Elimination Diet
Uncover Hidden Food Sensitivities and Transform Your Health

Food intolerances, allergies, digestive issues, and food irritants can significantly disrupt our daily lives and overall well-being. While there are tests available to identify food intolerances and sensitivities, these can be costly and their effectiveness is sometimes questionable. One reliable method for determining which foods may be causing digestive upset is the elimination diet.

An elimination diet is a structured approach designed to pinpoint foods to which an individual may be sensitive or allergic. This method involves systematically removing certain foods or food groups from the diet that are suspected of causing adverse health effects. After a period where these foods are completely avoided, they are reintroduced one by one, allowing the individual to observe how each affects their body.

The primary goal of an elimination diet is to identify specific foods or ingredients that contribute to symptoms such as digestive distress, skin eruptions, headaches, joint pain, or fatigue, which may be overlooked in standard tests. This approach is especially beneficial for those suffering from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, eczema, or allergies, where food sensitivities are commonly implicated.

By pinpointing which foods trigger negative responses, individuals can tailor their diets to minimize or eliminate discomfort, thereby enhancing their quality of life. It's crucial to conduct an elimination diet under the supervision of a healthcare professional to ensure it is carried out safely and effectively, and to prevent nutritional deficiencies.

The elimination diet is not just about following a trend or restrictive eating plan; it’s about understanding how different foods impact our health and vitality. We often emphasize the quality of fuel we use for our vehicles, yet neglect the quality of what we consume. Processed, packaged, and artificially flavored foods can exacerbate health issues, leading to systemic inflammation and chronic diseases.

By adopting the elimination diet, we focus on clean, easily digestible foods that are low in sugar and free from potential gastrointestinal irritants. This allows us to identify possible triggers for adverse reactions more effectively than some food sensitivity tests.

This approach emphasizes functional nutrition, encouraging us to treat our body responses with curiosity and attentiveness, akin to how a scientist would observe experimental results. Addressing gut health is often the first step in managing various health issues, considering the gut's extensive influence on other body systems.

Prioritizing gut health helps illuminate the intricate connections between our digestive system and aspects of health such as mental well-being, hormone balance, cardiometabolic health, immune response, and inflammation. Starting with the gut sets a solid foundation for overall health and vitality, reinforcing the notion that all aspects of our health are interconnected and equally important.

Elimination     |     What to Eat     |     Tracking     |     Reintroduction

Elimination Diet
Elimination Phase

Step one is the elimination of all known allergens (see above) and all foods that you suspect you have a sensitivity to. Sometimes the stressor food is counterintuitive, something healthy and good for you like carrots, spinach or rice can be the culprit. Anything you know or suspect you have an intolerance or sensitivity to, should also be eliminated during the elimination phase. Ideally, you will remain in this phase for at least three weeks.

During the initial phase of an elimination diet, the focus is squarely on removing potential irritants that could be causing adverse reactions within the body. This deliberate process helps individuals manage symptoms more effectively and promotes enhanced overall health and wellness.

Key Foods to Eliminate:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts (other than peanuts)
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
For those looking to implement a more comprehensive elimination strategy, consider also avoiding the following:
  • Citrus fruits
  • Gluten-containing grains
  • Artificial colors, preservatives, and sweeteners
  • Nuts
  • Refined sugars
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Corn
  • Processed foods
  • Hydrogenated oils

Special Consideration: Nightshade Vegetables

Although not typically excluded in standard elimination diets, many individuals find that they are sensitive to nightshades. It may be beneficial to remove these during the elimination phase:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes (except sweet potatoes)
  • Peppers (including bell, chili, and sweet peppers)
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatillos
  • Goji berries
  • Paprika
  • Pimentos
  • Ashwagandha
  • Bush tomatoes
  • Cape gooseberries
  • Capsicums
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder flakes
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • Cocona
  • Curry powders
  • Garden huckleberries
  • Condiments like hot sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce
  • Steak seasonings
  • Tamarillos
  • Pepinos
  • Spices containing peppers
  • Garam masala spice
  • Kutjera
During the elimination phase, monitoring how your body responds to the reintroduction of nightshades is crucial. Note changes in food tolerance, mood, and digestive health. If adverse reactions occur, consider restarting the elimination phase without these vegetables.

Duration of the Elimination Phase

Commit to this phase for at least 3-4 weeks, ideally spanning a full 21-28 days, before moving to phase 2. 
Adherence to the elimination diet guidelines is critical for discerning potential triggers and managing dietary sensitivities effectively. This commitment can significantly enhance your ability to pinpoint and eliminate foods that detract from your well-being.

