What Is An Elimination Diet?
Everyone is probably allergic or has some sort of sensitivity to foods. Everyone’s biochemical make-up is different. Oranges might give one person good nutrition, but to another person it could be poison.
Certain foods can wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal tract leading to inflammation and even chronic health issues. By taking specific foods out of your diet for 2-4 weeks (the longer the better), you will be able to figure out what foods you are sensitive too and that you should refrain from eating.
Believe me, once you have eliminated the “bad list” for a couple of weeks, you will notice a difference. You will start to know what well-being feels like. You will feel lighter, your mood will probably improve and you’ll probably even lose a few pounds. What a bonus!
Benefits Of An Elimination Diet
There are many health benefits to doing an allergy elimination diet. The symptoms that will disappear might just amaze you. Many times people think it’s just part of life, but in reality – bloating, gas, PMS, irritability, heartburn, rashes,etc., are not normal. Here’s a list of many ailments that an allergy elimination diet can help you get rid of:
- Weight Problems
- Migraines & headaches
- Diarrhea & constipation
- Gas, bloating, nausea, heartburn, reflux
- Hair loss
- Autoimmune diseases (ADD/ADHD, Diabetes, Austim, etc.)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Colitis, Crohn’s Disease
- Chronic pain
- chronic skin rashes, eczema, psoriasis
- Chronic allergies
- Heart disease
- Depression, irritability, PMS, sleep problems
5 Step Elimination Diet Plan
The best way to actually make something happen is to plan out your goals. If you follow these five steps, you’ll be able to successfully execute an elimination diet. Good luck!
Step 1 – Get Your Journal Ready
Get a notebook or start a word doc, but get something ready so you can take good notes. Start off by recording what foods you crave and eat most often. Jot down the foods that you feel like make you feel better when you’re down. Write down the foods that you think will be the hardest to give up. Most likely you will have written down many foods that you are about to eliminate. Don’t worry, the cravings will go away soon enough. It will not be as hard as you think. Just keep reminding yourself that your health is the best investment you’ll ever make!
You will also use this journal during the challenging phase of the elimination diet when you start to reintroduce foods back into your diet. You’ll record symptoms of how you felt after you eat certain foods, which will help you in knowing which foods you need to eliminate from your diet – for good.
Step 2 – Shopping & Meal Plans
One way to ensure you will stick to your elimination diet is by going shopping for the foods you know you can eat, and by gathering some recipes and planning out some meal ideas. Step three will give you the foods that you can eat and the foods you should avoid, and you can scroll down for some recipe ideas. Just make sure you have plenty of quick and easy snacks to enjoy for times you are hungry or in a rush. Nuts and seeds are a great idea for snacks.
It’s definitely easier to break your diet when there is nothing you are allowed to eat around. When you shop, load up on fresh organic produce. Many grocery stores offer gallon jugs of reverse osmosis water. Fill up on those, since you’ll be drinking at least 6-8 glasses a day. You’ll want to drink reverse osmosis water because it is cleanest and doesn’t contain fluoride (fluoride is poison and it’s in tap water and most bottled beverages).
There are a few supplements you could take for support during your diet. Here’s a few to look into.
Step 3 – Detox & Eliminate
During step three, you will eliminate the high risk allergy food items. This will also aid in detoxifying your body. You may experience some heightened symptoms in the beginning, like headaches, nausea, bloating, etc., but this is simply your body getting rid of the harmful toxins. Scroll to the bottom for tips for this. For now, here’s the Bad List and the Good List.
