A food elimination diet plan can be beneficial and even life-changing. But it’s important to do the work required. And do it the right way. You should also observe yourself carefully for max benefits.
Today, we’ll talk about specific elimination diets. Learn the basic steps to get started!
What Is an Elimination Diet?
In short, an elimination diet is a personal experiment. It’s a test. If you’re suffering from food allergies, intolerances, or any kind of sensitivities, this could be for you. A food elimination diet is not a simple detox. Often, medical professionals are involved, and they should be. Especially if you’re suspected of having food allergies or, indeed, already have some.
An exclusion diet plan is strict and can be dangerous if not conducted properly. Speak with your doctor before trying an elimination diet. By removing possible food triggers from your diet, you can gain valuable insight into your body. By reintroducing these trigger foods, you will hopefully identify allergies and intolerances.
An elimination diet plan is not about losing weight. It’s all about discovering problematic foods for you. And the goal all along is to get back to a healthy balance. You’re not trying to permanently eliminate a ton of nutrient-rich options.
Important note: Lisa Cimperman of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says symptoms like migraines, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and cramping render you a great candidate for an exclusion diet. But if you’re regularly tired and lacking energy, work to clean up your routine diet. Don’t assume you have an allergy or intolerance. You can give your skin, mentality, and overall energy levels a boost when you cut sugars and processed foods. Focus on your healthy food intake.
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Allergy Elimination Diet
Food allergies are typically easier to identify. Intolerances and sensitivities can be trickier. The reactions can sometimes be delayed – though no less serious. You may be wondering, “Why not just get a food allergy test administered?” This can also be a viable alternative. A food allergy elimination diet is just another option you can try. Your body responds instead of a medical lab. Here are a few examples of elimination diet allergy testing.
Gluten Elimination Diet
If you’re experiencing gastric problems, shifts in mood or behavior, rashes, sores, cramps, and/or other forms of discomfort, these could be related to gluten sensitivity (possibly celiac disease). Though often challenging, eliminating gluten could give you answers.
Dairy Elimination Diet
Removing milk and milk products from your diet could also help. You may be experiencing immediate or delayed symptoms. Things like vomiting, hives, wheezing and cough, swelling, and itching can occur. You must carefully read food labels. Many products you might not suspect contain milk.
Breastfeeding Elimination Diet
Sometimes, babies are fussy no matter what you do. Mothers may consider this elimination diet method when they’ve overruled all other possibilities. Eating organic can be good for new mothers, and your diet could matter greatly to your child.
Comprehensive Migraine Elimination Diet
You’ll want to eliminate foods and drinks that typically bring on migraines. Foods like chocolate, fish, processed meats, dairy, nuts, alcohol, sweeteners, and soy can trigger severe headaches. The only way you will know is by completing an elimination diet for food allergies and sensitivities.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Some doctors say the connection between many symptoms and gut health isn’t well understood. Increased intestinal permeability “can be linked to disease, but by itself it isn’t linked to things like headaches, fatigue and general malaise. If it makes people feel better, I’m not sure why we should oppose elimination dieting.,” says Jerrold Turner, associate chairman of the Department of Pathology at the University of Chicago. “
In order to see how you feel after 3-4 weeks, you slowly introduce the items you removed, one by one. That way you can notice how a specific food makes you feel. The diet is restrictive in nature, but it can help pin point the foods that may be causing an illness or issue within your body.
What to Eat on an Elimination Diet
Here are the items you can keep on your elimination diet menu:
- Fruits (except citrus)
- Vegetables (except nightshades)
- Meat and fish (like salmon, lamb, and turkey)
- Dairy substitutes (like coconut or rice milk)
- Grains (like buckwheat and rice)
- Fats (like olive, flaxseed, and coconut oil)
- Spices and condiments (except cayenne pepper and paprika)
- Beverages (like water and herbal teas)
What NOT to Eat on an Elimination Diet
And here’s a list of items you should eliminate completely on your diet:
- Sugar and sweets (like white/brown sugar, honey, syrup, corn syrup, chocolate, desserts, etc.)
- Citrus fruits (like grapefruit and oranges)
- Nightshade vegetables (like peppers, tomatoes, and white potatoes)
- Nuts and seeds (exclude them all)
- Starchy foods (like oats and bread; also, foods with gluten)
- Legumes (like peas, beans, and soy-based products)
- Fats (like oils and spreads)
- Dairy products (like milk and cheese)
- Meat and fish (like processed meat, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, and shellfish)
- Spices and condiments (like cayenne pepper, paprika, relish, and mustard)
- Beverages (like alcohol, tea, and coffee)
An example of one version of an elimination diet:
How to Do an Elimination Diet
This is a two-part endeavor. Keep reading for information on the different phases of elimination diets.
This phase takes about 2-3 weeks. It gives your immune system time to settle down. And the more food groups you eliminate, the more you’ll be able to learn about your body. Sure, it’s a lot of work and requires discipline. But the payoff is huge if you discover what’s causing your symptoms. This can change your life for the better!
When you look at the foods to eliminate, it can become overwhelming. Just remember that there are lots of foods out there. You can eat most fruits and vegetables, fish, lamb, turkey, and rice. Consider removing foods that you consume regularly. What are the staples of your diet? What are your go-to’s, your favorites? Yes, think about removing those and see what happens.
There are plenty of benefits to be gained. But what are the elimination diet side effects? To begin with, these diets should last between approximately 4-8 weeks for adults. Nutrient deficiencies can leave you worse off. With children, you can even stunt their growth. Always consult a pediatrician before conducting elimination diets for kids. And always talk with your family doctor before you set out to do this yourself.
Overall, more of the “side effects” come during the next phase.
Elimination diet reintroduction is where the real test begins. The elimination phase was your homework. The goal is not to get rid of these foods forever. It’s now time for reintroducing foods after elimination diet and observing symptoms.
When about 3 weeks are up, reintroduce a single food group. It’s essential that you track your symptoms for two days. Anything that’s abnormal, record it. Stick to eating what’s on your elimination diet plan otherwise.
In the first round of reintroduction, there may be no symptoms. So, on the third day, reintroduce another group. Monitor any and all reactions for two days. Continue this process, and you’ll hopefully reveal the food(s) behind your symptoms. This phase can take up to 4-6 weeks.
How Long Should an Elimination Diet Last?
It depends on your symptoms and your age. With children, aim for 7-10 days. Adults usually see success if they stick with the elimination diet plan for 2-3 weeks. Then spend 4-6 weeks reintroducing food groups. The main thing is to focus on nutrients and eating plenty of the foods you can have. Counting calories and calculating macronutrients aren’t important.
Important Note: Drink plenty of water on your elimination diet!
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