By Lauren Denos: 3/24/2015 (Nutrition)

We hear of a ton of diets being created every day. They are mostly targeted at helping you lose weight. But this is not about those diets. Rather, this is about elimination diets, which has nothing to do with losing weight. An elimination diet is utilized to help you discover what foods you are having reactions to, so that you can create an eating plan that will help you feel better and be your healthiest option.

Before you just jump into an elimination diet, plan out how you are going to do it. When you have to suddenly restrict a bunch of foods, have some meals planned so that you do not run the risk of complications. This is not something that you can have a small slip up on and expect to get the information you need. Rather, it’s about finding the foods that are affecting you in a negative way, so you cannot have even a bite of a possible offending food it during the elimination phase.

How Does it Work, Where do You Start?

You will start with an elimination phase. This is where you will remove all the possible problem foods for at least 2 weeks. If you can handle it, you may want to do this phase for a full month. After you have been free of any suspected reaction food for between 2 and 4 weeks. Before you start the elimination phase think about which foods may be an issue for you.

What do you eat the most, what do you crave all the time? Is there something you feel like you cannot live without? These foods may be issues. The other thing you can do, and that is probably preferable, is to just remove all of the most common problem foods and eat a very simple diet for the elimination phase. Although it can be more difficult for some people because it is more restrictive, it can be better because you have a less likely chance of missing something that you did not think was a problem.

Pay attention to food labels! Many foods have multiple names. Dairy may be listed as its individual components like Casein, Lactose, and Whey. The same thing goes for many foods. So be aware of what you are eating. The best bet would be to eat whole foods. That way you will not have to deal with all the added ingredients.

If you think something like gluten is an issue for you, then you may want to eliminate grains in general at first, since it could be different proteins in the grain. Not just the gluten.

The Most Common Reactionary Foods are:

  • Caffeine

  • Dairy

  • Soy

  • Red Meat

  • Sugars

  • Grains

  • Eggs

  • Artificial Sweeteners

  • Alcohol

  • Yeast

  • Vinegar

  • Corn

  • Shell Fish

What You Will Want to Eat

This really depends on what you feel like your problem foods are. You may want to simply eliminate a few different things and see how you react. Or you may want to eliminate as many things as possible to create a very simple clean slate. If you are going to go with eliminating a lot of things, then you would want to eat things like:

Protein

Chicken breast, Fish (not shell fish), Turkey, pure pea protein (if you are a vegan)

Vegetables

Most vegetables (except corn and potatoes)Although some people have issues with nightshade plants. If you think this may be one of your issues then you may want to avoid them.

Some common night shades include:

  • Bell Peppers

  • Eggplant

  • Tomatoes

  • Many Peppers

Carbohydrates

Squash and yams are great choices.

Fats

Olive oil, Fish oil, Avocado

Herbs and Condiments

Most herbs are fine, as long as they are only spices and it is not a blend that contains sugar or wheat, modified food starch or MSG

Although this is a limited variety of foods compared to what you are probably used to eating, you can still create great meals with this food. Examples are:

  • Zucchini pasta with olive oil, fresh garlic and basil

  • Lean meat and veggie stuffed cabbage rolls

  • Turkey burgers topped with avocado and served with squash

  • Veggie chicken soup

  • Stuffed bell peppers

  • Protein shake with vegetables (like cucumbers, spinach and broccoli), pea protein and stevia (if you do not think this is a suspect food for you)

These are just a few examples, but there is a lot you can do.

The Next Step

After you have successfully completed the elimination phase, you will start to add the possible problem foods back in one at a time. Start by having just a little bit of one suspect food. If you do not show any signs of a reaction after a couple of hours, you can test out having a larger portion size of the same food on the same day. After having a single suspect food one day, wait 3 days total to see if you have any reactions. If not, take note of that and then do the same thing with the next suspect food. Do not add back in more than one suspect food at a time and only have it for one day at a time. Then wait 3 days total to see what your reactions are, otherwise you will not have an idea of which food is causing the issues. Food reactions can happen right away or take a day or two to show up. You do not want to be confused as to which food caused the reaction, which is why you only do one food at a time and why you wait the three days.

Keep a Journal

Keep a journal the whole time! This means while you are on the elimination portion, and when you start adding things back in. Things you want to keep track of are:



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-Lauren