For many, the thought of an elimination diet conjures up an image of a lifetime of depravation. Truth is, an elimination diet can provide you with permission to eat at least some of the foods that you suspect may be giving you problems without the guilt and suspicion you may now be feeling.
What is an elimination diet?
In elimination dieting, you completely eliminate certain foods out of your diet for a period of time, usually two or three weeks. There is no single elimination diet. The foods that you eliminate are foods that you either suspect may be causing you issues, or they are foods that most commonly cause digestive issues. After completely ridding your system of the eliminated foods, you then slowly reintroduce the specific foods and monitor your body for possible reactions to the food.
Which foods should you eliminate?
We are all unique and have unique dietary tolerances. However, many agree that the most helpful elimination diet starts out by eliminating the largest amounts of food, and then builds back slowly. You are the scientist designing your own experiment based on your suspicions and the recent research. If acid reflux is your main issue, then you may begin by eliminating all highly acidic foods such as coffee, citrus and tomato sauce. If your issues go beyond acid reflux, then you may need to completely avoid some of the common foods that can cause other digestive disorders such as cereals, milk, eggs, seafood, peanuts and soy (Lucendo, et al., 2013). If your issues seem to be worse after eating bread, then you may need to avoid all foods with gluten for at least three or four weeks.
Why try it?
Temporarily eliminating something from your diet does not mean you will never be able to eat that food again. The point of an elimination diet is to understand how your body reacts to different foods. For example, you may find that you are able to drink one cup of coffee a day but three is just too much. This discovery will not only let you really enjoy the one cup, but it has the potential to help you feel better overall and possibly reduce the amount of medication you are taking.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.