How to do an Elimination Diet and why You’ll be Thankful You did

How to do your own Elimination Diet

Why would you want to eliminate foods from your diet? Isn’t that restrictive? What is the significance of one food over another? Aren’t all natural foods good for you?

All good questions, but there are times in which some of you will need to eliminate certain foods from your diet. This could be for a short period, or for good.

Those with SIBO, IBS, IBD, Dysbiosis, Food intolerances, allergies and GI complications know what I’m taking about.

Heres why

Food is an interaction. It nourishes you, your organs, your cells, even the billions of bacteria that you unknowingly host.

The properties of food remain fairly constant from EG, Avocado to Avocado, provided it has been grown with care and no mad scientists have got their dirty mitts on it. These properties are nutritional and functional.

Food is information; our bodies know what to do with them because of the chemical operating systems that kick in when we start to metabolise them.

Food is information

The dance that food does with our bodies affects all sorts of processes and functions – Vitamins, Minerals and phytonutrients go to work in the liver, for example as part of methylation (detoxification). Nutrients all lend a hand in keeping us alive and well. 

The variety, amount and quality of nutrients affects your state of health. Without adequate nutrition your body can start to feel fatigued, your mood can fluctuate and dip, your joints can start to ache, your skin can start to break out and your cognition can go to shit.

Your interaction with foods can be subject to change. This is based on your ability to accept and digest them.

The chemical instructions from whole foods remain fairly constant, but our hardware may have changed in their physiology and function:

  • Stomach – Low stomach acid
  • Pancreas – low digestive enzymes
  • Gall Bladder – low digestive enzymes
  • Liver – low digestive enzymes
  • Gastrointestinal Tract – Intestinal Permeability (Leaky Gut), low digestive enzymes
  • Gut Microbiota – Dysbiosis (imbalanced)

The interaction that was once harmonious between instruction and hardware becomes misdirected. 

Find out how a Food Intolerance can Develop 

This means that our interaction with food has changed, and can leave some foods poorly digested and rejected by the body.

When a food(s) is rejected, or poorly tolerated, this can bring a host of nasty symptoms and evolve into health complications. At times, symptoms can be subtle and intolerances can pass by largely undetected. Most of the time, symptoms like bloating and gas are overlooked and the connection to what we are eating is not made. Your food becomes a part of you when it is digested and assimilated. You ARE what you eat.

Eventually, you may find that symptoms begin to affect your quality of life. Its smart to do something about it at this point, enough is enough! Time to get to the bottom of this.

Lets start with an Elimination Diet.

What Is The Elimination Diet?

What is the Elimination Diet

As you may have guessed, the elimination diet involves removing certain foods for a given amount of time. It is used as a diagnostic tool to identify food allergy and intolerance which could be causing you to feel and function well below your best.

Considered a gold standard method, it comes highly recommended for identifying and removing the foods that are working against you.

It is so much more than just a diet, though.

It is an opportunity that allows you to do some dietary detective work of your own. You get to know what foods you had no idea were negatively affecting you and contributing to your feelings of fatigue, moodiness, aches and digestive discomfort.

The aim is to eliminate allergenic foods, ranging from common allergens right down to more covert culprits. This is followed by a re-introduction period which tests your reactivity to foods, thereby identifying which ones don’t sit well with you.

Doing an ED is like conducting an experiment on yourself. Your body is the apparatus you will use to do the test. It is the best indicator of what is good for it and it will let you know through how you are feeling.

Everyone is different. We all have different genetics, biochemistry, life histories and organ function which will affect our own interaction with food. Taking the time to conduct this experiment will put you in touch with your optimal diet. The benefits can stay with you for the rest of your life!

Advantages:
  • No need for Labs, saving money and avoiding inconsistencies in test results. 
  • It is free
  • You get a clear indication of what foods aren’t well tolerated
  • A tailored diet can be put together afterwards
  • You learn to listen and reconnect with your body

An ED takes commitment. You will get the best results if you are true to yourself, don’t cut corners and stick it out until the end. What you have afterwards is a blueprint for your ideal diet going forward with a greater understanding of YOUR body. Once you have this, you can piece together delicious recipes and meals which satisfy you and support your health rather than undermining it.

Supporting Evidence

Evidence supporting elimination diet

Without a solid body of evidence, it might seem like a long shot to commit to doing your own experiment. The ED takes motivation, persistence and dedication, so its only right you know the score before going into it.

Lets have a look at what the science has uncovered in people with a range of symptoms and digestive complications. 

