If you are someone that struggles with food sensitivities, constant immune issues, seasonal allergies, skin issues and more, doing an elimination diet would be a good idea. I know this is not necessarily an easy or desirable thing to take on, however, it’s really one of the most effective ways to get to the root of your issues. Remember as Hippocrates once said; ‘All disease begins in the gut’. It’s a good first step for anyone to take in trying to further iron out ongoing health issues.
Basically an elimination diet is a 3 week (minimum) to 3 month diet that removes the most allergenic foods (such as- gluten grains, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts; if you know you are intolerant to gluten you’ll need to include all the gluten cross reactive foods in your elimination plan). The goal is to remove any foods creating an allergic/immune response in the body and heal the gut. When you’ve completed the allotted time you can start to add foods, one by one, back into your diet to see which may provoke symptoms. You might want to keep dairy and eggs out of your diet for up to 3 months, and gluten containing grains for 6-8 months to get the best results on those particular foods. You’ll need to become a label detective and know all the hidden sources of gluten, dairy and eggs. You can also exclude any foods you may believe to be suspect. Everyone will be different.
There are a few protocols out there that I am familiar with that are excellent – SCD (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) are lifestyle protocols to heal and repair the gut but are not short term by any means. Most who go on these are on them for a long time working to heal and repair the villi in the gut. The introduction diet for the GAPS plan is essentially an elimination diet, though it does not exclude dairy. Pick up a copy of the book and follow the instructions on how to do the introduction part of the diet. Keep in mind it may take some time – plan on at least one month or longer. I also like the Whole 30 plan as an elimination diet. The Paleo Autoimmune protocol is even more in depth, and I would recommend working towards that if you have a known autoimmune condition. Once an autoimmune condition sets in, healing the gut should be the top priority to help stop the attack on the bodies tissues/organs and prevent other autoimmune conditions from setting in.
Elimination Diet Game Plan
- My personal recommendation would be to start out on a Paleo diet for 3 months. I like something like the Whole 30 challenge because this removes most of the gluten cross reactive foods as well. This plan should get you good results. This removes the big common allergens, like dairy, grains, legumes and even sugars. Or you could do a GAPS approach removing the dairy as well -remember casein is becoming more of a problem – you do want to rule that out. The GAPS approach allows honey, which might be more doable for some, though make sure you don’t eat more than 2 Tbsp of honey per day. Just because it’s allowed doesn’t mean the sky is the limit.
- After 3 months if you still find you have some symptoms go ahead and remove eggs for 3 months. After another 3 months you may feel great or still have some minor symptoms. If you feel good and have seen your skin issues etc… clear up, you could try to reintroduce some dairy or even try duck eggs. If you still have some symptoms sticking around try removing nuts and any gluten cross reactive foods (see list here), then after that try nightshades. Keep in mind, finding all the problematic foods may take some time. This is not a formula that you can expect exact magical results, this is a game plan to help guide you on a journey of self-exploration as to what your body can and cannot handle at this time. If you don’t want to self explore, you can get blood work (see below) to help you at least have a good starting point.
- If you really want to cut to the chase and know for sure what foods you need to remove – I recommend asking your doctor/health care practitioner to order Cyrex Labs Array #4. If you cannot get your doctor or a practitioner to order this test for you – you can order it yourself through True Health Labs for $269. (click image further down in the post)
- While you are doing an elimination diet it will be critical to work on healing the gut through supplementation and certain healing foods (many of which are included in the GAPS protocol).
- Keeping a food journal during your elimination diet is CRITICAL If you haven’t started one yet, please do. Here is a good template to use.
- Planning will be key. Once you decide to take on an elimination diet, you will need to plan well if you want to succeed. Plan to start during a time where life is not quite as stressful. One thing you can do is start by having one meal per day that fits your new diet plan. Do that for 1-2 weeks, then add another meal for 1-2 weeks, then add another. Then add snacks if needed. Then figure out the foods you can eat outside of the home and get a game plan for how you will handle that. Include in your game plan what portable foods you can take with you when you are out so you don’t find yourself straying from your plan while you are out.
- While you are gearing towards the complete elimination diet plan, try to set some food aside as you can. For example, if you can double a dinner recipe do it – you’ll be so glad you did. Also, have planned leftovers and learn to shop in bulk and keep a stocked pantry. One of the biggest trip ups people run into on an elimination diet is when life gets busy and you haven’t been as prepared as you would like. The more time you take gearing up the better of a success you may have sticking to the plan for a longer duration and really giving your body a chance to heal/recover. If you decide to jump in all at once to an elimination diet, then realize the first 3-4 days or even week will be the hardest. If you go with something like the Whole 30 Plan -they have resources available to help you get started, such as foods, even meals you can order online and recipe books.
- Keep meals simple. You don’t have to be a rockstar in the kitchen. Meats and veggies make easy meals and very satisfying ones with some fruit for dessert. Vary what you eat to avoid issues developing more sensitivities. Eat regular meals the same time every day – you want to keep your blood sugar stable and your circadian rhythm happy too. Eat lots of varied fresh, in- season, low glycemic veggies.
- Don’t replace sweets with yet more sweets just in the ‘allowed’ form. This is one thing that drives me nuts – when I see people baking gobs of GAPS or Paleo treats, just because they are made with ingredients from the ‘allowed’ foods list. Listen, eating baked goods daily with almond flour still is not a great idea even if nuts are allowed. Use those baked goods as the occasional treat, not a staple of your diet.
If you want to learn more about digestion overall and how to repair & restore your gut health, please click the image below to find out about my next run of my ‘Heal Your Gut‘ online course!
Revitalize Your Health is a comprehensive step by step online course to help you get your health where you want it to be. I cover metabolic health, sleep, fitness, diet, hormonal health, how to gently detox the body, the home and even how to raise healthy kids. Improve your cardiovascular health and keep it in shape all year. Plus. learn how to implement other healing practices into your life to balance out diet and exercise. It’s all here for you – come on over and find your best health this spring! Revitalize Your Health – What It’s All About!
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