If you’ve ever considered going on an elimination diet, I’ve got some helpful tips for you that can make the transition a little easier. I’ve done it myself and while everyone’s experience will be different, I really believe it’s something worth trying if you’re trying to get to the bottom of some unexplained symptoms or want to see if a certain type of food isn’t tolerated well by your body. Try out some of these tips for going on an elimination diet and get to know your body a little bit better.
1. What’s an Elimination Diet?
Before we get into the tips of going on an elimination diet, allow me to explain more about what an elimination diet is. An elimination diet is described as a way to identify foods that could be causing an adverse reaction. We are all different and react differently to certain foods. Something as seemingly benign as soy or wheat can cause a range of symptoms. By going on an elimination diet, you’ll eliminate certain foods out of your diet and then slowly reintroduce them to see if there is improvement.
2. Take It Slow
If you happen to suspect that you could have an allergy or sensitivity to more than one food group, avoid eliminating all of the suspected irritants at once. By eliminating more than one food, you won’t be able to properly tell which food is causing your symptoms and truly bothering your system plus, it’s hard! So if you want to try eliminating gluten and dairy, do gluten first, reintroduce it to see how you feel then go on to eliminate dairy from your diet.
3. Take Your Time
When it comes to elimination diets, the longer you can go without the potential symptom-triggering food, the better. In most cases, eliminating a certain food from your diet for at least two weeks is the minimum. If you can go for a month without it, that’s even better. Sometimes you can be sensitive to something but the antibodies, which are the proteins that our immune system creates in reaction to certain foods, take about three weeks to turn over. So, if your elimination diet is too short, you won’t truly know whether that food causes symptoms for you or not.
4. Foods to Eliminate
The most common foods that trigger symptoms in people are dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts, shellfish, alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners and yeast. It sounds like a lot of stuff and it is, but remember you don’t have to get rid of all these things at once. And even if you are sensitive to some of these things, it doesn’t mean you have to swear it off forever. Many people are able to enjoy these foods in small amounts in moderation without adverse reactions.
5. Avoid Overdoing Processed Foods
If you’re cutting out gluten for awhile, try to stick to whole, unprocessed foods for the most part and avoid filling up on processed gluten-free products like cereals, breads, cookies, etc. Just because these foods are labeled as gluten-free doesn’t mean they’re good for you. Treat them like you would any other processed food and stick to naturally gluten-free foods as much as possible.
6. Potential Benefits
Since you’re cutting out some of your favorite foods, what do you get in return? Well, allergies or intolerances to certain foods can contribute to conditions like chronic allergies, weight issues, autoimmune diseases, migraines, skin rashes, IBS, arthritis, hair loss and more. If you have any of the above mentioned conditions, going on an elimination diet can very well help with getting rid of the symptoms of those ailments.
7. Use a Journal
Keeping a food journal while you’re on an elimination diet can be extremely helpful. Use the journal to help keep track of what foods you’re eating and not eating, how you’re feeling and when and what you reintroduce to your diet. Remember that once you eliminate a food and reintroduce it for a day, keep track of whether your symptoms improve or not. Then move on to the next food and track your reaction.
Going on an elimination diet may take some time, but what you learn about your body will be well worth it! Keep in mind that sensitivities to foods or your triggers can change over time. If you’d like a sample list of foods of to eat and eliminate, check out this list as well as an informative video on food allergies from Dr. Oz: doctoroz.com