Elemental Diet Program
Elemental Diet Program
An Elemental Diet is a very well-researched, incredibly safe and effective treatment for a variety of health concerns. An Elemental Diet has been studied and used as a treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s & Colitis), pancreatitis, and other digestive disorders. More recently, the Elemental Diet has been studied as an effective treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
Additionally, Elemental Diets are being used for other health conditions such as multiple food intolerances, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Cystic Fibrosis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
What is an Elemental Diet?
An Elemental Diet (ED) is a medical food consisting of hypoallergenic powdered nutrients in an easily absorbed & pre-digested form. Elemental Formulas contain all of the nutrients that humans require, broken down into their simplest form (amino acids, simple sugars, fats, vitamins & minerals) so that they are absorbed rapidly and require minimal digestion.
If you are interested in consulting with Debbie about doing an Elemental Diet, please take a look at the two blog posts below.
In the post titled Our 2-Weeks Without Food, we discuss our personal experience doing an Elemental Diet together. In addition to our story, we compiled much of the research that has been done on Elemental Diets for various conditions.
In the second post, Using an Elemental Diet to Treat SIBO & IBS, we discuss what SIBO is, the symptoms, and how to test for it. We highlight the use of Elemental Diets in the treatment of SIBO using two case studies.
Since June of 2018, Debbie has guided 30+ clients through 2-week Elemental Diet programs for a variety of health conditions – with some pretty impressive results! We have asked several of these clients to share their experience, in their own words, so you can read their amazing success stories below.
If you have any of these conditions and think that an Elemental Diet might benefit you, please reach out to Debbie so we can determine if this program might be for you.
What the Elemental Diet Program Covers
- The Elemental Diet Process and the results you can achieve
- How to calculate your personal caloric requirements and optimize drinking your shakes
- Tips to overcome challenges and harness the greatest possible benefits
- Which supplements to include and avoid during the diet
- Allowable beverages to consume in conjunction with the Elemental Diet
- Instructions for ordering your elemental shakes
(usually ½ hour, ideally 3-5 days after starting your ED)
- Troubleshooting any challenges and side-effects you may be experiencing
- What to expect in the upcoming days
- The power of your frame of mind
- Keeping your eye on the prize – all the benefits that your body is reaping!
(1 hour, approximately 3 days before transitioning off your ED)
- Transitioning off the Elemental Diet and reintroducing foods
- Reintroducing supplements
- Restoring the microbiome with foods and other practices
- Maintaining the benefits of all your hard work
- How to use a partial Elemental Diet
- Special instructions for those who will be retesting SIBO
(½ -1 hour, 1-2 weeks post-ED)
- Quick check in on progress and symptoms, post-Elemental Diet
- Review SIBO retest results (if applicable)
Debbie’s Clients’ Elemental Diet Success Stories
SIBO: Indigestion - Bloating - Abdominal Discomfort - Limited Diet (Emily H. Success Story)
As someone who has suffered with gut issues for the past 10 years, it has often felt like a life sentence. My experiences with doctors over the years have led to blanket diagnoses with little relief from treatment. I started working with Debbie last spring after being diagnosed with SIBO for the third time and having gone through 2 rounds of antibiotics. My diet was restricted and I felt tired and bloated all the time. I was hesitant to try the Elemental Diet at first because I was worried that I would lose weight and that my energy levels would plunge even more. I was pleasantly surprised when the Elemental Diet actually helped stabilize my energy throughout the day- and my mood as well! I experienced “die-off” symptoms for 2 days out of a total of 14 and while I opted for a more gentle schedule for that period of time, I did not need to take time off of work.
I think the hardest part for me was taking a break from my usual active lifestyle, but prioritizing my body’s well-being was worth it. After completing the Elemental Diet, I re-tested for SIBO and my numbers dropped from 80 to zero! My regular symptoms of indigestion, bloating, and discomfort after meals are now less severe, and I’ve been able to reintroduce tomato, onion, garlic, and coconut to my diet. Completing the Elemental Diet was totally worth it in my book and I am still reaping the rewards 5 months out.
Crohn's Disease: Diarrhea - Inability to Get off Steroid Drugs (NWS Success Story)
At age 74 I considered myself to be in pretty good health. Then in April 2018 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. My doctor assured me it was slow moving, it could be worse, and to keep as active as possible. Then in June I came down with a terrible bout of diarrhea, (the first of any length in my life) which put me in the hospital for twelve days. Long story short I was released twenty pounds lighter with prescriptions for the steroid Prednisone, the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug Mesalamine, various diarrhea meds and a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease.
