I’ve had some chronic health issues for most of my life. I won’t get into them. Recently, in the past few years, they had gotten much worse, and, upon the complete failure of the medical establishment to provide any answers, I started looking into the massive impact that diet and (by association) lifestyle has on our health. This line of inquiry led me, through grace and by grit, to Sarah Ballantyne’s exceptional (well-written, rigorously researched) labor of love on diet and lifestyle factors impacting optimal human health.
The major process of resolving chronic health issues (whether physical, physiological, neurological, emotional, digestive, etc) involves making health-supporting lifestyle and dietary changes. Most of the dietary work comes in the form of an elimination diet, which means getting rid of (potentially or confirmed) problematic foods responsible for creating or exacerbating health issues, to cause a permanent remission in chronic health symptoms. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you “cure” your condition, but it gives you the capacity to live without the negative symptoms (such as allergies, frequent illness, digestive upset, migraines, brain fog, anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain, etc) which is pretty darn cool. Sarah Ballantyne’s book is by far (note the triple emphasis: bold, underline and italic) the best guide to this process I have found. I’m not getting paid to write this by anyone (unfortunately). I just can’t recommend it highly enough. Ballantyne writes with a rare combination of ethical sensitivity, intellectual rigor, passion and competency. In my opinion, a rare kind of genius.
By eliminating problematic foods, supporting our health with optimal nutrition and lifestyle factors, we heal the damage done to our bodies over the years, and allow it to recover. The length of the healing process depends on how effectively we eliminate problematic foods (typically grains, legumes and other seed-based foods [aka, “pseudo-grains” like quinoa and buckwheat], allergens, dairy, alcohol and nightshades) and how much damage our bodies have already sustained. A consistent remission of symptoms indicates that healing is occurring (for people who got it real bad, a consistent cessation of symptom worsening may be all they can hope for).
Toward the end of the elimination diet and healing process, people who feel better have the option of undergoing a food testing process to determine their food sensitivities. It’s not nutritionally-necessary, but it can make life in society that dumps problematic foods all over the place a lot easier when we know what we absolutely need to avoid under any circumstance, and stuff we can cheat on every now and then for the sake of social flexibility without too serious of consequences.
When I first started on this journey, the very concept of an “elimination diet” confused me immensely. What to eliminate? How? When? For how long? What’s this “testing process?” Sarah’s book explained all this finally in such a fantastic way, I feel like it’s my turn to contribute some resources to this growing (and I think, very positive) trend of people treating chronic health issues via diet and lifestyle changes instead of through drugs.
Food Testing Tool
After searching and searching, I could not find a tool that
So I created this tool for two reasons:
- Because I feel, for the first time in my life, optimistic about my long-term health prospects. I will get to the “testing stage” and when I do, I want to be ready for it, to set myself up for success.
- I have yet to find a decent, practical resource for oral food challenge tests. Sarah Ballantyne’s book explains the process well enough (many other books try and fail).
My Creative Commons contribution is a distillation of the practical considerations for the testing process:
- challenge_chart_instructions: A short set of instructions written as a 10-step process
- challenge_chart: A printable chart to help people track and organize important information through the testing process
- The Paleo Approach_Reintroducing_Foods: A short excerpt of the testing process from Ballantyne’s book as an additional reference material, under fair use consideration for educational purposes. I strongly recommend you just get the whole book, because it provides a lot of very useful additional information. It’s been worth more than its weight in gold for me, including the emotional support that it has provided through this difficult process.