What is LEAP?
LEAP (Lifestyle Eating and Performance) ImmunoCalm Dietary Program was established by a team of health professionals including registered dietitians, physicians, immunologists, and others to treat health problems linked with food sensitivities. LEAP isn’t a DIET. The LEAP dietary program tells you what foods to avoid and which foods you should eat to improve your health. Food sensitivities are quite different from food allergies. Food sensitivity refers to difficulty in digesting certain foods or chemicals and can affect every organ in the body. Food sensitivities can be caused by a poor diet, bad gut bacteria, alot of stress, severe trauma, genetics, and exposure to different chemicals. Food allergies are serious and sometimes life threatening. Food allergies happen when the body’s immune sees a certain food as harmful and reacts with symptoms like hives. The top food allergens in the U.S. are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.
Chronic Health Complaints from Food Sensitivities
- Digestive problems (bloating, gas build up)
- Joint and muscle pain
- Tired all the time
- Fluctuating weight
Why did I decide to try LEAP?
Reason 1: Constant hair shedding for nearly a year (hair shedding update below)
My hair was growing but it wasn’t staying. Hair strands easily came out of my hair. I was a nervous wreck every time I washed my hair because clumps of hair was in the drain hair catcher. I didn’t know why. Was it my diet? Stress? Getting older? I started to take Hairfinity vitamins because of the positive online reviews. My hairstylist noticed less shedding after 2 weeks around the same I began to have increased acne breakouts. I stopped taking the vitamins because of the breakouts.
Reason 2: Acne
I’ve been dealing with acne since high school. During multiple breakouts I would see a dermatologis for temporary treatment. Nothing worked for good. After taking the Hairfinity vitamins my face severely broke out. It was out of control. My face felt inflamed. Seeking out a dermatologist was not an option because in my opinion their solutions are temporary. I was looking for a permanent solution.
Reason 3: Fatigue
I looked forward to a 30 minute nap after an 8 hour work day. I usually woke up tired in the morning after sleeping 8 hours. This was very unusual for me. I’m a firm believer in naps but not daily.
I was ready to try a holistic approach to feeling and looking better. After some research, LEAP felt like it would be a perfect fit for me. So I searched online for a registered dietitian who was also a certified leap therapist (CLP). I found registered dietitian nutritionist Jenny Askew on HealthProfs and made an appointment.
What? I can only eat 35 food items?
Step 1: Take a blood test
I took a blood test called the MRT (Mediator Release Test) to identify which foods and food chemicals are causing me problems.
Step 2: Find out which foods I can’t eat
I couldn’t believe the foods and food chemicals I was highly reactive too (foods listed on inserted photo). It’s not based on whether the food is healthy or not so healthy. My meals are healthy most of the time but I got into a rut and started eating the same foods over and over again. No variety.
Step 3: Develop a workable meal plan
For 2 weeks I ate 35 “safe” food items rotating between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Jenny, the registered dietitian nutritionist, and myself came up with a doable meal plan broken down into 3 phases over a 3 month period. She was very patient and encouraging. We planned what I was going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The goal was to eat different foods prepared in different ways. For breakfast I ate tuna and a hard boiled egg on top of green lettuce or a pinto bean and sweet potato soup. There were some odd combinations. I cooked every single day. The first phase was very challenging and restrictive. No dietary supplements, no gluten, no dairy, no caffeine, no alcohol, no added sugars or sweeteners, and no leftovers. Why no leftovers? Well I had a moderate reaction to tyramine a natural substance that in food as it gets older. Whatever I ate in the morning was the same meal at I ate at night. If the LEAP eating plan was going to improve my health I was all in.
What have I gotten myself into?
The first 2 weeks required lots of patience, a strong commitment, a sound strategy, and understanding and support from family and friends. My thinking about food slowly changed. I became creative with building a meal plan with whole foods from each food category on the list: protein, starch (carbs), vegetables, fruits, miscellaneous foods (decaf teas), dairy, nuts/seeds/oils, and flavor enhancers like salt and distilled white vinegar. I ate dinner foods in the morning and breakfast foods at night. It didn’t matter when I ate certain foods as long as the meals were balanced. For 3 months I recorded all the foods I ate and how I felt in a Food/Symptom diary.
In Phase 2 I added a new food while still eating foods from Phase 1 to see how my body would react. A food was off limits if I had any abdominal discomfort or an acne breakout. In Phase 3 I started to eat leftovers again. I noticed a difference in how I felt within 3 weeks. I was sleeping better, didn’t feel as tired, was thinking more clearly and my face was clearing up. I didn’t realize how bad I felt until I began to feel so much better.
- Trying new foods
- Cooking daily
- Aware of how my body reacts to certain foods
- Improved health
- Very hungry during the initial 2 weeks
- Cooking daily
- Unintentional weight loss (5 lb). Gained it back.
- No eating out
A new way of eating
I followed the LEAP dietary plan created for me. This past August, I completed the 3 different phases then slowly started to reintroduce foods I hadn’t eaten in 3 months. I’m wating until November to eat rice again. Rice is a no no for 6 months. I discovered I enjoyed eating foods I haven’t eaten before like cashews, buckwheat, Lifeway Farmers Cheese, and millet. Dairy causes acne breakouts so I avoid it when I can. Eating gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) causes abdominal bloating and discomfort so I try my best to avoid gluten food products too.
The LEAP dietary program is not a FAD DIET. It’s an individually personalized dietary wellness program which I plan to stick with forever. This dietary program has become a natural part of my lifestyle. I feel too good to go back to eating the same foods I ate before. If you’re suffering from abdominal discomfort, constant headaches, joint and muscle pains, fatigue, and weight fluctuations than contact a Registered Dietitian /Certified Leap Therapist right away.
Have you completed the LEAP dietary program? I want to hear about your experience. Please comment below.
*By the way, during my 3 month LEAP journey I received a complimentary trichologist consultation to get to the root of my hair shedding problem. I was told my hair shedding was NOT related to a particular hairstyle or stress but something internal. I got an extensive list of lab tests to give to my primary care physician to find out what changes were going on inside my body. I found out my Vitamin D levels were extremely low. Hair loss is a symptom of Vitamin D deficiency. My doctor prescribed Vitamin D3 1500 IU daily and a week after taking this supplement I’ve notice less hair loss! Are you experiencing hair loss? If you are contact a trichologist who may help you resolve your hair problems.