Using Data to Monitor Your Health: What I Learnt From A Medical Trial

Using Data to Monitor Your Health: What I Learnt From A Medical Trial

It’s no secret that I’m fascinated by health monitoring and the increasingly amazing options for tracking our health and fitness that are coming about thanks to new tech.

Over two and a half years ago, I watched an episode of BBC Horizon called Monitor Me, which I think was a cataylst for my curiosity.

Since then, I have tried things like tracking my nutrient intake with MyFitnessPal and recording my activity and workouts with fitness trackers, but as I mentioned in my article on wearable tech, I struggle to find the value in using any devices over an extended period of time.

I think part of the reason that I was so fascinated by Monitor Me, was that everyone featured on the show was recording their data for really specific purposes; they knew what they were looking for in their data and they had a specific outcome in mind, be it weight-loss or better sporting performance. Plus, they were working with professionals in their field.

This kind of structure is something that I’ve lacked so far when toying with health and fitness tech, simply because I haven’t needed it.

Now, that has changed.

I’ve pushed my interest a little further and got involved with a clinical trial to see if self-monitoring can have a direct, positive effect on health.

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The Problem of Body Shaming + Why It Affects Me

The Problem of Body Shaming + Why It Affects Me

I’m writing this article because I feel like I have something important to say. Rather than writing about training, nutrition, physiology or fitness kit, I am going to write about something equally important, which is body image and wellbeing.

I know that this might be considered controversial, but I have a few things that need to be said.

Please know that none of this is aimed at any one of you lovely lot reading this. I’m not out to make accusations or make anyone feel bad, but I’m also not someone to beat around the bush on important matters.

So here goes...
 

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Are Fitness Trackers a Waste of Money?

Are Fitness Trackers a Waste of Money?

I’m super fascinated by health monitoring. I love the quantified self movement. I love that there is an ever evolving arm of science and technology that can help us to get a better handle on the state of our health.

Yet, I’ve never been enamoured by fitness trackers.

In fact, I would go as far as to say I am sick of fitness trackers, having acquired and forgotten about at least half a dozen already. 

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Are Fitness + Diet DNA Tests Worth The Investment?

Are Fitness + Diet DNA Tests Worth The Investment?

When I find heard that DNA fitness and diet testing had emerged on the consumer market, I was 100% fascinated. I loved the concept of a plan based on my unique DNA. 

As you will likely have read, I have taken tests based on blood samples, but unlike DNA, these are fluid and changeable, where your DNA is fixed. I like this idea and it made me think that DNA testing could be more useful in the long-term. 

I was keen to know what my DNA could tell me, and whether it could help me further improve my health through fitness and diet. 

Has this feeling stuck around after speaking to some experts and trying a couple of DNA fitness tests for myself? Read on to find out...

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Detox Your Home: Ingredients to Avoid + Brands to Use

Detox Home Cleaning Brands

I’ve used non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products on and off, but having recently moved into my own place in London, I decided to go all-out and use ‘clean’ cleaning products across the board in an attempt to make my little home healthier.

An alarmingly high number of people don’t realise that cleaning products are ‘dirty’ and that we are ironically using poisons (no exaggeration here) to make our homes ‘healthier’.

Clean eating has caught on. Clean, natural skincare has caught on. Finally, ‘clean’ cleaning is becoming more mainstream too - and without you having to cover your bathroom in vinegar and baking soda to make it shine.

The Impact of Dirty Cleaning Products

Typically, natural and organic cleaning products have been promoted as alternatives that will save the environment. This is definitely the case - some cleaners have terrifying effects on the environment and animals within it. But, have you ever thought about the impact that they have on you, too?

The effects of different ingredients on your body (and the environment) vary from one to the other.

To give a brief overview, some ‘dirty’ ingredients can cause mild skin irritation, while others have been linked to antibiotic resistance concerns and hormone disruption.

Research by the US Environmental Protection Agency puts this into perspective:

“EPA studies have found that the concentration of organic pollutants is 2–5 times higher inside homes than outdoors in cities. Many of these organic pollutants can come from conventional cleaning products, spread in thin layers around the surfaces of the home.”

