An elimination diet removes certain food from our diet for a time in order to determine what foods may be causing undesirable symptoms. They are they are the standard for ascertaining what foods may be problematic and cause related health symptoms. Most commonly, foods and foods groups are eliminated that are the most likely suspects, or high allergens.
Our modern day world has developed ways of packaging, processing, and preserving foods. Unfortunately, these innovations have become harbingers of pesticides, preservatives, and chemicals. Over time, we are becoming increasingly aware of the adverse side effects of consuming these modern-day “Frankenstein” foods.
Food Intolerances vs Food Allergies
First, let me be clear. Food allergies and food intolerances are different. Food allergies can be quite dramatic, even deadly. Dramatic food allergies—the kind that require urgent medical attention and prove fatal—are still not all that common. Thankfully! Allergies can cause immediate and life-threatening reactions. Food intolerances’ symptoms aren’t so obvious and therefore often wreak quiet havoc on our health over time. Milder reactions mean they can go undetected. Many of us live with food intolerances our entire lives and never even suspect it. Some studies suggest that 20% of people worldwide suffer from food intolerances unbeknownst to them. [https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18584930/]
An elimination diet is an excellent tool for discovering food intolerances and other sensitivities
How Does an Elimination Diet Work?
The only way you can tell which foods you may be intolerant of is by creating a control state with which to compare. The control state is created by eliminating items that are considered high allergen foods. Food items such as dairy products, nuts (especially peanuts,) and shellfish are removed from the menu, to name a few. During the forced abstinence, you are-NOT-experiencing reactive symptoms. Therefore, you can better recognize reactions when you finally begin adding those foods back into your diet. The Elimination diet is about eliminating certain foods for a while, slowly adding them back in, and then gauging your body’s reaction to those foods. It is helpful to note any symptoms that emerge in your Food Diary. This way, you can observe responses over time and link specific symptoms with the food(s) causing them.
Signs of Food Intolerance and the Foods that Cause Them
There are a surprising number of symptoms that can emerge as a result of food intolerance, ranging from skin conditions to a racing heart. Some of the more common problems may include; sleeping difficulty, fatigue, heartburn, watery eyes, stomach pain, weight gain, mood swings, gas, and bloating.
Food intolerances are known to cause or aggravate a host of conditions, such as:
Inflammation, arthritis, joint pain
Constipation, IBS, leaky gut, digestive issues
Acne, rosacea, hives, skin rashes, itching
Sinus problems, extra mucus, itchy throat or tongue
Difficulty breathing, asthma, and mood swings, like depression, irritability, and anxiety
While the list above isn’t all-inclusive, it gets the point across. An elimination diet can be very worthwhile and beneficial.
The foods that can cause these symptoms can vary, but eggs, dairy, nuts, soy, and gluten are among the more common culprits. Shellfish and (to a lesser extent) grains are somewhat notorious. But you may be surprised to find that coffee and alcohol can also cause symptoms.
How Can it Help Me?
Discovering what foods you are intolerant of can help you know what foods you should eliminate from your diet, as food intolerances often go undetected and secretly sabotage our health and vitality. The results of an elmination diet can be a powerful means toward improving your health and well being.
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