What Is An Elimination Diet? (And why you should try it)

What's An Elimination Diet?

What is an elimination diet and how do you know if you should try it? I’m not a health professional, but I’m happy to share my personal experience of how a simple elimination diet changed my life for the better and why it might be worth your consideration.

First of all, what is an elimination diet? This is my definition:

An elimination diet is the systematic process of removing a few food groups from your diet for a period of 2-4 weeks and recording any changes in mental and physical functioning. Reintroduce each of the removed foods back into your diet one-by-one after the 2-4 week β€œclean” period, recording any negative reactions to that reintroduced food so that you can identify foods that your body is sensitive towards.

What Is An Elimination Diet

Before embarking on my first elimination diet I made sure I had plenty of “safe” meal, snack, and treat options to prepare for the 2-week period of abstaining from wheat, dairy, and processed sugar. Gluten free oatmeal, brown rice, fruit, nuts, meats, and vegetables were my primary foods! These baked cinnamon oatmeal stuffed peaches quickly became a favorite dessert! Baked apples are also a delicious option. πŸ™‚

Wheat, dairy, and sugar are the 3 basic areas that I strongly suggest eliminating for starters. You can always refine your elimination diet further by eliminating all grains for a period of time to discover how your body reacts to specific grains, etc. Or there are other more expansive and extreme elimination diets that you might want to try if you are having severe health issues that are not responding to the first level of elimination.

What Is An Elimination Diet

My favorite Gluten Free Biscuits

An elimination diet is meant to be a short-term experiment in self-discovery that can empower you towards greater health and vitality- not a constant state of deprivation or a weight loss trend.

You may want to consider an elimination diet if you struggle with:

  • Extreme exhaustion and fatigue
  • Digestive issues such as gas, constipation, etc.
  • Sore or aching joints
  • Skin breakouts or conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or acne.
  • Mood fluctuation
  • Lack of focus or distraction

I’m sure there are even more symptoms, since every person reacts differently to dietary sensitivities. These are simply a few examples that I’ve had experience with, but I encourage everyone to try an elimination diet at least once to see if they notice any changes in themselves.

What Is An Elimination Diet

My husband and I love to cook together and experiment with new recipes, so finding “safe” ingredients to cook with that didn’t negatively effect me was important to us both. It’s been more than worthwhile, though, to be free of the medications and symptoms that used to plague me!

Sensitivities can develop at any point in your life, so just because you’ve β€œeaten this way your whole life” doesn’t mean your body is ok with that now! I grew up on homemade breads and grains, but as an adult I discovered, through an elimination diet, that I was allergic to wheat. My doctors had treated my symptoms with antibiotics for over 7 years, never knowing the cause. I was unknowingly poisoning myself every day, until I tried an elimination diet.

Unless there is a medical reason why you should not cut out wheat, dairy, and sugar from your diet for a couple of weeks, there’s no harm in trying it out. You might discover something new about your body and how you function best! Or you might notice no change whatsoever and order a large pizza and ice cream to celebrate. ;D

What Is An Elimination Diet

Birthday Feast! Although it was a difficult transition at first, I soon found new recipes that allowed me to enjoy some of my favorite treats without the negative side effects. I discovered during my elimination diet that I was allergic to wheat, sensitive to milk, and had negative reactions to processed sugar (headaches for one)- so it was challenging to find “safe” and delicious recipes at first! But with the help of nut milks, gluten free grains, and natural sweeteners, I was able to find delicious new recipes! Even birthday donuts and biscuits with gravy! πŸ˜€

I hope this brief account of my experience helps answer some of your questions about the purpose of an elimination diet! If you’d like to know more about any of this or how to plan an elimination diet menu, please leave me a comment or email!

XO Abigail

What Is An Elimination Diet

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4 Comments

  1. Reply

    Natalie

    12/29/2017

    I’ve had tremdous health benefits doing the LEAP protocol after doing MRT blood testing to find out what foods were “safe” for me. I just recently started again after all the kiddos and can’t believe how much better I feel after only a week! Things like gluten and wheat are ok for me, but tomatoes, garlic and many other things are not. I love feeding my body what it needs.

    • Reply

      Abigail

      12/30/2017

      Hi Natalie!! πŸ™‚ That’s amazing, thanks for sharing! I find it so crazy that something that is healthy for some people is poisonous to others. I’m glad you’ve been able to identify some of your trigger foods! I may look into LEAP with Dave because the basic starter elimination diet didn’t help us find his trigger foods (related to his symptoms). We have a friend with E.O.E. and his body responds in extreme ways to all sorts of foods. You really have to be your own personal detective- and it can still take awhile to pinpoint triggers! But I agree with you, it is SO worthwhile when you feel better and you can feed your body what it needs!

  2. Reply

    Pam Brown

    01/09/2018

    This was so helpful. I have been having trouble for quit sometime with my stomach and acid reflux. All the symptoms that u mention I’m having. Also I never know when I eat something if it’s going to bother my stomach r not. It seems I can’t drink cafe. I can use it in things though. Fried foods r bad for me and milk So I’m watching my dairy. Real butter doesn’t bother me but milk and Ice cream seem to. So we switch to Lacto intolerance. Doing better. I’m still not there yet. My digestive system isn’t regular and I seem to have trouble from time to time. I appreciate this and any help u have to offer. Thank you so much.

    • Reply

      Abigail

      01/10/2018

      Hi, Pam! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. It sounds like you’re doing a great job learning what helps and hurts your body. It’s difficult when your reactions are inconsistent. If you continue to have symptoms, you may want to get further bloodwork or allergy tests (if you haven’t already). Also, doing anything you can to build up your “gut health” goes far, such as eating and drinking fermented foods (I love kombucha and sauerkraut), and taking high quality supplements. Young Living has a lot of quality gut health supplements and oils that can be helpful in supporting gut health. You may also want to try the FODMAP elimination diet or Whole30 to see if it helps you identify other “trigger foods”. Blessings and Best Wishes to you on your journey towards health! :)Abigail

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