Food sensitivities seem to be on the rise. Whether the symptoms are finally being recognized or the incidence in truly on the rise, more and more people are determining they have one or more food sensitivities. I deal with food sensitivities every week in my practice. It's impossible to ignore as a dietitian. It was out of frustration with the standard elimination diet and its ineffectiveness for some of my clients that I stumbled upon MRT, Mediator Release Test. Many of you already know about MRT. For those of you who don't, it's the most accurate food sensitivity test on the market that I recommend exclusively for my clients. You can read more in-depth about it at Oxford Biomedical's website. It's gaining in notoriety and popularity. I'm actually becoming more and more surprised how many people are already knowledgeable about the test. What surprises people most often, however, is that the test is just a small fraction of the whole equation. The "diet" protocol is the real key to getting well. To get the best possible outcome (complete resolution of symptoms) you have to follow this diet protocol to a "T." This is the main reason why LEAP clients are so successful. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Over 90% of my clients see dramatic results using MRT + the LEAP diet protocol. It astounds me every time but it works.
But why LEAP? LEAP stands for Lifestyle, Eating, and Performance. It's a protocol tailored specifically for each unique person and their unique test results. No one's food sensitivities are the same, so no one's elimination diet should be the same. That's why I have such a problem with those books that that tell people to eliminate the top allergenic foods and all your problems will go away. While it may work for some, for many it just doesn't solve the problem. The elimination diet should be tailored specifically for each person, their symptoms, and in the case of those who do MRT, their test results.
Let me take you through the process that I walk every one of my client's through. First thing we sit down and review what came back as high reactive (red), moderate reactive (yellow), and non-reactive (green). Based on that we devise a Phase I diet. You only consume the very lowest reactive foods for the first week. As you can see, this can be both challenging and boring. A limited diet is no fun and makes for much more work in the kitchen, but it's doable. I assist by brainstorming meal and snack ideas, offering specific food suggestions, and helping my client make a plan for implementation. Planning is SO important, both mentally and physically. Preparing your mind and your cupboards will set you up for success.
After Phase I we meet again. If everything is going as planned we move on to Phase II. In this phase we start adding back the rest of the "green" foods. We simply add back the rest of the non-reactive foods in a methodical manner to continue to calm the immune system and add more variety back into the diet.
Now Phase II can take a couple weeks. There are quite a few foods to add back in. Once that process is complete and presumably you are feeling great, we move on to Phase III. Of course if you are not feeling amazing for any reason then that is where I help troubleshoot, but for the sake of simplicity let's say everything is progressing as expected. Phase III is where we test back "untested" foods, namely all those foods that aren't included with the MRT test. MRT tests for 150 different foods and chemicals, so clearly it is not exhaustive. We need to have a way to know if any untested foods are causing immune reactions as well. This is another long process but one in which the diet gets progressively more and more inclusive. Oftentimes at this point you take the ball and run. You typically don't need much more help from me except maybe one additional check in or even just a quick email should random questions come up. The process is nearing completion and you have a good idea of what foods you can handle and which you can't.
Of course throughout this time as well we are working on gut healing protocols and considering additional supplementation, if necessary. It all just depends on your unique symptoms and conditions. It's such an extremely tailored process that again, a book or website alone often does not meet the needs of someone with serious food sensitivities.
I'm not bashing on all the books, though. They can be a great guide and motivator and provide some helpful tools and resources to get started on a new diet lifestyle. I'm reading a few right now (which I'll be reviewing, stay tuned!) and they have some fantastic tips and ideas that many people could employ. Just remember to seek expert help when needed instead of shelling out money for more books that only Band aid the problem.
So there you have it. This is a basic summary of the process I use when guiding someone through an elimination diet using MRT that consistently yields positive results. Now compare this to elimination diets you've read about in books or have been suggested to you by other practitioners and you can see why they don't address the entire picture. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work for everyone. Something to think about if you or someone you know is dealing with ongoing food sensitivity reactions.