About the Elimination Diet
We are what we eat and sometimes unfortunately, what we eat can cause us to feel unwell, physically and emotionally. The Elimination Diet is a way to see if the food you are eating has anything to do with how you are feeling.
You may have difficulty focusing, ringing in the ears, joint pain, a chronic runny nose, or be fatigued and just want to feel more energized. You may be overweight, have acne, eczema or dark circles under your eyes and just want to look better. You may have multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia or lupus and want to decrease your symptoms. You also could be a parent wanting to explore alternatives to medication or medication increases for your son or daughter who has headaches, asthma or ADHD. You are wondering if you can do anything to help!
You may have tried many things that were not extremely effective or didn't work at all and people have told you to just go on with your life. But maybe you heard from a friend or read an article that certain foods can cause symptoms and you think that might be part of your problem. You may have even tried to determine what foods make you feel worse. It is not easy to figure out if food is related to how you feel. You need a clear plan with an objective and the professional support to help you assess how your body reacts to food.
As a clinical dietitian I have worked with many clients to figure out if what they are eating is making them feel bad. Before coming to see me, many of my patients had been on diets that eliminated some foods. They complained that the diets were too long, not very clear or that it was too easy to cheat, so they went off the diets, and never found out if their bodies were reacting to particular foods. To help them figure out the puzzle, I created The Elimination Diet. It is a two week plan that clearly lays out what you need to do to see if food is causing your symptoms.
I have work successfully with clients with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, asthma, insomnia, migraine headaches, depression, eczema, autism and many other conditions. By using the Elimination Diet clients have decrease their chronic symptoms such as ringing in the ears, joint pain, headaches, anxiety, irritability, brain-fog, inability to concentrate, memory loss bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, stomach aches, weight gain, and sinus problems. One of my clients recently remarked that her sinuses "havenít been clearer for years!"
The diet is specially designed to meet individual needs but usually eliminates foods in the two major groups of foods that can cause symptoms. The first group includes the foods that many people relate to food sensitivities: dairy, corn, gluten, eggs, soy, meat, fish and nuts. The second group that can cause symptoms are chemicals found in foods: amines, salicylates, additives and preservatives.
The foods in the first group probably cause symptoms because the proteins in the foods are able to pass through the gastro-intestinal tract because the gut has become permeable. The gut can become permeable for many reasons: stress, antibiotic use, and genetic predisposition. The gut can also become permeable because of the attack from the chemicals in the second group. If you find that you are sensitive to a food in the first group, for example - dairy, you can decrease the dairy in your diet and over time (in approximately 6-12 months), you may be able to have more dairy in your diet without having symptoms. The gut can heal and then not allow the proteins to go through to cause symptoms.
Foods in the second group have chemicals that are able to pass through the G-I tract like drugs. Some people are more susceptible to these chemicals. A person usually has to reach a threshold for the chemicals to produce symptoms. That is why one day a person can eat cucumber, peppermint and honey (all foods high in salicylates) and have no symptoms and the next day they eat the same foods and then get a symptom- their threshold had been reached. If you find that you are sensitive to a chemical then you will need to find out what level of the chemical you can have without having symptoms (i.e. your threshold).
Encouragement and support is provided throughout the diet and the challenge period via e-mail or phone.
- Suzzanne Myer, MS, RD, CD - Nutritionist