The word “diet” has gained quite a negative reputation. It is often associated with an unsustainable and unenjoyable way of eating, such as calorie restricting or cutting out entire food groups long-term.
However, when diets are administered in a maintainable manner, they can be incredible tools. In particular, the elimination diet is structured to gain a better understanding of how your body reacts to certain foods. It is a short-term eating plan that eliminates certain foods that are common in causing bodily distress. Then you reintroduce these foods one at a time to truly uncover how your body responds to them.
At first, it may seem intimidating to eliminate many foods from your diet at once, but experimenting with your diet is one of the only ways to understand how to properly nurture your body!
Do you think you maybe have a food allergy but aren’t sure? Maybe you or one of your family members are experiencing neuro-developmental issues, fatigue, skin flare-ups, mood swings, anxiety, asthma, arthritis, or nutrient deficiencies etc, but you are reluctant to medicate.
An elimination diet is a short-term eating plan that is a great starting point for pinpointing what food, if any, may be causing your symptoms without the expense of functional lab testing.
Most elimination diets cut out all common allergens, including:
- Refined/added sugar
- Eggs, in some cases
- Hydrogenated oils
- Packaged, processed or fast foods
So how do you go about starting an elimination diet?
Follow these steps:
- Stop eating all of the common allergens from the food list for at least three weeks – This is very important because it is unlikely that you will notice a difference if you reintroduce these foods back into your diet sooner!
- Be sure to read food labels carefully to make sure you’re really avoiding even trace amounts of these foods.
- Keep a food journal during this time to record how you’re feeling on a daily basis.
- At the three week mark, start to reintroduce one food group at a time. Eat the food daily for 4 days and record your symptoms, taking note of any changes in symptoms between the elimination and reintroduction phases.
- If symptoms return, you can confirm that this food is a trigger by eliminating it once again.
- The goal is to see if the symptoms clear up when the food is removed a second time.
- Follow these steps with the remaining eliminated food groups. If any food seemed to cause any health issues, stop eating them and wait until any symptoms subside before continuing the process.
This process can be somewhat lengthy, but it is a good way to pinpoint and remove foods that cause negative symptoms.
One common mistake in participating in an elimination diet is focusing on what you have to eliminate, versus embracing the things you are still able to eat.
Foods to include in your diet while going through the elimination phase include:
- Gluten-Free Grains (rice, quinoa, amaranth, tapioca, buckwheat, teff)
- Dairy Substitutes (almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, rice milk)
- Vegetables (except corn)
- Whole Fruits (fresh, frozen, or water-packed)
- Lean and Clean Animal Protein (wild game, lamb, organic chicken, fresh fish)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Beans and Most Legumes (except soybeans and peanuts)
- High-Quality Oils (coconut, avocado, cold-pressed olive)
- Herbal Teas
- Sweetener Alternatives in Moderation (honey, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup)
When you focus on all the foods included in the elimination diet, it doesn’t seem quite as challenging!
- Plan ahead!
Having food readily available that you can eat sets you up for success!
- Read labels!
As mentioned before, a lot of potential allergens hide in many of the foods we eat every day. Embarking on an elimination diet requires reading ingredient labels to ensure that you do not accidentally consume food that may disrupt the results of the diet.
- Stay hydrated!
It is common to confuse dehydration for hunger. Remembering to drink enough water throughout the day will help control cravings and satiety.
- Write it out!
Keeping a journal to track your initial symptoms, how you feel while eliminating and reintroducing certain foods, and your overall experience with the elimination diet provides an incredible amount of information on your health and potential food intolerances.
Try this incredible, simple meal that is a great, elimination diet approved recipe:
- 1 cup brown rice, rinsed well
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 15oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
- 1 tsp cumin, plus more to sprinkle on top
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- Bring 2 cups of chicken broth to a boil
- Add 1 cup rice. Return to boil, then lower heat and cover. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed
- Stir to fluff. Remove from heat and allow to stand for five minutes
- While the rice is still warm, mix in the kidney beans, salt, and cumin.
- Place some of the avocado slices and chopped green onions on top, and sprinkle with an additional dash of cumin.
If you are thinking what else am I going to make, never fear, Dana is here! I have recently created some great recipe guides to help you on your journey. All are free from gluten, dairy, soy and artificial flavors or colors. There are currently three to choose from:
- 45 healthy smoothie recipes
- Have your cake and eat it too – dairy & gluten free desserts
- Always hungry – Healthy, easy snacks for kids
Check them out here>>
If you feel you need more personalized help or want to delve deeper with functional lab testing, feel free to schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me – https://ourroadtothrive.com//work-with-me/schedule-now/
NB: And as always, I am not a medical doctor and the above post is based on my experience. No information on this site should be relied upon to make a medical diagnosis, treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition.