a standing desk, taking daily walks, or just getting up and stretching once every hour. Be aware that you can also overdo it with exercise to the point where it creates a negative stressor on your body. Tune in and listen to what your body is telling you, it’s your best guide.
I discussed reintroductions and the potential to reintroduce coconut milk and sweet potatoes in last week’s post. I decided to hold off during Week 3 and continue to observe my symptoms as they are progressing. The progress continues to move in the right direction and hasn’t stalled, so I may choose to not reintroduce coconut milk during Week 4. I will be holding off on sweet potatoes a little while longer, too.
While I am still occasionally experiencing cravings for a few foods, I am about 99% positive that they are emotional cravings and not nutritional cravings. Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to expanding my variety of foods after these 30 days, specifically with vegetables. The thing is, I am really satisfied with the results I am seeing and I would rather not disturb that process by reintroducing anything too soon. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of mindfulness and really tuning into your own body. There is no right or wrong way to do an elimination diet with reintroductions because every person is different. Your body will guide you every step of the way if you give it a chance.
Elimination Week 3 Recap
If you would like to see my daily journals from Week 3, you can access them by clicking the link below. Note, if you are leery about poop talk and other digestive symptoms, considered yourself warned. 😉
Days 15-18 I began to really notice improvements in the bloating. While it hasn’t gone away, it is on average less severe than before the elimination. I am also seeing it ebb and flow with mealtime, meaning that it is worse after a meal and then gradually improves until I eat again. This is a significant improvement from just constant 24/7 bloating.
No bowel movement on Day 17 led me to decide that I will stay at 3 tsp of Natural Calm Magnesium (ionic magnesium citrate) each night. Once I am having daily bowel movements that are consistently too loose, I will try backing down. Being able to eliminate waste is just too important during this healing process.
On Day 19 I experienced a very mild headache that could be attributed to a number of things (as is usually the case). My neck was bothering me, I might not have eaten enough, the air was fairly smokey, and my body may have been detoxing. The good news is that it never really escalated and I felt much better the next day.
Days 20 and 21 showed continued progress with the bloating and daily bowel movements.
In general, I felt like this week showed steady progress in the right direction. After implementing the daily magnesium I am seeing daily bowel movements that are pretty loose. Unfortunately, I can tell that I’m still constipated because the movements don’t necessarily feel complete. I will continue to monitor these and adjust the magnesium when I feel like it’s appropriate. I am also considering adding in a probiotic to help with the speed of digestion, maybe even at the end of Week 4. Still waiting on the stool test results.
This past week I noticed my body craving more sleep and I did my best to give it what it was asking for. I was able to increase my sleep average to 8.8 hours per night, reaching my goal from last week! The goal is to keep this up for Week 4. I was able to get some movement and mindfulness practice in every day. I’m also noticing that my swim workouts are feeling really good as I continue to feel better and get plenty of rest and nutrition! Lastly, I was able to enjoy a very relaxing weekend and spend time with great friends, which really helped to fill my cup.
Even with the limitations of an elimination protocol, I’m still finding a variety of ways to keep things fresh in the kitchen! Here are a few highlights of what I’ve been nourishing my body with:
Elimination Phase of Experiment:
September 1-30, 2017
Stay Tuned for updates as I continue into Week 4 of the elimination phase of my experiment!
Also, follow me on Instagram @marcelle.phene so you can view my story where I am posting pictures of everything I’m eating.
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If you would like help creating an elimination protocol, then Transformational Nutrition Coaching could help!
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I have saved a ton of money during this experiment by shopping at Thrive Market! This has been my favorite place to shop for real food pantry staples and non-toxic home and personal products for over 2 years! You can read my review of their service in a previous post. Think Costco + Whole Foods + delivered to your doorstep!
Ballantyne, Sarah. The Paleo Approach. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing Inc., 2013.
Sanfilippo, Diane. Practical Paleo, 2nd Edition. Canada: Victory Belt Publishing Inc., 2016.
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Disclaimer: The information in this post is not intended as medical advice, or to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. Marcelle encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research, and in partnership with your doctor, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist. The information provided in this post and the entire contents of www.marcellephene.com are based upon the opinions of Marcelle Phene and are for general educational purposes, and have not been reviewed nor approved by the FDA. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.