There is so much conflicting “expert” advice out there that only confuses and frustrates people who want real results.
While relying on sound scientific evidence is important, you need to find what works for you. There are studies that support one theory and just as many studies support the apposing theory as well.
By educating yourself and trying new things you can take charge of your well-being and enjoy a full and meaningful life with the energy you deserve.
If you are ready to learn more about eating healthier this article is for you.
The first step
Firstly, we need to understand what is a “healthy” food?
What’s most important is how your body reacts to the food you eat. Even if a food is considered healthy but your response is negative then the food isn’t helping you. For example, almonds are super healthy but not if you’re allergic.
Unfortunately not all food reactions are black and white.
Sometimes these reactions can be so mild that you don’t feel it’s impact in the short term, but over time, like all stress the damage accumulates.
How to become your own expert
To idenfy these food reactions you need to consult an expert on body-food relationships. In your case, there is no bigger expert than YOU.
To help you identify what foods will help and which will hurt, you need to conduct a food experiment.
The foundation of any scientific experiment is to create a working hypothesis.
This means you need to:
- Come up with a theory
- Find a way to test and measure that theory
- Come to a conclusion from your experience
In this case, we are working on the hypothesis whether your diet is affecting you badly or not.
This experiment focuses on finding out how well the body is using carbohydrates as an energy source.
Information: Energy Basics 101
Your body has two main energy pathways.
- The aerobic system - uses fat as the main fuel source
- The anaerobic system - uses sugar called glucose and glycogen that comes from carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are any vegetables, fruits, grains or legumes.
The sugars from carbohydrates get broken down in the digestive tract. They are then converted to glucose in liver.
As glucose is released into the blood, insulin is released from the pancreas.
Insulin helps get the energy into the cells.
Any faults in this process can negatively affect your energy, pain and ability to manage your weight.
A common fault today is nutrient deficiencies. The three main minerals needed for glucose metabolism are zinc, manganese and chromium.
If you eat a diet high in carbohydrates you can create a shortage of these minerals.
As these deficiencies increase they can cause fatigue, hormone imbalance, poor brain function, chronic pain, obesity and even cancer.
Dr Phil Maffetone calls this problem Carbohydrate Intolerance (CI). If you would like to learn more, Dr Maffetone has written a great eight page article on CI and its implications in health and fitness. Click here to check it out.
The following experiment is adapted from Dr Maffetone. The experiment will help you find the right amount of carbs you need to improve vitality and tissue regeneration.
The two week self-evaluation process
Carbohydrate Intolerance (CI) and all problems that come with it usually starts as a hidden problem.
CI starts with mild symptoms that are often ignored and slowly progresses to serious diseases.
In the beginning
The symptoms can be elusive, often associated with difficult to diagnose blood sugar problems, fatigue, intestinal bloating and loss of concentration.
As the stress damage accumulate
The worsening condition is known in the medical community as carbohydrate-lipid metabolism disturbance or hyper-insulinism.
It causes more serious conditions such as hypertension, it elevates triglyceride levels and LDL “bad” cholesterol while lowering HDL “good” cholesterol, and increasing body fat.
When the body stops adapting
As the body buckles under the stress a variety of serious problems, like obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease present.
These end-stage conditions are part of a set of diseases that are now well recognized by modern medicine. They are referred to as Syndrome X, or Metabolic Syndrome.
How to run the test
This test will help you find the best way to get more energy from carbohydrates. If after the two week period you don’t feel any different you may not have an issue digesting carbs, or you may need to refine the test a little.
The test isn’t a permanent diet. You shouldn’t continue with it beyond the fourteen day period. Eating a limited diet like this can lead to nutrient deficiencies over the long term.
It is very important that you never feel hungry during the test. Eat as much of the permitted foods as you want and as often as you need. Keeping a stable blood sugar is an important part of the process to better health. I will discuss this in a future article.
In the decades of working with clients and research, Dr Maffetone says:
“Of all the clinical tools I developed and used for assessment and therapy through my career, the consistency of results from the Two-Week Test surprised me the most.”
“It’s amazing how a person can go from one extreme of poor health to vibrant health in such a short time. It’s simply a matter of removing a major stress factor — refined carbohydrates and excess insulin — and allowing the body to function the way it was originally meant.”
So if you’re ready to feel healthier, let’s see how the test works.
The seven simple steps
- Write down a list of all your signs and symptoms
- Weigh yourself before starting
- Always eat breakfast
- Plan your meals and snacks — buy sufficient foods allowed on the test, and get rid of those not allowed so you’re not tempted
- Eat as much and as often as necessary to never get hungry
- After the test, re-evaluate your signs and symptoms, including weight
- Then begin adding natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to every other meal or snack, and evaluate whether this causes any of your previous signs and symptoms to return.
