ELIMINATION DIET (ALLERGY DIET)
What is an elimination diet?
The purpose of an elimination diet is to first remove all potential food allergens from the diet to see if symptoms are relieved, and then re-introduce these foods one at a time to see if symptoms recur.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy describes an immune system response.
What is a food intolerance/sensitivity?
A food intolerance is an adverse reaction to food (unrelated to the immune system).
Signs and symptoms of food sensitivity/allergy:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Unexplained rashes
- Lactose intolerance
- Nasal congestion
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal pain
- Attention deficits
- Memory loss
- Recurrent otitis media
Step 1: Keep a Food Diary
Continue keeping a food journal (during and after diet), and log all food items and amounts as accurately as possible – along with any symptoms experienced. This can help to isolate food allergies or intolerances.
Step 2: Elimination Phase
The following foods should be avoided completely for 7 days.
- soft drinks
- hot dogs
- lunch meat
- citrus fruit
- any fruit you eat more than once a week
- processed foods
- food colors and dyes
Simply put, you can eat the following foods in their natural state:
- any vegetable (except corn, peas or beans)
- any meat (except bacon, sausage, hot dogs or luncheon meat)
- rice, oats, barley and the grain alternatives amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat
- any fruit (except citrus and any fruit that is currently eaten more than once a week)
- bottled, spring or distilled water and herb teas.
Step 3: The Challenge Phase
- On days 8 through 25 of your elimination diet, you slowly re-introduce eliminated foods, one at a time. Symptoms may occur within a few minutes, a few hours or the next day.
- Stop eating food that give a reaction and don’t reintroduce any new ones until feeling better. Record the food and symptoms in the food diary.
Note: If your child has been bothered by asthma, severe hives, swelling or other serious allergic reactions, consult your physician before beginning an elimination diet or re-introducing foods.
Elimination diet tips:
- Prepare your family. Explain what you plan to do and why. Ask for their support and encouragement.
- Time it right. Don’t start near the holidays, a vacation, or a special family celebration.
- Consider reducing supplements. Some vitamins have a corn or yeast base, so you may want to eliminate them as well. Run this by your doctor beforehand.
- Check labels. You might not realize that an eliminated ingredient is in the food unless you read food labels. Generally, packaged and processed foods should be avoided because they usually contain at least one eliminated ingredient.
Carter, Jill and Alison Edwards. The Allergy Exclusion Diet: The 28-Day Plan to Solve Your Food Intolerances Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2003
Carter, Jill and Alison Edwards. The Elimination Diet Cookbook Rockport, MA: Element,1997
Crook, Dr. William G. Elimination Diet for Food Sensitivities
Scott-Moncrieff, Christina. Overcoming Allergies: Home Remedies-Elimination and Rotation Diets-Complementary Therapies. London : Collins & Brown, 2002.
"Detecting Food Allergies" by the International Health Foundation, Box 3494, Jackson TN 38303.