The Elimination Diet
We are all highly unique individuals and this especially applies to how our bodies react to and process different foods. Food intolerances and allergies can cause a vast number of problems for individuals often with undiagnosed, long term, detrimental effects on health. In particular they make it almost impossible to shed stubborn fat or build lean muscle.
If you lack the appropriate digestive function to deal with a certain kind of food then it can find its way into the bloodstream without being completely broken down. The immune system will then try to identify the substance in order to trigger the most appropriate immune response. Often it will get this wrong as it is not actually a virus which it is dealing with. This complex immune response and release of antibodies will often go on to damage healthy tissue around the body.
Different people will be affected in different ways and often will display symptoms associated with a particular illness which the immune system has wrongly primed itself to combat. Because the health service treats illness from a symptomatic perspective then someone may end up being treated for an illness which they don’t actually have. The treatment will not work long term as the symptoms are actually being triggered by something in the diet.
Migraine, depression and fatigue are some of the more common illnesses which can be brought about by food intolerances. Symptoms of autism in children have been shown to be dramatically reduced by withdrawing certain foods from diet. At the more serious end of the scale epilepsy, osteoporosis, infertility and many other serious illnesses have shown to respond well to removal of specific foods from a person’s diet.
A well planned and executed elimination diet:
Finds out which foods cause digestive problems or discomfort
Finds out which foods you are intolerant/tolerant of
Finds out which foods worsen/improve symptoms of long term illness
Removes hidden barriers to fat loss or muscle gain
At the very least gives a good idea of which foods make you feel good and which don’t.
Often people who have suffered from long term health problems find that going through the process of an elimination diet is extremely beneficial in alleviating symptoms and helping them manage their health problems. In rare cases they will discover that the symptoms can disappear. At the very least you will get a good idea of which foods make you feel good and which don’t.
An elimination diet done properly will remove all of the foods history has shown us that large numbers of people can be intolerant to (see list below) however you can theoretically do an elimination diet just by removing one food stuff if you feel you have a good idea of what is causing the problem. To do this properly however everything on right hand side of the list below should be removed which basically leaves you to make up your diet from the list on the left hand side.
Your elimination diet should last 2 weeks for children and 4 weeks for adults. Then re-introduce foods one by one, leaving three days between each re-introduction and eating the food multiple times to gauge if you have any adverse reactions. (If you still show symptoms after 4 weeks on the diet then try removing rice also for a week or two)
Foods to include
Foods to exclude
Almost all fresh fruit
Citrus fruits (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, etc)
Almost all fresh raw, steamed, sautéed, or roasted vegetables
Tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes (sweet potato and yams are okay)
Wheat, corn, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, oats, all gluten-containing products
Soybeans, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, all beans, peas, lentils
Nuts and seeds
All seeds and nuts
Meat and fish
Fish, turkey, lamb, wild game
Beef, chicken, pork, cold cuts, bacon, hotdogs, canned meat, sausage, shellfish, meat substitutes made from soy
Dairy products and milk substitutes
Unsweetened rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk
Milk,cheese, cottage cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream, non-dairy creamers, eggs
Cold-expeller pressed olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil
Margarine, butter, processed and hydrogenated oils, mayonnaise, spreads
Drink plenty of fresh water, herbal teas (e.g. rooibos, peppermint, etc.)
Alcohol, caffeine (coffee, black tea, green tea, soda)
Spices and condiments
Sea salt, fresh pepper, fresh herbs and spices (i.e. garlic, cumin, dill, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, turmeric)
Chocolate, ketchup, mustard, relish, chutney, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, vinegar
Stevia (if needed)
White or brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, desserts
(this table was sourced from precisionnutrition.com)