Method Non-Toxic Cleaning Products

Dirty Ingredients to Avoid

There are a large number of ingredients that have a variety of proven or suspected links to health problems. Here are just a few that really stood out to me:

Triclosan

This ingredient is used in products such as toothpaste, hand wash and body wash. It has suspected links with antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption and, as it accumulates in the body, it can even be present in breast milk.

2-Butoxyethanol

This ingredient goes by many other names. It is used in many cleaning products (as a degreaser) and can also appear in liquid soaps and cosmetics. It is an irritant, harmful by inhalation and linked to organ toxicity.

Ethanolamine

Often abbreviated at ETA or MEA, this ingredient is typically found in laundry detergents, floor cleaners and other degreasers. It is an irritant, asthmagen (links to asthma risk) and may damage the respiratory tract.

Phthalates

Phthalates have been linked to abnormal development, low birth weight and asthma, and are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors. They are widely used in ‘fragrance’ in cleaning and cosmetic products.

Brands to Try

There are lots of traditional natural cleaning methods that involve using ingredients such as baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar as healthier cleaning products. However, I struggle to make time to experiment with messy concoctions like this, and would rather invest in something that will do the job conveniently.

Probably, you are in the same boat. So here are my favourite brands that avoid these harmful ingredients:

Method Cleaning Brand Detox

Method

I love the method brand. When I first saw their product packaging in the aisles of Waitrose, I was infatuated. Since then, I’ve spent hours learning about the brand on their super sleek website and have even got my hands on their book - the method method.

They also have a downloadable toolkit which outlines a little more about the brand’s healthy business practices as well as clear overviews of the ingredientss that they do and don’t use in their products.

I’m fully-converted.

Not only are they making clean cleaning possible, they’re doing it stylishly, always keeping product design in mind. They realise that products traditionally positioned as dull commodities doomed to a life under the sink are actually a really important part of a healthy, happy lifestyle.

Since I’ve been using these products, I’m no longer paranoid that I’ll die from neurotoxin exposure when cleaning the shower (slight exaggeration, but I actually do know of people who have been quite ill from this). Plus, they look so cool that your boyfriend will actually want to clean the kitchen. Need I say more?

My favourite method products are the air freshener* and multi-surface sprays. The scents are so fresh and crisp - especially french lavender and clementine.

Ecover Cleaning Products Brand Detox

Ecover

Ecover is the parent company of method. However, the companies differ in that, where method seek to make sustainability desirable, Ecover have a vision to make sustainable natural.

I’m a long-time user of their washing up liquid and I also love their laundry detergent gel. I assumed that the laundry detergent wouldn’t have a fragrance, but surprisingly my clothes fill the flat with a gorgeous smell when they’re drying!

I also really like that refills are available for this brand at stores such as Planet Organic and even my local greengrocers!

Method Clean Air Freshener

My Verdict

I hate using products knowing that they’re bad for me.

For as long as I can remember I have loathed aerosol sprays of any kind. For starters, did you know that some aerosol sprays use chemical propellants to diffuse the contents of the can? Sprays using air propellants are a better alternative.

I think people really just need to be educated on how toxic and damaging apparent ‘hygiene’ products can be, and know that there is a really appealing alternative available.

I’m buying eco-friendly (and me-friendly!) home products wherever possible. As well as giving me peace of mind, they’re so much more pleasant to use and to see around my house every day.

Were you aware of the dangers of cleaning products? What steps do you take to ensure a healthy home?

Testosterone in Women + Symptoms You Need To Know

Testosterone-Hormones-in-Women

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone is a hormone present in men and women, although in different amounts.

In women, testosterone is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands and the normal range for testosterone levels in women is said to be around 0.52–2.4 nmol/L.

To put this into perspective, a normal range for men is 9–38 nmol/L. That’s nearly twenty times the amount that women have! These ‘normal ranges’ are only a guideline, however, as what is considered the normal range can vary between labs.

So women, if you're scared of bulking up by weight training, know that you simply don't have enough testosterone to pack on muscle mass as males do.

