The first time I ever tried any sort of strict “diet”, I failed MISERABLY. During undergrad, my husband was doing the Cut Diet for an upcoming bodybuilding event and I told him I would do it with him. I don’t think I lasted more than 16 hours before I lost my mind.
Fast-forward a few years. Shortly after graduating chiropractic college and moving to a new city, I decided a cleanse would suite my new life. Being the brilliant chicky I can be, I managed to start this strict program the same weekend that we were planning on moving houses and I had a 4 hour trail run planned. Needless to say, that program got cut short and “delayed until things settle down”.
Since then, I have done several successful “trials” of different eating programs. I do not currently follow any specific eating philosophy, but as a clinical nutritionist, I like to explore different ways of eating and do personal experiments to understand what my patients are going through. My favourite experiment was 30 days of Paleo. We ate like kings!
The point is, changing your diet or doing a nutritional intervention can be tough. It took me several years of misguided attempts and gradual change before I got to where I am today (which is a very nice place, I must say).
I started the Thorne Research MediClear Plus program (which is the medical cleanse program that these posts have been referring to) in early January 2014. I have walked several patients through this program and I had a small but fabulous group of ladies that I had advised to start the program, but wanted them to wait until after Christmas (as part of setting up for success). They were very gracious to be my pilot Guinea pigs for using a group format with this program. The point of the group was to educate and encourage the participating ladies, but it was a tremendous opportunity for me as well. We were all doing the program for different reasons, but the group support was such positive, encouraging experience.
For the first 4 days of the program, I had a terrible caffeine withdrawal headache. I love coffee. LOVE IT. I drink it black and don’t like the cheap dinner stuff. I will occasionally wean myself off of caffeine periodically just to give my adrenal/stress response system a break, but I hadn’t done this in a while. It was a bad headache; it kept me up at night and totally wrecked by productivity. The trouble with caffeine headaches is that nothing makes them go away except caffeine. So I drank lots of water, continued on strong with the medical cleanse, and probably complained a little too much to my hubby. (He was very supportive of this whole adventure.)
After the headache went away, it was pretty smooth sailing. The MediClear program includes 3 weeks of a medical foods supplement that gradually ramps up and then ramps down. This is paired with an elimination diet and a very structured, gradual reintroduction phase. An elimination diet is a structured medical diet during which you are eating real food, but only very clean foods and all major potential reactive foods are removed (including wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, tomatoes, corn, and all artificial additives). During the reintroduction phase, you basically reintroduce one new food every three days and pump yourself full of it during that time period. If you experience any symptoms during the reintroduction – whether GI (like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn) or skin reaction or inflammation issues or allergies or mood changes – then you stop eating that food. An elimination diet can be a very useful tool for identifying foods that may not be agreeing with you and is often considered a more sensitive test than an allergy panel (which only provides information about one type of reaction, that of IgE or IgG antibodies). I did not have any strong reactions as I was reintroducing foods, but I did experience some heartburn upon reintroduction of wheat, which was interesting because I had never really had heartburn previously.
I didn’t have any specific complaints or symptoms at the start of the program (because I have already done a lot of nutritional rehab work with anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome), so I don’t have much to report in terms of symptom resolution. I can tell you that my sleep quality improved and my dreams became very vivid. I might have lost a few pounds on the scale, but I wasn’t really tracking that very closely.
I believe part of the reason that this program was a fairly easy success is because I was already eating a wheat and dairy minimal diet. Going from your “Standard American Diet” directly to an elimination diet would be extremely trying and painful (and potentially dangerous if not supervised and done properly). My reasons for doing the program were to give my body a chemical kick start for the year ahead and to encourage a clean, healthy internal chemical environment for fertility and pregnancy. I plan on doing another similar program when I come off hormonal birth control later this year to help clear that from my system and re-regulate a normal cycle. All-and-all, I would consider this adventure a successful and rewarding experience.