Not only did the medications scare me to death but I couldn’t pronounce them, spell them or get my head around what had come over me. Enter Debbie. Our first chat left me thinking how could my doctor and this woman be so far apart. But if what she says works then I must give it a try to get some semblance of my life back.
Over the summer at Debbie’s suggestion I went on some supplements and made diet restrictions of no gluten or dairy. Also about this time my doctor convinced me I needed to be on the immunosuppressive drug, Humira.
I had a month of feeling good enough to try to taper off the steroid, but after two false starts, Debbie suggested I try the Elemental Diet for two weeks exclusively as a way to really give my digestive track time to heal. I had been taking it for breakfast for some time but balked at the thought of no food for two weeks straight. However, the fear of not being able to get off the steroid convinced me I must try.
With no family to take care of but my husband I was able to do my shakes and stay out of the kitchen for the most part, but as a self- proclaimed “foodie” it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life! However, when you are faced with life with a compromised immune system or life with diet restrictions, I chose the latter.
I am now in the 6th week of a very slow steroid taper and feeling better than I have in months. Also, I feel like I have a recourse of going back on the ED if I get off track and diarrhea returns. But so far so good. My plan is to taper off all drugs one by one.
Lastly, I realize I have a long way to go and must be ever vigilant to succeed. But I have chosen to not fill my body with mega drugs. And I feel the Elemental Diet made this all possible.
Ulcerative Colitis: Early Intervention for Flare-Up (Shelby H. Success Story)
I’m so glad that I participated in the Elemental Diet. I have struggled with digestive problem for years. Diagnosed with IBD (UC). I have managed my condition with tweaks to my diet (gluten free, whole foods) and medications. However, with early signs of another flare I reached out to Debbie to learn more about the Elemental approach. Debbie was fantastic. She explains everything in a clear and concise manner. Very helpful tricks and tips to prepare for the two week diet.
I never felt hungry. The shakes seemed a bit too sweet for me at first, but after a few days I really started to enjoy the taste. Suggestion: Add ice! Even though I missed eating, I know this was a great healing benefit for my stomach. To just relax, and not have to digest food for a while.
I am thankful for discovering the Elemental Diet, and I am hoping to use it annually as a reset for my gut health!! Highly recommend.
Multiple Food Sensitivities - GI Distress (Mary Anne Success Story)
I’m so thankful to Debbie for her knowledge, kindness and compassion. I have multiple health issues that had combined to leave me sensitive to most food and in a near constant state of GI distress. I approached Debbie to see if she could help guide me through the elemental diet as a total gut reset.
It has been wonderful for me. Although the shakes weren’t the most delicious things, they aren’t bad and only take a little time to get used to. After day two, I had ZERO GI symptoms for the rest of the program. I can’t tell you how many years it’s been since that happened. It felt so wonderful!
After the ten days I ended up staying on the elemental diet it was easy for me to discover and eliminate a few other foods that caused me distress. I would say that my GI symptoms are 75% better than they were before the diet. My favorite part is that now with the elemental shakes, I can travel again and I don’t have to worry if I will be able to find safe food!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Abdominal Pain | Weight Loss (Margaret S. Success Story)
Since the early 2000’s, I began experiencing gut issues due to dairy, and eventually gluten became a problem as well. Luckily, I began working with Debbie not long after my symptoms began and she helped me follow an “almost” 100% gluten free/dairy free diet. In general, when I’ve adhered to eating GF/DF my digestion has been calm. However, removing dairy completely has been a struggle as it’s always been a strong craving for me – and sugar has been my strongest craving since childhood. In short, sugar and small bits of dairy have caused me consistent stomach pain on and off for years.
I was feeling hopeless and powerless until I saw Debbie’s blog post about the Elemental Diet- it was like she wrote that post specifically for me!! Initially I felt nervous and fearful but with Debbie’s encouragement I took the plunge. I’m not going to lie, it was a difficult – but 2 weeks was TOTALLY WORTH IT!! I even did 3 days of the ED whilst visiting my bestie and her 5-star chef husband in another state. It can be done!
During and after the ED, my digestion felt light and my stomach pains were gone completely. And I lost about 7-8 stubborn pounds! The ED was a powerful way to reset and cleanse my digestive system. It also gave me back control over what goes in my mouth, since I don’t want to do another 2 weeks anytime soon! But I love knowing that I can do the ED whenever I need a reset. Thank you for all of your guidance and support Debbie!