What is the Role of Testosterone in Women?

In women, testosterone fuels your sex drive, increases bone strength and bone mineral density, and may even support anti-ageing effects. Testosterone also plays a role in body composition, as it aids the development of muscle mass and the metabolism of fat.

What Affects Testosterone Levels in Women?

As well as the hormone disruptors mentioned in my previous post, oral contraceptives can impact levels and some medical conditions have an effect on testosterone levels in women. Levels also change with the natural ageing process.

Symptoms of High Testosterone in Women

High levels of testosterone in women are difficult to achieve. Where they do occur, it will likely be due to a medical condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and can have physical side effects.

These may include hair loss (in places that you want hair), hair growth (in places that you don’t want hair), acne, menstrual problems and, sometimes, weight gain.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Women

The symptoms of low testosterone in women can easily be mistaken for symptoms of something else. They may include:
Fatigue and lack of energy, which may be due to disrupted sleep
Changes in body composition, such as loss of muscle and increase of fat
Decreased sex drive
Mood changes, particularly depression and anxiety
Hair loss
Difficulty concentrating

If you are suffering from these symptoms, especially struggling to lose weight and gain a lean physique, you may want to follow steps to naturally increase testosterone levels.

High intesnsity training, strength training, lowering stress levels and reducing your intake of sugar and processed foods will help.

You might like to follow these tips for balancing hormones.

Supplements for Healthy Testosterone Levels

Improving your testosterone levels with nutritional supplementation is also an option.

One of my favourite supplements for maintaining healthy hormone levels is ZMA. You can read more about this in my Guide to ZMA for Women.

Vitamin D3 is also important in maintaining healthy hormone levels. It is able to regulate the aromatase enzyme (the enzyme that converts testosterone into oestrogen).

However, there are many more complex testosterone boosting formulations (sometimes called T-boosters or test boosters) emerging in the growing nutritional supplements market. In the interests of curiousity and to demonstrate that testosterone is not a scary thing, I chose to trial one from Monkey Nutrition.

Have you experienced any symptoms of hormone imbalance? What measures have you taken to try and correct them?

Hormones + Hormone Disruptors: What You Need To Know

Testosterone-in-Women

We have all heard of hormones. We all have hormones. But do you really know what hormones are and what effect they have on your body?

Hormones are responsible for regulating nearly every function of your body. So whether you want to gain muscle, lose weight, improve energy levels or enhance your mood, you should be paying your hormones a lot of attention.

One of the reasons that you probably don't think about your hormone levels very much is that their job is to maintain homeostasis in your body; to keep your body's processes stable. So unless your hormones are significantly out of balance, you are unlikely to be aware of their impact.

Or at least, that probably used to be the case.

In the process of researching healthy hormone levels, I discovered that we are exposed to a terrifying variety of hormone disruptors every day, as part of our modern lifestyle. These can greatly upset our health and wellbeing, manifesting as seemingly ordinary symptoms such as fatigue or weight gain.

What are Hormones?

Hormones are the ‘chemical messengers’ in your body. There are over 60 types of hormones in your body, secreted from the many glands that make up your body’s endocrine system.

After being produced, hormones travel around your body (usually in your blood) and interact with specific cells that possess receptors for specific hormones. By interacting with target cells, hormones stimulate those cells to take a specific action.

Your hormones maintain a delicate balance within your body. It is their job to regulate important functions including metabolism, growth, sleep, mood and reproduction.

Many hormones you will not have heard of, but others we refer to day to day, perhaps without even realising that they are hormones. Insulin, for example, is a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar.

As illustrated by insulin, for example, levels that are too high, or too low, can have a big effect on your wellbeing.

What Affects Hormone Levels?

While hormones can be artificially manipulated by taking contraceptives or through hormone therapies to control medical conditions, it's possible that your hormone levels can also be affected without your knowledge.

Hormone imbalances can be caused by hormone distruptors, predominatly environmental toxins and diet, with stress also having a large impact.

