Unlike many other diets, the elimination diet is not one to help you lose weight. Well, weight loss may be a side effect of the diet, but that is not the main goal.
You know that not all food is good for you. Many people have already cut down on the amount of chocolate, candy, and chips that they eat throughout the day. They know that refined sugars are bad and that saturated fats just aren’t that healthy.
However, did you know that healthy food can also be bad for you? Did you know that some of the food you eat could be gradually making your health much worse? At first, you do not realize the problem and then suddenly you find yourself in the discomfort or even pain because of a particular type of food you have eaten.
You may not know which food or ingredient is causing a problem. This is what the elimination diet is for.
What Exactly Does the Elimination Diet Involve?
When you need to work out the food that is bad for you, you will need to cut out all the possible reasons. There are certain types of ingredients that have proven more damaging to the health than others. Some of the most problematic foods include anything with wheat, gluten, dairy, and nuts.
The elimination diet is precisely what it sounds like it is: you are eliminating the foods that are a problem for your health. Not all problems are life-threatening. Some may be allergies, but others can be intolerances or sensitivities, especially at first. They can cause some digestive complaints that you initially don’t even consider. You are just used to feeling bloated after a meal, even if you do not overeat.
That is not the way you should feel after a good meal. Your digestive system should be supported rather than hindered.
With the elimination diet, you cut out everything that could be causing a problem and gradually test one at a time. If you find you get your symptoms back, then you have proven the food is bad for your health. If you do not get any symptoms at all, then you can continue eating the food. Either way, you can move onto the next food on the list.
Of course, you cannot just scrap all food and work your way through an arbitrary list. It is important to discuss the elimination with your doctor so that you can get help from a dietician. Not only will you make sure you cut out all the potentially harmful foods, but you also find out more about where your nutrients will need to come from.
When you do start the elimination diet, you will need to follow this all-in-one guide to help.
Step 1: Make a List of All Your Health Complaints
Let’s start with everything that is currently wrong with your body. You need to know all the symptoms that you are suffering to know if you have got rid of all the damaging foods from your diet.
Many people incorrectly assume that food is just going to affect your digestive system. They think all about the symptoms linked to their intestines or their bowels. They will look out for foods that cause pain or bloating. They will think about the loose stools or constipation.
Sure, these are certainly symptoms, but not the only ones. Some of the symptoms of allergies or intolerances involve your head, your skin, and your mind.
For example, many people will intolerances can suffer from headaches or brain fog. They do not feel like they areall together there mentally. This could be due to inflammation within the body that puts pressure on the nerves. The connections within the brain are affected, so they do notwork properly and pass the right messages through. Pressure can also lead to more pain experienced in the head and throughout the body.
Food sensitivities and allergies can also lead to issues with the skin. You can end up with more dry or oily skin problems, see more breakouts, and even suffer skin conditions that you have never had in the past. Thisis often linked to the hormonal changes that occur because of food sensitivities and problems. The hormones affect the natural oil production. When the oil production is imbalanced, the skin dries out or becomes excessively oily. You can end up with blocked pores or see breakouts of stubborn cystic acne.
Joint pain is also a very common symptom. You may push it off as a sign of aging, but it is your body telling you there’s a problem somewhere within. Remember that food allergies and intolerances can lead to inflammation. Inflammation of the joints means they become stiff and difficult to move. You can end up with the feelings of arthritis setting in.
Moreover, then there’s the effect to your energy levels. Your body is not able to absorb all the nutrients that it should come from food since your digestive system is not working properly. Your metabolism becomes slugging, your mental health is affected, and you do not have enough oxygen pumping around your body. The lack of nutrients will upset all over.
Before you even start eliminating anything out of your diet, you need to know your symptoms. The best way to do that is by writing them all down. Get a diary that you can use throughout your elimination diet. Create a page of all your symptoms right now. If you are not sure, talk to your doctor to find out all the symptoms of food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies. Your doctor will help make sure you have a thorough list.
Make a note about how strong or subtle your symptoms are. Note how long you have had them. While many problems are symptoms of food intolerances, they can also be a symptom of another condition. This is something your doctor will help determine before you start your elimination diet.
Step 2: Eliminate Everything Possible Right Away
Cut out all the food that you could have an intolerance or allergy to. This means all the usual suspects. Your diet is going right back to basics.
You will need to cut out:
- Red meat
- Other nuts
Other nuts have been listed separately from peanuts because they are not the same. Peanuts are a type of legume and one of the most common allergens. While you may have an allergy to peanuts, you may not have a problem with eating other nuts.
