The Elimination Diet
Many of us have hidden food sensitivities that may be causing all sorts of digestive or health issues and may be causing some or all of your symptoms. An elimination diet is a cheap and effective way to determine sensitivities. Adhere strictly to the diet for at least two weeks, or possibly three to four weeks if your symptoms do not improve in the first two weeks. Observe whether any symptoms of illness, skin rash, fatigue, congestion, digestive tract problems, joint pain, discomfort, etc., improve at the end of that time. Some people experience ill side effects, such as fatigue, headaches, foggy head, achiness, etc. the first few days on the elimination diet. This is your body detoxing and is considered normal. You may also experience strong cravings for certain foods and this is also a sign of a possible allergy.
Eliminate all common allergens: diary, wheat/gluten products (including oats), eggs, corn, nuts, soy, citrus and apples, coffee, caffeinated tea, chocolate, shellfish, beef, pork, chicken, night shades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers ), and food additives (all processed foods). Essentially, you will eat rice, most vegetables, organic turkey, lamb, fruit and water or herbal tea as your beverage and salt as your seasoning. Fruit should be limited to one piece a day and pears are the best choice. Do not eat processed foods as there are many hidden ingredients that contain corn, soy or wheat. For example “natural flavors” could contain any one of these and artificial or caramel coloring, dextrin, or vegetable gum may all contain gluten.
If and when your symptoms improve, foods can be added back, one at a time to determine which foods provoke symptoms. Add one food at a time and eat a lot of it for that day, such as when adding dairy back in drink a glass of whole milk, eat cheese and yogurt or cottage cheese, etc. If no symptoms, then that food is okay and can be added back to your diet. If you get symptoms from that food (could be headaches, fatigue, digestive upset, congestion, achiness, etc), you have a sensitivity to that food and should avoid it.
It is important to keep a food diary. When adding foods back in, make sure you are eating the pure source, such as wheat bulgar or cracked wheat as opposed to bread. Bread contains other ingredients that you may be sensitive to on their own. Wait until symptoms abate before trying the next food. This may take 2-3 days. After avoiding an offending food for at least two to three months, you can try it again. If no symptoms after three months, you can have occasionally, such as once a week. Some people need to continue to avoid all together.
For vegetarians/vegans: you can try eating beans and nuts (if you know you already don’t have an allergy to them) in place of proteins above, but best to avoid these as well at least for the first week.