How I Practice Gratitude And 5 Ways You Can Too

Building a health care company, especially one that’s radically shifting the way medicine is practiced in our country, comes with a lot of ups and downs. There are the hard moments when I need to make difficult decisions, and there are the big, rewarding, exciting moments when I can hardly believe my team and I are creating such an incredible company and changing the lives of so many people. For all of the moments, big, small, difficult, fun, proud, and downright humbling, I am grateful.

But why does gratitude matter? For me, it comes down to feeling more balanced, energized, focused and clear. When I change my expectations to appreciation, I automatically feel more empowered and in control.

There’s also research to back up the benefits of gratitude. In one study, gratitude predicted greater sleep quality and duration. Another study from the NIH even found that people who showed more gratitude overall had greater activity levels the hypothalamus, a region of the brain involved in everything from metabolism to emotions and sex drive.

But practicing gratitude doesn’t always come easy. After all, that’s why it’s called a practice. Over the years I’ve learned to practice gratitude in a few different ways. Here’s what works for me:

1.Start a gratitude journal.

Before you write this off as too woo woo, listen to this: When researchers asked a group of people to journal about either negative events or hassles, things for which they were grateful, or neutral life events over ten weeks, the group that expressed their gratitude reported greater wellbeing.They were more optimistic about the future, felt better about their lives and they even did almost 1.5 hours more exercise a week than those in the hassles or events condition.

  1. Spend time with loved ones.

The people you spend the most time with are the greatest reflection of who you are. (And their state of emotion actually rubs off on you, science confirms.) Do you choose people who lift you up? Give you strength? Inspire you? When I surround myself with these types of people, instead of ones who unintentionally pressure me into an inauthentic version of myself, I am reminded of just how much gratitude I have for them.

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  1. Do a body scan.

So much of our time is spent staring at screens, sitting down, and requiring constant stimulation from our external environment. A body scan is a way to connect back to your body and untether from the rest of the world. It’s a form of meditation that I like to use when I need a reminder of all the amazing things that my body can do, from healing itself to moving pain-free. Body scan meditations lead to a boost in happiness and lower anxiety when compared to a control condition.

  1. Get out into nature.

I love living in New York City and am truly grateful for all of the opportunities and amazing people that the city affords. But I’m most reminded of just how vast and incredible the world is when I’m in the quiet outdoors, observing natural beauty.

That’s why I try to head upstate and out of the city with my husband, son, and dogs whenever I have a free weekend. We spend time walking through the woods, playing tennis outside, gardening in the summer and breathing in the fresh country air. After just a few hours, I feel calmer and more grateful, and it’s not just in my head—spending time outside can actually lower the stress hormone cortisol, decrease sympathetic nervous activity, systolic blood pressure, and heart rate.

  1. Focus on contribution

Happiness and pleasure are not the same thing. Happiness isn’t taking something in, rather, it’s having something to give. Whether it’s donating to a cause you feel strongly about, volunteering your time to help others, doing a random good thing for someone without asking, voting if you’re lucky enough to live in a democracy, or just speaking out and making your voice heard, these acts can help you reflect on all of things you have to be grateful for. A one time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10 percent increase in happiness and 35 percent reduction in depressive symptoms, found research.

Your Skin Is A Reflection of Your Gut

I’ve had so many skin issues since my 20’s. I had perfect skin in high school when everyone else had acne. Then in medical school something drastically changed. I was already into yoga and eating healthy—or so I thought—and yet I developed cystic acne on my cheeks that wouldn’t go away.

I tried it all. The pill. Spironolactone. Retin A. Even cortisone injections directly into my zits. I had scars forming and thought my skin problems would would never go away.

Then I turned to functional medicine and did a 30-day elimination of gluten and dairy. After about two weeks my skin started clearing. I also started drinking more water and taking magnesium supplements to make sure my digestion was working properly. Four weeks in my acne was gone. No pills, no creams, no injections.

Where had my skin issues come from? Probably leaky gut (a.k.a. intestinal permeability) caused by high stress around a breakup and starting school. I might not have been allergic to those foods growing up, but I had become so.

