When I started the Living LEAP series I gave you a little background on my issues, explained food sensitivities, and shared why I chose to do MRT/LEAP. Then I walked you through the results of my MRT blood test for food sensitivities. And now here we are – ready to get started on LEAP!
LEAP stands for Lifestyle, Eating, And Performance and is a plan that systematically builds a healthy diet of foods that can be tolerated by your body. It is an immuncocalm diet. There are 6 phases. The foods that are allowed in each phase are determined by the results of the MRT test.
You start with the least reactive foods first. It can be a bit restrictive but luckily Phase 1 usually only lasts for a few weeks. The focus of Phase 1 is to get you feeling better and hopefully eliminate most if not all of your symptoms by only eating 20-25 of your low reactive foods. Phase 1 is a healing process. Once there is significant symptom resolution you move on to Phase 2 – where you introduce one food at a time (much like you do with babies who are learning to eat). You try your “new” food a few times over the course of 1-2 days and note any reactions. If none occur the food is “safe” to eat and you can move on to the next food item on your list. As you can imagine it takes awhile to get through all the foods.
Phases 3, 4 and 5, are the same as Phase 2 except you are slowly testing out foods you were more reactive to (items that scored “yellow” and “red” on the MRT). Generally, foods that scored moderately reactive (yellow) are avoided for 3 months and highly reactive foods (red) are avoided for 6 months. Phase 6 (usually at the 6 month mark) is when you challenge foods that the MRT did not test so you can determine your tolerance level. You also begin a rotation diet in Phase 6. The rotation diet ensures that certain foods/food families are not over-consumed to the point where you lose a tolerance for them or even become sensitive. Phase 6 is basically where you’re on your own. You’ve learned how to eat and what to and now you just live your life.
Recap of Phase 1 so far:
I did an inventory and purge of most of my make-up, beauty, and hygiene products.
Many contained things I’m sensitive to like sulfates, salicylic acid, oats, soybean oil, and red dyes (I’m particularly reactive to Red #40).
I swapped out my beauty/hygiene products as best I could. Below are the products I’m currently using and a little review:
- Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap (Tea Tree): Using for about 2 weeks. It has replaced our kitchen & bathroom hand soaps and I’m using it as body wash in the shower. I just did a 50/50 mix of water & soap and put it in pump/spray dispensers.
- Jason’s Natural Toothpaste (Tea Tree & Cinnamon): Using for a few days. I miss the minty freshness of my old toothpaste but this gets the job done, has great reviews, and grows on you. The cinnamon gives you a little tingle too.
- Alaffia Everyday Shea Moisturizing Shampoo (Lavender): Using for about a week. I usually wash my hair every other day. Right now, by the end of Day 1 I get a small greasy spot at the crown of my head. Day 2 it’s really oily – not a good look or feel. It also seems like the product is weighing my hair down a bit. A little over moisturizing apparently! However, since it takes some time for hair/scalp to adjust to all natural products I’m going to stick it out. I also plan to try using less product, making sure it’s absolutely all washed out of my hair, and testing out the “backwards washing” method (conditioner, then shampoo).
- Coconut Oil: I get mine at Target, Walmart, etc for about $6. You can find it at many grocery stores. Organic, unrefined, and extra-virgin is probably best. I use it instead of lotion. I also mix it with a little sugar or baking soda to use as a face or body scrub. A little goes a long way. When I get a new jar I usually heat it up (either in microwave or under hot water) and pour into smaller containers so I can put one by the sink, in the shower, in the kitchen for cooking, etc. You can then warm it up again for each use if you want it liquid or just scrape some out as a solid; the warmth of your skin will melt it.
A little note – I don’t actually like the smell of tea tree oil and never have. But I’m staying away from salicylic acid and sulfates (which can be found in toothpastes and other minty things) which is why I settled for the natural cinnamon & tea tree toothpaste. As for Dr. Bronner’s… with the orange label and misreading “organic” as orange, you can see where I went wrong. Got it home only to find out it was actually tea tree (hard to admit, but I did this TWICE…doh!). Anyway, tea tree’s tolerable – but when both products run out I’ll look for alternative flavors/scents.
After going through my beauty/hygiene products, I also went through our fridge & kitchen cupboards, did inventory, and separated out “safe” things I could have (which wasn’t very many items – boo! to processed foods and boxed/canned goods – many of the items contained lecithin, sulfates/sulfites, soybean oil, and oats – all of which I’m sensitive + reactive to).
Mr.C & I visited Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Costco etc. to stock up on groceries so I could start the food portion of Phase 1.
I am allowed to consume the following foods during Phase 1:
- Proteins: beef, pork, tilapia, lamb
- Grains & Starches: white potato, quinoa, sweet potatoes, buckwheat
- Vegetables: tomato, mushroom, bell pepper, onion, celery, carrot, string beans, cauliflower, zucchini
- Fruits: apricot, raspberry, orange, apple
- Dairy & Miscellaneous: yogurt/Kefir, goat’s milk (feta), almond milk, cottage cheese
- Nuts & Seeds & Oils: almond, walnut, pecan
- Flavor Enhancers: leek, basil, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon
- Other: Water, salt, distilled white vinegar
Three meals and two-three snacks are recommended. Portion sizes should be sensible. It’s not a calorie focused diet and is very well-balanced (as you can see). You also keep a food journal of what you eat and any symptoms you notice.
A few of the main meals I’ve made include beef stew (organic broth, carrots, potatoes, beef – in the crock pot), pan-fried tilapia with oven roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower, and pork with mushrooms and green beans. Snacks include nuts, apples, clementines (orange family), dried apricots, and frozen raspberries. I tried buckwheat cereal two ways for lunch yesterday – with cinnamon & apples and then with raspberries – still not a fan. Too earthy and too much like oatmeal & quinoa for me (which I also dislike). But I’m keeping an open mind and will continue to try new foods. I also only use salt, pepper, and ghee (clarified butter) to roast my veggies and fish.
How I’m feeling:
I’m 5 days into Phase 1. I’ve lost 3 lbs. I’ve had mild headaches the first few days along with some minor digestive issues and bouts of nausea. It can be a bit discouraging but it’s also a sign that your body is on the road to recovery. You feel worse before you feel better. Why? Well the theory is that your body goes through withdrawal symptoms when you avoid your reactive foods (food sensitivity has been likened to food addiction in that respect). During Phase 1 your body goes through a bit of a detox. Consuming lot of water helps (but that’s been a bit of a struggle with the nausea). The good news is that my more major GI troubles have not surfaced at all so hopefully after sticking with Phase 1 for a while longer – my symptoms will completely clear up! Most people who have done the LEAP plan have reported improved energy, better digestion, weight loss, less food cravings, joint pain relief, clearly thinking, and an all-over better sense of well-being.
Since Phase 1 can be the tough – I’m very grateful for supportive friends + family who are understanding of the process and for my dietitian, Komel, and her guidance, advice, and recipes.
See you back here next week with a status update. Hopefully I’ll be moving on to Phase 2 – but we’ll see!
To read the next installment of this series click here.