If you’re trying to determine what’s causing you to feel a bit ‘off’ and suspect food intolerances, then a simple elimination diet can do the trick. For severe symptoms a food allergy test is recommended.
But for milder symptoms like fatigue, low immune system, headaches, skin issues, constipation or bloating then the elimination diet is one effective and easy method for finding out if they are food related.
All it takes is a commitment of around one month, following a few simple steps and listening to your body in the process. The first step requires a minimum of 2 weeks, eliminating foods that can often cause allergic reactions in the body. Typical foods to eliminate in stage one are: wheat / all gluten (wheat, rye, oats), dairy, soy, nuts, eggs, caffeine, sugar, alcohol.
To figure out what foods you should eliminate think about the foods that you crave or eat a lot of, the foods you’re particularly attached to. Often it’s the foods we eat all the time that cause issues. That’s the tricky part – letting go of foods you love. So the idea is to remove all possible causes, take note of how you feel during the elimination period and if symptoms are gone then you know that one of those foods was to blame.
Next step then is to figure out the culprit by simply adding one food type back in at a time after the elimination period and allowing at least 2-3 days to check if this causes any adverse reactions.
Week 1 & 2:
Eliminate all dairy, wheat, eggs and soy from your diet
Week 3 & 4:
Day 1 – add back in dairy only
Day 2 & 3 – eliminate dairy again; monitor symptoms
Day 4 – add back in wheat only
Day 5 & 6 – eliminate wheat again; monitor symptoms
Day 7 – add back in eggs only
Day 8 & 9 – eliminate eggs again; monitor symptoms
Day 10 – add back in soy only
Day 11 & 12 – eliminate soy again; monitor symptoms
If you eliminated more foods you would just continue in the same way – adding back in for one day, monitoring reactions for two days. Following this stage, review your notes to determine if any of the eliminated foods were causing adverse reactions.
Take note in particular of how your digestion was working during the adding back in phase. Being ‘regular’ is the key here – did any of the foods disrupt your digestion? If so, they need to go! From here on you can add back in all foods except those that made you feel in any way bad.
Try taking these completely out of your diet for at least a month. Then if you remain symptom free you can always try adding them back in slowly to see if your body still reacts. It may just be that your body needed a break or can only handle smaller amounts of that particular food type.