Introducing Nurse Practitioner Lisa Underhill.
Hello! I’m excited to join the team at the Centre for Health Innovation. My name is Lisa. I’ve been
a nurse my entire career and a nurse practitioner for the past 10 years. It’s always been my vision
to work in integrative/functional medicine. I’m thrilled it’s happening!
I love learning. I’m taking this fabulous three month course in functional medicine offered by the
Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). I’m participating in one of their key programs called an
elimination diet. I thought I’d share more about this program and some of my own experiences
and lessons learned. More on caffeine withdrawal later 🙂
Is it a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?
Sometimes there is so much happening in our guts that an elimination diet can clear the deck to
see what is really going on. The first time I did an elimination diet I was pleasantly surprised to
see how much more energy and better I felt overall. We can have so many different reactions to
foods such as immune related reactions including allergies and food sensitivities. Food allergies
are more immediate reactions and sensitivities can be a delayed immune reaction. We can also
have non immune related reactions which includes food intolerances such as lactose,
histamines, or FODMAPS (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and
polyols). FODMAPS are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine poorly
absorbs and can result in digestive upset. Food intolerances and sensitivities are much more
common than food allergies.
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet is a controlled step by step process to uncover foods that may be triggering a
gut reaction or inflammation in your body. It helps to lower inflammation. It is not designed to
be a way of eating for life and nor should it be calorie restrictive.
This program takes place over a three to six week period whereby you remove the top five allergenic
foods such as eggs, soy, dairy, gluten and corn in addition to removing refined sugars, caffeine,
chocolate and alcohol. It might sound daunting. It can be modified. You can choose not to
remove caffeine for example. The first few times I did an elimination diet I didn’t remove caffeine
however this time I did.
The three – six weeks of removing possible allergenic foods is followed by a period of carefully
reintroducing one food at a time over a 3 day period to monitor for any health/gut reactions. This
is the part that often can get overlooked. The first time I did an elimination diet I didn’t take the
time to reintroduce one food at a time so I wasn’t able to identify what might possibly be causing
a reaction. Sometimes a food sensitivity can show up as skin issues, it’s not always a gut
Not everyone should do an elimination diet
Firstly, talk to your practitioner if this is a good fit for you. It’s not recommended to do an
elimination diet if you are pregnant, breast feeding, have a history of or an active eating
disorder, or disordered eating behaviors, and if you are constipated (you will be detoxing during
this program so you want to be sure you are having regular BM’s before starting).
How to set yourself up for success: Plan ahead
Getting prepared sets you up for success. Get your kitchen ready. If you are doing this alone in
your family then it is helpful to create an area in your cupboard and fridge that has food you can
eat. Take the list of foods that are included in the elimination diet when you go grocery
If giving up caffeine is too daunting at this time you can still do the elimination diet. Green tea is
part of the program as it has many anti-inflammatory effects. It does have caffeine so if you are
sensitive to caffeine it might be worthwhile to stop all caffeine.
There are lots of tasty healthy options
Don’t go hungry! This program is not designed for weight loss however it can occur because
your body can release fluids and inflammation. If you do not want to lose weight it’s important to
ensure you are getting adequate caloric intake with sufficient protein and fats. You can eat so
many tasty foods, including fish, chicken, beans, grass fed lamb and buffalo, olive oil, gluten
free whole grains, quinoa, seeds and nuts along with tons of vegetables and fruits.
Don’t do it alone
Get support! It’s important to check in with your practitioner especially around day 10 and also
when you are ready to start to reintroduce foods. This is one of the most important phases that
often gets overlooked or is rushed.
Does this sound like a next step for you in your health journey?
If so, please discuss with your practitioner.
I’m also offering free 15 minute calls to see if working with me on this program is a good fit for
you. I can provide you with handouts, recipes and support to go through an elimination diet if
you feel this would be beneficial for your health.
https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/toolkit-heal-microbiome-ifm-elimination-diet/ Heal the Gut
With the IFM Elimination Diet
v9-1.pdf. Elimination diet food plan