21-Day Elimination Diet

Well, I did it! Despite the wind, rain, and cold weather.. I ran my first 5K race and finished in EXACTLY 26 minutes! I was surprised at how quickly time seemed to pass while I was running, and was even more shocked to learn that I had actually achieved my goal of running it in 26 minutes. Prior to race day, my fastest time had been just under 28 minutes. I guess the adrenaline rush and desire to escape the awful weather helped!

I’ve now started tackling a new challenge – a 21-day elimination diet. Since the beginning of November, I’ve eliminated wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and coffee from my diet. Am I crazy? Perhaps. But for the past couple of months I had been finding I often felt sick after eating, as well as super tired.

After looking a bit more into my symptoms, I decided it might be worthwhile to try a 21-day elimination diet in order to detox and “re-charge my batteries”, so to speak. It’s also a helpful tool to figure out whether you have any food allergies/sensitivities, which could very well be the source of my discomfort.

I’m currently 16 days in and it’s been an interesting journey! The first few days were definitely the hardest and I battled some pretty intense cravings – mostly for wheat products, like bread. I also suffered from headaches for the first little while due to caffeine withdrawal. I probably should have gradually cut back instead of jumping from my usual two cups a day to nothing more than green tea.

After the first few days things started getting a bit easier. I had to really plan ahead and prep meals in advance in order to avoid giving in to cravings. I even re-organized my cupboards by placing the things I could eat on the bottom shelf and things that were “off-limits” on the upper shelves – just sliiiiightly out of my reach ;)

Now that this cleanse is almost over, I can honestly say I have noticed some changes. For starters, although I’m still tired most days (nothing new there), I now have the energy to make it through the day without coffee – something I haven’t been able to do in years. Literally. I’ve also noticed I’m able to fall asleep a lot faster. Finally, most of the negative symptoms I had been experiencing for the past couple of months have disappeared – no more headaches, bloating, stomach cramps, and less joint/muscle pain. Once the weekend hits, I’ll be starting to re-introduce certain foods back into my diet to see if my body experiences any of those symptoms again. Hopefully all goes well!

If you’re thinking about trying an elimination diet, I would say that it’s definitely worthwhile. As long as you plan ahead and are willing to get creative in the kitchen, you might just find the three weeks pass by fairly quickly. The hardest part is planning around social events! It was pretty tricky to find foods to eat when going out for dinner with family/friends, so I had to make a few exceptions sometimes.

Looking for some ideas to help kick-start your own elimination diet? Here are some of the meals I’ve made so far. I included links to recipes where I could!

Day 1
Garlic lemon brown rice pasta with mushrooms & kale, and a side of steamed lemon-ginger carrots
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Day 2
Quinoa bowl drizzled with homemade ginger-peanut sauce
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Day 4
Zucchini-white bean sliders with roasted butternut squash
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Day 6
Chili-lime lentil tacos with cauliflower tortillas
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Day 8
Garlic lemon spaghetti squash & sautéed veggies
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Day 10
Cilantro lime rice, black beans, kale, squash & homemade guacamole
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Day 11
Spicy coconut curry rice noodles
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Day 16
Brown rice pasta in a cauliflower “alfredo” sauce, topped with chia seeds
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Happy detoxing!

Be Well xo

Fueling Your Body to Optimize Your Workouts

Only one month left until race day! Surprisingly, I’ve managed to stick to my training schedule for the most part and have kept myself motivated enough to go for a run at least 2-3 days a week. Just last night I finally made it through the full 5k without stopping to walk – in just over 30 minutes! My goal now is to continue improving my time so I can finish the race in less than 28 minutes.

What I’ve quickly discovered as my training continues is just how important it is to eat the right foods prior to and after a workout. Seeing as I don’t get home from work until 6:30 and it starts to get dark now at around 7:15, my window of opportunity for outdoor exercise during the work week is getting smaller and smaller (the idea of running around outside in the dark on my own makes me uncomfortable). Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly important for me to prepare pre-workout snacks and meals in advance to ensure I have enough time to digest my food and run when it’s still light outside.

I decided to do a bit more research to figure out what foods are the best to eat before and after a workout, because I’ve noticed on days where I eat properly that running longer distances is much easier (and therefore more enjoyable!). On days where I don’t eat enough, eat too much, or eat the wrong things I feel a lot more sluggish – sometimes even sick – and really have to push myself to get through a workout.

So here’s the gist of what I’ve learned!

Before a Cardio Workout
You should have a light meal/snack approximately 30-60 minutes before a cardio session. Carbs should constitute about 75-100% of the meal, while protein should constitute the rest. The carbs get metabolized quickly into glucose (energy), while the protein helps keep this energy supply constant for the duration of your workout. Aim for low Glycemic Index (GI) carbs such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, as they release sugar into the bloodstream more slowly and provide more sustainable energy. Don’t forget to hydrate well by drinking plenty of water throughout the day before your workout!

Examples of some good pre-cardio meals could include:

  • A slice of whole grain toast with natural peanut butter (or other nut butter)135
  • Plain Greek yogurt with whole grain granola and dried fruits
  • A homemade fruit smoothie, perhaps made with some yogurt, granola, or whey protein
  • A small bowl of oatmeal with nuts and fresh berries
  • Scrambled egg whites stuffed in a small whole wheat pita, with a side of carrot sticks

My go-to pre-workout snack typically consists of about ¼ cup of organic granola with a bit of almond milk, and a couple of organic whole grain crackers topped with natural peanut butter. Just enough fuel to keep me going, but not too much so that I feel full!

After a Cardio Workout
Within 30 minutes after completing a cardio workout, you should definitely re-hydrate with plenty of water, as well as a carbohydrate-rich snack or light meal. The key is to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during your workout, so think whole grains, fruits and veggies! A bit of protein to help aid muscle recovery and growth is also important.

Examples of some good post-cardio meals could include:075

  • Apple slices topped with peanut or almond butter
  • A fruit smoothie made with yogurt and almond milk
  • Sliced fruit and/or veggies with a handful of walnuts
  • A small veggie omelet topped with sliced avocado
  • An open-faced sandwich with hummus and fresh veggies

My favourite post-workout smoothie is a combination of frozen banana slices, unsweetened almond milk, natural peanut butter, ground flaxseed, and chia seeds – deeeeelicious!

Of course, everyone has different fitness and health goals, so the above options might not appeal to you or your dietary needs. For those that are interested in some general information, I found this guideline to be really helpful (courtesy of Pinterest):

The Complete Guide to Workout Nutriton [Infographic]

Be Well & Keep Training Hard!