You want to cut everything out for 30 days. This will give your body chance to get used to your new diet and get rid of all the symptoms. If you do not find all symptoms disappear, talk to your doctor to find out if there are other medical issues or there could be anything else in your diet that you are sensitive to.
So, what can you eat if you have cut everything out? You may be surprised that there are plenty of healthy and nutritious options on your list of foods to eat. We are just programmed now to believe that fast food, gluten, wheat, and red meat are all necessary.
You can still eat poultry and some fish. You are cutting out shellfish, so tune, salmon, cod, and other fish are right for you. The majority of fruits and vegetables are still good to eat, as they contain nothing on the list. Likewise, some legumes are always going to be on the allowed list. With all these foods together, you will be able to get something from all your food groups and all the essential vitamins. It is possible to live a full life with just this diet if you choose to, but you want to find out if there’s anything else you can add in to make it not as restrictive right?
The first three weeks of your basic elimination diet is going to be difficult. Your food preferences are ahabit. It takes 21 days for new habits to form. It then takes six weeks for your body to get used to these new habits and for them to become just like new! The 30 days will give you time to get over the initial shock of your basic food list.
Keep your diet to 30% protein from lean chicken, pork, lamb, and fish and then 70% of fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes, and grains that are gluten-free. If you have already had tests on other nuts, you can also add them to your diet.
Step 3: Plan Out Your Meals
One of the best things you can do is plan out your meals. You want to cook as much from scratch as possible. Avoid packaged and processed foods as much as you can. Too many companies add sugar, additives, and preservatives. You might be surprised to find out there’s gluten or nuts in something, which isn’t there if you made it yourself.
Avoid the gluten-free varieties of bread and crackers. They tend to be worse for you in sugar content to make up for the lack of gluten. There are plenty of gluten-free grains out there, including raw oats!
Look out for recipes that include plenty of healthy fats and fiber. They will help to protect your metabolism and digestive system. There’s nothing wrong with eating avocados and getting olive oil or coconut oil in your diet, contrary to popular belief. Unsaturated fats are extremely good for your health in moderation.
Step 4: Start Adding In One Food at a Time
Once you get to Day 31 of your elimination diet, it is time to add food to trial. This is much easier than it initially seems.
Choose one food from your list of banned foods. Only add in one at a time. Adding two can lead to a reaction, and you do not know which food caused the reaction.
See how you feel over the course of four days. This will give the food time to work around the body and digest fully. If you do not react after four days, try that same food again. Give yourself another four days to see if you react. Any food that gives you no reactions after two attempts should be good. You can incorporate it back into your diet. You may choose to keep the amount you eat to a minimum, but the lack of reaction is a good sign.
If you have any reaction, it is a sign that this food is something you are sensitive to. Cut the food out and make a note of it in your diary.
Once you have done this with one food, you are ready to move onto the next. Repeat the process with each food at a time, following the same steps. Anything you find you get a reaction to, put it on the banned list.
After a while, you will find that you have a full menu of ingredients that you can and can’t eat.
You may want to give yourself 30 days between foods that give you a reaction. This helps to get rid of the antibodies created during the testing to help you get back to the start.
Be prepared to find that not all symptoms are bad for you. One of the benefits of the elimination diet is they expand your food preferences and tastes. You may find food that you never considered before is on your allowed list, encouraging you to try it.
Step 5: Keep Reporting Back to Your Doctor
You should only do elimination diets when under the care of your doctor. This will help to ensure you do not put your health at risk through lack of nutrients. Your doctor will likely want to see you on a bi-monthly or monthly basis. They will ask to see your food diary or for you to share some of the findings that you have gained. This will include the foods you have tried and symptoms you have had.
During the diet, the doctor can also keep an eye on any symptoms that have stuck around. This will help to eliminate other health problems.
As you get used to the diet or as you come to the end of it, you may find your doctor does not want to see you as often. This is a good thing! It means your doctor is happy for you to go on your way with the diet, following the list of foods you have found are good to eat.
How Long Will the Elimination Diet Last?
It can take eight weeks to get through the full list of food. In some cases, it can take longer. This is a restrictive and difficult diet at first, and it will take some effort from you. While you may see some weight loss from the diet, this is not a diet to follow for the sake of dieting. The aim is to protect your health. What you may find is the diet helps you keep weight off, since you will not have as much bloating.
Don’t feel tempted to rush your way through the diet. You may be tempted to try a couple of foods at the same time. If you get a reaction, you will not know which food caused it, and then you have to try them separately, adding more time to your diet.