An Elimination diet is considered the gold standard protocol for identifying food allergy and intolerance. You use the most reliable indicator as a testing ground – your own body. The diet is said to be a safe and cost effective method of identifying adverse reactions to food.

Your Gut Microbiota, and its state of balance; the diversity and ratio of beneficial bacteria: bad bacteria, plays a leading role in determining your health. In some cases, the diversity can fall away and the ratio of microbes becomes upset. This is Known as Dysbiosis:

A shift in composition and function of gut microbes from a beneficial state to one that is harmful to an individuals health

Composition of the intestinal microbiota can influence exposure to developing chronic illnesses of the intestinal tract. Dysbiosis is implicated with Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Celiac Disease. Of these, food allergy and intolerance are common symptoms (1 , 2, 3), suggesting a link between dysbiosis and food allergy and intolerance.

Digestive issues are uncomfortable, often bringing with them bloating, wind, indigestion and abdominal pain. It doesn’t end here. Chronic diseases of the intestinal tract are also associated with psychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety, mood, and fatigue (4, 5, 6, 7).

Your Gut Microbiota is highly adaptive and can change rapidly in response to diet. The elimination of common foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, chemical flavourings, colourings and additives could prove promising in reducing symptoms related to food intolerance.

The good news is that by addressing food intolerances through elimination diets, symptoms like depression, anxiety and digestive complaints can be reduced.

A study showed reductions in symptoms of IBS, inclusive of depression and anxiety, when an elimination diet was followed for 12 weeks.

An Australian study looked at food intolerances with relation to chronic fatigue. Subjects eliminated wheat, milk, food colourings and additives from their diets with positive results. Amongst them was a reduction in fatigue, muscle pain, headache, joint pain and cognitive dysfunction.

Similar reductions in symptoms have also been shown with studies in migraine and associated IBS. Significant reductions in severity, frequency and duration of migraine attacks were noted with reductions in pain and bloating when an elimination diet was undertaken.

Adults who eliminated 13 poorly tolerated foods for more than a year were successfully able to tolerate 5 of these upon reintroduction. These findings suggest that avoidance of problem foods is an effective way of dealing with food allergy in specific foods for given individuals.

The evidence suggests a strong link between common symptoms associated with food intolerance and imbalance within the microbiota. In some cases, when provocative foods were removed, there was an improvement in symptoms associated with digestive disorders and food intolerance. 

An elimination diet could be a valuable experiment to gain insight into your unique situation. If you are experiencing similar symptoms, then it might be worthwhile having a go.

If your check engine light came on in your car, would you just keep on driving? No. You would take a look under the hood. Same deal here. You wont know until you try!

Directions

How to conduct your own elimination diet

This isn’t just an experiment, it is a journey. Your journey will lead you to a state of better health; a better understanding of what ensures and undermines YOUR health.

This will take 100% commitment and should be scheduled at a time which allows you to be focused, motivated and committed. Christmas time for example isn’t the most ideal of times. Everyone is in a festive mood, you don’t want to be the Grinch who cant enjoy the treats that come with the holiday.

Make sure you are properly prepared, are protected from stress, have solid stress defence techniques and self care in place.

The protocol is conducted with three Phases.

Phase I

Phase I constitutes a detoxification phase in which foods commonly harbouring antibiotics, pesticides, environmental chemicals, Genetic modification and of course common allergens, are eliminated.

It is common practice to consume juices, Smoothies, Soups, Salads, Stir Fry’s, Herbal Teas and water.

Don’t sweat it, this phase only lasts between 2 and 7 days. The detoxification phase is important because it allows:

  • Reduction of Inflammation
  • The digestive system to relax and rest
  • The flooding of Vitamins, Minerals and Phytonutrients into the body
Phase II

Phase II ensures a healing environment in order to restore balance to the body and its systems. Inflammation is kept at bay whilst you continue to nurture your body with beneficial nutrients and abstain from harmful irritants. This phase lasts for 7 days.

If you have sensitive digestion some plant source of protein can be tough to digest. In this case prioritise quality animal protein such as chicken or fish. Make sure its Organic!

Keep your eye on grains. Sometimes even the healthiest, gluten free source of grains such as brown rice can cause a stir. Starches can be troublesome for some, especially those prone to blood sugar issues. If grains aren’t for you, sideline them and look to source a little more fat from oils, seeds, meat and fish.

Sugars from Raw Honey, Maple Syrup and dates make a re – appearance in Phase II. Look to add these towards the end. Those with IBS may want to be cautious with these sugars.

