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Look Better in 9 Days: Mastering the Elimination Diet & Cheat Meal

An elimination diet can offer you many benefits, including boosting your energy, strengthening your immune system, and shrinking your fat cells. You can feel great again in just 9 days by learning which foods to avoid and by using an elimination diet shopping list – and knowing when to have the occasional cheat meal.

Below, I help you explore the philosophy behind the elimination diet, providing smoothie ideas and showing you how a weekly cheat meal can aid in your weight loss and improve your metabolism.

I encourage you to dive into a healthier lifestyle with this comprehensive guide.

Getting Started with an Elimination Diet: How and Why

The “elimination diet” is also commonly referred to as an “exclusion diet.” This type of diet involves removing foods from your diet that are suspected of causing allergies, sensitivities, or digestive reactions.

After a period, these foods might then be gradually reintroduced one at a time while monitoring for symptoms to identify which foods may be causing adverse reactions – such as fatigue, gas or bloating, or weight gain.

Food intolerances and food sensitivities are increasingly common.

Temporarily eliminating particular foods from your diet can help raise your energy, strengthen your immune system, and shrink fat cells.

The food groups you may want to avoid on your trial elimination diet are the common food intolerance items:

  • dairy products
  • peanuts
  • grains
  • nightshade vegetables
  • and, most especially, any snacks that contain sugar.

Sugary snacks, in particular, are trigger foods that can inspire carbohydrate bingeing while also feeding the disadvantageous bacteria in your gut biome.

Many people have discovered that symptoms from their autoimmune disease are reversed when they do an elimination diet correctly.

The Cheat Meal Concept

While food allergies are ever-present, food sensitivities and other digestive issues often lessen or go away completely after a few months on an elimination diet. A strategic cheat meal can be a good idea to determine if this is the case with you.

A cheat meal is an opportunity to experiment with reintroducing previously offending foods to determine if your body has improved at handling them. Lower within this article, I share important tips on how to do a cheat meal correctly.

Dane Findley helps others achieve stellar wellness with an elimination diet shopping list and cheat meal tips.
Dane has a master’s in Depth Counseling and has spent decades as a professional fitness and Pilates trainer. Today, Dane is a Healthy Lifestyle Advocate who curates the popular Quality of Life Newsletter – a free weekly update for creative types who want to UP their joy levels.

The Sequence of An Elimination Diet

Here is a sequence for the elimination diet that many people have found helpful:

  • The first step in your elimination diet plan can be simply removing all sugar in the first week.
  • In the second week, you remove dairy products.
  • In the third week, remove all flour and grains.
  • Week four, remove peanuts and nightshades (regular potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant).
  • From that point forward, continue with the elimination diet until three months have passed.
  • At three months, you can try reintroducing one of the restricted food groups – I suggest starting with nightshades – back into a cheat meal.

Accelerate Your Dieting Results

If you want to do an accelerated version of the elimination diet so that you can see visible results in just 9 days, then instead of making a food elimination each week, make one each day.

I encourage you to consult your medical doctor or healthcare provider before significantly changing your eating habits.

Elimination Diet Shopping List

Your best food options in the elimination diet are vegetables and meats – in that order. Here are some ideas for your elimination diet shopping list next time you go to the grocery store:

  • kale
  • spinach
  • romaine lettuce
  • Italian parsley
  • cilantro
  • cucumber
  • broccoli
  • celery
  • cauliflower
  • daikon
  • avocado
  • carrots
  • sweet potato or yams
  • zucchini
  • frozen wild blueberries
  • lemons
  • ground turkey
  • grass-fed beef (7% fat)
  • cage-free eggs
  • bison
  • coconut yogurt (dairy-free cultured coconut milk)
  • pecans and almonds.

Some advanced-level food elimination diets remove all nuts; however, I suggest allowing pecans and almonds in moderate doses to see if you can tolerate them easily (you can always remove them later if needed).

How to Tell If Your Elimination Diet Is Working

It’s probably a good idea to wait until the end of three months on the food elimination diet before you decide whether or not it’s benefiting you. Here are things in yourself that you can observe:

  • energy levels: do you have more energy overall?
  • digestive system: less discomfort and less gas?
  • skin issues: is your skin appearing better?
  • eyes: are your eyes brighter and less bleary?
  • tongue: vibrant in appearance (and not yeasty)?
  • overall health: would you say that it seems to have improved?
elimination diet shopping list cheat meal

Elimination Diet Shopping List for Reintroducing Foods (for Cheat Meals)

After three months, here are ideas for your elimination diet shopping list for reintroducing previously eliminated foods:

  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • red potatoes
  • white rice
  • quinoa
  • dark chocolate
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The Philosophy Behind the Elimination Diet Shopping List

Mostly, I’m not a fan of “dieting.”

