Could Food Sensitivities Be Causing Your Health Issues – Try An Elimination Diet

Could Food Sensitivities Be Causing Your Health Issues – Try An Elimination Diet

I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of eating well for health. After all, food is the original medicine, and providing your body with the nutrients it needs allows you to be the best version of yourself. Sometimes, though, it’s what you don’t eat that can make a big difference in how you feel.

Many people have undiagnosed sensitivities or allergies to food. Maybe you struggle with bloating, you have eczema that isn’t responding to treatment, or you get headaches a lot. Even if you haven’t yet made the connection, these symptoms could be triggered by things you eat.

The best way to determine whether your body is sensitive to certain foods is an elimination diet. For people who are experiencing health problems that won’t resolve no matter what they do, and an elimination diet may unlock a hidden cause. Once the offending food is removed, the problem will, more often than not, go away.

What exactly is an elimination diet, and what does it involve? Let’s take a closer look.

Features of an Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is designed to help you figure out which foods, if any, are triggering a reaction in your body. These types of reactions include:

  • Food allergies, where foods cause an immediate and severe reaction
  • Food sensitivities, where a reaction happens hours or even days after eating certain foods
  • Food intolerances, which are often a reaction to certain chemicals (like MSG and histamine) in food

Whichever type of reaction you’re experiencing, an elimination diet can help you make the connection between your symptoms and the food(s) causing it.

An elimination diet typically lasts around three or four weeks, which is how long it takes for your body to clear any food reactions from your system. Once you’ve fully eliminated certain foods, you can start the next phase of the elimination diet, where you gradually reintroduce individual food groups and monitor your body’s reaction to them.

How to Eat on an Elimination Diet

Here’s a list of foods to avoid when following an elimination diet, according to the Institute for Functional Medicine.

  • Sugar (including white and brown sugar, corn syrup, sucrose, etc.)
  • Soy (and products containing soy)
  • Soda
  • Shellfish
  • Processed meats
  • Pork
  • Peanuts
  • Grains that contain gluten (including all types of wheat, rye, spelt, and barley)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Corn
  • Coffee and tea
  • Chocolate
  • Beef
  • Alcohol

Foods that are approved by the Institute of Functional Medicine during an elimination diet include:

  • Vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Poultry
  • Nuts (except peanuts)
  • Legumes (except soy)
  • Healthy oils (like coconut, extra virgin olive, and avocado)
  • Gluten-free whole grains (like quinoa, rice, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, and teff)
  • Game meats
  • Certain fruits (like blueberries, raspberries, and kiwi)
  • Fish
  • Dairy substitutes

The elimination diet isn’t about weight loss — although you may very well lose weight — so you don’t have to worry about counting calories. Instead, you’ll focus on the way food makes your body feel.

How to Reintroduce Foods

When the elimination phase ends and it is time to start reintroducing foods, feel free, to begin with, the thing you’ve missed the most. Eat a generous amount of this food on the first day, and record any reactionary symptoms on that day and the next one. These symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Skin irritations or breakouts
  • Insomnia
  • Sinus congestion or runny nose
  • Itching
  • Flushing

If you don’t react to the first food you reintroduce after two days; you can keep eating it and reintroduce another food. If the second food causes no symptoms on days three and four, continue the pattern of reintroduction.

If you do experience a reaction after reintroducing a food, stop eating it immediately and wait for the symptoms to clear before moving on to the next food.

It’s important that you eat a “pure” example of each food, without any additives or ingredients that may be on the list of foods to avoid. A functional medicine practitioner like myself can provide you with a list of pure foods from each elimination category.

Elimination Diet Tips and Tricks

Planning ahead and making sure you have the right food in the house before you start the elimination diet can really help you get off to a smooth start. Here are a few more helpful hints provided by the Institute of Functional Medicine.

  • Make sure you eat enough food! You should never go hungry on an elimination diet.
  • Eat at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable.
  • Choose organic whenever possible, to minimize exposure to pesticides and other toxins.
  • Drink lots of water and get plenty of rest.

It’s also crucial to seek professional support when embarking on an elimination diet. At My Pure MD, we can guide you through every step of the process and provide you with a personalized plan that will help you succeed. Give us a call to find out what an elimination diet can do for you!

September 1, 2020