Environmental Toxins

Common chemicals found in everything from cleaners to cosmetics, and even in the food you eat and air you breathe, contain toxins known as endocrine disruptors. Worryingly, you are exposed to a vast number of hormone disruptors every day. Once in the body, they are hugely detrimental as well as difficult to excrete.

Diet

A diet high in processed food and lacking nutritional value can also cause hormonal imbalance.

Not only that, but many non-organic foods are contaminated with dangerous pesticides. Animal produce is contaminated with the hormones and antibiotics used to make the animals grow bigger.

Stress

When you are under stress, your adrenal glands produce cortisol, the stress hormone. Your body’s stress response takes priority over other functions; think fight or flight. When there is high and consistent demand for cortisol, the precursors needed to make other hormones are depleted by this ‘cortisol steal’.

Gillian-Day-Hormones-Talk

Tips for Hormonal Health

I met nutritionist and naturopath Gillian Day at an event where she was talking about hormones (this is where I learnt about the NaturalCycles Contraceptive App) and was fascinated by her knoweldge and holistic approach to health. So, I invited her to share her top tips on hormonal health:

1. Limit the caffeine

I love coffee - a lot, but unfortunately it is a potent hormone disruptor and that can wreak havoc on the endocrine system.

2. Eat organic + live organic where possible

Dairy and meat can contain excess oestrogens which can throw hormones out of balance, so consider eating a more plant-bssed diet.

Toxins found in pesticides, plastics, household chemicals and even the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) can contain hormone disrupting chemicals called xenoestrogens that can mimic our natural hormones in the body and keep us from producing real hormones.

Top tip: cook in glass or non-coated metal pans (i.e. no teflon!) and avoid heating or storing foods in plastic.

3. Avoid high omega 6 oils and PUFA – polyunsaturated fatty acids

Getting rid of or greatly reducing vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine and swapping for coconut oil, real butter and olive oil can dramatically reduce inflammation in the body.

Reducing inflammation = happy healthy hormones!

4. Reduce sugar

There is a connection between an imbalance in oestrogen and progesterone and the way the body uses the hormone insulin (which is used by the body to deal with sugar). If we have too much insulin (normally from too much sugar or starch) it can trigger too much testosterone, and too much testosterone can suppress ovulation. Any disruption to ovulation will have a knock-on effect on the production of progesterone.

5. Reduce stress

Stress knocks your hormonal patterns completely out of rhythm. There’s a greater demand on hormone raw materials, plus stress places a greater demand on our nutrient reserves. Head to my website for 5 simple strategies to reduce stress and reconnect with yourself and your food.

6. Get Good Sleep

If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your hormones won’t be balanced – end of story! Sleep disturbances can decrease the release of testosterone by almost half, so make sure you get your nightly quota.

I like to take ZMA supplements to help with my sleep and regulation of testosterone. Read my Guide to ZMA for Women for more details

7. Supplement wisely

I am a big fan of supplements as I’ve seen the benefits of my clients using good quality supplements and herbs for a wide range of hormonal imbalance symptoms in my clinic every single day.

However, not all supplements are created equal. There’s the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly! If supplements have the ability to heal, they also have the ability to harm. Supplementing wisely is crucial to happy healthy hormones. Some supplements that have been useful for happy healthy testosterone levels and hormones include spearmint tea, DIM, calcium D glucarate and chaste tree.

8. Exercise right for your body

If you have hormone imbalance, intense extended exercise can actually make the problem worse. Swap your body pump class for some restorative yoga or swimming or rebounding.

For more details on how you can work with Gill, visit her website, Nurture Thru Nature.

Hormone Level Testing

If you're concerned about your hormone levels, consider paying a visit to your doctor, as well as following Gill's advice.

Hormone level testing can be carried out by a doctor. Then they, or another health professional, can guide you through your results.

Alternatively, companies such as MediChecks offer home hormone testing kits, which can be a good start if you think that you may be suffering from symptoms of low or elevated hormone levels.

Have you suffered symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
Do you take measures to minimise hormone distruption?

CNS Food Print 200+: My Food Intolerance Testing Experience 2.0

CNS-Food-Print-200-Intolerance-Test-Review

The Most Advanced + Comprehensive Food Intolerance Test from CNS

I make no secret of my fascination for health monitoring, and that includes food intolerance testing. It’s also no secret that I was a left a little confused and dissatisfied by my first food intolerance testing experience.

