What is the elimination diet?
The elimination diet is a controversial topic, with many questioning the effectiveness, or at least the legitimacy of the results. The diet isn’t aimed at losing weight or getting fit, but it is the elimination of foods from the diet to pinpoint any allergies or intolerances.
Food intolerances and sensitivities are common, especially among children. The interesting thing about food intolerances is that people usually do not know if they have one. An intolerance can cause mild symptoms like gassiness or bloat, and can be mistaken for a symptom of a different condition.
However, allergists have been using elimination diets for decades to rule out foods that are not tolerated well by their patients.
Note: Most people have a food sensitivity, which means that they have an intolerance to certain foods and cannot digest them properly. Not the same as an allergy, a food sensitivity isn’t potentially fatal, but eating a food to which you are sensitive can definitely be inconvenient. Food intolerances affect the digestive system, while allergies affect the immune system.
How does it work?
Well, besides eliminating foods from the diet, one by one, the diet also then has patients reintroduce the foods into the diet one by one. The reintroduction is the phase during which the diagnosis is made.
The diet only lasts 5–6 weeks and is used to help those with a sensitive gut, food intolerance or food allergy identify which foods are contributing to their symptoms.
According to Healthline, if you have a known or suspected food allergy, then you should only try an elimination diet under the supervision of a medical professional. Reintroducing a food allergen may trigger a dangerous condition called anaphylaxis.
Usually, the diet means no gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fast foods, or alcohol for 23 days.
Why 23 Days?
Antibodies, which are the proteins that your immune system makes when it reacts to foods, take around 21 to 23 days to turn over, says Mind Body Green.
So if you don’t quit things to which you’re sensitive for at least that time, you won’t get the full effect of eliminating them.
Another important rule is that all processed foods must be removed from the diet. Alcohol is also prohibited.
During the reintroduction process, take several notes each day about how you feel after eating the food. You may notice changes you weren’t expecting. Maybe your sleep quality or your energy level is better. Maybe the redness in your skin is gone, or your belly is flatter.