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Elimination Diets: The Hows and Whys

You may have heard or read about the idea of an elimination diet. But since this is a process that most people will work through with a practitioner, you may not know exactly what this means or if it’s something you want to consider for yourself.

Why try it?

You will want to give an elimination diet a try anytime you have negative health symptoms that you haven’t been able to connect to a root cause. It’s common that reactions to food are:

  • varied – they don’t necessarily impact digestion specifically
  • delayed – they can occur hours or days after eating the offending food

Our digestive system is a significant portal into our bodies. And because the system is so complex, 70% of our immune system lives in and around our digestive system. When we are exposed to foods that we are sensitive to, it can increase inflammation in our gut. And this can cause food particles to enter our bodies that weren’t intended to be there.

Chronic Inflammation

This makes food sensitivities and intolerances a huge contribution to an array of symptoms all over our bodies. The symptoms are varied and include problems associated with:

  • autoimmune issues,
  • inflammation,
  • our moods and mental health,
  • digestive issues,
  • other unexplained symptoms

That’s a lot of symptoms that could be impacted!

How to do it

Dangerous food. Food wrapped in crime scene tape.

An elimination diet is one where you strategically eliminate certain foods to see if your symptoms improve. By taking a “holiday” from these foods, you can then take notice of your energy levels and how your body feels.

You start out by eliminating the most common food allergens for a specified period of time. Then, on a specific schedule, you slowly add them back one at a time and note any symptoms (better or worse). It’s often upon adding them back that you notice how these foods really make you feel.

The Gold Standard

The elimination diet is considered to be the gold standard in identifying problem foods. The main benefit is that, by tuning into your body’s reactions to certain foods, you can pinpoint sensitivities and intolerances that you may not otherwise be able to identify.

Elimination diets can be less expensive, and in some cases more reliable, than standard allergy testing.

It can also be very empowering to know what foods work best for your body. And experiencing results first-hand can be very motivating when it comes to sticking to eliminating a certain food.

These diets can be customizable to you. And having a good plan makes things much easier (even exciting). When out grocery shopping, you don’t need to debate or decide what to buy because you have a plan.

The Challenges

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You may not figure out everything you’re sensitive to. Your plan should be strategically created to ensure that the most common food allergens are eliminated. This will give you the highest likelihood of success. It can become complicated if you let it.

It requires a commitment of at least 4 weeks, and you need to be diligent during this time. This can be hard! It’s important that you take control over everything you eat during this time so that you don’t accidentally ingest something you’re cutting out. Then you might need to start all over again!

You also need to track your foods and symptoms so that you can make connections.

And you may find that you’re intolerant to some of your favourite foods!

Bottom Line

Elimination diets can be a very useful tool to identify food sensitivities. They can be empowering and customized.

However, they can be difficult to adhere to. For many people, a food sensitivity test can reduce some of the work. This is because the test can hone in on a smaller group of foods to eliminate at the outset.

Have you done an elimination diet? Or think it might be for you, but you’re not sure?

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If you would like to discuss how you can create the thoughts you need to support achieving your health goals, schedule a call with me now to discuss.

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