It’s difficult for the body to adjust to a completely new food source (liquid, pre-digested) so expect an adjustment phase when you begin an elemental diet.

At the same time, you need to be alert for signs of intolerance. Unfortunately, although no one wants to hear this, those two things can look/feel the same.

“My husband is on day 4 of the elemental diet using the Absorb Plus unsweetened vanilla and 1 tsp of Udo’s oil. He has about a 30 second lapse between drinking the shake and having to go to the bathroom. I read that you can feel worse for the first 3 to 4 days so I was wondering if this was normal. I’ve tried looking online for any information about how people felt during the first couple of days and what’s normal and what’s not but I haven’t found anything yet.”

If you have the ability to tune into your body wisdom and Dialogue with your Body (see Chapter 6 of Listen To Your Gut) you would be able to discern whether your symptoms indicated intolerance, or, simply the adjustment period.

But in the absence of that ability/intuition, here are some guidelines:

1. Do not start with a full serving of an elemental or semi-elemental shake. If you’re very sensitive, start with only 1/4 serving – maybe once once or twice per day. Gradually give yourself time and space to ramp up to full dosage, or an exclusively elemental diet (no other food other than shakes and broths), slowly – go as slow as you need to.

2. Also drink your elemental shake slowly. Not only does this increase absorption, it also gives your body more time to adjust. Take at least 20 minutes to consume your shake. If that’s hard for you, set a timer and take a sip every 5 minutes.

3. Reduce the amount of oil/good fat you’re adding per shake. Some people need to start with zero fat per shake – that’s why I did not formulate Absorb Plus to include any fat whatsoever. We’ve heard from numerous readers who had to be on the elemental diet for a few weeks before their gut healed enough to even add 1/4 tsp of good fat. Also try a different oil. Some people respond best to cold-pressed flax oil. Others to MCT oil. Other guts do best on Udo’s oil.

4. If you’ve followed the two points above and you’re still getting a negative reaction after 3 days, then switch your protein source. If you’re using the original Absorb Plus (lactose-free, casein-free whey isolate), then switch to the Absorb Plus Vegan (organic, sprouted, brown rice protein isolate). I am also currently formulating Absorb Plus Amino (free-form amino acid protein source), so that will give you a third option to try. For this reason, it’s best to try the sample size first, before ordering a full-size tub. Remember, if you’re only having 1/4 shake at a time, you can get 4 shakes out of one sample.

5. Don’t confuse your “negative reaction” with the normal bowel response to an elemental food source! Those symptoms are detailed here but include bloating and liquid stool (feels like diarrhea). Those normal reactions can be lessened by following the instructions in that post (wild oregano oil, probiotics, and if not exclusively elemental, then a stool bulking agent as well).

Lastly, remember that you may not have to do an exclusively elemental diet. This clinical trial showed similar remission rates with only a half elemental diet and half well-tolerated, low-residue foods or try these soothing food-based shakes.

Keep experimenting until you find what works best with your unique body. And please take a workshop or online class in intuition development, as this will increase your ability to listen to your gut and receive answers direct from your body wisdom.