Today is the first day of the N=1 experiment, which is starting off with the JJ Virgin Elimination diet. Elimination diets are basically removing foods that may potentially be causing problems for you from your eating lifestyle. Over time you can “challenge” these foods to see how your body reacts to them. JJ Virgin, a nutritionist with some media history that has been making her way around the podcast universe the past few months, has put together just such a diet that I think creates a relatively simple plan to follow.
Even though her book on the topic has the gimmicky slogan “Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days” it’s not a gimmick diet. The premise is as simple as it could be. She has identified seven foods that are the most common sources of food sensitivities (not food allergies): soy, corn, gluten, dairy, eggs, peanuts and sugar/artificial sweeteners. The objective is to avoid all of these for a period of four weeks. Then, after the four weeks you “challenge” your system each week with just one of these foods for one meal a week. For example, after the four weeks of no eating, perhaps I’ll do a week of trying eggs. I’ll have an egg with breakfast but for no other meals one day. The next day I may have a salad with an egg yolk based dressing, et cetera. At the end of six weeks you can have tested each of these things. JJ recommends never re-incorporating some of these foods (like gluten) back into the diet as a main item. That is something we will have to see about as many of the diets that are being explored have this as a traditional ingredient.
By taking on this diet at the beginning of the experiment I can make sure that the results of one of the eating styles isn’t skewed by a general food sensitivity for a product very prominent in the diet. Going back to the eggs, if it turns out my system actually reacts adversely to eggs then an otherwise successful experience with the Paleo diet may turn out to be lackluster. Likewise if I turn out to be having problems with soy then a potentially successful vegatarian diet may be set back by the inclusion of tofu and other soy products.
While there are many that know they have some food sensitivity but don’t know which it is, there are many that JJ says didn’t think they had any problem at all when in fact they did. I believe I’m pretty in tune with my body and listen to symptoms of problems early on. I don’t take pain killers, sedatives, stimulants, gastrointestinal medicines of any kind to mask what is supposedly “regular” chronic conditions. I therefore curious how my body feels after the four weeks of the elimination diet. I have been eating a lot of garbage food the past few weeks so I’m expecting a pretty good shedding of retained water weight from a reduction of inflammation and other similar effects. Other than that I’m not sure what to be on the lookout for, however if it is a profound effect I imagine I will know it when I see it.