Instead, I believe in permanent lifestyle upgrades.

There are some menu items that I will not allow myself to eat, no matter how tasty they might appear.

Inflammatory foods – which for me include foods with processed grains and refined sugars – make me puffy and tired (and as soon as I’m done eating them, I usually regret it).

Also, eating simple carbs just makes me crave more simple carbs and activates addictive urges around food. It’s better for me if I just don’t go there.

However, there are some cheat foods (hello, dark chocolate!) that I will allow myself.

I have friends who enthusiastically endorse the cheat meal concept; they report that having one meal each week when they can drink and eat almost anything they want helps them to stay on track the rest of the week.

Many nutritional experts believe that allowing yourself a cheat meal once a week – when you can eat (practically) anything your heart desires – might help you to stick to your diet and ignite your weight loss.

Cheat Meal for Athletes: The Carbohydrate “Refeed”

Some people – particularly athletes or people who exercise regularly – call their Diet Cheat Meal a “carb refeed.”

The diet cheat meal can be an opportunity to consciously dial up your intake of carbs to help offset the negative metabolic and hormonal effects of long-term low-carb dieting.

Low-carb eating, done for days on end, can eventually burn up your body’s glycogen – the carbohydrates stored inside your muscle tissue – which can begin to impact your mood and your performance.

I solve this challenge by adding a small serving of white rice (that I make in my InstantPot pressure cooker) to my dinner once a week. One of my closest friends does quinoa instead.

During the rest of the week, I might limit my carbs to 100 and 150 grams daily. I would go even lower if I didn’t workout so much. But my exercise schedule necessitates having more carbs than is strictly Keto. Also, I find if I go too low in carbs, I have difficultly sleeping at night.

Some bodybuilding friends I know do their once-a-week carb refeed by hitting the gym on Sunday morning, then going out for their cheat meal directly after their fitness training – a meal that includes a stack of gluten-free pancakes covered in real maple syrup.

3 Lower-Calorie Smoothie Recipes for a Cheat Meal

The fun part of making a smoothie is dropping the ingredients you’ve chosen into a blender and creating a concoction that meets your taste buds’ wants – while simultaneously fulfilling your body’s micronutrient needs.

The advantage to using smoothies as a cheat meal is that you can include a bit more fruit than you might on a regular day.

“Smoothies come in all styles and flavors. These three recipes not only taste refreshing, but they also help you to feel better and are lower in calories than most standard meals.”

The best thing about smoothies is that, if made properly, they can improve your health.

Green smoothies also are lower in calories than most standard meals, so – even though they are rich and filling – reducing fat cells can be an additional result.

elimination diet shopping list idea: smoothies as a cheat meal

The main purpose of smoothies is to improve nutrition and health, but they also can help you drop fat. Many freshly made smoothies have between 285 to 385 calories yet are satisfying – similar to how a milkshake fills you up.

Smoothies are a part of my life. I’m 58 years old and fit.

I wasn’t always as fit as I am now; I use my blender so much because I want to have the high energy and excellent health required to live a passionate life.

I make all kinds of smoothies throughout the week. Some are as thick as ice cream and have more fruit than vegetables, which can be a good choice for a cheat meal.

Mostly, however, I have green smoothies that contain more vegetables than fruit, and I often have those for lunch.

Here are three smoothie recipes for you to try. Compare how your body feels after you drink them – with how you’d normally feel after a snack or a meal.

1. Elimination Diet Shopping List Idea – Breakfast Smoothie

This smoothie is high in leafy greens and delightfully sweet – making it easy to kick-start your healthy day and meet your vegetable quota.

  • Pineapple Juice (1 cup) – This will be the liquid base. If you’d prefer, you can cut your fresh pineapple chunks but be sure to add enough water to cover the blender blades.
  • Kale (2 big handfuls) – This leafy vegetable comes in a dark green or purple color. It is a form of cabbage and has become a fashionable food lately. Many nutritionists label it the most nutritious vegetable and a powerful antioxidant.
  • Parsley (handful) – Often used as a garnish, in this case, it compliments the kale by being mineral-rich and a great antioxidant.
  • Mint Leafs (handful) – Its pleasant taste enhances. Mint also cleans your digestive tract; research indicates it has anti-cancer properties.
  • Ice (1 cup) – Adds a chilled and slushy texture.

You’ll need a good blender to liquidize all those soft leaves.

