Do you ever feel like something is off with your body, but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Interestingly enough, you may have an intolerance or sensitivity to something that you’re eating. To find out what’s causing your digestive discomfort, aches, pains, or headaches, you might want to try an elimination diet to see if something you’re eating regularly is the culprit.

Now, I know with all the symptoms that come from autoimmune disease and other chronic conditions that it can be hard to dissect where some of our symptoms are coming from; however, sometimes, it can still be quite eye-opening to see if any of those symptoms are coming from our food.

For example, the first time that I went gluten-free, I did what most probably do. I ran to my local grocery store and bought the “gluten-free” version of everything that I was used to eating (bread, pasta, snacks, etc.). Then, I just continued my usual eating habits, just with my gluten-free items in place of my usual gluten-containing ones.

After a week or so, I noticed that I was actually feeling worse, not better, so I started to do some detective work to see why this was happening. The first thing I noticed was that gluten-free items are all packaged and processed, and many contained ingredients on those labels that I could not pronounce. The second thing I noticed was that most gluten-free items are gluten-free because they replace the gluten with rice, corn, or soy. To those of us with conditions, corn and soy are extremely inflammatory ingredients.

So, I set out to follow an elimination diet to remove many of those inflammatory foods from my diet and to see if I could figure out what specific foods or ingredients were causing me trouble.

In my personal situation, I found out that I was extremely sensitive to soy and corn but not rice. So, I then knew that when I was trying to go gluten-free, if I wanted to substitute something, I needed to focus on rice-based alternatives, not ones with soy or corn in them. I honestly couldn’t believe the difference this information made!

But anyway, continue reading for some tips in case you’d like to look into this type of diet a little further.

Food Sensitivity Symptoms

Intolerances aren’t always a major allergic reaction with a swollen tongue and puffy eyes.  In fact, the majority of food intolerances present themselves as common discomforts like dry skin, itching, bloating, digestive upsets, headaches, fatigue, migraines, and achy joints and pains. You might only have one of these or a combination of them. 

Yes, it sounds like just about every other illness, but you might find that with an elimination diet, you could pinpoint some of the sources of your symptoms and possibly be able to do something about it, finally!  You could feel more like yourself, and you could be aware of what foods cause inflammation for you. I call that a double-win!

Of top importance is getting rid of any chronic inflammation you may be dealing with.  Over time, it could cause significant damage and lead to an increase in symptoms. Don’t panic if you only feel these symptoms once in a while, but if you feel like this daily, you might want to work with a healthcare or other medical professional to try an elimination diet and see if you can get back to feeling a little better. 

How to Do It

Want to get started? Please just keep in mind that an elimination diet should be followed while under the care of a physician, specialist, dietitian, nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, and/or coach. Elimination diets can be hard to navigate, especially because they can occur over a 6–12-week period, so if you want to have a successful experience, please do seek out support.

There is also a program found here that can be done on your own with an accountability and/or life coach that comes with amazing group support if that is something that you might be interested in.

Overall, the elimination diet has 2 phases. The first one is about eliminating while the second one is about reintroduction. You should keep a rigorous journal to help you spot any changes, good or bad. 

The Elimination Phase

During this phase, you eliminate any foods you think are triggering your symptoms for about 2 or 3 weeks. Most of these are things like dairy, citrus, corn, nuts, eggs, seafood, pork, gluten, wheat, and nightshade vegetables. Generally, you’ll notice your symptoms clear up which will mean you’re ready for the next phase. If nothing changes, you should schedule a checkup with your doctor as soon as possible. 

The Reintroduction Phase

Next, you’ll slowly start bringing those eliminated foods back onto your plate. Only introduce one food group at a time over a period of 2 to 3 days. Be watching for those symptoms we mentioned. If anything you reintroduce sets off your symptoms, then you know you need to eliminate it.

One word of caution though: some of you may find several groups of reintroduced food to bring your symptoms back. Should that happen to you, schedule a checkup with your doctor or see a dietitian to help you get the right nutrition while avoiding the foods that trigger your symptoms, so you don’t become nutritionally deficient. 

One Additional Option

If, for some reason, you’d like to take some of the guesswork out of what foods might be causing you trouble, please know that you can also talk with your medical professional and ask for food allergy testing. There are also many food sensitivity testing options available online that you can order without a doctor’s prescription. Please just keep in mind that food allergy testing usually comes as a routine blood test or allergy panel with an allergy specialist whereas food sensitivity testing usually comes with a finger prick test. Please also keep in mind that if you have an autoimmune disease and/or other chronic condition which has impacted the health of your gut that food sensitivity testing might not be 100% accurate.

That being said, I really like (and have used) this company multiple times to help me fill in the gaps outside of using elimination diets and other strategies and have found this information to be quite helpful.

All you need now is the willingness to devote the time.  For some, elimination diets can add another piece to the everlasting puzzle of medical symptoms that many of us experience on a daily basis. Regardless of what diet or strategy you decide to implement, just remember that you are your own best advocate and are in control of your journey. Whatever you choose to do (or not do) should be what is best for you.

Leave a Comment