What to Avoid (The Bad List):
- Refined sugar
- Peanut oil, soybean oil, corn oil, vegetable oil
- Processed foods, commercially prepared condiments, food additives
- Fatty meats like beef, pork, & veal
- Alcohol and caffeinated beverages, chocolate & cocoa
- Soy & peanuts
- Citrus fruits
- Tomatoes, potatoes & corn, eggplant, okra, bell peppers, chili peppers
- All gluten, wheat, spelt, kamut, oats, rye, barley, malt
- All dairy products, eggs, cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, ice cream, creamer, whey & casein
- Modified food starch, corn starch, corn syrup
- Sulfites in dried fruits, balsamic vinegar, pickles, frozen fruit juices, olives, fresh shrimp, shredded coconut, canned foods
What to Eat (The Good List):
- Brown rice, Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat, Tapioca, Amaranth, Teff
- All organic fresh fruit except red grapes and citrus
- All organic fresh vegetables except corn & nightshade veggies
- Sweet potatoes & yams
- Organic poultry & fish
- Beans & Legumes
- Nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- Organic coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil
- Unprocessed honey (only 2 tbsp/day)
- Spices without additives, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, fresh crushed garlic
- Reverse osmosis water, Club soda, Plain rice milk (not Rice Dream), non-caffeinated herbal teas
Step 4 – Reintroduce Foods (Challenging Phase)
Remember, this is when you get that journal out once again and record everything! Each time you introduce a new food item back into your diet, you should keep track of how you feel after you eat it. Write down any symptoms you experience. Good and bad.
You should only introduce one new food back into your diet every three days. This way your body has plenty of time to check for symptoms. Challenge your body with a small portion in the morning. If you don’t notice any symptoms right away, increase the portion of the same food again in the afternoon and evening. Wait two more days and write anything down you may experience. If the three days has past and you don’t have any symptoms, you are safe to allow the food group to your diet at the end of the four weeks. Don’t add the food in until after your entire elimination diet is complete. Meanwhile, here’s a list of symptoms to watch for as you’re reintroducing these foods…
Symptoms to watch for:
- Trouble sleeping
- Fatigue, weakness, energy level
- Pain (joints, headache, stomach)
- Skin breakouts or rashes
- Digestion & bowel changes (constipation, diarrhea)
- Memory, confusion, focus
- Sinus or respiratory issues
Step 5 – Changing Your Diet For Good
By this point, you will have had many weeks of good practice with willpower and you’ll know which foods you should probably eliminate from your diet for good. That may mean that you have to take out some of your favorite foods. But, just try to remind yourself that your health and well-being are much more important than chocolate cake! Don’t get me wrong, I think one of the best things you can take away from your elimination diet is the control that you now have over your health and your body.
I don’t think you need to skip celebrating a family member’s birthday because of your food sensitivity. Just don’t eat that way every single day. Now that you know which foods give your grief, you can figure out what should be your standard way of eating. Use it to your advantage and try to live by it as often as possible because you’ll just feel better that way!
Elimination Diet Tips & Recipes
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day per day
- Go easy on exercise during the elimination phase
- Be sure to get proper nutrition by supplementing your diet
- Read all labels carefully – Be a label inspector & know what you are putting in your body
- Have snacks ready to go and snack as often as you’d like
- Eat local, organic, & whole foods as much as possible
- Plan your meals in advance
- Buffered C and Epsom salt baths may help decrease any withdrawal symptoms you may have
Coconut Jasmine Rice with Peas and Cashews: SED
Chinese Bok Choy: SED/GFED
Garlic Mashed Cauliflower: SED/GFED
Soups and Stews
Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup: SED
Adzuki Beans with Spinach: SED
Thai Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Soup: SED/GFED
Maple Glazed Salmon: SED/GFED
Avocado and Salmon Salad: SED/GFED
White Bean Salad with Kalamata Olives and Snap Peas: SED
Shrimp and Kale Salad with Brown Rice Couscous: SED/GFED (omit couscous)
Mediterranean Tuna Salad: SED/GFED
Breakfast and Smoothies
Gingered Peach and Banana Green Smoothie: SED/GFED
Quinoa Pancakes with Berry Compote: SED
Recipes courtesy of Elimination Diet RD
Do you have a story to share or a questions about an allergy elimination diet? Leave a comment!