Elimination Diets: Should I start one?
The amount of information out there about elimination diets can be overwhelming. Hopefully, I'll help quickly clarify some of the main points to help you on your healing path.
About 4 years ago, I was having random symptoms such as stomach upset, nighttime palpitations, weight gain, acne and leg tingling. I later found out I was severely B12 deficient and learned leaky gut could be playing a cause in it. After reading Dr. Amy Myer's book The Autoimmune Solution, I was convinced I had to start an elimination diet to find out if I felt better excluding certain inflammatory foods from my diet.
How do I know if I need to do an Elimination Diet?
“Elimination diets, often times, are more telling than food sensitivity tests."
If you are experiencing any chronic condition, including digestive symptoms (bloating, acid reflux, constipation and diarrhea), skin issues (rashes, acne, rosacea, etc.), mood disturbances (anxiety, depression, mood swings, brain fog) and chronic pain, diet could be playing a major role in it.
Many people ask me about just taking a food sensitivity test and start eliminating foods from there. The catch is that if your gut is really leaky, you might be in a state of temporary high reactivity to many foods because your immune system is overwhelmed. The good news is that once you heal your gut, you might not react to certain foods anymore! Yeap, you can heal sensitivities. Food sensitivity tests can be a overwhelming and pricey way to start determining which foods to eliminate, and elimination diets are, often times, more telling than food sensitivity tests.
Which foods should I cut out?
This is the part people hate! The cold truth about some of our beloved foods and how inflammatory they really are. My #1 rule is to avoid all highly processed foods for a month. This includes any packaged foods that don't resemble the natural state of ingredients including chips, sodas, ramen, candy, deli meats, baked goods, etc. If you're not doing anything other than eliminating these highly processed foods, you are already on your way to health.
If you are serious about healing your gut (which I hope you are!), these are the food groups you should eliminate:
Gluten (wheat, rye, barley, malt)
Sugar (all refined sugars, honey and maple syrup are OK)
Refined oils: canola, corn, peanut, sunflower, cottonseed
If you are on the high end of the autoimmune spectrum, I recommend the Autoimmune Protocol which also excludes these food groups:
Grains (rice, quinoa, corn, oats )
Nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers)
Nuts and seeds
How long should I avoid these foods?
Ideally, you cut out these foods between 23 and 30 days. I usually use 30 days as a baseline because it's a full month and easy to track that way. The reason is because it takes 21 to 23 days for antibodies to turn over. If you eliminate foods for a shorter period of time, you might not benefit from the elimination.
How do I reintroduce foods?
According to the Institute of Functional Medicine, You should reintroduce food groups one at a time in 2-day intervals. During these 2 days, eat the food generously and notice if any symptoms appear (physical, mental or psychological).
If you notice any symptoms, stop the food immediately and only start to reintroduce new food groups when the symptoms clear out.
Want to dig deeper? Here are some resources!
Book: The Autoimmune Solution
Comprehensive Guide: Elimination Diet Comprehensive Guide
Join my newsletter!
I often share gluten-, casein-, and soy-free tips on my newsletter! Enter your e-mail below to subscribe.