Elimination Diet: A Three-week Program to Reset My Eating Habits

By Jenna Schifferle

There’s an old saying that goes: You can’t outrun a bad diet. The older I get, the more I realize the truth in this statement. 

For years, I used running as my sole form of “healthy” — to gain energy, lose weight and clear my mind. I learned to eat for recovery and long runs, but I never quite learned what to eat. Over time, I’ve come to realize that the foods that go into my body often matter more than the miles I cover. 

As in-person races resume and I prepare for 30 miles on my 30th birthday, I decided to consult a dietitian for insights into my eating habits. A recent stint with gallbladder issues and digestive problems spurred me to take action. So, I scheduled a two-hour consultation with Buffalo Nutrition & Dietetics, where we went through my entire family history, medical records, eating habits and more. 

The session covered all facets of my health, and the dietitian provided me with more insights on my overall wellness than I ever would have thought possible. At the end of our time, she assigned me an elimination diet, a regimented, three-week program to reset my eating habits and determine any food sensitivities. This began with me completely cutting out processed sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol. 

A few days in, the cravings hit me hard. I want chocolate; I want pizza; I want to guzzle a ton of coffee. Instead, I eat fruits, vegetables, brown rice, white meats and gluten-free bread. I sit with my cravings for a good long time and wait for them to fade, and it gets easier as the days pass. Now, I feel brighter, more clear-minded and ready for anything. 

I’ve given my body a few days to acclimate to this new diet while refraining from running. This weekend, I’ll test out a long run and see how my body does with the dietary changes. That said, I’m optimistic that this change will be good for me. At very least, I hope to determine if I have any food triggers and inspire myself to continue cooking healthy meals long after the diet has ended.

We all know that a healthy diet can impact your mood, energy levels and overall health. What’s great is that you don’t have to do an elimination diet and cut out everything bad to be healthy. Sometimes, a simple change like cutting down on caffeine or skipping the fried food can make a big difference. Small steps lead to big changes, and sometimes all it takes is for you to start moving. That philosophy has been a cornerstone in my life, with both running and this new dietary initiative. 

Next month, I’ll be taking the first step toward my 30 miles for my 30th birthday. Until then, I encourage you to take the first step toward whatever you’re striving for in your life. I know you can do it. Until the big 3-0!