Elimination Diet: A plan to discover food sensitivities

Do you ever have digestive issues or skin irritations?  Do you get headaches or sometimes just feel “under the weather” and not know why?  Or experience on-going problems that you can’t seem to figure out?  There is a possibility you may have a food sensitivity or intolerance.

Food intolerances or sensitivities are becoming more and more common.  Allergy tests do not show if you have a food intolerance since it’s not an actual allergy.  So it’s important to take note of any signs or symptoms you are having and try to get some answers!

My previous blog post was about Food Allergies and Sensitivities  what the signs and symptoms are and which foods are most likely to cause issues.  If you experience adverse effects after eating a food or you just don’t feel good sometimes, you may want to consider trying an Elimination Diet.

An elimination diet is a short term plan that avoids certain foods that you think may be causing problems.  Then you individually reintroduce those foods to find the culprit.  The 8 foods that account for about 90% of all food allergies are the ones to be eliminated from the diet.  These include:  dairy, gluten/wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish.

There are several different versions of the elimination diet.  Some are very restrictive and also eliminate pork, beef, beans, coffee, citrus fruits, all nuts, and more.  I guess the more you restrict, the more you’ll find out, but I find this to be too difficult.  If you suspect a food is causing issues that’s not one of the 8 common allergens, then by all means add that to the list of foods to avoid.

The duration for an elimination diet is 21-23 days (some plans go as long as 6 weeks).  The reason for this is that it takes about 21 days for your body to remove the foods’ antibodies.  In order to get the most benefits from an elimination diet, you must avoid the offending foods for at least 21 days.

How to do a basic elimination diet

It’s important to take note of any symptoms you are having.  Bloating, energy levels, digestive issues, skin problems.  Write it all down before you begin.  Avoid the eight foods (or any food that you suspect) for 21 days.  Make sure you completely avoid the food, which means you’ll become an expert at reading food labels.  If you consume even a small amount of these foods, it’s best to start over to get an accurate response.  It is helpful to keep a food diary during this time so you can keep track of what you’re eating.

Now it’s time to “test” each food individually.  On day 22, choose one food that was eliminated and eat it several times that day (and that day only).  Record any symptoms you have for the next 48 hours.  If you have no symptoms, repeat and note any symptoms again for two days.  If you don’t notice any adverse symptoms, then you can assume you don’t have a sensitivity or intolerance.  Follow the same steps with each food (only one at a time).

By following this basic elimination diet, you can find out if any of these foods are causing you to feel bad or have symptoms that you never realized.  After testing each food, it’s your choice to continue eating that food or avoid it.  It’s very important to listen to your body during the “testing” of each food.  You may notice that you feel great without gluten or you no longer have break outs when avoiding dairy.

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When doing an elimination diet, be sure you are eating enough whole, nutritious foods to fuel your body.  This isn’t a weight loss plan.  It’s a plan to help figure out how to feel your best each day!  It may be meticulous and take some planning, but over the grand scheme of things a few weeks isn’t long at all.  And don’t we all want to feel our best.

Have you ever done an elimination diet?

If not, do you feel the need to try it?



4 Responses to Elimination Diet: A plan to discover food sensitivities

  1. I am so thankful that I do not have any food sensitivities that I know of. I know people really struggle with those

  2. Kim G says:

    Thanks for the information about this. I think this is something that I need to do. I have been tested for food allergies but I still feel like I’m allergic to some things that didn’t come up on the test.

    • Cyndi says:

      You’re welcome! Elimination diets are probably most accurate since allergy tests don’t show food sensitivities/intolerances. It’s kind of a pain to do but well worth it in the end!