Elimination     |     What to Eat     |     Tracking     |     Reintroduction

Elimination Diet
What to Eat

Despite the exclusions, you still have plenty of food options available:

  • Organic, non-GMO Vegetables (Ideally low starch and non-starch varieties)
  • Unprocessed, clean, lean protein 
    • Hormone-free, pasture-raised beef and lamb
    • Free-range chicken and turkey
    • Wild-caught cold-water fish
    • Wild game (bison, cornish hen, duck, elk, pheasant, venison, kangaroo, ostric
  • Legumes
  • Rice
  • Lentils
  • Grass-fed ghee
  • High-fiber, low-glycemic carbs
  • Beans
  • Fermented Foods
  • Healthy Omega 3 Fats
  • Nuts and seeds (depending on your individual list of foods, avoid peanuts)
Elimination     |     What to Eat     |     Tracking     |     Reintroduction

Elimination Diet
Food~Mood~Poop Journal

After you have decided on and committed to your elimination list, you will keep track of everything you eat during the elimination phase. Keeping a food, mood, poop journal is an invaluable tool when navigating an elimination diet, as it helps to track the effects of specific foods on your body. By diligently recording what you eat, how you feel emotionally, and the quality of your digestive output, you can gain clear insights into which foods may be causing undesirable symptoms. This journaling process not only captures dietary intake but also mood fluctuations and bowel movements, providing a comprehensive view of your body’s responses to different foods. Over time, patterns may emerge that highlight potential food sensitivities or intolerances. Armed with this detailed information, you and your healthcare provider can make more informed decisions about which foods to eliminate or reintroduce, tailoring your diet to optimize your health and well-being.

Elimination     |     What to Eat     |     Tracking     |     Reintroduction

Elimination Diet
Reintroduction Phase

Often, once your diet is clean, (such as 3 weeks into an elimination diet) your body will become more sensitive to offending foods. An offending food will often provoke symptoms quickly after consumption (10 min - 24 hours). During this phase of the elimination protocol, we will reintroduce the foods we have eliminated, one at a time, while closely tuning into the body to monitor for both immediate and delayed signs and symptoms. During this phase, we will diligently observe and document any signs or symptoms that may indicate the body is unhappy with the reintroduced foods.

After three weeks of committing to a clean eating plan, individuals often notice remarkable improvements in their overall health and well-being. Now, it's time to determine which foods may be causing adverse reactions and should be permanently eliminated from the diet. Here's how to approach the reintroduction phase:

1. Select a Food for Reintroduction: Choose one of the foods you eliminated during the initial phase and reintroduce it into your diet.

2. Reintroduce Gradually: Consume the chosen food 2-3 times per day for 2 or 3 days to assess its impact on your body. Be sure to test foods in their most pure form (fresh, whole foods rather than mixed into a recipe or with other foods)

3. Track Symptoms: Keep a detailed journal to monitor any symptoms that may arise after reintroducing the food. Note changes in mood, digestion, elimination, headaches, rashes, or any other disruptions, including post-prandial pulse elevations or spiking glucose (if you are tracking glucose)

4. Identify Problematic Foods: If symptoms return after reintroduction, consider permanently avoiding the food. Remember, sensitivities may not be permanent, but the focus now is on healing your gut.

If you don't notice any reactions continue eating the food for 4 days, at least twice per day. If no reaction occurs during this time period, congratulations, you can put this food back into your diet. 

Sometimes you can eat a food on one day and feel fine, but on the second day, you may notice a reaction. Signs to look for include dizziness, fatigue, headache, itching, bloating, nausea, gas, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, anal itching, post-meal sleepiness, ear itching, nose itching, rubbing, flushing, heartbeat or pulse changes, brain fog, joint pain, depression.  

If you notice any reaction during the 4 days of testing, stop eating the test food and add it to the problem list, wait until all symptoms have resolved before testing the next food on your list. 

5. Gradually Reintroduce Other Foods: Introduce other eliminated foods one at a time, observing your body's response each time. Follow this order for reintroduction: organic, cage-free eggs; organic, rBGH-free dairy; non-GMO corn; non-GMO fermented soy; legumes; wheat/gluten.

6. Monitor and Rotate: If no adverse changes occur and you feel good, incorporate the food back into your regular diet rotation. Wait for 3- 4 days before introducing a new food to allow for proper monitoring.

7. Keep Experimenting: Continue to experiment with different foods to identify what works best for your body. Pay close attention to any recurring symptoms and adjust your diet accordingly.

Remember, your body knows best, so pay attention to its signals. If you experience a recurrence of old symptoms within the first 24-36 hours of reintroducing a food, consider avoiding it. Wait 3-4days before introducing a new food to observe any reactions.

By following these steps and listening to your body, you can effectively navigate the reintroduction phase of the elimination diet and make informed decisions about your long-term dietary choices
Elimination     |     What to Eat     |     Tracking     |     Reintroduction

Visit My Lab Shop

Visit My Supplement Shop

Order supplements through my Fullscript store.

DNA Testing & Health Insights Package

Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Designs for Health Supplements

This page contains affiliate links. This means I may earn a commission should you choose to sign up for a program or make a purchase using my link.

Lifestyle Exercise Attitude Nutrition® is a registered trademark of the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.