After a little (a lot, actually) of research, I discovered the FoodPrint® 200+ test from Cambridge Nutritional Sciences.*

The test is incredibly comprehensive, testing for reactions to over 200 ingredients. One of the reasons that I chose this test was the inclusion of four types of milk (cow’s, sheep’s, goat’s and buffalo) and the independent proteins within the milk: alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin (whey proteins) and casein.

If you’ve read my posts on my food intolerance journey so far, you’ll know of my distress when it came to compromising my whey protein intake, and why having this breakdown is so important to me!

CNS offer a range of other FoodPrint® tests including an indicator test, FoodPrint® 40, FoodPrint® 60, FoodPrint® 120, FoodPrint® Vegetarian, FoodPrint® Vegan and FoodPrint® Herbs & Spices.

The FoodPrint Testing Process

After receiving your test pack, it’s simply a case of using the lancets provided to prick your finger and take a very small blood sample before returning the pack in the pre-paid envelope.

Your results report and guidebook arrive with you via email very quickly. The quality and comprehensiveness of both of these is brilliant, so I’ll go into a little more detail below.

Interestingly, CNS also offer a Food Detective self-test, which, although a little less comprehensive, will provide you with immediate results. The short video on the website showing how this is carried out is definitely worth a watch!

CNS-Food-Print-Review-Food-Intolerance-Test

The FoodPrint® 200+ Report

I love the report format provided by CNS. In fact, there are two different formats within the test report that you receive.

As well as listing the tested foods by order of reactivity (as was done in my YorkTest results), foods are also listed according to their respective food groups.

This really helped to put into perspective where my greatest problem areas are, and to help me to quickly identify alternative foods.

As well as a traffic light colour coding system for the ingredients tested, CNS provide the numerical values of the antibody levels detected in the test. This is something that is hugely important and was completely neglected by YorkTest.

The higher the assigned value, the stronger your body’s immune response to that particular food. Elevated results are over 30 U/ml, borderline is 24-29 U/ml, and anything under 23 U/ml is considered normal.

Knowing this really helps to put your results into perspective. By seeing that my reaction to cow’s milk was 117 U/ml, for example, it was immediately clear that my priority was to remove that from my diet before anything else.

Especially when dealing with a high number of reactions as I am, knowing that some are vastly stronger than others helps you to focus your attention on the foods that will have a bigger impact, and know which you can afford to treat with a little less caution in order to make the process manageable.

This is a concept that was reinforced by CNS’ nutritionist, Nicky, who was keen to speak to me over the phone following my results. It was great to speak to someone so mindful of the differences between individuals and how to make results seem manageable.

The guidebook provided by CNS also suggests that when reintroducing foods after carrying out an elimination diet, the numerical values good to refer to as reintroducing the least reactive foods first is a good idea.

This kind of guidance is something that I felt was neglected a little with the YorkTest FoodScan that I did. While YorkTest are definitely stronger on their branding, sending out both the test kit and the results in well-presented packages, I’ve come to realise that they lack some attention to detail where it matters.

CNS-Food-Print-Intolerance-Results

My FoodPrint® 200+ Results

Suffice to say, I have a lot of elevated results. But, recognising how overwhelming this can seem, one of the first things that CNS Nutritionist Nicky said to me was this:

“Stress in itself can be worse than eating the food that you’re intolerant to”

If you’ve read my post Dealing with Food Intolerance + Elimination Diets: What Noone Tells You, you’ll understand why this was music to my ears.

She also reiterated that, as with any test, these results are not concrete and definitive. However, they definitely give a brilliant starting point for improving my diet. The sheer volume of elevated values that I have could indicate leaky gut, and so as well as removing trigger foods, I would benefit from working with a nutritionist to speak further about digestive support.

Dairy + Eggs

As with my previous results, dairy and eggs showed a definitely reaction. My milk reaction was especially high given that I’ve almost entirely cut out dairy from my diet, so it’s reassuring to know that I’m doing the right thing by steering clear.