If your skin is rough, dry, itchy, flaky, or breaking out, it may be your gut. So how can you heal your skin through your gut? Here is my 7-step approach—the same approach we use with our members at Parsley Health.

1. Nutrition
Food is medicine and food allergies and sensitivities are often the root cause of skin problems. At Parsley we prescribe specific elimination diets that remove common trigger foods like gluten, dairy, sugar, and nightshade vegetables. This elimination phase can take six or more weeks to start seeing a difference, so sticking with it is critical. Then we work with you to slowly add back in these foods to determine what may be triggering your skin issues.

2. Testing
Going beyond the basic testing that a typical primary care doctor or even dermatologist will do to assess the drivers of skin inflammation can be critical. There are a few tests I recommend if you’re suffering from skin problems.

  • SIBO testing: Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth—bacteria from the large intestine that gets trapped in the small intestine—can be a driver of rosacea, flushing, and even eczema and acne. One study showed that treating SIBO resolved rosacea in 85% of cases. A breath test prescribed by a doctor can assess if this is a problem for you.
  • Microbiome assessment for fungal overgrowth: This looks at different forms of yeast and imbalances in bacteria that studies show can drive conditions like acne and eczema.
  • Intestinal permeability: Leaky gut, a condition in which the tight junctions in your intestinal lining break apart, can cause harmful substances to enter your bloodstream, leading to inflammation that can cause and aggravate skin conditions like rosacea and eczema.
  • Hormone testing: Imbalances in hormones like cortisol, testosterone, DHEA-S, and estrogen are often ignored, but they could be a major contributor to skin conditions. Overproduction of testosterone, for instance, can trigger oil production on the skin which leads to acne.
  • Metabolism and blood sugar: Fasting insulin and HgBA1C are useful tests for assessing if poor metabolic management is driving your skin problems.
  • Food allergies and sensitivities: Allergies and sensitivities are not the same thing, so looking for both can often reveal triggers. In fact, people with celiac disease, or an intolerance to gluten, are three times more likely to have eczema.

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3. Supplements
Sometimes professional grade supplements are a core part of healing the gut. At Parsley Health, we have a unique gut healing protocol that includes probiotics, digestive enzymes, and herbal antimicrobials that help rebalance the gut. Research has found that probiotics in conjunction with antibiotics improved acne treatment while a combination of prebiotics and probiotics can prevent and treat eczema.

4. Medications
Sometimes medications can help combat conditions like acne alongside diet and supplements. I sometimes use antifungals to reduce yeast overgrowth and antibiotics to treat SIBO if my patients have long-standing, hard to treat GI imbalances.

5. Movement
Sweating is one of our primary detoxification mechanisms. Exercise also stimulates movement in the GI tract, aiding in digestion. If you’re not getting in activity or you’re constipated, it you could be contributing to your skin problems.

6. Mental health and relaxation
Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol and catecholamines (things like norepinephrine) from the adrenal glands, which can exacerbate and trigger skin conditions like psoriasis, acne, and eczema. I recommend a daily meditation practice to every patient, like this one from Parsley Health’s 5 Day Reset.

7. Support
Making big changes to diet and lifestyle can be difficult to implement on your own, so having the help of a health coach or doctor is key. I see so many patients at Parsley Health who have been through it all, seeing different types of practitioners and doctors who offered a quick fix that didn’t work. Truly healing the skin through the gut takes time. When it comes to sticking to any plan, people who have a support system and expert guidance do better.

I wish I had already trained in the functional approach to health when I was in med school. It would have saved me time and so much frustration and devastation about my skin issues to skip the thousands of dollars I spent on dermatologists, facials, creams, pills and makeup trying to fix the problem from the outside, when the solution was on the inside.

Our bodies are an interconnected ecosystem. I recommend finding a provider who can look at the whole picture if you’re dealing with skin issues like I did.

How Parsley Health Is Changing Modern Medicine

I couldn’t be more proud of my new medical practice Parsley Health. Two years ago I started this company with the dream of transforming modern healthcare and creating a radically new kind of medicine, one that worked as seamlessly as your iPhone and treated the root cause of your problems with food, meditation, next-level testing and cutting edge diagnostics.  

