Do you ever feel like something is off with your body but can’t put your finger on it? You may have a food intolerance or sensitivity. Here I will cover what the elimination diet is and how it can help you.
This is an area of personal experience and interest for me. As a naturopath and nutritionist, I specialize in food intolerances or sensitivities. My knowledge is research-based, but also comes from my own struggles with identifying foods that didn’t agree with me. There are a few options when exploring if your symptoms are associated with food sensitivities, including laboratory testing or dietary elimination.
To find out the root cause of your digestive discomfort, aches, pains, headaches, or other symptoms you might want to try an elimination diet. This is a fairly inexpensive way to look at how certain foods really do make you feel.
You’ll start by removing certain foods from your diet — the foods that are well-known for causing symptoms. Then, you’ll reintroduce the foods you eliminate one at a time and take note of any symptoms. The process takes about six weeks, and if you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, you’ll be able to see which food is causing your body distress and avoid it.
The Way Elimination Diets Work
There are two phases to the elimination diet. The first is the elimination, where you remove the foods that could trigger the symptoms you’re experiencing. You’ll stop eating them for 2 to 3 weeks. These foods are commonly known allergens such as dairy, nuts, wheat, gluten, eggs, and seafood.
After that, you’ll reintroduce the foods you eliminated. You’ll take your time observing for 2 to 3 days after reintroducing each of the eliminated foods to see if any of them cause a reaction.
Common symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances are rashes or changes in the skin, pains in the joints, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, bloating, stool changes, and stomach pain or cramps. When you don’t have any symptoms after reintroducing a certain food group, you can safely continue to eat it. But if you notice these symptoms, you’ve found your trigger food and can now work to keep it out of your diet.
A popular elimination diet that you may have heard of is the FODMAP’s diet, developed by Monash University. This is an elimination diet that you will likely need some practitioner guidance with. They do have a very useful app that can help you manage your digestive symptoms, which you can find here.
How Elimination Diets Help
If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms of discomfort for a long time and are ready to figure out what’s causing them, this is a great way to do that in the comfort of your own home.
It can significantly benefit you to determine if something you’re eating is to blame for the way you feel. Those that eliminate foods that cause reactions in them start feeling better within days, and in weeks, they can feel completely reborn.
- Your uncomfortable bloating will dissipate.
- Your skin will look radiant and healthy.
- You won’t need coffee to give you energy in the morning.
- You may lose weight naturally by ridding any problem foods from your diet.
- Your menstrual discomfort may improve (and who doesn’t want less pain?)
Believe it or not, food intolerances and sensitivities are more common than you think. If you uncover some intolerances or sensitivities, know that you are not alone. Knowing which foods set you off is an extreme asset, which is why choosing an elimination diet can help you find out once and for all what’s going on with your body and how to restore balance.
I have previously written the piece ‘5 Food Sensitivities and Symptoms You Might Encounter‘ that might be a helpful read to look at what symptoms you are suffering that might be related to a food sensitivity.
I’m not going to lie, for many an elimination diet can be very overwhelming. That’s why it is best if you are struggling to get some professional guidance from a practitioner. Hopefully, you now have a slightly better understanding of what the elimination diet is and how it can help you on your journey to resolve your symptoms.
Do you suspect you have a food that doesn’t agree with you?