What Is An Elimination Diet and Is It Right For Me?
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet is 4-6 week diet where you cut out specific foods. There are different kinds of elimination diets, but the main ones target sources of inflammation. Inflammation in the body can come in different forms. It can be indigestion, or it can be a chronic sniffle. It’s whatever causes our body to send out a cascade of hormones to combat whatever the body is fighting against. As we are learning more and more about how nutrition affects our health, we are becoming more conscious of what we eat.
You may have heard buzz words like gluten free, clean eating, food intolerance, and low carb. These all are part of the growing nutrition craze over how our current food is processed and refined. A large majority of Americans are suffering from health issues that may be directly related to the food that we eat. The goal of an elimination diet is to remove all of the foods that could potentially be causing bad reactions, and to figure out which foods don’t mix well with your body. Every person is different, which is why different foods affect different people.
What do I cut out?
The main things that you want to avoid are sugar, dairy, grains, and anything processed. If you want to take it a step further, you can also eliminate eggs, nuts, any and all peppers, and nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants. It takes about 4 weeks for your body to detox all of the sugar and processed foods from your system, and to acclimate to the new foods.
What can I eat?
So many things! All of the fruit you like, proteins (like poultry, fish, steak), good fats (avocado, coconut oil, olives), most vegetables (except for the ones listed above), and some honey or real maple syrup. Make sure to eat a good blend of all of these things every meal. Replace your white potatoes with sweet potatoes, and other nutrient rich carbs. Anything that is a root is a good carb source, like carrots, parsnips, and radishes. These and fats will help you stay feeling full throughout the day.
After 4-6 weeks
Take notice—are you feeling better? Keep a log book or a food journal while you go through the process of reintroducing the foods back in to your diet. You want to do one food at a time to see what bothers you and what doesn’t. Leave everything out except for one thing that has been off the list and eat a good portion of it for 3 days in a row. If you haven’t had dairy in 4 weeks, then have a glass of milk, eat some cheese, and have a yogurt parfait. Make sure it’s a decent sized helping so you can see if there is a reaction. Make any notes on health changes. You may have an upset stomach, or you may notice other things like fatigue, rash, and congestion. Do this for every food group you eliminated.
After reintroducing all of them back in, you’ll know exactly what works for you, and what doesn’t. This doesn’t mean you can never have your favorite bowl of popcorn again. You can have those things, but you want to keep them to a minimum. It may be a temporary hassle, but it will help you feel better overall.