Today Parsley Health truly is the next level of primary care. Our focus is on your health and well-being as much as it is on curing disease and treating problems. We now operate in three cities and treat thousands of patients. We have six doctors and seven health coaches and an incredible team dedicated to helping you live a healthier life.

Who We Are

We’re  a new kind of medical practice, one that gives you access to top doctors who provide you a personalized plan for food, supplements, exercise, stress reduction and medications, and where you get cutting-edge testing from genetics and hormones to your microbiome.

We integrate lifestyle, nutrition, and wellness into mainstream primary care through an annual health membership. Our top board certified MDs spend the time to get to know you and your life story, use state-of-the-art testing to individualize your plan, and prescribe nutrition supplements and lifestyle change as much as medications to help you thrive.

 

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How It Works

  • Our doctors and health coaches take the time to know you and your individual story.  
  • We thoughtfully use state of the art diagnostic tests to determine the root cause of what’s bothering you.
  • Together we curate the best possible medical, nutrition and fitness plan for you. The result is you’re happy, well and in control of your own health.

Parsley Health Members See Results

  • Parsley Health members are prescribed 60% fewer prescription drugs vs. traditional primary care because our doctors spend the time getting to the root cause of a patient’s medical issue rather than Band-Aiding symptoms with a drug.
  • The annual membership includes over 250 minutes with your doctor each year vs. the 19 minutes the average American spends with their traditional GP each year.
  • Our members see fewer visits to specialists, urgent care, and hospitals.
  • Our members save tens of thousands of dollars by stopping unnecessary medications, reversing chronic diseases, and preventing problems down the road.

What Does Parsley Health Membership Include?

  • 200+ minutes with your doctor each year
  • 5 visits with your doctor totalling over 200 minutes per year one-on-one
  • 24 health sessions with your expert health coach
  • Unlimited rounds of state of the art testing*
  • A personalized plan for testing, nutrition, fitness, and medications
  • Optional virtual visits via video, or see us in person
  • Unlimited online messages with your doctor and coach for questions & refills

Why I Started Parsley Health—A Radically Different Medical Practice

We hear a lot about how US medicine is broken, from how much we spend annually ($4 trillion) for unimpressive outcomes, to the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes, to problematic financial models, to the growing malaise amongst doctors.

Across US health care, a lot of smart people are crafting solutions to these problems, but in my view the reality is that many of them are generating efficiencies on top of a broken product.

The real problem is that conventional primary care as it’s practiced today no longer serves the needs of most people, be they wealthy or under-served, be they patient or provider.

I am started Parsley Health, a new kind of medical practice that directly addresses these problems, first by providing something called Functional Medicine rather than traditional primary care, and second by providing functional medicine in a tech driven, modern and affordable way.

What is Functional Medicine?

I became a functional medicine doctor because early on I recognized two major limitations of the conventional medicine.

First conventional medicine does not effectively address the fact that most individuals’ health is determined by three things: day-to-day behavior; access to health-defining resources like unprocessed food and regular exercise; and how lifestyle choices affect the body, about which education levels are  shockingly low amongst all socioeconomic demographics.

Second, conventional medicine is overly reliant on drugs that suppress symptoms but do not address the underlying cause of disease. Your insomnia, for example, isn’t due to an Ambien deficiency, but a conventional doctor doesn’t have the time, the resources or the training to educate you and support you in addressing the multifactorial reasons you can’t sleep, so you’re given a drug like Ambien, which is addictive and has multiple problematic side effects.

Functional medicine is an approach to the practice of medicine that better suits the needs and challenges of the 21st century individual because it addresses the root cause of disease, and seeks to understand the multiple upstream factors that determine a person’s health, including personal history, genetics, current lifestyle, environment, and mental and emotional factors.

Functional medicine’s toolkit is also much broader. It takes advantage of best practices from all over the world, including diet and lifestyle modification, stress management, detoxification, supplements and botanical medicines, and when necessary, prescription drugs.

Functional medicine works because its providers spend meaningful time with patients–often visits are 60+ minutes–which allows them to create authentic two-way therapeutic relationships and to provide the level of education and support that most patients today need in order to make meaningful lifestyle changes.

