An elimination diet is a short-term diet designed to detect and relieve potential food allergies or intolerances.
An elimination/provocation diet is a short-term diet (approximately 3 weeks) designed to detect certain ingredients that are poorly tolerated digestively and to relieve potential food allergies or intolerances. While following the diet, you remove the suspected food from your diet. For example, if you suspect gluten is a problem, you would remove all foods containing gluten for three weeks. During that period you pay attention to how your body feels and notice if any symptoms improve. After three weeks, you add gluten back to your diet in large amounts in an attempt to promote any physical retaliation to the food. If you notice that symptoms improve while on the diet and then return once the food is added back in, then you know you are likely allergic/sensitive to that food and it should be avoided for optimal health. Remember: You have to be currently eating gluten if you are planning on having any blood test as a means of diagnosing celiac disease.
For best results, we strongly encourage you to check with your healthcare provider before attempting an elimination diet.
How To Do An Elimination Diet
* Please note: one contamination voids the entire process and the diet should be started over.
Prepare yourself and your kitchen
Take a couple of days to prepare for your change in diet, let friends and family members know so they can support you.
Clean out the fridge and cabinets as much as possible from tempting foods.
Go shopping and stock up on foods that you can eat.
Pick a start and end date. Mondays are usually good start days, avoid weekends, holidays and travel time.
Purchase a variety of foods from week to week.
- Bag of frozen cooked (skinless/boneless ) chicken
- Turkey slices (natural, no fillers i.e. Boar’s head)
- Lean beef, natural
- Assortment of canned beans
- Cold-water fish
- Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
Keep healthful snacks on hand, in car, at work or school:
- Rich in complex carbohydrates
- Quality protein fats and fiber
- Fresh vegetables and fruit (colorful)
- Whole grain products (including quinoa and brown rice)
- Nuts and seeds
Plan and cook meals ahead of time so you don’t find yourself having “moments of desperation” and falling back on potentially problematic foods.
Withdrawal symptoms are possible and completely normal during the first couple of days: fatigue, headaches, G.I. distress, emotional instability and intense cravings.
Food Reintroduction Phase
To get the most out of this experience, the reintroduction should be done very systematically. If you give in to desire and re-introduce wheat, dairy and soy all in the same sitting, you will waste all of your hard work from the prior 21 days. It is not uncommon to crave the foods we are most allergic to. Reintroduce first those foods that you are craving most. Introduce one food type (i.e. gluten only) at a time.
When you reintroduce a food, make sure to have that food three times a day (at breakfast, lunch, and dinner) on day 1. For example if you are missing bread, have toast for breakfast, pizza for lunch and pasta for dinner. If you have an immediate reaction to the new food – stomachache, headaches, hives, anything abnormal – assume it is that food. If you experience symptoms, eliminate that food and don’t reintroduce another food type until all of your symptoms have diminished. If nothing is apparent right away, continue to ingest the first food for the following two days.
The other type of reaction you can expect is a delayed reaction, meaning symptoms don’t become apparent for two or three days after the trouble food is ingested. Because of the delayed nature of this reaction, many people do not make the connection between the food and the reaction. It is important to keep a log of your symptoms during the re-introduction phase. We recommend that you download our Elimination Diet Log to keep a record of your experience.
After the first food is introduced for three days, you can reintroduce the second food type (if there are no symptoms) and follow the same process, and then the third, and so on. Each food is given three days to cause or not cause a reaction.
Note: If you experience uncomfortable symptoms after the first ingestion/first day please don’t feel the need to continue eating this food! This is another good time to revisit with your healthcare provider. If you do not notice any changes after you add the first food back in, move onto the second food and follow the same steps.