The Essence of the Lectin-free Diet
From the book, The Plant Paradox, by Dr. Steven R. Gundry MD
Dr. Gundry calls it a “Lectin-Free Diet”. Lectins are in seed hulls and bran and skins. They appeared in people’s diets about 10,000 years ago when some nomads began cultivating crops rather than just gathering and catching their food. When they added cultivating and then domesticated animals (who ate the grains), lectins entered their foods, Dr. Gundry believes (backed by his research), that we are affected by what the animal we eat…has eaten.
For us, that means eating: mainly green leafy vegetables and mostly from the large cruciferous family like cabbage, broccoli, collards, kale, brussels sprouts.
NO starchy vegetables like yams, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas and parsnips …and even then, only moderately in Phase 3.
Other foods: one Avocado each day, Juice of half or one Lemon, a handful of Nuts, 4 oz max Grass-fed Meat. or Free-range Poultry (I find turkey is better for me than chicken – even free-range are fed grains). Eggs (only Omega-3 which are fed flax which is a lectin-free seed and therefore okay).
NO grains except for millet and sorghum (and these only in moderation).
No fruits…except avocados …or except local fruit in season …and in moderation even then. For us, in our northern climate, that would mean apples, pears, peaches, plums and berries (but only in season).
NO starchy veggies like yams, sweet potatoes, turnips and parsnips in Phase 1 & 2 (in moderation and only in Phase 3 of the Lectin-free program).
No veggies that have seeds in them like zucchini, squash, tomatoes, peppers.
No nightshade family like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant.
No beans and legumes (except Eden brand of canned legumes) in moderation in Phase 3. The Eden’s pressure cooks theirs and this process reduces or eliminates the lectins).
Many oils are eliminated – but best are Coconut oil, Olive oil, Avocado oil, Sesame oil.
Many nuts are on NO list – but some are lectin free (such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia, brazils)
No sugars….stevia and inulin are allowed – plus a few lesser-known ones
That’s a lot of “NO’s”! However, once you settle into the foods and meals that you can eat, the “off limits” foods begin to fade away into the distance. There are many other details to know about – but I think that’s a good enough start.
The recommended approach is to begin with Phase One which is a 3-day “fast”. It’s not a true “fast” but is highly restricted. I found that 3 days went by fast – so I began this way. On the Fourth day you begin Phase 2. This phase is until free of your unhealthy symptoms – usually at 20 days there is a noticeable improvement but 3 months is what Dr. Gundry recommends….or until symptom-free. Dr. Gundry’s book documents this well – an explanation as to the whys and wherefores of a lectin-free diet. Dr. Gundry lays out meal plans for each of the 3 phases – followed by recipes.
Phase 3 is only for when you are satisfied that you are symptom-free. Even then, Phase 3 should be entered cautiously and with care. The foods that are added are things like starches (non-grain i.e. Nut flours like almond flour (so you can now bake) and foods that your body is more apt to have a reaction to. At best, they should be thought of as “treats” and introduced one at a time, watching for any health reaction (if you have done allergy testing before, you know how it goes). You never introduce more than one at a time in the same day or two. That way a reaction will be noticeable and traceable to the correct food. Then eliminate the new food and study for reaction and re-introduce and study again. This way you are sure if the new food is on your Yes List or your No List. Don’t be in a hurry – you’ve waited 3+ months…you can wait a little longer. Most of these new foods should, at best, be on your “Yes – In Moderation List.
I recommend following Dr. Gundry’s plan exactly, because then you are doing it right and covering all your bases. I thought that if I didn’t follow it exactly, and then if it didn’t work for me, I wouldn’t know if it was because the diet wasn’t right for me…or because I hadn’t followed Dr. Gundry’s instructions exactly.
If you decide to do the Lectn-free Diet, I also recommend clearing your fridge of things you can’t eat and go shopping for the food you will need for at least the 1st 3 days – and maybe even for some things that will get you mostly through your first week plus the first few days of Phase 2. That was my downfall – and it is a serious emotion-producing one. It’s best to do good planning and preparation.
I thought that following this way of eating would be difficult. It was in the very beginning, but I soon became excited. I found it empowering and I felt in control of my body and health for the the first time ever. In reality, this “diet” hugely reduced my choice of foods to eat. However I discovered that there was an enormous world of foods on the Yes List – and by now, in my diet – that I had not been eating…and there’s many more that I haven’t tried yet!
So I am still on Phase 2 (just over 3 months.) but that’s because, even though I have lost the symptoms that were a high priority, I wanted to spend more time introducing and playing around with some of my longtime “suspect” foods in order to get clear which foods I should remove from the Yes list because they don’t agree with me, personally, for reasons other than lectins. There aren’t many of those – mostly the NO List handled my longtime suspect foods!
Signing off for now.