Functional medicine has earned greater acceptance across the medical establishment, most notably with this October’s opening of the Cleveland Clinic’s new Center for Functional Medicine. But today functional medicine is still not available to most Americans.

Parsley Health’s goals are to provide functional medicine to mainstream Americans, thereby lowering the chronic disease burden, lowering health care costs, improving the happiness of doctors, and improving the user experience in health care for more people.

Parsley achieves these goals in four specific ways. First, by providing its services through a direct-primary care based membership model, meaning patients pay a monthly subscription fee. Parsley Health is making functional medicine accessible to many more people than before, while still avoiding the limitations of accepting insurance, which stifles doctors’ ability to offer new models of care delivery.

Second,  Parsley offers unlimited health coaching services. Health coaches are critical members of the functional medicine team because of the importance of education and personal support to the success of patients who would otherwise struggle to make and maintain lifestyle change.

Third, by providing functional medicine through a digital technology-driven services platform, Parsley is able to make health care more efficient, modern and enjoyable for both patients and providers. From backend office services, to patient access to all labs, notes and health care data, to tracking outcomes in real time, technology is the backbone of Parsley’s practice.

Fourth, Parsley saves money in two ways. One, it largely reverses and prevents chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, asthma, autoimmune disease and even dementia, which account for more than 75% of health care costs. Two, as an alternative to an employee wellness program, Parsley can save employers money through improved productivity and lower insurance premiums.

Parsley Health is ultimately a new hybrid model of health care that combines the functional medicine approach that makes more sense for patients of all walks of life, with new care delivery models that both increase access to better medicine for more people, and that let doctors practice the kind of medicine that makes them feel good too. Parsley opened in February in New York City, and I invite you to find out more at parsleyhealth.com.

(Originally posted on The Health Care Blog)

The Secret to Perfect Happiness

I just got back from a trip to Bhutan, a small Himalayan country located between Nepal, India and Tibet. Bhutan is ruled by a beloved 5th generation monarchy, that aims to preserve their unique culture while still cultivating happiness. In fact the country builds their foundation on Gross National Happiness, not Product.

And despite the evolutions of the modern world, all new architecture in Bhutan must be built in traditional Bhutanese style. There is a 100% tax on any car importation to help keep traffic congestion at a minimum, and there is a cap on import of cigarettes for personal use. If you travel to Bhutan as an outsider, you are not permitted to roam free. Every westerner must be accompanied by a government sanctioned guide.

This is not how my husband and I usually like to travel. As a New Yorker, my husband likes to be in command of his destiny. He’s also really into food and researches any restaurant well in advance. A bad meal is just poor planning, and dinner is almost always a destination or event. We are very active, making the most out of every minute, and we are prepared to turn on a dime if things aren’t what we want them to be. Like many Americans, we are pretty good at shaping our desires into reality.

But then we got to Bhutan, and had to throw all of our typical travel expectations out the window.

The Food

In Bhutan, the meals were all pre-set meaning, you didn’t order from a menu. Every lunch and dinner was the same: plain white rice, sautéed veggies in oyster sauce, and mystery chicken stew. The few nights we finished dinner in fifteen minutes, from start to finish. We weren’t drinking alcohol, so there was no reason to hang out in the hotel restaurant. We usually arrived at dinner hungry and looking forward to eating, but the seemingly rushed experience sent us back to our room, feeling disappointed.

The Schedule

We usually ran out of things to do and see by around 4pm every day. We hiked and saw temples and evidently, seem to walk around faster than the average tourist. In one small town, we found ourselves with the choice between sitting in our room, or wandering a riverbank amongst a herd of cows, with trucks roaring nearby. So we ended up back in our room.

The Activities

We are not great site-seers. We like to experience a place like the locals do eating the food, meeting people and experiencing the customs. We also prefer to be in nature more than cities to escape the hustle and bustle of life in NYC.

But this is not what Bhutanese tour guides have in store for you. They show you every temple, dzong (fort) and official site, including the capital’s zoo, complete with every official national animal like the legendary cross between a cow and goat.

So what happened?

We initially met the above realities head on with straight up western resistance. At one point we insisted that we spend two of our days trekking and hiking instead of temple hopping, with hopes this would expend our energy. But otherwise we were locked into the itinerary that was set for us.