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Constipation - Bloating - Pain - SIBO | Skin Issues: Rosacea | Arthritis (Kathleen P. Success Story)
After many years of being told I had a “slow digestive system” and being constantly nauseous – toxic from literally being full of sh*t (sorry but true!) – I had the pleasure of bloating to the point of looking 6 months pregnant pretty consistently, intense gut pain and skin issues. For two years, I eliminated gluten and dairy and worked with a Physical Therapist to release adhesions (scar tissue from the inflammation). There was clearly chronic systemic inflammation and my diet became more limited as symptoms persisted, although with some relief at times. During this time, I suffered a spinal injury that resulted in nerve damage and the loss of strength and fine motor skills in my right arm. Many doctors later, and refusing spinal surgery multiple times, it was brought to my attention that my inflammation that originated in my gut had possibly moved into my joints and bones. What? So the severe arthritis and locked joints made more sense I guess and I wasn’t just getting old – ha!
How do you fix this gut issue? Testing – and more testing. By this time, my skin on my face was a mess, the worst it had ever been, absolutely horrible and before this gut thing, my skin was completely clear always. Then I met with Debbie – I was ready to try anything and I knew surgery and drugs was not my path. The Elemental Diet was key. I was off the charts positive for SIBO, and probably had been for years. Two weeks of no food and only water and peppermint tea sounded like a death sentence to an Italian NYer who never dieted a day in her life (until this no gluten and dairy lifestyle that was necessary to get by).
I did it – and tested completely negative two weeks later! The shakes were actually pretty good, a little chalky aftertaste but flavored like a pina colada (or at least that’s what I imagined). I never got sick on the Elemental Diet. I had less strength, but I was already struggling with energy issues anyway. If you time them perfectly, you will never feel hungry. But if you wait too long, the hunger hits like starvation. So, timing is important. The nourishment is there, and the gut rest feels amazing! I had no idea what it felt like to be healthy and it is wonderful! The most difficult thing for me was the socialization of food/drink and the mental/emotional game. But, in the end, taking those two weeks for my health was the best decision and dedication I ever committed to.
It’s been months, and I’m doing great! I do avoid inflammatory foods, alcohol and caffeine. Mostly because I was also diagnosed with Rosacea (thank you gut damage) and I’m terrified to go back to feeling the way I did (or looking the way I did). So, no SIBO relapse for me, thanks. My spinal injury has not flared up since, any arthritis I had developed is gone, no pain, no bloating and I’m happy to report my skin has finally cleared. Oh, and I poop regularly now. 😉 you’re welcome.
If you are struggling with gut issues, or SIBO specifically…the Elemental Diet is definitely the best way to go. Thanks to Debbie I have hope again for a healthy life and have learned to really appreciate lifestyle choices.
Ulcerative Colitis: Diarrhea - Stomach Pain | SIBO (BAO Success Story)
I have experienced IBD / UC on and off most of my life, manifestations of an underlying chronic disease. Most gastroenterologists have prescribed steroids, which can help for a short time, but are not a cure and have undesirable side effects. Then I learned that I had SIBO as well. I have had many happy experiences as a client of Debbie’s for some time, so when she proposed doing the Elemental Diet, I paid attention.
I enjoyed the taste of the shakes and “eating” 5 times a day. There were some challenges (e.g., missing chewing) but Debbie’s extensive preparations—both written and individualized—ensured that I had no surprises and were able to support my success. I was not hungry during the 2 weeks. By the end of the time, my diarrhea had stopped, and now, 5 months later, I still do not have diarrhea nor do I have any stomach pain.
I am grateful to Debbie for her knowledge, clarity, support and sensitivity regarding what can be very daunting and difficult, indeed life-altering, issues. The ED was a great experience for me.
SIBO: Constipation- Bloating - Gas - Stomach Pain (Claudia W. Success Story)
In March of 2019 I began experiencing significant bloating, gas, constipation and stomach pain, which was eventually diagnosed as SIBO. I had no previous gut issues however, we had just experienced three deaths in the family, over a seven-month period, and most likely the extreme stress caused the SIBO. I connected with Debbie Steinbock to review my two options which included a course of antibiotics or the 14-day Elemental Diet. I selected the diet based on the high success rate it has for curing SIBO.
I will start off by saying the Elemental Diet was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I went into it totally underestimating the impact – but am very glad I did it as I am SIBO free. The bloating is gone, constipation better and I have very little stomach pain. I still have a sensitive gut, but it is very manageable and I know what to avoid.
It all started with Debbie….
Debbie was extremely thorough in every detail imaginable about how the diet works. She has tremendous experience working with SIBO clients and can anticipate the ups and downs of the protocol. After her thorough explanation and diet preparation meeting, I continued to think “this was no big deal.”
The shakes really upset my stomach and I had a hard time getting them all of them down daily. The die-off was severe which caused stomach upset and extreme fatigue. My main concern going into it was that I would feel hungry and crave food. I wasn’t hungry as the shakes did fill me up and I didn’t crave food due to queasiness and occasional nausea. Week one was very hard, however, things did improve by week two.
