Are you depressed? having trouble sleeping? tired? achey? constipated? chronic headaches? eczema? Are you taking medication for acid reflux? It could be something you’re eating. You may want to try an elimination diet, to identify just what food is causing your symptoms. The term elimination diet is thrown around a lot, but, just what is an elimination diet?
What is an elimination diet?
Basically, a true elimination diet is an eating plan, lasting about 6 to 8 weeks, which is designed to identify food sensitivities and/or allergies. During the course of the diet, you eliminate the top foods proven to cause allergies and/or food sensitivities, for at least 3 weeks, possibly longer, depending on your symptoms. (10) These foods are known to cause inflammation in the body, and reduces your ability to heal properly. (8)
After 3 weeks, these foods are re-introduced one at a time, over the course of 4 days each. During those 4 days, each individual watches symptoms that may reoccur. If no symptoms occur, that food is safe. On the other hand, if the individual notices symptoms, that food is not safe and needs to be eliminated.
Who needs to do an elimination diet?
If you have recurring symptoms, and can’t figure out the cause, this could be the answer for you. The following symptoms are likely to clear up with an elimination diet: (10)
- Chronic fatigue
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Mood disorders
- Skin flare-ups like eczema, hives and acne
- Autoimmune disorders
- Hardening of the arteries, a precursor to heart disease
- Cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases
- Learning disabilities
- Muscle and joint pain
- Weight gain and obesity
- Migraine headaches
- Sinus problems
- Kidney and gallbladder problems
- Digestive disorders (including GERD, leaky gut, irritable bowel, etc)
- Helps heal leaky gut
- Improve symptoms of auto-immune disorders
- Reduces digestive issues
- Relieves skin irritations, rashes and disorders
- Discover allergies and/or food sensitivities
- Improve learning disorders
- Combat migraines
Why not just get allergy testing?
Because allergy testing specifically finds food allergies, not sensitivities. You can get a negative result on a food allergy test, and still be sensitive to that food. In other words, a food sensitivity (not allergy) can be the root cause of disorders such as GERD (Acid Reflux) irritable bowel or leaky gut.
- Avoid the most common food irritants/allergens for three weeks. (This is the minimum length of time it takes for inflammation to leave the body. It could take longer for you. Be patient.) Don’t move onto the next step until all symptoms are gone.
- Read all labels carefully! The best way to ensure you don’t accidentally eat one of the forbidden foods is to eat only whole foods. However, if you do eat processed foods, read the ingredients carefully to be sure the offending foods aren’t present. If you aren’t sure what an ingredient is, don’t eat that product.
- Keep a food journal. This is a very important part of the elimination diet, especially during the re-introduction phase. The journal will help you track foods, how you feel and which foods caused the symptom.
- Re-introduce foods, 1 AT A TIME! After 3 weeks, or when symptoms are gone, re-introduce each food 1 at a time, waiting 4 days between each re-introduction. Eat the food for 3 days, then hold off on that food during the 4th day. It can take up to 96 hours for symptoms to appear. Take note of any symptoms in your journal. If no symptoms appear after 4 days, that food is safe. If symptoms appear at any point during the 4 days, stop eating that food immediately. That food is not safe for you. Wait until symptoms disappear again before re-introducing another food.
Tips for surviving an elimination diet. (7)
- Ask your regular physician if you are healthy enough for this plan. It is a form of detox, which can be very hard on the body, particularly, the liver. Some people might be too sick to try this. Be careful.
- Help your liver detox. You can do this by helping it get rid of the toxins that are being cleansed from your body:
- dry brushing your skin
- salt baths (I prefer Himalayan Salt, but Epsom Salt works too)
- Start on a weekend. Because your body is releasing toxins, things will get much worse before they get better. The first 3 days are the worst. Make sure you have some time off to properly take care of yourself
- Prepare your home/kitchen ahead of time. Buy the healthy food/snacks you need AND rid your home of any tempting junk.
- Maintain blood sugar by eating a healthy fat, protein and carb at EVERY meal and snack.
- Don’t plan on any vacations or parties during your elimination diet. This is a time for you…don’t plan on any gatherings or vacations during this time. These could tempt you and set you back to square one.
- Head to the farmers’ market. This is the best place for fresh produce.
- Drink LOTS of water. This will help keep you full and flush the toxins out of your body.
This is not an easy diet to do. It’s meant as a healing diet, only to discover any food sensitivities that may be contributing to your symptoms. While you’ll probably lose weight on this diet, weight loss is not the reason to do this.
Because of the difficulty involved, I have been procrastinating on doing an elimination diet myself. I have chronic sinus headaches, sometimes daily and need to pin point just what is causing them. So, I’ll FINALLY be starting my own elimination diet on Monday, July 10, 2017. You can follow my progress in my daily log, which will be starting back up on that day.
Let me know if you have any questions….
God Bless! Namaste!
Elimination Diet Resources:
- Whole Life Nutrition – Free Elimination Diet Resources
- Dr. Liz Lipski – Comprehensive Elimination Diet with food list and recipes
- University of Colorado at Colorado Springs – Simple Elimination Diet Basics
- KarenCropper.wordpress.com – Food allergy symptom journals – phone apps
- Authority Nutrition – How to Do an Elimination Diet and Why
- Whole Health Solutions – Comprehensive Elimination Diet with food list, 7 day meal plan and recipes
- One Medical – Tips for surviving an Elimination Diet
- Dr. Jocker’s – 5 steps to follow on an Elimination Diet
- Dr. Jocker’s – 7 benefits of an Elimination Diet
- Dr. Axe – Elimination Diet
- Dr. Oz Elimination Diet
Elimination Diet Recipes:
- Nourishing Meals – Elimination Diet Recipes
- The Inspired Home – Elimination Diet Recipes
- Natural Healthy Concepts – Elimination Diet Recipes
- Amy Meyers MD – Elimination Diet Recipes
- One Medical – meal plan and recipes
- Integrative Wellness Centers – Elimination Diet – Comfort Food Recipes
- amarpremsingh.com – Free – 101 page vegetarian Elimination Diet Cookbook!
Featured photo & source courtesy of Authority Nutrition