Ditch Your Nutritionist
Try saying that three times fast! ;)
I had the unique pleasure and honor to participate with Anne Marie and James Garland from Grass Fed Salsa in a live "hosting" of sorts of their upcoming e-course that is designed to help people find food freedom. This program is called Body By Butter, and it is so. freaking. COOL.
These two are friends of mine who co-own Grass Fed Salsa, a health, food, and wellness website with a preventative approach to longevity. They are both certified Integrative Health coaches through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The two of them are extremely passionate about helping others regulate their hormones and identify unique food sensitivities to achieve this. Each of them have had health issues in the past that they cured through the Ditch Your Nutritionist template, and I'm so thrilled that they've finally written out how to do it so that others can reap those rewards, too.
The next few sections elaborate a bit more on how the program works and some of my own experiences as a participant. Feel free to read my thoughts or even check out the Ditch Your Nutritionist info and sign-up page to learn more about what this program entails!
Phase 1: Elimination
This is the part that usually turns people off. In my opinion, though, it actually allows more food freedom because Anne Marie and James really do encourage creativity with your recipes within the scope of foods they want you to focus on eating. But if being creative with new guidelines on what to eat frightens you, they also send an in-depth meal plan every week and are great about getting back to you on ways to change it up if you don't like something on the grocery list. And, as always, try to look at all of the weird new veggies you've never tried before. I like to buy a new one each week so I learn more about how to cook things. Test out a new cut of meat you just haven't gotten yourself to purchase before. Go to a farmer's market. Have fun exploring this new, whole-foods-centered eating plan for 3 weeks. That's it. 3 weeks.
This length of time was chosen for a whole bunch of science-y reasons, but the biggest of which is the fact that your body tends to have fully cleansed itself of the major allergens that are eliminated on this program after 3 weeks. And you're not to fret! The things that are avoided for a little while are added back in on a very well-thought-out schedule in the next section.
Phase 2: Reintroduction
Here is where it gets interesting. Many people don't realize the foods that are making them feel bad, because we don't give our bodies enough time to relax from the fight they're putting up against those allergens. So, when you follow the reintroduction schedule as advised by Anne Marie and James, you very well may be shocked at what you discover.
Case and point: My own experience on this program was one I was not expecting. After realizing I was experiencing hormonal imbalance due to not eating enough on the program (totally unintentional!), I worked with Anne Marie to fix that issue. The two weeks following, my bloating disappeared and my acne cleared up like it never has before. I've always had terrible acne. It improved when I went paleo, but never fully went away and I still experienced some flare-ups pretty regularly. Up to this point, I had blamed dairy and sugar consumption imbalance for my issues with it. I had indulged over the holidays, as we all do, so I figured I was just experiencing general thankfulness from my body for eating better again.
When the time came to reintroduce dairy, I was convinced I needed to prepare the makeup for that time period. However, absolutely nothing happened on the days I ate it. This program even does a great job of giving you several days to focus on one food group to make sure you can notice any delayed responses before adding something else back in. But if anything, my skin improved with the addition of some cheese and keifer! I was completely shocked, but also nervous to see what is the cause of my flare-ups, as I had a strong feeling I knew what it was. I have done elimination on the Whole 30 program before, which is very similar to Ditch Your Nutritionist in a lot of ways. But the only thing I had never eliminated before was...
Oh. No. OH. NO. OH NO OH NO OH NO! I have a love affair with these things. The yolks are nature's multivitamin and they are such a price-savvy way to get a plate of protein in front of you at a meal. But, lo and behold, the days I began to reincorporate eggs brought a raging acne storm. When I cut them back out, it went away.
At this point, I had gotten used to not eating eggs as a main protein once a day (as I have pretty much since transitioning to paleo) but dang, there are SO MANY recipes that use them! Keep in mind that this is me being a little crybaby about not wanting to face change. I realize that my situation could be a lot worse and I have also been compensating a little bit by eating some cheese because uh hello, cheese. I've also added grass-fed, organic kefir back into my diet for the variety of probiotic benefits at times.
Anyway, my way of combating this discovery was to then blame the egg whites. Often, when you're allergic to a food, it's actually the proteins in the food causing the reaction. So Anne Marie suggested that I try to just eat yolks and test their effects on my flares. The yolks have not had any effect on acne returning to my face, which I'm extremely happy about. So, these have been reincorporated successfully into my regular diet.
I had no interest in some of the reincorporations, such as gluten-containing grains and soy, because I already know their effects on me. Gluten = hangover without the fun night before, soy = too many bathroom trips. However, I did add in a test of my own on a protein bar brand that I LOVE that isn't exactly paleo, and I got lucky there! No ill effects have been noted, so I've been able to happily reincorporate them back into my diet, usually as a post-workout snack.
Phase 3: Customization
I've dipped into this section a little already by sharing my own experience, but basically this is where participants in the Ditch Your Nutritionist course get to take what they've learned about their bodies and sensitivities and learn how to find a diet that's right for them. A huge premise behind this plan is to avoid the foods that give you noticeable trouble, while learning how often (if at all) you want to add back in the other common allergens to your daily "normal." The biggest goal of Ditch Your Nutritionist is to make the participants keenly aware of their body and to use what they learned in the first two phases to make more-educated food choices that will promote health and longevity better than those being made when the participants began.
This mindset, in my opinion, is the best way to seek long-term dietary change. Some people love choosing strict paleo or other eating plans to help them stay on track, but others just don't see the point in it. Both are completely fine approaches. This program finds a great balance by eliminating food allergens so that you actually learn how to listen to your body, and THEN lets you add things back in on a calculated schedule to see what might be bothering you. Oftentimes, the things you're bothered by are also causing hormonal issues, weight loss trouble, brain fog, and other symptoms you may not have realized without eliminating that food for a time. This teaches you how to be better in tune with yourself and know how you want to set up eating plans for your personal goals and feelings in the future. This program acknowledges that there is definitely not a one-size-fits-all "diet" or "food allergy plan," and I am so happy that is the approach that's taken. There's no judgement. No trying to convince you how to eat once you've entered the last phase. Just simple, guided knowledge to help you learn how to take your own body and fuel it in the way that makes YOU feel best and operate on your A-game. And isn't that all anyone can really want in life?
I am still following my modified Phase 3 of the Ditch Your Nutritionist protocol three months after finishing the first two sections. Obviously, I will be biased because this program worked for me. But the reason I truly think anyone can (and should) give it a try is because of the customization aspect of this Protocol. Anne and James really understand that each person's unique body functions differently and have worked that inherently into the e-course. I considered myself pretty in tune with my body before the course, but I learned so much more throughout it and can now apply that to my daily life so I can function and perform better. To them, the word "diet" just means what you eat, not some crazy fad that works for a few weeks and then fizzles out. If you're looking to "ditch your nutritionist and design your own perfectly personalized diet," this is the program for you.