Holistic Health

What is an elimination diet?

An elimination diet can help your body adjust to a cleaner diet before you start a more intense detox, and help avoid the healing crises that can occur at the beginning of a detox. It can also be used to diagnose food allergies or sensitivities. If your diet contains a lot of processed/fried/fast food, two weeks of an elimination diet may be advisable before starting something more intense.

I’ve read different viewpoints about what should and shouldn’t be allowed on an elimination diet, but at a minimum, prepare to give up processed foods, wheat, dairy, eggs, refined sugar, red meat, caffeine, and alcohol. Some elimination diet plans may have you give up animal products altogether, although Dr. Junger’s Clean program allows lean meats such as chicken and some fish. You could try going meat-free during this period, or maybe just eat meat once a week.

Junger also recommends eliminating common allergens such as peanuts, soy, tomatoes, and strawberries. Even if you don’t think you have an allergy to any of these foods, they are hard for some people to digest and may cause gastro-intestinal reactions.

So what can you eat? Plant-based meals that contain sources of protein and healthy fat. If you’re going meat-free, your protein can be legumes, nuts, and nut butters. Some vegetables contain good levels of protein also, including spinach, asparagus, and broccoli.

Elimination diets can also be used to help diagnose food sensitivities that evade clinical allergy tests. When using an elimination diet for this purpose, you should maintain the diet for two weeks or until your symptoms subside. Then introduce foods back into your diet one at a time and watch for any adverse reactions. Introduce each new food in the morning and pay attention to how you feel throughout that day and the next day. If no reactions occur, remove the food from your diet again and try another one.

To learn more about elimination diets, download this PDF from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

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