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The Elimination Diet for Allergen-free Lifestyles

Have you ever indulged in a favorite food or cuisine, only to feel unpleasant symptoms afterwards such as bloating, diarrhea, itchiness, lightheadedness, tiredness, or anything else unusual? It’s possible that your favorite food could have an allergen that you’re not aware of.

Approximately 6.2% of the U.S. adult population suffers from a food allergy. Unfortunately, many people only discover they have allergies the hard way – by experiencing an unpleasant symptom (or sometimes even a life-threatening one).

Sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that is causing these symptoms to appear, given that most people eat a variety of different types of foods each day. This is where an elimination diet can help.

What is an Elimination Diet for Allergies?

An elimination diet for allergies is a diagnostic tool used to identify food sensitivities or allergies by systematically removing specific foods from the diet and then gradually reintroducing them. This approach – which may be assigned to you by your doctors – helps pinpoint foods that may be causing adverse reactions such as gastrointestinal issues, skin rashes, headaches, or respiratory problems.

How to do an Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is made up of two distinct phases: elimination and reintroduction.

Elimination

The elimination phase typically lasts two to six weeks, during which common allergens and suspected problem foods are completely excluded from your diet. During this phase, individuals consume only foods considered unlikely to cause allergies, such as certain vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and hypoallergenic grains like rice and quinoa.

Elimination Diet Food List

Here is a common list of foods that should be eliminated from your diet during this phase.

Dairy Products
  • Milk Cheese Yogurt Butter Ice cream
Gluten-Containing Grains
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
Soy Products
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Soy sauce
  • Edamame
Eggs
  • Whole eggs
  • Egg whites
Nuts and Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
Fish and Shellfish
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
Nightshade Vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Eggplants
  • Peppers (bell peppers, chili peppers)
Certain Fruits
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit)
  • Strawberries
Processed Foods
  • Packaged snacks
  • Pre-made meals
  • Foods with artificial additives and preservatives
Beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Tea (except herbal teas)
  • Soda and other sugary drinks

Reintroduction

Once the initial phase is completed and symptoms have subsided, the reintroduction phase begins. During this phase, each eliminated food is gradually reintroduced one at a time, usually over a period of several days, while monitoring for any adverse reactions. If a particular food triggers symptoms, it is identified as a potential allergen and is typically excluded from the diet. This is the phase that I personally identify as most important. You are the only one that knows your body, and you are the only one that can listen to it. Make note of any unwanted symptoms that are a result of a food ingested. FOLLOW YOUR GUT!

Preparing for a Successful Elimination Diet

The elimination diet requires careful planning and monitoring, often under the guidance of a healthcare professional, such as a dietitian or allergist, to ensure nutritional balance and an accurate identification of triggers. This method not only helps in diagnosing food allergies and intolerances but also assists in managing and mitigating symptoms, leading to improved overall health and well-being.

Ultimately, an elimination diet is a personalized and systematic approach to uncovering food-related triggers, helping individuals achieve better control over their dietary choices and health outcomes.

 

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