If you have digestive symptoms, certain foods you eat
regularly may be to blame. An elimination diet will help you pinpoint troublesome
foods by giving you the information you need to avoid dietary culprits and allow
your gut to heal.
The elimination diet is simple in concept and you can do it on your own. It takes
some time to complete, but it is a tried-and-true method for identifying the specific
foods and ingredients that can wreak havoc on your belly when you ingest them. This
diet has rescued thousands of women from the misery of gastric distress and it can
help you too.
Your digestive symptoms may be caused by an exotic delicacy, but common, everyday
foods are often even more problematic. While you may not have a full-blown allergy
to a food or ingredient, your system may still be sensitive to it. And it’s quite
possible that you simply eat too much of a problem food, or you eat it too often.
Any of these scenarios can be tested using our elimination diet.
We offer easy-to-follow guidelines as part of our
at-home Digestive Reset, but the principles of our elimination diet are
1. Write it down: keep a food diary.
Over the course of a few weeks, keep track of all the food you eat and how it makes
you feel. Write down everything you eat and drink for breakfast, lunch
and dinner, and include snacks, desserts, cocktails and other liquids — and even
the little morsels you pop in your mouth while cooking, etc.
Also record any digestive changes or other symptoms you notice after eating, and
when they occur. Make sure to jot down everything, even if it seems unrelated to
food. While gas and
heartburn are obvious digestive effects, fatigue, mood swings, congestion
or feeling foggy are not, but they can also be related to a food sensitivity. Even
if it feels tedious, maintain your diary — it’s the key to revealing the secret
foods that spell trouble for your digestion.
After a few weeks, look back at your diary entries. Can you see any connections
between particular foods you ate and symptoms you noticed afterwards? This can be
easier to spot if you’ve eaten the food several times and have noted symptoms (the
same or different) each time within a few hours of ingestion. And note: many people
have more than one troublemaker on their menus, so write down information about
all suspicious foods and drinks.
2. Cut it out: eliminate symptom-causing foods.
After you pinpoint the foods that may be linked to your belly issues, you will eliminate
them from your diet, at least temporarily. To save time, you can cut all of them
out at once. Common trigger foods include dairy,
gluten, soy, peanuts, alcohol, cocoa, corn, and certain additives like colorings,
preservatives and artificial ingredients, but there are many others that have bad
reputations. (You’ll find a more complete list accompanying our Digestive Reset.)
If you think one of your trigger foods is gluten, for example, you will completely
remove gluten from all your meals. You’ll need to be vigilant to ensure that you
cut out all sources of gluten. The obvious foods will be breads and rolls, wheat-based
cereals and cookies. But
gluten can hide in unlikely food sources as well, like salad dressings,
marinades and condiments — so you will need to also set those aside during this
phase of the diet.
3. Timing is everything: don’t eat suspect foods for a full
Digestive issues develop — and can worsen — over time, so you’ll need to completely
avoid each trigger food for two weeks. This helps ensure that all the food is fully
out of your system. It also gives your digestive tract time to calm down and return
to a baseline.
When you’ve finished the elimination period and are clearly symptom-free, it’s time
for the moment of truth: reintroducing the suspected trigger food. (If you have
multiple foods to test, you will need to reintroduce them one by one, with a “rest”
period in between each.) Eat an average portion of the selected food — all by itself
— after you get up in the morning.
Using the gluten example again, you would start by eating something containing gluten,
like wheat toast. Don’t eat any other food, and don’t drink anything except water
for at least the next 2 hours. This will isolate that one suspect food and allow
you to confirm whether or not that food causes symptoms.
You probably won’t have to wait long — most food reactions occur within an hour
of consumption. If you have a clear reaction, bingo! You’ve identified a problem
food. If you have only a minor reaction, have another portion of the suspect food
and wait another couple of hours. If you have no reaction, that food is likely not
4. One by one: test each food alone before you try another.
After your first test, wait 3-4 days, and introduce your next food in the same manner
until you’ve tested all suspect foods. Make sure to write in your food journal how
you feel after each food.
And don’t forget that sometimes, a particular food isn’t the source of the problem,
but an offender on or in the food, perhaps a chemical or pesticide. You can help
pin this down by introducing only organic forms of potential problem foods first.
If you get no reaction, you’ll know at the very least that the food itself can stay
on your safe list, just in organic form.
Enjoy eating again!
Will you have to live forever without eating a banned favorite food? Maybe not.
We recommend avoiding trigger foods for 1-3 months. Then you can introduce them
again, allowing 3-4 days between servings, and see what happens. You may be able
to eat that food again every now and then, in moderation of course. Listen to your
belly — it will tell you which foods are friendly and which ones to avoid.
An elimination diet is a bit time consuming, but the results will prove to you that
it’s worth it. Knowing for sure what you can eat — and what you can’t — can help
you feel good, happy and healthy every day. Along with relief from gas, bloating,
constipation and nausea, you’ll experience relief for other less obvious symptoms
and will have more energy.
When you’ve completed your elimination diet, you can replace your trigger foods
with whole, nutritious choices like vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, and healthy
grains (that don’t contain gluten!).
Along with our full elimination diet, we provide a detailed list of foods and recipes
in our eGuide that comes with the Digestive
Reset. You also get our Super Biotic and L-Glutamine to help with symptoms
and healing while supporting your metabolism, gastro-intestinal tract and immune