Have you ever noticed how your body reacts to certain types of foods? Maybe dairy doesn’t always sit well with you or you immediately feel bloated after consuming gluten. Or perhaps, you notice your body reacting but don’t know exactly what is causing the reaction.
If a client is noticing digestive issues, skin issues, headaches, sinus issues, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings or pain/inflammation, Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, will often recommend the elimination diet to figure out what’s causing certain reactions.
So what exactly is an elimination diet, you ask? Basically, an elimination diet is when one eliminates certain foods for a period time, usually for three weeks, and then reintroduces specific foods slowly and monitors the body for symptoms. The purpose is to give your gut a reset and reset. Typical offenders that are often eliminated include: sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, dairy, corn and/or soy.
Blatner explains, “Elimination diets help identify which foods someone may have an intolerance or sensitivity to. Although there are food allergy/sensitivity/intolerance tests, they can be expensive and they are not always reliable. So elimination diets are considered the ‘gold standard.’ Regularly eating foods that we have intolerances/sensitivities to not only can affect the gut, but other body systems as well.”
Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach (CTNC) LisaMarie Falcone completed the elimination diet and often recommends it to her clients. When completing the elimination diet herself she noted a huge difference after finding out which foods were affecting her.
“The results were actually incredible. My skin is now clear and I don’t suffer from any of my previous digestive issues anymore,” she explains.
Does this sound a bit overwhelming? Have no fear, the professionals have several tips for you.
1. Prepare. “The only way to do an elimination diet it to prepare foods that you CAN eat and have them easy to grab and go,” she reasons. “If you don’t prepare, it’s too easy to grab a quick piece of regular pizza or snack on junk.”
2. Eat regularly, don’t starve. “The point of this plan isn’t starvation,” Blatner points out. “There are still plenty of foods you CAN eat, so focus on eating plenty of those regularly so you feel nourished. Hungry people make bad decisions. So don’t get hungry because it will be too hard to stay on the plan.”
3. Chew. Simple enough, right? Blatner tells us that taking the time to mindfully chew your food improves digestion while also helping you enjoy every bite to the fullest.
4. Positive attitude. “Keep a positive attitude and have fun! This is not meant to be punishment, it’s meant to help you feel better,” Blatner exclaims. “Think of it like you’re doing an interesting, short-term research project on yourself.”
5. Water and rest. Back to the basics for this last tip: drink a lot of water, keep exercise a little light than normal to account for your changed diet, and sleep a solid eight hours.
Naturopathic Doctor Nikka Kanani also recommends keeping a detailed log to track your symptoms or lack thereof during the diet.
“I provide patients with a symptom questionnaire, which they complete prior to the elimination diet and then after completing the diet,” she explains. “I ask them to assess digestive symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, heart burn, and bloating. I also have them pay attention to things like energy, brain fog, joint pain, dry or itchy skin, rashes and many more.”
If you think the elimination diet is something you may benefit from, reach out to a health care professional to guide you through the process.