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Elimination Diet

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"Food sensitivity" is an umbrella term for food allergy (immune system response), food intolerance (non-immune-related adverse reaction to food) and other adverse reactions to food, except the purely psychological. Common disorders where an elimination diet may help to identify a trigger food: eczema, migraine, asthma, irritable bowel, rashes, lactose intolerance.

 

Use of Elimination Diet

The only reliable way to determine if a food is causing a disorder is to follow an elimination diet. In a nutshell, an elimination diet involves a 2-stage process:

 

  • Eliminate all 'suspect' foods from the diet
  • Reintroduce these foods to the diet (one at a time) and observe what happens.

 

Note: No matter what type of elimination diet plan you choose, you should first consult your doctor and/or nutritionist.

 

Types of Elimination Diets

Fasting - The most drastic type of elimination diet is to fast for the first 5 days, taking nothing but bottled spring water. However, the nutritional and compliance problems involved mean that this kind of elimination diet should be reserved for only the most difficult cases. Do not try this fasting approach without first consulting your doctor.

 

Lamb-and-Pears Elimination Diet - One step up from fasting, the lamb-and-pears diet (sometimes modified to a turkey-and-pears, or turkey-rice-and-pears diet) is also unnecessarily strict for most people. As the name suggests, this diet involves eating only lamb and pears.

 

Few-Foods Elimination Diet - The next step up, is the few-foods or rare-foods elimination diet plan. This involves eating a dozen or so foods that the patient eats only rarely.

 

The Rare-Food Elimination Diet - This is an extension of the few-foods idea, except that instead of eating uncommonly- eaten foods the patient is asked to eat exotic items (eg. yams, buckwheat).

 

The Regular Elimination Diet - We have now arrived at the least rigorous form of elimination diet, in which most fruits, vegetables, fish and meats are allowed, but wheat and other cereals, milk, eggs, and other common offending foods are eliminated. This standard type of elimination diet is typically quite helpful for most patients.

 

A Simple Elimination Diet Plan

It is very useful to keep a careful diary of the foods eaten (and reintroduced) and symptoms experienced.

 

Step 1 - Eliminate all of the following foods from your diet for 7-28 days

 

- Dairy products, including cheese [Instead, use soy milk and soy cheese; rice milk, rice-based ice cream]

- Egg and egg-containing products

- Gluten-containing products, such as wheat and wheat-containing products (including pasta), and barley, oat or rye grains [Instead, use rice, buckwheat, spelt, millet, potatoes or sweet potatoes]

- Corn and corn-containing products

- Citrus fruits

- All processed foods, including caffeine

 

Certain foods (eg. caffeine) may have to be reduced/eliminated more gradually, to avoid headaches and other withdrawal effects.

 

Step 2 - Reintroduce one food group to your diet roughly every 5 days

 

Use your diary to record your experiences. This reintroduction period should give you sufficient opportunity to pinpoint the offending food(s).


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