The Benefits of an Elimination Diet
An elimination diet is an option that you and your doctor may discuss if there is a suspicion that certain trigger foods may be negatively impacting your health. Historically, an elimination diet includes a standard list of foods that you eliminate from your diet since these are the foods that people most commonly react to. However, we often recommend a more personalized approach. A food sensitivity blood test can help identify which foods are specifically a problem for you and make an elimination diet easier.
Elimination diets are designed to decrease inflammation. By following a standard elimination diet or a diet based on the results of your food sensitivity testing you will be eating easily digestible, non-allergenic foods to help you decrease common chronic health problems. An elimination diet can help you identify foods that are causing negative reactions in your body.
If you go on the internet, you will find all kinds of information on how to 'detox' your body.
The elimination diet is the true original "detox diet". By eliminating foods that are causing damage to your body your body can truly heal and repair. Your body is better able to remove toxins and you will look and feel great!
In the book "The Elimination Diet" by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN, the authors do a beautiful job of taking us step by step through the correct way to temporarily eliminate foods from the diet and methodically reintroduce them in order to help identify the offending foods.
Attempting an elimination diet on your own may leave you frustrated at best and feeling sick at worst. A proper elimination diet is a step by step way to detox your body in a safe, gentle way to find out how food is affecting you. You may learn how food is causing symptoms such as pain and inflammation, digestive complaints, brain fog, blood sugar dysregulation, eczema, acne, mood disorders, weight gain or autoimmune issues. An elimination diet is also beneficial if you are looking for a new awareness of how food is affecting you and want to follow a diet to optimize your health.
How do I know if this diet is for me?
An elimination diet good place to start for anyone experiencing chronic health problems. Food is our friend and it can also be our enemy. Food can make us happy, sad, moody, strong and it helps us grow, thrive, and heal. On the other hand, food can cause inflammation, immune reactions and it can contribute to disease.
Unfortunately, in our country food has been processed, sprayed and modified in ways that affect our health. This diet may help you find a natural way to identify how food and food processing is affecting your body.
Where do I start?
It is not recommended that you attempt to do this on your own for many reasons. It requires preparation, meal planning, support and monitoring. This is where a nutritionist can help you with shopping lists, label reading, identifying recipes to modify, planning meals, recommending supplements to support your efforts and encouraging you every step of the way.
Initially, Segersten and Malterre recommend looking at your current intake and removing the most common allergens from your diet: gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy, sugar, coffee and alcohol. Depending on your diagnosis, you may want to remove nightshade vegetables, seeds and nuts. Some find eliminating this many foods overwhelming and instead choose to have a blood test to identify the foods that may be the most reactive.
The ideal time frame is 30 days where you monitor your food intake carefully. The 30 days are divided into an initial "detox" period of 2 days where you eat a diet of smoothies, vegetable juices, bone broth, soups and supplements. Subsequently, you focus on eating a simple diet of organic meats, healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and organic vegetables and fruits. At this point, most people report seeing symptoms start to disappear: a clearing of "brain fog", eczema, digestive issues and congestion.
After you finish the elimination diet, you would start to challenge by bringing different foods back into your diet one at a time, to watch for symptoms and signs of intolerance. At this time, if you react to a food you remove the challenge food and wait for the symptoms to clear for 72 hours before testing another food in the same way. It is recommended that you do not re-test the same reactive food for three to four months. During these 30 days you would be assisted by your nutritionist to monitor your food choices and give you feedback on your progress.
After completing an elimination diet, you will feel better than ever; clear, sharp, losing unwanted pounds and standing in a place of clarity. Once symptoms disappear, you will most likely experience a desire to continue listening to your body and find pride in your success at establishing a healthy diet. This new way of eating can support your ongoing health needs and goals. You may wonder what took you so long to finally embark on this journey.
The elimination diet is an important step you can take in identifying food triggers and learning to assess symptoms of food reactivity so you can avoid the foods that are not agreeing with you. Together with the results of your food sensitivity testing and your doctor's advice, the elimination diet can help you get to a place of healing.