The good news….
Debbie’s extensive knowledge of gut issues and experience allowed her to anticipate most of my needs. She strategically scheduled client calls on the days when her experience taught her, I might be feeling the worst. She was my knowledgeable coach and support throughout this two-week period and I am very grateful to have selected her to guide me through this process.
It was tough for sure, but I am SIBO free and glad to be feeling so much better. Thank you, Debbie!
Chronic Inflammation - Bloating - Bowel Rest & Reset (Michelle S. Success Story)
When Debbie sent out the email about the Elemental Diet I was intrigued. Although I didn’t have any of the health conditions she highlighted in her information, I did wonder what my body would feel like with a break from all allergenic foods and a full digestive pause. After a lot of thought I decided to go it.
Within 48 hours of being on the ED, I could feel a difference in my body, the constant inflammation and bloating I have become accustomed to was dissipating rapidly. By the 5th day I had passed my tired and weak phase and I felt lighter in my own body, like I had shed my armor. By day 10 I thought I could conquer the world. I honestly did know I had it in me to last this long without food. And maybe the best part of it was all the time I had to do other things that bring me joy instead of worrying about cooking and shopping for my family. In reality, my kids have very simple tastes and can eat the same thing day after day and be fine. And my husband really stepped up to help me be successful. I read two historical fiction novels, more than I had read in years, which was an added bonus of letting go of food for 2 weeks.
Now several months later I have a tool that I can go back to again and again to let my body heal and rest from the work of digestion. I am also really proud of myself. It was challenging, but I found some new strength in myself and look forward to my resets every 60 days.
Thank you, Debbie for your help and inspiration throughout the years.
Celiac Disease - IBS - Dysbiosis - Leaky Gut - Indigestion - Nausea - Bloating - Acid Reflux - Malabsorption (Janice Success Story)
Most of my adult life I have been blessed and cursed with being the proverbial canary in the coal mine – doing almost everything I can, only to achieve marginal levels of health.
Over the past two years I have found myself in a serious debilitating health crisis experiencing severe chronic fatigue, indigestion, nausea, bloating, acid reflux, malabsorption, IBS, dysbiosis, leaky gut, celiac, headaches, brain fog, depression, anxiety, multiple chemical and food sensitivities, Lyme disease and co-infections, mold biotoxin illness, insomnia, and several long term major life stressors including care taking of a parent and a serious car accident. After my usual tricks to get well did not pan out this time, I went on an unbelievable healing journey that continues to date.
One of the new tools I found was the Elemental Diet. I had a sense that I needed to do an extended fast in order to reset and heal my gut, but I was apprehensive as I was underweight, malnourished, and terribly ill. I could not imagine feeling any sicker. To make matters worse, I had found no local support that I desired to undertake this diet.
I am grateful to have found Debbie Steinbock in April of 2019 after listening to her on a podcast interview about SIBO. She became a most valuable partner in my healing journey as I began a partial Elemental Diet (ED) for two months and then transitioned to a two-week full ED in June. Please know that Debbie helped with much more than the ED! For the first time in over two years I found significant 75% improvement in my GI, energy and brain fog symptoms. (FYI – A modified fast track diet was also very helpful and I have tried them all for a long time.) Subsequent SIBO, CDSA, and other lab tests are all improved and continue to improve five months later.
The only negative side effect that I experienced on the ED was stomach cramping upon ingestion of the drink which was alleviated after Debbie suggested drinking it more slowly over a longer period of time. Debbie was there every step of the way. She is smart, fearless, compassionate, funny, organized, resourceful, professional, honest, genuine, kind, and wise. I highly recommend her! It is hard to find good support.
I am now off the PPI medication, eating more food than ever with more joy, having energy to live more fully, and participating happily again in my daily routine with more peace. I have gained weight, no longer need a mask to go to the store, and sleep better. The ED gave me hope and helped me gain confidence in my body’s ability to heal and bolstered trust in myself to implement what I felt would help me. During and after the food introduction period, I learned to listen more closely to my bodies signals and honoring what it was telling me in the moment in order to heal. Getting a break from meal prep was a delight. I never realized how much time and energy I took preparing foods that is now less daunting with more vitality. I do still have a long road ahead, but I walk this road with my new friends Debbie and “ED” arming me with support and more ease in healing. I will always keep a bag of the ED in the cupboard and plan on its use for a full elemental diet yearly as well as using it to do short daily and weekly fasts as needed.
I am grateful for this tool in my bag of tricks and for Debbie’s guidance with its use. I highly recommend using Debbie as a coach when implementing the ED for the first time, especially if you are quite ill. It is a small price to pay to feel more vibrant and alive.
Blessings, Faith, and Hope to all.