THE WHAT, THE WHY, THE HOW.
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet is a diagnostic tool to determine food sensitivities. Typically, common food culprits are eliminated from your diet for 3 weeks to allow the bloodstream to clear itself of all the antibodies your immune system has created to fight those sensitizing foods. Then, each food is reintroduced one-by-one as you observe the body for a potential reaction.
What is a food sensitivity?
A food sensitivity is the result of your immune system reacting to what you eat as “foreign” and launching an attack. Compared to a food allergy, this reaction is delayed and can take up to 72 hours to reveal itself.
Imagine everything you eat has a name tag, and the role of the first part of your digestive system is to break down food and remove that name tag before it passes through your intestinal barrier. On the other side of that barrier is your immune system, acting like airport security. When security sees a food molecule without its name tag, it considers that molecule a part of “you” and allows it to pass. If, however, the food’s name tag is still intact, your immune system marks it as “foreign” and an attack is launched. Your immune system then has this brilliant quality of REMEMBERING and will continue to recognize that food molecule as an invader going forward.
The consequence of constantly triggering your immune system is chronic inflammation, which can show up in various ways in the body (detailed below).
Do I have a food sensitivity?
Some common symptoms related to food sensitivities include:
- Digestive: bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux
- Skin: acne, eczema
- Mental: migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, irritability
- Often catching a cold/flu
- Joint pain
- Sinus congestion
Why do an elimination diet?
The most obvious reason to do an elimination diet is to FEEL BETTER NOW. Many people with food sensitivities have tried everything, and nothing is working. You may have been dealing with low grade symptoms of a food sensitivity for so long that you don’t even know what “good” feels like! Then there is the fact that chronic inflammation is a huge contributor to chronic disease, and who wants to wait until disease hits to address the problem? Finally, it can be incredibly empowering to complete an elimination diet. You will learn and connect to your body as you perform your own little science experiment, show yourself what you are capable of, and be in control of feeling better!
Which foods do I eliminate?
It appears you can develop a food sensitivity to almost anything, but the most common food culprits are the ones that have been manipulated the most by the food industry, making them appear “foreign” to your immune system. This includes gluten, dairy, corn, soy and eggs.
But the list does not stop here! If you’ve tried eliminating the top 5 and are not getting results, consider peanuts, tree nuts, citrus fruits, beans, grains, nightshade vegetables, anything you are addicted to and anything you eat a lot of.
It is also important to avoid refined sugar, alcohol and all chemicals/food additives during your elimination phase. These ingredients can destroy the lining of your intestinal tract, are VERY foreign to your immune system and can negatively impact your gut microbiome.
What if I have a food sensitivity? Then what?
For at least the short term, it is time to say “see ya” to that particular food - but not “see ya never!” Once the irritating culprit is removed you can get to work at repairing your gut and potentially reintroduce the food down the road, once your immune system has forgotten this particular food was once an invader.
Can’t I just get a Food SensitivityTest?
That would be real nice, wouldn’t it? This type of testing is referred to as an IgG test as they look at which IgG antibodies are in your blood and deduce your food sensitivities from there. IgG antibodies are the bullets created by your immune system to kill the food that has been tagged “foreign”. UNFORTUNATELY, these tests are quite controversial as there is much room for error. Sometimes you can have elevated IgG because you eat a lot of that food…or very little. Sometimes you have elevated IgG for one food because it looks like another food protein (cross-reactivity). It seems these tests are very difficult to reproduce. As it stands, IgG blood testing has been ruled out as a diagnostic tool to determine food sensitivities by the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology[i].
Eliminating foods that you love can be HARD. I get it. That's why I have created the ELIMINATION CLUB to make it a smidge easier. This is a group coaching program that will guide you through every step of your elimination and reintroduction, provide you with recipes and replacements and best of all, won't let you struggle alone. LET'S STRUGGLE TOGETHER. Learn more here.