Considering an Elimination Diet?: Set Yourself Up for Success!
Jan 05, 2016 03:06AM
By Gina Carlotti
If you experience brain fog, fatigue, rashes, bloating, joint pain, weight problems or other unexplained symptoms, food sensitivity may be the culprit. An elimination diet can quickly provide insight into whether an undiagnosed food sensitivity, intolerance or allergy might be contributing to your problem.
The diet is simple; we remove foods likely to cause reactions for three to four weeks. During this time, our bodies become less inflamed, allergy mediators lessen and the body begins to heal. After the first few weeks, continue the elimination diet, but reintroduce one eliminated food every couple days. If there is no reaction, continue eating that food. If there is a reaction, avoid the problem food and speak with a doctor or health professional.
What should be removed?
• Gluten (all varieties of wheat, rye, barley)
• Dairy (including cow, goat and sheep milk products)
• Artificial sweeteners, preservatives, food colorings, dyes
• Any food to which there is a known or suspected reaction
Under ideal circumstances, avoid anything that comes in a package or requires a label. If that item will be eaten, make sure it has fewer than five simple ingredients.
What to Include:
• Fruits (in moderation)
• Nuts and seeds
• Grass-fed or organic meats and fish
• Healthy fats (avocado, ghee, coconut)
• Gluten-free grains
• Legumes (not including peanuts)
• Water and unsweetened tea
Setting Ourselves Up to Succeed
Be sure to plan: Create a meal and snack plan for the week makes it easier to answer, “What can I eat?”.
Remove foods from the kitchen that are not on the plan: Simply put, we can’t eat something that isn’t there.
Enlist the support of family and friends: Nothing helps people succeed better than a buddy. An entire household can do an elimination diet together.
Have plenty of snacks available: There are no calorie restrictions on this plan. Eat often and eat plenty of protein and fat.
Focus on protein and fat: These help to prevent hunger and stabilize blood sugar.
What to Expect
It is normal to have some withdrawal-type symptoms, especially during the first week. These can include irritability, headaches, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, food cravings, diarrhea or constipation. There may also be emotional reactions, which can be intense but short-lived. By the second week, people are typically feeling much better—many find they are eating more and losing weight.
If there is a desire to be tested for gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or Celiac Disease, it is best to do this before starting an elimination diet. Blood tests for these conditions are not accurate if gluten is not in our diet.
The elimination diet is not recommended for those that are pregnant, considering pregnancy in the next three months or breastfeeding.
If there are any chronic medical problems or prescription medications being taken, consult a doctor before doing an elimination diet.
Gina Carlotti, M.D., is a functional medicine physician practicing in Greenwich. She is beginning a new elimination diet group in January. For more information or to make an appointment, call 203-302-3404 or visit GinaCarlottiMD.com.