Phase III

Phase III – Day 15  is when you start your dietary detective work. You begin to re – introduce black labelled foods back into your diet one by one. It is important that you leave at least 2 days to properly test one food.

You test a food by eating it 2 – 3 times a day for 3 consecutive days to be thorough.

During this time you will look out for any reactions and document them in a food journal. If you react, then remove this food. Wait at least 2 days – 1 week before moving on to the next food if you have had a reaction as the immune system will need to settle. This ensures clear indication of what foods are causing reactions. If you have any doubts about a food, leave it out otherwise it will jeopardise the rest of the experiment.

Take a well documented inventory of how you feel:

  • How is Your Mood
  • How is Your Energy?
  • Do your symptoms reappear?
  • Watch your weight
  • What is your skin saying?

It is important that these are accounted for in a journal. Take special care to note the date, time, physical + emotional responses whilst adding back foods.

If a reaction does occur, note it down and remove this food for a period of up to 3 months before challenging it again.

Food List

What gets cut

Phase I
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Soy + Products
  • Corn + Products
  • Meat + Fish (chicken stock is an exception, ensure it is free range organic)
  • Sugar + Products, such as honey, maple syrup, table sugar, Agave Nectar – ALL Sugar!
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Nightshade vegetables
  • Alcohol, Caffeine, Chocolate, Commercial Vegetable Oils
Phase II
  • Gluten + Products (lentils + Oats also due to cross contamination)
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Meat – Beef, Lard, Pork, Tallow
  • Soy + Products
  • Corn + Products
  • Yeast
  • Nuts
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Nightshades
  • Sugar – Table, Cane, Agave Nectar
  • Alcohol, Caffeine, Chocolate, Commercial Vegetable Oils, Sesame

What Makes the Cut

Phase I
  • Fruit (Except Citrus)
  • Vegetables
  • Sea Vegetables – Samphire, Kombu, Kelp
  • Oils – Coconut + Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Herbs + Spices
  • Herbal Teas
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut Meat

All of these can be consumed in the form of Smoothies, Juices, Salads, Stir fry’s and Soups.

Phase II
  • Whole Grains – Brown Rice, Quinoa, Wild Rice
  • Legumes
  • Meat + Fish (Except Beef, Pork, Tallow, Lard)
  • Fruits (Except citrus)
  • Vegetables
  • Sea Vegetables – Samphire, Kombu, Kelp
  • Oils – Coconut + Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Herbs + Spices
  • Herbal Teas
  • Seeds
  • Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut Meat

Reintroduction

Phase III

Test the water by adding in lime and lemon juice back in to juices and smoothies for the first day of Phase III. Add in all citrus fruits from day two/three. Ensure it is all Organic to avoid pesticides corrupting the results. Days 15 – 17

  • Take a chance on Nightshades. Days 18 – 20
  • Welcome back Beef (Pasture raised). Days 21 – 23
  • Pork (chops + pulled, ensuring purity). Days 24 – 26
  • Sesame. Days 27 -29
  • Walnuts + Pecans. Days 30 – 32
  • Almonds. Days 33 – 35
  • Cashews. Days 36 – 38
  • Peanuts. Days 39 – 41
  • Hazelnuts, Macadamia, Pistachios, Brazil Nuts. Days 42 – 44
  • Sugar – Organic Cane Sugar. Days 45 – 47
  • Chocolate – Raw Cacao Nibs/Powder. Days 48 – 50
  • Organic Corn. Days 51 – 53
  • Organic Soy. Days 54 – 56
  • Yeast. Days 57 – 59
  • Eggs – Free Range. Days 60 – 62
  • Dairy – Pasture raised, Organic. Days 63 – 65
  • Gluten – Whole Grain, Organic Rye + Lentils + Oats. Days 66 – 68
  • Wheat – Whole Wheat Flour. Days 69 – 71.

Takeaways

takeaways
  • It helps you to establish which foods are working for you and against you

  • An Elimination Diet is the Gateway to finding your perfect diet moving forward

  • Conducting an ED helps reduce inflammation, rests the digestive system and puts you in better touch with your own body 

Elimination Diet Coaching

Maybe you are ready to take a step to a higher quality of life? Its time to take control of your diet and find whats best for YOU!

If you would like support in this area, we can work together to find your ideal dietary blueprint.

If you suffer from digestive issues, experience the symptoms that co – exist with digestive complication, then an Elimination diet might be for you.

Get in touch if you would like to find out if an ED is right for you, its FREE!

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