Proper preparation is key.
If you don’t have the right food on hand when you get hungry you will land up eating junk food and the test becomes worthless.
Preparing meals ahead of time or preparing a few meals in one cooking session can make it easier and less stressful as well.
What to do before the Test
- Record health problems: Make a list of all the symptoms that currenly bother you. This may take a few days since you might not remember them all at once. You will review these complaints after the test to see which ones have and haven’t improved.
- Weigh yourself: This provides another important sign of how your body is working, especially after the test. This is the only instance it’s recommend using the scale for body weight—it’s not a measure of body fat, but it is a good pre/post evaluation. You may lose some excess water (which will show on the scale) and you can start losing body fat as well (which won’t show on the scale). Some people can lose several kilograms during the test.
- Stock up on the right foods: Before you start, make sure you have enough of the foods you’ll be eating. (Suggestions listed below.) In addition, go through your cabinets and refrigerator and get rid of any sweets, foods containing them, and all breads and products made from refined flour. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to eat them if you get cravings during the test.
- Plan correctly: Schedule the test during a two-week period in which you are relatively unlikely to have distractions. It’s a bad idea to do the test during holidays, for example. Don’t worry about cholesterol, fat or calories, or the amount of food you’re eating. This is only a test, not the way you’ll be eating forever.
To help regulate your blood sugar for the day try and eat breakfast within an hour of waking-Even if it’s only a single food or something small.
Doing the test for less than two weeks won’t give you a valid result, if after five days you eat a bowl of pasta or a box of cookies, you will need to start the test over.
During the test: The menu
What makes the Two-Week Test foods acceptable aren’t the foods themselves, but rather their properties.
It’s all about eating unprocessed “real” foods that are low in carbohydrates.
While organic foods are preferable they are not always available and not a concern. The Test can be just as successful on normal produce. Try finding the best local foods you can and don’t stress about making it perfect.
You can assume any foods that are similar to the ones on the list can be eaten. Likewise, with foods that aren’t allowed. For example, if regular potatoes are “NO Foods”, so are similar foods like sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, gold potatoes and yams.
If it comes in a box, bag, jar or can, there’s a good chance it’s a NO Food for the Two-Week Test. Be sure to read the ingredients for all packaged foods, as some form of sugar or carbohydrate is typically added.
Better yet, simply avoid all packaged and processed foods for two weeks!
P.S. If you suffer from any inflammatory conditions watch out for the nightshade family (eggplant, peppers, tomatoes etc.). These vegetables can make you feel worse.
After the two weeks
The Post-Test will help you determine if any of the carbohydrates you cut were problem makers for you.
Your body will be more sensitive now and the impact the food has will be more obvious.
Step 1: Re-evaluation of symptoms
Re-evaluate your original list of complaints after the Two-Week Test:
- Is your energy better?
- Are you sleeping better?
- Are you feeling less depressed?
- Have you lost inches around your waist?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions or you lost body fat, you probably have CI to some extent. People who have a high degree of CI may feel dramatically better than they did before the test, especially if there was a large weight loss.
Any fat loss during the test is not due to reduced calories, but rather to the increased fat-burning resulting from reduced insulin (many people eat more calories than usual during this two-week period). Although some of the change in weight may be due to water loss.
If you are on medication for high blood pressure, ask your health-care professional to check it several times during the test — and especially right after.
Dr Maffetone says “sometimes, blood pressure drops significantly and your medication may need to be adjusted or eliminated — something that should only be done by your health-care professional. As insulin levels drop to normal, high blood pressure typically falls as well.”
If nothing improved during the Two-Week test (and it was done exactly as described above), then you may not be carbohydrate intolerant. But if the test cleared up your signs and symptoms, the next step is to determine how many carbohydrates your body can tolerate without a relapse. This is done by adding a little bit of carbohydrates to your diet.
According to Dr Peter Osbourne, clinical director of Origins Health Care in Sugar Land Texas and Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist, almost a quarter of the population may be sensitive to gluten.
Gluten sensitivity is not a disease - it is a genetic predisposition. Over time this sensitivity can lead to autoimmune disease, cancer and many other conditions.
If you do respond badly when reintroducing grains into your diet you may want to take his Gluten Sensitivity Test.
Step 2: Re-incorporating foods into the diet
The best way to add foods is in the following order. Each day, add one serving of one food to your midday meal, starting with number one and working your way down the list. You want to try only one of these foods per day, meaning that on day two, you do not include servings of food number one.
