A current trend that has taken hold is the _elimination diet. _ I’m here to tell you that elimination diets are more than just a fad, and help determine if an elimination diet is right for you and your chronic condition.
When executed properly, completing an elimination diet may instead help you stop dieting forever! As a person living with a chronic condition or sensitivities, when you complete an elimination diet you identify the foods that are your specific trigger foods. These foods exacerbate your unwanted symptoms, cause you headaches, acne, weight gain, mood swings, skin breakouts, joint pain, joint swelling, fatigue, etc. Identifying these foods will assist you in creating “your perfect diet.” This may keep you from ever having to experiment with ‘trendy’ paleo, weight watchers or atkins diets ever again.
How Do You Complete An Elimination Diet?Completing an elimination diet involves removing specific food groups from your diet for a set period of time. Then, the foods are reintroduced, one at a time, to see how your body reacts. This reintroduction phase is executed systematically in order to identify specific reactions per the food you’re testing. There are many different schools of thought on how long you must remove the foods. I truly believe that if you have an autoimmune disease or a chronic condition, you musliminate for at least 6-8 weeks. I recommend this because it takes your body at least 3 weeks to realize any dietary change. During this time, your body will adjust, detox and then start to focus on healing.
Why Is An Elimination Diet Helpful?
Eliminating your specific trigger foods can, and will, help you cut down on your inflammatory reactions within your body. Having a condition which is deeply rooted in inflammation, it’s imperative that we help our body out, and cut down on what is irritating our immune system further. Therefore, when you complete an elimination diet, you can identify your specific trigger foods and identify which foods your body may be reacting to.
There are numerous reasons why food can cause inflammatory reactions. When managing a chronic illness while our bodies are waging a war on itself, we can start to develop food sensitivities that we never had before. Our bodies are already attacking our own cells, therefore you could understand how easy it may be for our body to also start attacking outside proteins.
In addition, many of the foods we consume today aren’t the same as they were 50 years ago. They’re genetically modified, they’re pumped up with additives and preservatives, and they’ve become more “food-like substances” than actually “food." These foods, once ingested, can be mistaken as ‘foreign’ to the body, and attacked, causing inflammation.
Is There An Easier Way?A GI doctor can help you identify foods you’re allergic to, but in order to get a full work up of your food sensitivities (aka all the ways your immune system may be invoked, NOT just allergic reactions) you may need to see a functional or integrative medicine doctor. There are different tests that can be prescribed which will help you identify these sensitivities.
Having said that, I truly believe that completing an elimination diet is the best way to identify these trigger foods because you’ll experience the difference for yourself! It’s easy to say, “remove dairy and your symptoms will subside.” But it’s completely different to remove dairy and actually FEEL the difference. When you can see and feel the difference, it makes is SO much easier to stick to eliminating these foods.
I’ve Identified My Trigger Foods, Now What?** You should stay away from these foods!** With autoimmune conditions, your body can develop odd food sensitivities that you never had before. For example, my body gives me intense headaches when I eat bananas or causes me fatigue if I have grains. Eventually, my body may adjust, heal, and get rid of these sensitivities, but for the time being, consuming these foods causes an inflammatory reaction.
Once we allow our bodies to settle down, our digestive and immune functions will begin to balance out. That’s why you can test the foods periodically. I suggest waiting at least 6 months to test a food you initially had a reaction to. Remember, you didn’t develop your condition overnight, therefore you can’t expect your gut to heal itself overnight. Some people can see great results within a few months and others may take years. It really depends on your diet, lifestyle, disease progression, nutritional deficiencies, supplements and medication that you take and a whole host of other issues.
What Are Some Great Elimination Diet Resources?
If an elimination diet is something you’d like to explore further, I urge you to look into it! There are a TON of different resources that you can check out. Start by researching videos and written articles about different resources that are beneficial when it comes to elimination diets.
People always protest about how it’ll be so hard to give these foods up, and they’re right, it is hard! We’re accustomed to a certain way of eating in our society, but the fact of the matter is, if you have a chronic condition you MUST manage your inflammation. Once you eliminate the foods, you’ll start to get accustomed to having fewer and less severe symptoms. Managing what you’re eating is a direct way you can help cut down on the inflammation in your gut, decrease the activation of your immune system and aid in settling and balancing out your body.
_If your body has less to worry about, it can focus on healing. And given half a chance, your body will heal itself, by itself! _
Julie Cerrone is a Psoriasis HealthCentral Social Ambassador, certified holistic health coach, patient empowerer, yoga instructor, autoimmune warrior, and the blogger behind It’s Just A Bad Day, NOT A Bad Life. When she’s not empowering chronically fabulous patients to live their best lives, she can be found traveling, cooking, geeking out over health-related things, or enjoying life in Pittsburgh. Julie loves social media, so make sure to connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.