The elimination diet is a great way to find out which foods cause intolerances and allergic reactions in the body. This is the only diet that I recommend for my clients because it teaches them which foods their body doesn’t like. It reveals which foods cause inflammation, and symptoms like a stuffy nose, acne, mucus build-up, and itchy eyes.
Believe it or not, food intolerances and allergies are common. While there are a number of reasons they can occur, they are pretty common. Close to 20 percent of individuals suffer from some level of intolerance.
I have used the elimination twice personally and had great results.
Lets talk food allergies for a moment.
Common Food Allergens
While there are probably thousands of food allergies that are less common such as being allergic to bananas or green beans, there are some common ones. Here they are listed here:
- nuts or peanuts
- milk or any dairy products
- seafood or shellfish
What Symptoms Classify As A Food Allergy?
When you eat strawberries, you break out in hives and start running a fever. Another example is eating shellfish and your skin starts itching. Then the onset of swelling to the lips and eyes.
This is an allergic reaction. What is happening is that your immune system is registering the food as a threat. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your or the food. It just means that your immune system sees it or something in the food as harmful to the body. So it starts creating antibodies to fight the allergen.
This is going to happen every time you eat the allergen. Some other symptoms that you might experience are:
- trouble breathing
- throat tightness or dryness
- abdominal pain
- sudden changes in blood pressure
People use the words allergies and intolerance intermittently not realizing that they are totally different.
A great example of food intolerance is lactose intolerance. When you drink milk, you start burping, getting gassy, headaches, and even diarrhea. Dairy isn’t the only food that causes these symptoms. Some have intolerances to sugar and certain meats.
The difference between an intolerance and an allergy is that the immune system isn’t involved. While it may be unpleasant and embarrassing, it’s not usually dangerous. Lactose intolerance, for example, occurs when the body can’t breakdown lactose.
Intolerances don’t happen right away. In some cases, it can take between 12 and 24 hours to see symptoms. Food allergies, on the other hand, happen suddenly or within 2 hours. Food allergies normally attack the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, or the cardiovascular system, and sometimes all four of them together. Intolerances normally occur in the gastrointestinal tract.
How It Works
The elimination diet is really simple as long as you have all the information you need.
The program is made up of three phases.
The first phase is the planning phase. This is when you plan the dates you will start phase two and 3. It is also when you plan the foods you will take out of your diet. Without a plan, it will be hard to adhere to the diet. I recommend monitoring meals and how the body reacts during this time as well. It will provide more evidence for determining which foods are causing what problems.
Phase two is the elimination phase. You would start by removing foods in question that you believe are causing allergy symptoms.
For example, I discovered that I was allergic to peanuts when I cut out fast food, specifically, Chick-Fil-A. When I went back to it, I had a non-stop stuffy nose and the urge to sneeze. I never had an intolerance to chicken and French fries before or even when I consumed them outside of this restaurant. So I backtracked the brand and discovered they cooked their food in peanut oil.
If you decide that you want to do a full blown elimination diet here are the foods you should avoid.
- Citrus fruits
- Nuts and Seeds
- Nightshade vegetables
- All things dairy
- Meat and fish (optional)
- Added sugar
- All things processed
Here are the foods you can eat on the diet.
- Lean meats such as turkey, chicken, and seafood
- Herbal teas.
- Natural spices such as black pepper, herbs and spices, and apple cider vinegar.
The reintroduction phase is phase two.
After you have completed the three weeks of not eating suspected foods, you will start to introduce one food at a time back into your diet. If you have symptoms the diet was successful at showing you that your body doesn’t tolerate this food.
If the food doesn’t show any symptoms it just means that you are all clear to continue eating it.
Now lets go over some of the benefits of the diets.
- Elimination diets help people learn more about their bodies. They help people understand which foods cause allergy and intolerance symptoms. It gives them the ability to make an informed decision on what to eat.
- It aids in healthy meal prep. What’s the point of doing meal prep to eat healthily and manage your weight if you are eating a food that is causing bloating and inflammation?
- Decrease in Eczema symptoms. Some clients have mentioned that their eczema symptoms have decreased during the removal phase of the elimination diet. Once reintroducing foods they are allergic to, they notice an exacerbation of their symptoms.
- Weight loss. Removing foods that are linked to intolerances and allergies will lower the inflammation in the body that may result in weight loss.
The biggest risks in an elimination diet are withdrawal symptoms. For example, heavy coffee drinkers may experience headaches, anxiety, irritability, and depressed mood.
If you don’t follow the elimination diet protocol, you run the risk of running into a nutrient deficiency. The elimination phase should last no more than 21 days. This happens based on the food groups you remove from your diet. For those who do a full-blown elimination diet, it is important to pay attention to your symptoms and be sure to take the right supplements, especially if you remove meat from your diet during this time.
I know this can be a lot to digest. And that’s ok. If you need additional help or guidance on completing the elimination diet, I’d like to invite you to check out my ebook on the elimination diet. It will give you everything you need to do the diet safely and sensibly.
And if you decide you prefer more guidance, feel free to contact me here and I will get back to you with the next steps.
Remember, Don’t play with your body as you only get one!
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