Do you know if all the food you eat is actually good for your body? Food allergies and sensitivities can pop at any time, and cause a variety of unpleasant reactions. You might not even realize that your symptoms are caused by a food sensitivity. Here we’ll look at why elimination diets are useful, and how to do one.
Food allergies and sensitivities are the root of many seemingly unrelated health issues. Eating a food your body cannot tolerate can cause fatigue, mental fogginess, depression, anxiety, asthma, headaches, eczema, joint pain, inflammation, heart disease, and arthritis.
While a food allergen test can sometimes detect food sensitivities, these tests are often expensive and unreliable. The simplest and most effective method is an elimination diet. An elimination diet is when you stop eating all foods that might be causing an allergic reaction for three to four weeks. Then you reintroduce the foods one at a time, and observe how eating them makes you feel.
A successful elimination diet requires that you cut out all potential trigger foods. We can sometimes overdo it on our favorite foods and lose the ability to digest them properly, so if you eat something every day you may want to cut it out for the diet, as well. For example I eat chlorella pretty much every day, so on an elimination diet I would cut it out, even though it’s not on the usual allergen list.
You will also need to alkalinize your system as much as possible, to cleanse any residuals from your body so you can make an accurate assessment when the diet is over.
While it does require focus and commitment to complete, an elimination diet can help you determine which foods might be irritating your digestive tract and potentially damaging your health. Consider it a detox, an opportunity for assessment, and an act of self-care.
You will want to prepare for the diet by cleaning out your kitchen and stocking up on the foods you can eat, to set yourself up for success. Fill your fridge and pantry with vegetables, fruit, rice, and seasonings. You will get rid of:
- Coffee and Black Tea
- Gluten-containing Foods including Wheat, Spelt, Rye, and Kamut
- Coconut Products
- All Processed Food
- All Beans and Lentils
- All Peppers (Bell and Hot)
- All Nightshade Vegetables (Tomatoes, Eggplants, Mushrooms…)
- All Nuts
- All Seeds
- Citrus Fruit
- Condiments and Sauces (other than herbs)
- Honey, Maple Syrup, Corn Syrup (Stevia is ok)
- All Grains (If you think you may be sensitive to them. Quinoa is the most allergenic non-glutinous grain)
After at least three weeks you may be surprised by how good you feel, especially if you have never detoxed before. You will most likely feel less inflammation and bloating, and you may lose weight.
Then you will experiment with one food at a time. When you reintroduce foods one at a time, you can observe how each one makes you feel. You will try one food a few times on one day, and then notice how you feel for two days after. If eating the food makes you feel energized and you digest it easily, then you are not sensitive to it and can keep it in your diet. Then you can try the next food. You will want to break it down into individual foods and not whole groups; as for example many people can eat almonds but not cashews, or millet but not quinoa.
If you notice any symptoms, such as bloating, gas, nausea, headaches, fatigue, a racing heartbeat, skin irritations or rashes, constipation or diarrhea, or insomnia in the two days following eating that food, then you will know you have a sensitivity to it and may want to stop eating it completely for at least six months.
Elimination diets work because of observation. It is a good idea to keep a journal of how you feel during and after the diet, and how each food makes you feel.
While it does require dedication, an elimination diet can help you know for certain which foods are supporting your health, and which may be ruining. It is worth the time and effort to ensure you are truly nourishing your body.