Many of us have been through an elimination diet or food plan. The process is to completely exclude specific inflammatory foods (such as gluten, soy, sugar, dairy) all at once and add each one back, one at a time over a period of time, to figure out which food may be triggering particular symptoms.

(By the way, I don’t like the word “diet” unless we are referring to a proper name, like Paleo Diet. This is a danger zone so beware!)

An elimination food plan may be an automatic thing that you offer to your clients, particularly if they come to you with a lot of symptoms, issues or a doctor diagnosis.

Eliminating favorite foods for a new client can be very stressful! As a health coach, you know that when our bodies are stressed libido and digestive abilities (lower stomach acid) can be affected. The last thing that we want to do when working with a new client is stress them out. This could make their presenting issues worsen.

I like taking one step at a time in the other direction. I call this the Backwards Elimination Plan. Instead, encourage your client to take out one inflammatory food that potentially could be bothering them. Then give it time to see if symptoms improve or if they feel better. If they don’t improve suggest that they consider removing another food.

You may start with gluten or sugar, whatever would cause the least amount of stress for that particular client. Make them feel more supported. When we say that we “meet people where we are” (which is what we should be doing) this is an example of doing that.

Removing all inflammatory foods can be stressful for most people. Using the Backwards Elimination Plan is the softer, gentler approach which supports our client where they are. You’ll have a lot more success with clients and they will love sharing their success story with their friends and family.

Word of mouth is the biggest business builder. If your clients are sharing that they had to give up all the food they loved and found it a stressful challenge, that wouldn’t bode well for your health coaching practice. Whether they got better or not, it’s a part of the story they would share. You don’t want the story about working with you to be, “It was really, really hard. She made me give up all kinds of good food. But it totally worked though.” What do you think people are going to remember? Yes, the hard stuff. This may scare them away before you’ve even had a chance to talk to them.

It’s a better marketing tactic, a better way to get referrals from word of mouth and just an easier, low-stress way of working with you clients. Consider doing the Backwards Elimination Plan. This has been working for over six years doing this process with my clients. Give it a try and see how this can work for you. It can be so much more powerful for both you and your clients.