- Low glycaemic fruits( berries, grapefruit, prunes)
- Medium glycaemic fruits (apple, oranges, pears, strawberries)
- Low gluten grain (whole oats, brown rice), if not intolerant
- High gluten grains (whole wheat, barley), if not intolerant
- One Teaspoon of organic honey with coffee or tea (excluding Agave or any other sugary substance)
If your old symptoms start again, you know that the type of food or the quantity isn’t good for you.
Since insulin production is partly influenced by your previous meal, don’t add carbohydrates in back-to-back meals or snacks.
Make a note of any symptoms you had previously that were eliminated by the test. In particular, look for symptoms that develop immediately after eating, such as intestinal bloating, sleepiness or feelings of depression.
Symptoms of food intolerances can show up several days after eating the suspected food. Try keeping a food journal to keep track.
You should not underestimate the benefits of journaling; it can make the difference between enjoying years of good health and struggling for years to find the culprit of bad health.
If any signs or symptoms that disappeared during or following the Two Week Test have now returned, you’ve probably exceeded your carbohydrate limit. For example:
• You’re getting cravings again.
• You are gaining weight again.
• Your blood pressure rises significantly after it was reduced.
If any of these situations happen, reduce the carbohydrates by half. You can also experiment to see which particular foods cause symptoms and which don’t. Some people return to the Two-Week Test and begin the process again.
A note on bread
Most breads, crackers, cereals and other grains are processed and should be completely avoided. Even those labelled “whole grain” or “one hundred percent whole wheat” are typically processed in some fashion. Read ingredient lists carefully.
Use real-food whole grain products, if you can find them. These include sprouted breads, whole oats (which take thirty to forty five minutes to cook), and other dense products made with just ground wheat, rye, or other grains. If in doubt, avoid them.
Some people can tolerate simple carbohydrates, such as fresh fruits, plain yogurt and honey, but not complex carbohydrates such as sweet potato, whole grains, beans or other starches. (Some people with CI have difficulty digesting starches.)
During the post-test period, it’s easy to determine whether an individual can’t tolerate any wheat products due to sensitivity or even allergy or other response to gluten.
From time to time, you may feel the need to go through a Two Week Test period again to check yourself, or to quickly get back on track after careless eating such as during the holidays, vacations or periods of stress.
Many people find the loss of grains in the diet leaves the digestive tract sluggish and a little constipated. After years of eating lots of carbohydrates, your intestine gets used to that type of bulk. If you become constipated during the Two-Week Test, or afterwards when a lower amount of carbohydrate in the diet is maintained, it could be due to a number of reasons:
- Lack of Fibre
Eating six to nine cups of the allowed vegetables is a great way to get enough fibre. Another great option is adding one to two table spoons of ground flaxseed to one meal per day. Flaxseeds are also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acid (a well know anti-inflammatory and good for your brain and nerves)
If you do need to use a fibre supplement, be sure to use the ones that do not contain sugar, so read the labels.
Psyllium is a high-fibre herb that is an effective promoter of intestinal function. Adding plain unsweetened psyllium to a glass of water, tomato juice, or healthy smoothie can keep your system running smoothly. Add one teaspoon a day for a few days to make sure it’s tolerated. Then move towards one tablespoon a day.
- Dehydration If you don’t drink enough water, you could be predisposed to constipation. During the Two-Week Test, you’ll need more water — up to two to three litres or more per day — which is a normal amount for a person of average weight. Water is better absorpbed in it’s natural state without any additives.
Occasionally, some people get tired during or after the Two-Week Test. Most commonly it’s from not eating enough food, or not eating often enough. The most common problem is not eating breakfast. Most people should not go more than four to five hours without eating something healthy.
Maintaining your food balance
Once you successfully finish the Two-Week Test, and add back the right amount of tolerable carbohydrate foods, you should have an excellent idea of your carbohydrate limits.
Now, you’re on your way to balancing your whole diet. During this process, take the time to learn which of the choices available in supermarkets, farmer’s markets, and elsewhere are truly healthy, and which should be avoided.
While there’s nothing radical about the notion that refined carbohydrates are unhealthy, many radical diet plans make it seem like all carbohydrates are deadly. They’re not. It’s a lot more important to find your level of tolerance.
Once you know it, eat only healthy carbohydrates — lentils, unrefined grains (if tolerated), and raw organic honey as a sweetener.
If you feel great on this process, that’s awesome. Keep going and see where it takes you. If you aren’t happy with the results you need to keep looking.
If you are ready to take the next step to rebuilding your metabolism, naturally removing heavy metals and other toxins that affect your health you may want to check out the Body Balancing R.E.A.L Natural Program For Pain and permanent weightloss. Get more information by clicking here.