Elimination diets are very helpful for identifying food intolerances, sensitivities and allergies through diet.
They remove certain foods known to cause uncomfortable symptoms and reintroduce them at a later time while testing for symptoms.An elimination diet involves removing foods from your diet that you suspect your body can’t tolerate well. The foods are later reintroduced, one at a time, while you look for symptoms that show a reaction.
It only lasts 5–6 weeks and is used to help those with a sensitive gut, food intolerance , identify which foods are contributing to their symptoms.
In that way, an elimination diet may alleviate symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and nausea.
Once you have successfully identified a food your body can’t tolerate well, you can remove it from your diet to prevent any uncomfortable symptoms in the future.
There are many types of elimination diets, which all involve eating or removing certain types of foods.
An elimination diet is divided into two phases: elimination and reintroduction.
The Elimination Phase
The elimination phase involves removing foods you suspect trigger your symptoms for a short period of time, typically 2–3 weeks.
Eliminate foods that you think your body can’t tolerate, as well as foods that are notorious for causing uncomfortable symptoms.
Some of these foods include nuts, corn, soy, dairy, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables, wheat, foods containing gluten, pork, eggs and seafood .
During this phase, you can determine if your symptoms are due to foods or something else. If your symptoms still remain after removing the foods for 2–3 weeks, it is best to notify your doctor.
The Reintroduction Phase
The next phase is the reintroduction phase, in which you slowly bring eliminated foods back into your diet.
Each food group should be introduced individually, over 2–3 days, while looking for symptoms. Some symptoms to watch for include:
- Rashes and skin changes
- Joint pain
- Headaches or migraines
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in breathing
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Changes in bowel habits
If you experience no symptoms during the period where you reintroduce a food group, you can assume that it is fine to eat and move on to the next food group.
However, if you experience negative symptoms like those mentioned above, then you have successfully identified a trigger food and should remove it from your diet.
The entire process, including elimination, takes roughly 5–6 weeks.
If you plan to eliminate many food groups, seek advice from your doctor or a dietitian. Eliminating too many food groups may cause a nutritional deficiency.
Foods that are commonly removed during the elimination phase include:
- Citrus fruits: Avoid citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits.
- Nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, pepper and paprika.
- Nuts and seeds: Eliminate all nuts and seeds.
- Legumes: Eliminate all legumes, such as beans, lentils, peas and soy-based products.
- Starchy foods: Avoid wheat, barley, corn, spelt, rye, oats and bread. Also avoid any other gluten-containing foods.
- Meat and fish: Avoid processed meats, cold cuts, beef, chicken, pork.
- Dairy products: Eliminate all dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt and ice creams.
- Beverages: Avoid alcohol, coffee, black tea, soda and other sources of caffeine.
- Sugar and sweets: Avoid sugar, honey, maple syrup, and high-fructose , desserts and chocolate.
If you suspect that other foods not on this list make you feel uncomfortable, it is highly recommended to remove them as well.