Elimination diets are often used by people who are interested in learning about their food sensitivities and allergies or simply want to change their diet to benefit their health in some way. While they have many benefits, they also have some limitations and may not be right for everyone. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of elimination diets so you can decide if it’s the right approach for you.
What Is an Elimination Diet?
Elimination diets are a meal plan in which specific foods or substances are eliminated to establish which foods or compounds you may be sensitive to or allergic to.
It’s not about losing weight.
When you and your doctor feel that certain foods are causing your allergy symptoms, you should try an exclusion diet. You’ll need to consult your doctor to ensure that you’re getting all of the nutrients you need.
But remember Don’t do it if you have a severe food allergy or have had a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. If this is the case, you should find out what your trigger meal is as soon as possible so you can avoid it. you should talk to your doctor about that. Blood and skin testing can be used to detect some food allergies.
What Is an Elimination Diet, and How Does It Work?
An elimination diet involves removing substances from your diet that you believe your body will not tolerate. The meals are then progressively reintroduced, one at a time, while you keep an eye out for signs of an allergic reaction.
- It is aimed to help people with a sensitive gut, food intolerance, or food allergy figure out which foods are causing their symptoms. It lasts only 5–6 weeks.
- Bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea can all be relieved by following an elimination diet.
- Once you’ve discovered which foods your body doesn’t accept well, you may cut them out of your diet to avoid any future problems.
- Elimination diets take several variations, but they always include eating or not eating particular foods.
- However, if you have a known or suspected food allergy, you should only try an elimination diet under the supervision of a medical professional. When a food allergy is reintroduced, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening disease, can occur.
- If you suspect you have a food allergy, talk to your doctor before starting an exclusion diet. Allergies can cause rashes, hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing.
What Is the Process?
Elimination and reintroduction are the two phases of an elimination diet:
The Phase of Elimination
- The elimination phase entails eliminating foods that you believe are causing your symptoms for a set amount of time, usually 2–3 weeks.
- Remove items you don’t think your body can tolerate, as well as foods that are known to cause unpleasant symptoms.
- Nuts, corn, soy, dairy, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables, wheat, gluten-containing foods, pork, eggs, and shellfish are some of these foods.
- You can figure out if your symptoms are caused by food or something else during this time. It’s advisable to contact your doctor if your symptoms persist after 2–3 weeks of eliminating the foods.
The Phase of Reintroduction
The reintroduction phase follows, in which you gradually reintroduce previously eliminated foods back into your diet.
Each food category should be introduced one at a time, spanning two to three days, while keeping an eye out for symptoms. Continue reading the following:
- Rashes and alterations in the skin
- Joint discomfort
- Sleeping problems
- Breathing patterns change
- Constipation or stomach cramps
One of the most prevalent reasons for constipation is a change in bowel habits. If you don’t have any symptoms while reintroducing a food group, you can presume that it’s safe to eat and move on to the next food group.
However, if you have unfavorable symptoms like the ones listed above, you’ve found a trigger food and should eliminate it from your diet.
The entire procedure takes about 5–6 weeks, including elimination.
Consult your doctor or a nutritionist if you plan to eliminate a large number of food groups. If you cut out too many food types, you can end up with a nutritional deficiency.
On an elimination diet, what can’t you eat?
The most restrictive elimination diets are the best.
The more foods you exclude during the elimination phase, the more likely you are to identify which foods cause you to experience unpleasant symptoms.
The following foods are frequently eliminated during the elimination phase:
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits
- Vegetables with nightshades, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, cayenne pepper, and paprika, should be avoided.
- Nuts and seeds: Remove all nuts and seeds from your diet.
- All legumes, such as beans, lentils, peas, and soy-based products, should be avoided.
- Wheat, barley, corn, spelled, rye, oats, and bread are all starchy foods to avoid. Other gluten-containing foods should also be avoided.
- Processed meats, cold cuts, beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and seafood should all be avoided.
- Remove all dairy products from your diet, including milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
- Butter, margarine, hydrogenated oils, mayonnaise, and spreads should all be avoided.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages, coffee, black tea, soda, and other caffeine-containing beverages.
- Sauces, relish, and mustard should all be avoided.
- Sugar (white and brown), honey, maple syrup, corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, desserts, and chocolate should all be avoided.
Remember to remove any other food that is not on this list but makes you feel uncomfortable.
On an Elimination Diet, What Can You Eat?
Even though an elimination diet is quite restrictive, there is still enough variety to prepare healthy and tasty meals.
You can consume the following foods:
- Fruits: Almost all fruits, except citrus fruits.
- Vegetables: Almost all vegetables, except nightshades.
- Rice and buckwheat are examples of grains.
- Meats and fish include turkey, lamb, wild game, and cold-water fish such as salmon.
- Coconut milk and unsweetened rice milk are two dairy replacements.
- Cold-pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, and coconut oil are all good sources of fat.
- Water and herbal teas are the only beverages available.
- Black pepper, fresh herbs and spices (excluding cayenne pepper and paprika), and apple cider vinegar are examples of spices, condiments, and other items.
Design new recipes and experiment with herbs and spices to add excellent flavor to your dishes to keep motivated throughout this restricting phase.
The Advantages of an Elimination Diet
- An elimination diet can help you establish a specific food allergy by identifying specific food allergens (ingredients to which you are allergic).
- Elimination diets can aid in the discovery of the source of symptoms such as dry, itchy skin (dermatitis) and stomach discomfort.
- The safest strategy to treat a food intolerance or allergy is to understand your food triggers and avoid them. With your doctor’s advice, you may develop a healthy, safe, and individualized food plan by carefully following an elimination diet.
The Consequences of an Elimination Diet
If you are allergic to certain foods, reintroducing them to your diet could be dangerous. Small amounts of a dish can be fine, but greater servings can be problematic. You could be experiencing a severe food allergy reaction. If you eat a certain type of food and develop a rash, throat swelling, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention straight once.
The Final Word
- Elimination diets might help you figure out which things your body can’t handle.
- If you’re having symptoms that you suspect might be caused by your diet, an elimination diet can help you figure out which items are to blame.
- Elimination diets aren’t for everyone. An elimination diet should only be attempted by children under the supervision of a doctor or nutritionist.
- Similarly, those with allergies, whether known or suspected, should only try an elimination diet under the direction of a doctor.
Finally, elimination diets should only be used for a limited period, as long-term limitations might lead to nutritional deficits.