And then, something incredible happened. We adjusted. Without fifty plus choices about everything we ate and did, and without a packed schedule filling every minute, the space to just be took over, and started to feel strangely natural.

We watched movies on the computer in bed every night, something we never have time or make time to do at home. We traded the iPad back and forth and read, or found books left behind in the hotels and read those. We came to appreciate reading things we never would have chosen in the store.

We went to bed early and got up early, falling into the natural rhythm of the place. We started appreciating the nuances of the food, the variations in the flavor of the sauce or the way the vegetables were cooked, or the unexpected presence of greens. Gluten- and dairy-free were mostly out the window for the week, and we stopped caring that our small meals weren’t always enough to satisfy our hunger.

We took a traditional Bhutanese hot stone medicinal bath, and stayed sitting in the water filled with camphor leaves for the full 45 minutes, completely content with no rush to get out.

Our communication with each other even got better. We both have a tendency to become fixated on work, and logistics of day-to-day life like the dog and the house can become rocks that weigh down the energy of our conversation. We got more expansive and present, and made each other laugh over small things. The social media moratorium helped too.

By the time our last day came, we were sad to leave. At first we had actually wondered if the trip was going to be too long! We felt so clear, calm and grateful.

Bhutan is unlike anywhere else in the world. What appears uniform is, I think, a lack of choice that fuels the national happiness quotient they often talk about. Everyone we met, from old women working in the fields to barefoot monks and tour guides, greeted us and each other with huge smiles. They may not have everything, but they mostly have what they need, and we by extension got to experience what we needed too.

I realized that I don’t need some of the things I thought I did to be happy. I don’t need to go to yoga class, or have my meals always be delicious and balanced, or to always make the most of every minute of the day.

I don’t need endless choices, or the pressure to always make the best choice.

What I do need is to go to bed early and wake up early. I need to laugh with my husband about nothing. I need simple, clean and satiating food. I need time away from computer screens and to spend a good part of my day moving my body. I need to be out in nature.

Thank you Bhutan for helping me see these things. I wouldn’t have asked for them otherwise, but sometimes in life you get what you need, not what you want. This is the secret to perfect happiness.

My 5-Step Natural Glowing Skin Care Routine

Travel is rough on the skin and I am living in six different cities this fall, from Jaipur to London to Berlin. I’ve found myself breaking out more than usual, partly because on the road it’s harder for me to completely stay away from my triggers (gluten and dairy) but also because so many changes and flights create a lot of stress for the body’s largest organ.

Luckily, I had lunch recently with my friend the incredible London-based singer and artist Alexis Mercedes, whose skin literally glows from a mile a way. She hooked me up with her regimen. I’ve already used it a few times and I’m obsessed.

Step One:

Cleanse twice daily with a mix of 65% organic coconut oil, 30% organic castor oil and 5% avocado oil with 5 drops of essential oil of frankincense. Massage the mixture into the face for a full 2 minutes and then wipe off with a warm wet towel, letting the towel sit on the skin for 30 seconds or so to open the pores.

Note if your skin is dry, go easy on the castor oil as it is very drying to the skin.

Step Two:

Exfoliate with a mixture of organic wild flower honey and brown sugar – be gentle or skip this step if you have sensitive skin. Wash off with a warm towel.

Step Three:

Spray the face with rose water toner. It smells amazing and is cooling and anti-inflammatory

Step Four:

Hydrate your skin with your favorite natural moisturizer. I like mixing three drops of Sunshine Botanicals’ Essential Fatty Acid formula with 2-3 squirts of their Essential Hydrating Fluid. Their products were designed by the wife of a master herbalist. Everything is 100% non-toxic and formulated to heal the skin.

Since chatting with Alexis I have been adding 2 drops of frankincense essential oil to my moisturizer combo too!

Step Five:

This one is my tip! Stay hydrated with a lot of room temperature water with fresh lemon juice squeezed in every day.

If you try this regimen let me know how it goes!

Success is a Long Game

I really love this video about success. The greatest achievers in history all faced set backs, tough years, and big questions, but they played the long game and for that reason they have gone down in the history books, from Leonardo Da Vinci to Tiger Woods.

