Words From the Wise on Elimination Diets and Cleanses

asweatlife_ Words From the Wise on Elimination Diets and Cleanses

I gritted my teeth. I gave her the hairy eyeball through the phone. I felt resentful towards her. All because she had told me chocolate was out of my life. For 21 days. Even the really dark stuff. Chocolate was the biggest concession, but seafood, all dairy, anything glutenous, beef, wine and about two dozen other foods were off my shopping list for this three week elimination diet as well.

While the elimination diet was a strong suggestion on the part of my bestie, the ob-gyn, I have also dabbled in cleanses. The week before my baby sister’s wedding, I got cozy with the juicer and forwent chewing my food, eyeing up people’s plates with great envy with a growling stomach by the end of the three days. They didn’t nickname me Jaws for nothing in high school.

Elimination diets and cleanses are often done in the name of detoxing. Detox, that trendy, less than sexy, word that marketers try to make seductive and stick like glue with zillions of advertisements. My aim here is to clarify the difference between elimination diets and cleanses, and provide some insight about “detoxing” from a few good sources.

First, to define and further explain the two:

What it entails Why you might give it a whirl Possible outcomes
Elimination Diet
  • 3-4 weeks of cutting out dairy, soy, nuts, eggs, gluten, sugar and alcohol (amount of time and specific food groups may vary depending on the recommended diet)
  • more than 4 weeks if used for gut healing
  • An emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods without preservatives or additives
  • You or your trusted medical professional sense a food allergy or intolerance
  • You have signs of leaky gut
  • Pinpointing an allergy or intolerance, thus resulting in clearer skin, better digestion, more regular bowel movements, sounder sleep
  • Getting to the bottom of that little problem with flatulence
  • An equalized gut flora
  • Generally shorter than an elimination diet as the diet is less sustainable; most cleanses will be 3 to 10 days
  • An emphasis on juicing or fasting
  • You are no longer taking birth control and wanting to get pregnant – a cleanse is suggested 6 months before conceiving
  • Your body and brain have developed a sugar addiction
  • You want to jump start a weight loss plan
  • Feeling … cleaner
  • more energy
  • better digestion
  • deeper sleep
  • Experiencing fewer obsessive thoughts about sugar

Alright, we’ve got a handle on the two, so let’s move along to ponder some wisdom from those dependable authorities on the topic.

If you are considering a cleanse, according to Hana Abdulaziz Feeney, an integrative dietitian and food coach with Nourishing Results, you should already be in good health as “cleanses mobilize toxins out of body stores, and without adequate nutrition may or may not be detoxified out of the body.” Feeney suggests an elimination diet rather than a cleanse if you feel that you are “toxic,” experiencing headaches, mood swings, gut and skin issues as elimination diets are nutrient dense and will help the toxins released to safely pass through your system.

So, there is a place for both a cleanse or elimination diet, but when it comes to gimmicks, be very wary. The deal is, as Mark’s Daily Apple articulately explains, we have a natural detoxification system in our kidneys and liver. You’ve got to take care of them on a daily basis. Experience Life outlines foods that support liver and kidney function – while never trying to sell the reader anything. It’s worth a look!

The Guardian offers this: Most people think that you should restrict or pay particular attention to certain food groups, but this is totally not the case … The ultimate lifestyle “detox” is not smoking, exercising and enjoying a healthy balanced diet like the Mediterranean diet.


And with that, friends, I am off to sip a glass of red and take a good shark bite out of some dark chocolate because my first swing dance with the elimination diet has come and gone many moons ago.

Eat Hacks & Tips

About Jamie Bacigalupo

Having first traveled from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to live in Quito, Ecuador, she decided to give the East a run and is now a resident of Shenzhen, China. She earned her degree in Communication Arts/Literature and Communication and Secondary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College and is enthusiastically exploring Asia by teaching abroad. She digs hanging out with her students by weekday, and relishes finding new restaurants to eat authentic Chinese food and finding new hiking paths on the weekends. In addition to sticking her nose in a book to recover from an intense workday, Jamie also loves exploring all manner of flavors in the kitchen, especially when she is whipping up some recipes for her friends and family.