Of course, my biggest relief was to see that my reaction to whey proteins (alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin) were normal. Hooray! While Nicky would generally recommend avoiding whey for the 3-month elimination period when all other dairy results are highly elevated as mine are, she advised that for my lifestyle, the benefits of taking whey most likely outweighs this concern.

So, I’ll be sticking to high-quality whey isolate supplements, and I’ll continue to search for some good vegan protein supplements to ensure that I get variety, too.

Gluten-Containing Grains

As anticipated, my scores for gluten-containing grains are elevated. As with dairy, I already avoid gluten because of the symptoms that I get when consuming food such as bread, so I’ll continue to do this.

Generally, I opt for rice, corn or potato in place of gluten-containing grains. This was reflected in the slightly raised levels on the tests for these foods, so I will look into getting more variety by trying things like buckwheat and millet.

Yeast

Yet again, this was a high reaction for me. I really struggled to cut out yeast before, but the guidebook provided by CNS contains a whole section on yeast, including which foods to avoid, ingredients to avoid and alternative foods.

The list includes the obvious, such as bread, yeast extract and fermented food and drink including alcohol. Of course, dried fruits are on the list too, which I feel I may struggle with as they make a great alternative to processed sweeteners like sugar when satisfying a sweet tooth or choosing a snack bar. The list also includes less obvious products such as hydrolysed protein and Quorn, which require yeast to be used as part of their processing.

My Verdict + Next Steps

I’d love to find a great nutritionist who can advise me a little more going forward. I pride myself on the knowledge that I have on nutrition, and certainly by normal standards my diet is really healthy. However, I’m at the point now where I really need to refine it further and enlist someone who can take some of the hard work off my hands!

It would be great to find an experienced nutritionist who can guide me with a tailored food and supplement plan, taking a holistic approach that also considers my lifestyle and training goals alongside medical history, too. I welcome all recommendations!

Overall, I’ll be aiming for moderation and variety in my diet. Unsurprisingly, (and perhaps a little boringly!) that’s what it always comes down to.* Whether you suffer with food intolerances or want to prevent them, this is undoubtedly the way forward*.

I highly recommend the CNS FoodPrint 200+ test. I always strive for the best quality and to gather as much information as possible, and this test has definitely ticked those boxes for me. The large number of proteins that were tested for, the way the results were reported, and the advice that I received from CNS was exactly what I hoped for, and more!

The test costs £291.00, which is definitely a bit of an investment, but an investment in the best possible thing; your health.

Have you had any experience of food intolerance testing or dealing with an elimination diet protocol?

Dealing with Food Intolerance + Elimination Diets: What Noone Tells You

Food-Intolerance-Elimination-Diet-Tips

Dealing with Food Intolerance + Elimination Diets: What Noone Tells You

I’ve recently spent a lot of time researching the negative impact of food intolerance and decided to take some tests myself. My first set of food intolerance test results from YorkTest revealed a whopping 25 reactions and borderline reactions and I was advised by YorkTest advisors to immediately deploy an elimination diet protocol.

I was really keen to give the elimination diet a good go. I know that I suffer from symptoms that are caused by inflammation and that chronic low-grade inflammation is a killer. As food intolerance is an inflammatory response, I wanted to use my test results to improve my overall health.

I carried out a strict elimination diet for two weeks before making adjustments. I wouldn’t call those two weeks successful by any means. However, I did learn a few things.

What is an Elimination Diet?

An elimination diet is the process of removing foods that are common ‘triggers’ from your diet for a certain period of time. These foods are then reintroduced one at a time. If any symptoms reappear alongside the reintroduction of a certain food, this is indicative of an intolerance.

The best elimination diets are the most restrictive. Cutting out more foods means that you’re likely to get a more comprehensive profile of results by the end of the process.

However, the more foods you cut out, the harder the process is to execute. And of course, as it is impossible to cut out everything, there is always a chance that one of your intolerances could be overlooked.

Unlike with allergies, symptoms of food intolerance don’t manifest immediately. So, eliminating and reintroducing foods is a slow process and the results can be hard to identify.

