Have you been experiencing symptoms that you just can’t figure out? Do you feel bloated and inflamed, or maybe you have a skin issue or joint pain that doesn’t make any sense? Did you know there is a simple healing tool that can give you insight into what is going on? There is! It’s called an elimination diet. And it’s exactly what you think – a diet where certain foods are eliminated for a period of time to see if they are affecting your body in a negative way. You might find a particular food doesn’t agree with you, or the diet might help you rest and heal your gut so that you are more tolerant afterwards. Whatever information you glean from an elimination diet will help you stay healthy into your future.
Why would you try an elimination diet?
- To suss out a food sensitivity or intolerance
- To reduce inflammation
- To calm and heal gut issues like bloating, gas, or heartburn
- To heal a leaky gut
- To heal a rash or other skin issue
- To see if you can reduce other symptoms – like sleep issues, headaches, brain fog, etc.
What do you eliminate?
Ideally, you will eliminate all the foods that can be irritating and add them back in during a reintroduction phase to find out what is bothering you. The foods you choose to eliminate will vary depending on the reason you are doing an elimination diet and if you know what might be causing the problem. For example, a full autoimmune elimination diet is very strict, but can be very healing for someone with an autoimmune disease. On the other hand if you think that gluten and dairy might be your problem, you can strictly remove these 2 foods and still get good information from eliminating them.
Typical foods to avoid – Grains (gluten and gluten free), beans, nightshade vegetables, eggs, dairy, sugar, soy, corn and alcohol. Obvious items like food additives and processed foods including breads, pastries, candies, packaged foods are also eliminated.
Foods to eat – Whole foods including many vegetables, a variety of proteins, and healthy fats.
How do you implement an elimination diet?
- Choose your diet plan (work with a healthcare professional or dig into elimination diet options to choose the best for your particular needs)
- Strictly stick to your plan for 2 weeks minimum, 3 weeks is better
- Tune into your body during this process – how are you feeling? How are your symptoms? Do you feel less bloat, inflammation, are you sleeping better…
- Reintroduce eliminated foods, one at a time, every 48 hours
- Have a small bite of the food you are reintroducing, wait for 15 minutes and if there is no immediate reaction, have a small serving of that food
- Do not introduce any other foods, or any more of the eliminated food for the next 48 hours
- Look for reactions to that food – bloating, gas, headache, fatigue, rash, mucus, rashes, inflammation and more
- If you do not experience a bad reaction to that food, you can reintroduce it into your diet
- If you do experience a reaction – eliminate it. Wait until you are feeling no symptoms again before picking another food to reintroduce…
- Start the reintroduction process for the next eliminated food
While this is a simple concept, it’s not easy to implement! Pick 5-6 weeks that you can plan, shop, and cook the foods you are eating on your elimination diet. If this feels overwhelming, reach out to a nutritionist or health coach for support.