The same applies to health. You may face set backs but if you play the long game and invest in your health every day you will see the big payoff: strength, vitality, energy, calm, clarity and happiness.

delvevideo:

All of history’s greatest figures achieved success in almost exactly the same way. But rather than celebrating this part of the creative process we ignore it.

This missing chapter in the story of success reveals the secret to doing meaningful work. But in the modern world, full of distraction, do we have what it takes to do great things?

The second in a two-part series about creativity.

Part One: Why Leonardo daVinci was no genius (and what means for the rest of us)

Reblog from #MoveYourBooty

moveyourbooty:

Great things come to those who feel the fear…and do it anyway. Highfives all around to all the newbies today @soulcycle!! Amazing work everyone and huge thanks to @chrissiehoops!! We MYB better when we MYB together!! #MYBx22 / on Instagram http://ift.tt/1e89YYp

Yup that’s me on the left! I survived Soul Cycle and haven’t sweat that hard in way too long. I am more of a yoga girl but tonight was a blast. Thanks Emily and the MYB crew for inviting me along! Sometimes you need a little good peer pressure – I never would have gone on my own.

The Simple Elimination Diet That Could Change Your Life

You may not realize it, but the foods you are eating every day could be slowly corrupting your health and shortening your lifespan. But how do you know? For many people, the foods that are toxic are hard to pick out, especially for those who have already cleaned up their diets and feel like they are eating healthy.

For example, I recently saw a patient who came in because she had gotten a facial and was told she had “allergy skin.” The slight redness and tiny bumps on her cheeks were more noticeable to her than anybody else, but they were definitely there. She had already gone mostly gluten free, was a trained health coach, and had an overall very healthy diet. But after talking to her more it was clear that she had signs and symptoms of system-wide inflammation, from needing allergy shots for dust and mold to having gas and bloating that were only soothed by taking digestive enzymes.

This patient had already done a lot of the hard work to solving her issues, but it was clear to me that she still had leaky gut, which is the underlying cause of lots of many people’s allergies and inflammation. She came in because she wanted food allergy testing. She left with an elimination diet. Here’s why.

Testing can be illuminating, but the gold standard, meaning “the last word”, in figuring out if foods are causing inflammation, contributing to leaky gut, and worsening the symptoms of all kinds of diseases from autoimmune conditions like Lupus, to irritable bowel to acne, is to cut out those foods for about a month and see how you feel when you reintroduce them.

I actually recommend that everyone do an elimination diet at least once for three reasons. First, not only does it not hurt, it can give you valuable information about foods you are eating that are making you sick. If your skin is breaking out, imagine what the inflammation looks like on the inside of your body!

Second, you may see improvements you didn’t know you needed. My friend recently went gluten free as an experiment. Before he did it he felt “fine” – no terrible issues with digestion or skin, no depression or irritability. The only health issue he had was bad seasonal allergies that weren’t bothering him now in the wintertime. But, he cut gluten out just to see what happened, and he noticed it improved his energy level, his overall mood, and his sense of mental sharpness, even in the darkest month of the year. Now he is wondering what his allergy season will look like this spring!

Third, just by doing an elimination diet you can start the process of healing leaky gut. In and of itself it is an intervention and a powerful one.

So how do you do it and not make it complicated? Here is my easy step by step plan for doing your own elimination diet. Consider it a risk free experiment. You might be surprised what you learn!

1. Take stock.

It’s hard to know where you are going unless you know where you are. Do you have skin issues? Digestive issues like gas, bloating, or intermittent constipation? Bad allergies? How is your energy, mood and cognition? Do you feel like you suffer from brain fog? These are just some potential symptoms of food allergies. So before you start the diet, make a list of everything you notice in your body going from head to toe, however subtle or however long the symptom has been going on. This sets you up to notice important changes when they happen.

2. Eliminate the Frequent Offenders

The basic elimination diet is a simple as this:  

No gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, processed or fast food, or alcohol for 23 days.

Why 23 Days?

Antibodies, which are the proteins that your immune system makes when it reacts to foods, take around 21 to 23 days to turn over, so if you don’t quit things you are sensitive to for at least that time, you won’t get the full effect of eliminating them.