2. Elimination Diet Shopping List Idea – Mango Surprise Smoothie

Here’s a nutrient-dense super-smoothie that’s extra good for you. This is a more advanced recipe for people who already enjoy the taste of vegetables. If you’re newer to smoothies, you probably want to start with more fruit and possibly even add a little honey or agave to this one.

  • Almond Milk (1/2 cup) – For the liquid base. Almonds are good for digestion and one of the few alkalizing nuts. This milk has a very smooth texture as well.
  • Organic Cucumber (1) – Peel the skin to ensure a smooth texture. This is good for a smoothie and is known for its many healing properties.
  • Organic Spinach (1/2 cup) Very high in iron. You can use fresh or frozen, I prefer frozen for smoothies as it won’t spoil. I can then save the fresh produce for salads.
  • Mango (1/2 cup) – Mango has a flavanoid in it that is anti-aging, but is also great tasting and adds a sweet kick to the smoothie.
  • Plant-based protein powder (2 tablespoons) – Our body builds and repairs itself with protein, so it’s important to ensure we get enough. Adding plant-based protein powder to a smoothie is an effective way to naturally give your body more building blocks.
  • Ice (1 cup) – To add that chilled, smooth taste desirable in a smoothie.

3. Elimination Diet Shopping List Idea – Coco-Cashew Smoothie

This can be either a smoothie on its own or an after-dinner dessert. It will taste like an ice cream milkshake but made from the all-natural sugars found in the ingredients.

  • Dates (6) This super sweet fruit is full of healthy nutrients; make sure to remove the pit first.
  • Cashew Nuts (2 cups) – Soak them in a jar for a few hours to soften and allow the protein level to rise.
  • Raw Cacao (to taste) – A healthier, purer version of chocolate. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons (but don’t go overboard, or it will taste bitter).
  • Peeled Frozen banana (half or whole, depending on preference); this will help give it the texture of a milkshake.

When blended and poured into a glass, sprinkle some carob nibs or nutmeg on top.

“…compare how your body feels after you drink a freshly made smoothie, with how you’d normally feel after a snack or a meal”

You can change and adapt the ingredients and their portions to meet your wants and needs. For instance, I can’t have dates (see recipe above) as I have mold sensitivity. But I use monk fruit instead.

Many Dieters Find the Cheat Meal Helpful for Weight Loss

According to Doctor Oz, for people who lose weight by having a weekly cheat meal, the reasoning is two-fold:

  • cheating stimulates the thyroid gland and turns up the metabolism
  • cheating gets rid of the taboo of wanting what you can’t have, thereby curbing cravings

It’s important to understand that a cheat meal is not a binge day.

•   IDEA: if you like chocolate, try dark chocolate bars with chili peppers (the spice makes it self-limiting, and the capsaicin gets your metabolism going)

Lengthen Your Healthspan Through Calorie Restriction

Research seems to support calorie restriction as a key method for living better for longer. It can be helpful to think of this as extending your “healthspan” instead of only extending your lifespan. The idea isn’t just to live longer; it’s to live longer with great health.

“…if you follow these suggestions then you statistically will have a better chance to live longer and to leave a positive legacy

I know “calorie restriction” has an ominous sound to it. But it’s not so bad. I’m five-foot-nine inches, so as long as my workouts are normal, 2,000 calories a day seems to work fine. Bear in mind that those are 2,000 quality calories.

There are periods when I workout strenuously every day. On those days, I allow myself even more calories.

  • Your height, genetic metabolism, and fat-to-muscle ratio should determine your daily caloric intake.
  • Everybody’s unique, so everybody’s number can be different.
  • Ask your doctor and nutritionist what the right caloric intake is for you.

The bottom line is this: to take your health to the next level, you will likely need to consume more vegetables within your typical daily diet.

Freshly made green smoothies are an excellent solution to the problem of how to consume more vegetables.

This article provides a general overview of one possible anti-inflammatory diet. For complete guidance – and meticulous action steps – on how to successfully do an advanced-level anti-inflammatory diet (and quite possibly to feel and look better than you ever have before), I recommend my course Silver and Strong.”

Additional Sources on Elimination Diet Shopping List and Doing a Cheat Meal Correctly:

Medical Doctor Mehmet Cengiz Öz on Eating Plans that Reduce – http://www.doctoroz.com/

Scholarly Research on Elimination Diet: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/elimination-diet

Science Reveals How Restricting Calories Might Prevent Disease – http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2011/7/Protection-from-Disease-The-CR-Way/Page-01

Lucy’s Cookies – http://www.drlucys.com/ (not anti-inflammatory, just fewer calories than typical cookies)

TruWhip – http://www.truwhip.com/ (not anti-inflammatory, just fewer calories than typical whipped cream)

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