You are eating all of the right things, but you can’t seem to lose weight. Kristen White speaks to fitness expert and bestselling author JJ Virgin, who reckons your “diet foods” may be to blame.
One day we wake up and we start to feel less energetic, more bloated, perhaps even achy in our joints and sore in our gut. We assume this is what happens as we age. The extra few pounds we gain every year, well that’s just part of the protocol, too. Right?
You may be eating all of the right things – low fat yogurt, egg whites, orange juice, perhaps even tofu, but you are still having trouble shedding those few extra pounds.
In her ground-breaking book, The Virgin Diet: Why Food Intolerance is the Real Cause of Weight Gain, JJ Virgin reveals that food intolerance is the culprit triggering stubborn weight gain and a host of other nasty symptoms like breakouts, headaches and a bloated stomach.
“Food intolerance is an umbrella term,” says Virgin. “That covers three other ways that foods impacts the body.” However, there is not a set medical definition for this category, which includes food sensitivities, true intolerance and food reactions. These are in addition to diagnosed deadly food allergies, for example, if someone is allergic, we have to remove the peanuts from the room. There are genetic issues with certain foods. For example, one in 133 people have undiagnosed Celiac disease, an allergy to wheat, or they are lactose intolerant. Some people have issues with sugar and insulin resistance. Fortunately, food allergies are rare, and many of us do not have a food-based disease.
But, what about the rest of us? On one hand we feel fine after we eat, and on the other hand we realise we feel bad, but up to this point we have not been able to connect the dots between our depression, skin rashes and throat clearing. The answer may be in your kitchen. “Your body is its own best test,” says Virgin.
How do you feel after you eat a certain food? It may not be immediate. For example, the egg white omelette with cheese you ate on Monday may be causing you cramping and constipation on Thursday. “Most people don’t even realise what it feels like to truly feel good,” says Virgin.
The best way to learn is to eliminate seven key foods for three weeks and find out exactly what your body likes. This is not a starvation diet. You can’t just take things away. That would make you hungry, anxiety-ridden and crabby.
Here are the seven foods to avoid and what to substitute them with:
Sugar/ Artificial Sweetners : Stevia
Eggs : Shakes (The Virgin Shake)
Dairy : Hummus/Guacamole
Gluten : Quinoa
Corn : Lentils
Peanuts : Almonds
Soy : Raw Foods
After 21 days, you will begin to notice that your mental fog has started to dissipate. You begin to see that perhaps certain foods were harmful to you, but the only way to find out is to remove them from your diet completely for a period of time. Virgin says it’s important to not “cheat” during the 21 days. Any amount of a food that you have a reaction too will trigger inflammation.
Virgin says she’s worked with doctors, celebrities and clients for years and she began to see a pattern between certain foods and symptoms. She also noticed, when the food was eliminated, the symptom would disappear, even if the symptom had been around for years.
“When you’ve been eating the same foods for your entire life,” Virgin says, “the best way to get started is to clean out you pantry. Remove the tempting foods from the house and replace them with alternatives. In the beginning there will be a period where you crave the old foods, but this is part of the process. In a strange twist, we are attracted to what our body has a reaction too.”
According to Virgin, this is a lifestyle shift. After the 21 days, you can start to add foods back into your diet, but go slowly and pay close attention to how they make you feel. This is a valid exploration for men and women, as they can both have issues with food. However, women also have the added challenge with hormone levels and stress. After, 21 days you will have a clear picture of how you can feel every day.