Why Booze?

Eliminating alcohol is partly for the detox factor. But alcohol also has a lot of sugar that helps things like yeast and the bad bacteria in your gut thrive. So when you eliminate alcohol you may feel better in a few weeks, not just because of the absence of a sleep disruptor and a depressant in your life, but because you have actually changed the flora in your gut that are critical to keeping you healthy!

If not drinking alcohol for three weeks feels like it’s going to do you in, be honest about that and still do the diet, allowing yourself a weekly vodka or tequila if you must.

3. Cr&*#!p What DO I Eat?

If this is your reaction do not freak out! You can do this. The diet does require a little grocery shopping and taking a few extra minutes a day to prepare food. We’re all habituated to fast food, easy prep, and taking two seconds max to round up and scarf down a meal. The problem is that typically food that can be prepared and consumed this way makes us sick over time.

New habits take 21 days to form, so the yogis say, which is also why we’re doing a 23 day elimination diet! We want these new habits to die hard.

4. But literally, What do I eat?

  • 30% “clean” protein, ie organic, hormone-free, grass fed, happy, lean beef, chicken and fish.

  • 70% vegetables, legumes (think beans and lentils), nuts and seeds, seaweeds, and gluten-free grains like quinoa.

See it’s that simple!

5. Helpful pointers on what to eat and what to avoid:

  • Watch out for oats they almost always have gluten!

  • Eating fish is great, but watch out for fish on the NRDC’s high mercury list like tuna and swordfish.

  • DO eat lots of fiber, fresh whole foods, and unprocessed meals you make yourself.

  • DO eat lots of healthy fats like olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, sunflower oil, flax oil, walnut oil, and avocados.

  • Do NOT eat processed health bars if possible. They often have 15+ grams of sugar. If you need them for an emergency snack, the kinds I like are Go Raw pumpkin bars and Kind’s “Nuts and Spices” variety, because they are very low in sugar.

  • Do NOT carbo load on gluten free breads and cereals and crackers etc. Totally cool to eat some of this stuff, like a gluten-free, non-corn-based cereal if you need a breakfast alternative, but in an ideal world you’re not just replacing a lot of refined carbs with a lot of gluten free refined carbs.

  • What’s up with soy? Non-GMO organic soy that has been fermented, ie tempeh and miso, can be a great source of plant-based protein in the long run. But some people are sensitive to soy and benefit from eliminating it. For the diet, avoid soy milk, tofu, edamame and also fermented soy like tempeh.

  • What’s up with night shades? Night shades are a family of veggies that include white potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. Unless you already have a strong suspicion that these are a problem for you, I usually suggest eliminating these as a group another time, and keeping your round one elimination diet as basic simple as possible.

  • What if I need to lose weight or I’m diabetic? Same diet. Your metabolism should rev up on this diet after a week or two if not immediately. But that isn’t an invitation to gorge. If you’re overweight be mindful of your portion sizes, especially with nuts and nut butters. If you’re diabetic, be aware that high sugar foods like grapes and winter squash might be a problem.

6. How do I reintroduce foods the right way?

This is also much simpler than people make it out to be. On day 24 of the diet, pick one thing you eliminated – like gluten, OR dairy, OR eggs – but not more than one, and eat it.

See how you feel over the next 48 hours. If you have no reaction after two days, eat that same food again, and for a second time, notice how you feel. From there it’s up to you whether to re-incorporate that food into your diet on a regular basis or not.

Once you’ve made a call on the first food you reintroduce, pick another one and follow the same steps.

7. This all works best when you pay attention to you.

Throughout the diet and the reintroduction process take notice of how you feel. Maybe you will have reactions you weren’t looking for. Maybe your sleep quality or your energy level is better. Maybe you’re less prone to redness in your skin. Maybe your belly is flatter.

No blood test can tell you what actually experiencing life without a particular food will be like. When you find out for yourself, you could be saving yourself a lifetime of inflammation, annoying symptoms, and in some cases, even the kinds of life threatening diseases that inflammation promotes, including cancer. And at the least, it’s an easy, simple and great way to get to know your body better.