How to Do an Elimination Diet

It seems like Americans’ digestive issues and food sensitivities are getting more and more dire with each passing year. Take, for example, too now-common ailments: Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) and food allergies. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, 10 to 15 percent of the population now has IBS, while Food Allergy Research & Education reports that 15 million Americans have diagnosed food allergies, up 50 percent among children since 1997. 50 percent!

Suffice it to say: If your digestion is irregular, you’re not alone. But digestive issues aren’t the only signs of food sensitivities and allergies: Other problems potentially related to food sensitivities include depression and anxiety, autoimmune conditions like arthritis, migraines, ADD/ADHD, acne and eczema, and even asthma.

If you suspect you may have a food sensitivity, one of the best ways to pinpoint what’s giving you problems is to do an elimination diet. An elimination diet, as its name suggests, involves eliminating all potentially irritating foods, and then slowly introducing them one by one until you determine where the problem lies. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Eliminate All Problem Foods

The first part of an elimination diet is the hardest: Eliminating everything. And while you may think that simply eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar is good enough, there are actually a large number of extremely healthy foods to which people become sensitive. To truly eliminate all potential problem foods, you have to do away with:

  • All grains
  • Citrus fruits
  • All nightshades
    • Tomatoes
    • Tomatillos
    • Eggplant
    • Potatoes
    • Goji Berries
    • Tobacco
    • Peppers
  • All legumes
  • All nuts and seeds
  • All meats besides turkey, fish, lamb and wild game
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Processed oils (basically, anything besides cold-expeller pressed olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil)
  • Added sugars (including honey and maple syrup)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

Sounds like a long list, doesn’t it? That’s okay, because if you’re suffering from a food sensitivity, it will be worth it in the end. Eliminate these potential problem foods for as long as it takes you to feel better; some people feel great in as little as two weeks, while others can take up to two months.

Step 2: Reintroduce Foods One by One

Now for the longest portion of your elimination project: Adding things back in. Because food sensitivities can take up to a few weeks to start making you feel different, it’s important not to go too quickly on this step. Add one food at a time back into your diet, with at least a week in between. Keep a detailed food journal so you can track your symptoms. If something starts making you feel bad, eliminate it right away ó that is probably one of your problem foods!

It’s also worth noting that you could have more than one problem food, so just because you’ve identified one offender doesn’t mean you should reintroduce everything else all at once. Continue to bring foods back into your diet one at a time, monitoring your symptoms along the way.

Step 3: Maintenance Mode

By the time you’ve reintroduced everything, you may have been eating this strict “diet” for six months or more. Now it’s time to move into maintenance mode: living your life! Now that you know what foods bother you, go about your life without those foods. Find healthy substitutions for any foods that bother you and embrace those substitutions in your daily lifestyle.

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36 comments

Danuta W
Danuta W25 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Melanie S

Thank you for sharing.

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Danii P
Danii P26 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Danii P
Danii P26 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Danii P
Danii P26 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Tina Robertson
Tina Robertson26 days ago

I hate articles that lead you down the path to nowhere. Why give us a long list of just about all food known to man on the eliminate list and then NOT tell us what we should eat while we are on the elimination diet.
BTW: It seems rather careless or perhaps deliberate that McCracken did not say that it would be wise to speak to your doctor before embarking on this voyage !!!

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Carole R
Carole R26 days ago

Not for me.

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Danuta W
Danuta W27 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Maria P
Maria P27 days ago

Thanks

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Winnie A
Winn A27 days ago

:-)

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