A Healthy Spin on Dieting
If you are like most people, you probably eat the same meals daily or weekly, because they might be easy dishes, favorite foods, or just familiar foods. For example, we’ve heard many dieters tell us that they eat the same thing for breakfast every morning because it makes it easy to maintain a healthy habit. But here’s an idea: switch it up!
A rotation diet is often used as a tool to diagnose or treat non-fixed food allergies (also called food intolerances or sensitivities). On a 4-day rotation diet, a food eaten on day 1 is not eaten again on days 2–4. The rotation diet was introduced in 1934 by Dr. Herbert Rinkel as a way to allow the body to recover from exposure to foods that could be causing a bad reaction. Food intolerance, unlike classic food allergies, can often be reversed by avoiding certain foods or eating them infrequently.
So how can the rotation diet help with weight loss? Here are three ways mixing it up can help you lose those stubborn pounds.
1. Tame Allergic Cravings
Are you constantly craving a specific food? You could be experiencing an allergic craving. It sounds strange, but the biochemisty of food cravings explains why we want foods that are actually bad for us. When the body is exposed to a food that causes an allergic reaction, it releases natural opiates to cope with the stress of the reaction. Over time, the body adapts to the exposure, suppressing obvious symptoms of the allergic reaction but still releasing feel-good chemicals. However, the more subtle reactions of food intolerances are still experienced, including symptoms such as sluggishness, weight gain, constipation, sleep disorders, headaches and many more.
“Weight tends to normalize when food allergies are controlled and allergic cravings and food addictions are eliminated”1
If you reduce exposure to any one food by following a rotation diet, you can help to stop allergic cravings and follow a healthier eating routine.
2. Eliminate Processed Foods
A rotation diet avoids any processed, packaged and fast foods, because they often contain hidden additives and allergens. The focus is on fresh, nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods so that you can isolate each separate food that might be problematic. And because you are eating a variety of foods over the course of each 4-day period, your body is getting a full spectrum of nutrients to support healthy functioning. Eating a wide variety of foods also keeps us from feeling deprived and compensating by overeating.
3. Easy to Digest
Food intolerances often cause symptoms in the digestive system such as constipation, a weakened intestinal barrier or bloating. By following a rotation diet, you may be able to determine your food allergies and improve the function of your digestive system. The foods that most commonly cause allergic reactions are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. While certain foods like peanuts and shellfish usually cause immediate and servere allergic reactions, other foods like milk and wheat may cause more subtle reactions that take longer to appear and can be harder to diagnose. If you are able to isolate and identify foods that cause reactions, especially in your digestive system, you may be able to lose weight by cutting those foods out of your diet.
If you think you may have food intolerances, try eliminating that food for at least four weeks and see if you notice any changes. Note that you may experience some withdrawal symptoms for certain foods, so be patient and allow your body to adjust. Following a strict rotation diet can be challenging, so an easy way to get started is just to add more variety to your diet. Eating an apple a day? Try mixing it up with pears, mangoes and peaches. If you are interesting in the 4-day rotation diet, this is a resource to help you get started.
1 Dumke, Nicolette M. The ultimate food allergy cookbook and survival guide. Louisville: Allergy Adapt, 2007.
The information contained herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and before beginning any nutritional program.