Food intolerance testing simplifies this process initially by providing you with a list of reactive ingredients that should be your primary focus.

Preparation

I tried to start the elimination diet as soon as possible after receiving my YorkTest results.

However, I would have been better off writing a date in my diary that allowed myself a couple of weeks to prepare.

The preparation phase should include:
* Researching ingredients that are good alternatives to the ones that you will be cutting out
* Stocking up on those ingredients
* Finding and creating recipes and meals that allow you to use the alternative ingredients in the most fulfilling way

My reaction to the proteins in cow’s milk meant that I was advised to cut out whey and casein protein shakes from my diet. This made a huge impact given that I drank them up to three times a day. Yet, I cut them out before I had chance to research, buy, receive and taste-test an alternative. This made a big impact on my protein intake, but it also affected my mindset as I felt unable to train as well without fuelling my body in the way that it needed.

Because I was in the process of finishing my degree, finding a full-time job, and relocating to a new city at the same time that I received my results, being well prepared was near impossible.

In relation to this, I would recommend selecting a date to start the elimination diet that is going to avoid clashing with other stressful occasions. There is never a perfect time to start, so don’t keep putting it off. But if you’re dealing with an obviously exceptional situation like I was, it’s okay to push back your start date a little.

Losing Perspective

I realise that when I started to cut out foods, it was like I was wearing food intolerance blinkers.

When assessing whether food was good for me to eat, or not, the only criteria that I was applying to it was whether it was on my intolerance chart or not. This meant that I was probably eating more processed ‘junk’ food than usual.

For example, despite avoiding wheat-based foods for years (my intolerance was pretty obvious without the need for a test), I suddenly found myself seeking out biscuits and cakes under the guise of wheat-free and gluten-free labels. I hardly ever ate biscuits and cakes to begin with! Yet, I’d find myself munching away with complete disregard for the sugar content.

This is especially ironic given that sugar is also inflammation causing and my motivation behind this whole process was to reduce inflammation!

Perhaps it is because I had a high number of reactions that I just didn’t have the brain-power for any other items on my checklist, but this is something to bear in mind.

Food-Intolerance-Elimination-Diet-Tips

Guilt + Anxiety

I’ve always had a really healthy relationship with food. I’ve always wanted to nourish my body by eating foods that are genuinely nutritious, but I’ve never denied my sweet tooth either.

For the first time ever, during my elimination diet, I really started to sense feelings of anxiety and guilt over what foods I was consuming.

To take the protein shake situation as an example again, I was feeling incredibly anxious having cut out a supplement that was critical in helping me to achieve the best body composition and overall fitness level of my life. I felt like my hard work was going to be lost and that my progress was going to slow.

On the other hand, whenever I thought about allowing myself a protein shake, I felt really guilty that I would be knowingly causing my body damage.

Overall, I decided that the mental anguish wasn’t worth it, especially at a time when I had other important things to think of. So, I ate a Quest bar. And another. And the tension was gone.

I continued to stick with everything else, but without relaxing the rules a little, I don’t think that would have been possible.

My Thoughts Overall - Why I Still Recommend Food Intolerance Testing

I still think that food intolerance tests are brilliant, fascinating things that allow you to invest in your health. You just have to approach them in the right way.

Food intolerance test reports should not be treated as gospel. Instead, the results simply provide a great starting point to carry out a planned and realistic elimination diet.

I’m lucky that because of my curiosity and previous experiences, I have a pretty strong sense of self-awareness and could take a step back to reassess how this diet process was affecting me.

However, if you have ever struggled with an emotional relationship with food, disordered eating, or don’t have a great knowledge of nutrition yourself, I would advise finding a nutritionist or nutrition coach who can guide and reassure you a little through the process.

I still recommend food intolerance testing and I’m still pursuing food intolerance testing. I think that actively deciding to invest in a food intolerance test heightens your awareness to the impact that foods are having on your body every single day.

I’m keen to take a more in depth look at my food intolerances and to find a way to apply my results in a more manageable way. I’m determined to find ways to improve my health and food plays a massive role.