The purpose of a basic elimination diet is to determine if you have any food intolerances or sensitivities. Many people have food intolerances, but they do not realize it. Elimination diets isolate specific food groups to determine if these foods are causing any adverse health effects.
Approximately one week before you intend to begin the elimination diet, start a food journal that lists all the foods you eat during the course of the day. Write down the amounts and times you eat, as well as any symptoms you experience after eating the food. During this planning phase, you should not change the way you eat, just keep a detailed record of your normal eating pattern.
The first two weeks of an elimination diet are often referred to as the avoidance phase. During this phase, eliminate all of the foods that have potential for causing food intolerance. The most common foods include dairy products, eggs, wheat, citrus fruits, corn, processed foods and caffeine, notes health website Every Diet. During this phase, read ingredient labels carefully and make sure that the foods you eat do not contain any of these foods as ingredients. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health notes that many people experience an increase in symptoms before an improvement. Continue to keep your food journal during this phase and record eating habits and symptoms.
The next phase of an elimination diet involves reintroducing specific foods into your diet to help determine which foods cause symptoms. To do this, you should add a new food group every three days. Start by eating small amounts of the specific food over the course one day. For the next two days, eliminate the food again, but record any symptoms in the food diary. Once three days have gone by, reintroduce a different food group and repeat this process. The challenging step should continue until you have tested all the foods you eliminated.
Signs of Food Intolerance
Food intolerance differs from a food allergy in that it does not involve an immune system response. A food allergy can be potentially life-threatening situation, whereas a food intolerance generally only produces discomfort. Some common signs of food intolerance include fatigue, nasal congestion, headache, muscle pain, stomach pain, memory loss, irritability, dark circles under the eyes and trouble with attention span, notes the Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome Association of America.
Once you discover which foods cause undesirable symptoms, avoid these foods permanently. If you must give up an entire food group, such as dairy, you may need to supplement your diet with the vitamins and minerals you will be eliminating. Your health care provider or a dietitian can help you design a meal plan that will ensure you are meeting your nutrient needs.
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