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Contrary to the name, elimination diets are rarely used strictly as a weight loss strategy. For most people embarking on an elimination diet, it’s to determine what in their daily eating regimen is causing trouble. Elimination diets are often the first step in a sometimes long and frustrating journey to balance the gut. To put it plainly, will you potentially lose weight while doing an elimination diet? Yes. Is that what it is intended for? No.

So, what exactly is an elimination diet?

Elimination diets are used as a way to get really specific about foods that may be causing inflammation and other unwanted reactions in your body.  It is a bit like detective work to get to the bottom of the symptom mystery.  Symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, skin conditions, respiratory issues, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and brain fog are all issues that can be caused by food sensitivities. Dieting methods such as Whole 30 and Autoimmune Paleo are familiar nutrition approaches that essentially capture an elimination diet.

How do you start an elimination diet?

We begin by rounding up the most likely suspects. Inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs and nuts. Inflammatory foods are eliminated for a month then added back in one at a time to see how each individual food effects the body. Some foods may be able to be added back in overtime without any issues, while others may need to be avoided indefinitely and may always cause symptoms.

Can I do them one at a time?

Well the answer is yes, but… all at once is the most helpful way to assess the effect. This is because there can be more than one food reaction happening in the body at a time.

What about food sensitivity testing?

Though testing can be helpful, it does not tell the whole story. Modern crops are sprayed with a multitude of harmful chemicals, fertilizers, antibiotics and pesticides. Not to mention the genetic modification to the crop itself that cannot be accounted for by most food sensitivity testing panels. They can be costly to do, but if it is easier to put dietary changes into place with testing, just remember there may be other chemical factors that are best addressed by elimination diets.

Though elimination diets can be a challenge at first, arming yourself with recipes and a full pantry of foods that can be eaten will help you be successful during this process.  Most people report feeling better than they have in a long time and feel motivated to keep the life changes in place long term. If you have questions about food sensitivities, elimination diets, or nutrition in general, give our office a call. We’d be happy to meet with you for a free screening to see if you are a fit for one of our gut health or healthy lifestyle programs.

By Allison Gray, FNP