So – What Is The Elimination Diet & How To Do It? In this article, I will explain thoroughly what the elimination diet is, and how to do it.
I battled the so-called “IBS” for nearly two years – and I figured that doctors label things they can’t help you with when it comes to digestion issues – as IBS.
So What Is The Elimination Diet?
Alright- so you are struggling! Got the bloat? Got skin problems? Got stomach cramps? Constipation? Diarrhea? – it could be to do with something you are eating. So here is where the elimination diet comes into place.
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.
The purpose of the elimination diet is to find the food that’s causing you all these problems. In that way, an elimination diet may alleviate symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, diarrhea, 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. Until you find that one (or 5 foods) that your body can’t tolerate very well.
If you suspect you have a food allergy, check with your doctor before starting an elimination diet. Symptoms of an allergy include rashes, hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, & blood in the stool. These are serious symptoms, that shouldn’t be ignored.
My symptoms were – constant bloating, indigestion, nausea, fatigue, headaches. So I thought to check in with the doctor.
All my tests came back negative. Didn’t have colitis, didn’t have ulcers, wasn’t coeliac, didn’t have inflammation in the bowels….everything came back normal. So what the heck was wrong with me?
The doctors didn’t know. So they just labeled it as IBS, and send me packing. So what am I supposed to do now? I am still having symptoms, I got depressed, I couldn’t find a way out!
If You Have Digestion Problems – Look At Your Diet First!
Unless obviously – your symptoms are severe, then you will definitely need to check with the doctor.
So, my options got depleted, but I was determined to fix my situation. So, I looked at my diet.
This is when I tried the elimination diet.
So, How Does The Elimination Diet Works?
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. These include:
6.Pulses – e.g beans, chickpeas
7. Spicy Food
8. Artificial Sweeteners – even stevia is in this category
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 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
- Unexplained weight changes
- Stomach Pain/Cramps
- Changes in breathing
- 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.
What Foods Should You Eliminate?
The best elimination diets are the most restricting.
The more foods you remove during the elimination phase, the more likely it is that you will discover which foods trigger uncomfortable symptoms.
Foods that are commonly removed during the elimination phase include:
- Wheat, Gluten: Avoid bread, bakes (e.g muffins, cakes), some sauces, pastries, croutons, etc.
- Spicy Food/spices: Avoid chilies, cayenne pepper, curry powders, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: Eliminate all nuts and seeds. These include – walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
- Legumes: Eliminate all legumes, such as beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, etc.
- Starchy foods: Avoid, barley, corn, spelled, rye, oats.
- Meat and fish: Avoid processed meats, cold cuts, beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and shellfish.
- Dairy products: Eliminate all dairy, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
- Soy: Avoid tofu, soy sauce, some dairy-free ice creams, soy milk, fake ‘meats’ like ‘sausages’, fake chick’n, burgers, etc.
- Beverages: Avoid alcohol, coffee, black tea, soda, and other sources of caffeine.
- Spices and condiments: Avoid spices like cinnamon, relish, and mustard.
- Sugar and sweets: Avoid sugar (white and brown), honey, maple syrup, corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, 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.
I recommend reading the back of every packaged food you buy – some foods you would think wouldn’t contain milk, soy, or gluten, HAS IT in them. So, it’s really important that you read the ingredients list carefully when you buy food. The allergens should be normally written in bold.
If you eliminate these categories to start with – you can eat all other foods that are not on this list above.
So What Worked For Me?
I cut out all these food groups for 3 weeks, then I slowly introduced 1 food at a time for 2-3 days and observed how I felt.
So, after the whole process – I found that I am intolerant to these foods:
1. Walnuts – other nuts too, but not as badly as walnuts. Weird, I know!
2.Soy – I hated that one because as a Vegan, I relied on soy products heavily, so finding out that, soy was causing me problems wasn’t particularly good news for me.
2.Gluten – now, I got a blood test to check whether I am coeliac, which came back negative, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t be intolerant to it. And I was!
3.Cinnamon – that was a weird one too, but it was hard to detect. But I could eventually feel that it wasn’t for my body.
4.Dairy – I wasn’t eating dairy anyway, but I found out by accident that I was intolerant of it. I got served dairy coffee instead of my ordered oat milk coffee, and I remember getting the runs…. so yeah!
5.White Sugar – yep, that one sucked too. But it’s alright because I cook most of the sweets myself, so I am just going to have to use brown sugar!
Benefits Of The Elimination Diet:
1. It can get rid of this “IBS” for good!
3. It Can Heal Fatigue and Content Tiredness
4. It Can Help Your Sleep
5. It Can Help With Your Headaches
Elimination Diet Side Effects:
Although elimination diets are a great way to discover which foods cause you problems, they also come with a few risks. For starters, elimination diets should only be followed for a short period of time or between four and eight weeks.
Following an elimination diet for longer is not recommended, as it could cause nutrient deficiencies as a result of eliminating certain food groups.
Additionally, children and people with known or suspected allergies should only do an elimination diet under the supervision of a doctor. Because elimination diets are restricting, taking away certain food groups for even a short period of time could stunt a child’s growth.
Just be careful when you do the elimination diet. Makes sure you are getting enough nutrients in your diet. Eat enough, and don’t starve yourself. You don’t want to sort one problem and to cause another!
Sometimes, other people can’t help you – even doctors. So you gotta help yourself! Take your life in your hands, and figure out the issues yourself if you can’t get help.
Don’t give up, don’t just try to ‘live with it‘ – you shouldn’t compromise with your health – your health is everything.
I recommend the elimination diet massively because it helped me tremendously when no doctor could. I have no more bloating, and no more skin problems or headaches!
I am not a doctor, but I am writing this article with my own personal experience, I have struggled a lot for 2 years with digestion problems and so much more, so all I want is to share my experience and what helped me. Whether you decide to follow my steps, is entirely up to you.
Thanks for reading What Is The Elimination Diet & How To Do It, and I truly hope that this information helps you!