Elimination Diet means what now?
What on earth is an elimination diet anyway? And why the hell would anyone want to do one? Simply put it is a period of time where you ELIMINATE certain foods from your diet in order to test your tolerance of them. That’s it. Contrary to popular belief they will not solve all your problems, only the ones related to food. Unfortunately, it will do nothing for smugness. In fact, it may only enhance the smugness. so if you are full of yourself and only want to prove how amazing you are… this is not for you. Moving on.
You can eliminate one thing or twenty things. Both are elimination diets. Usually, one must eliminate the target foods for a while. Typically a week or more, before reintroducing them one at a time. You with me so far? Cool.
Why the hell would I want to do this?
I can tell you why MOST people attempt elimination diets (even though many people won’t admit it)… weight loss. NEWS FLASH Y’ALL!! Eliminating foods is a terrible way to lose weight unless you plan to maintain the diet forever. Sucks, but it’s true. So if you’re only goal is weight loss… look elsewhere. Trust me on this one. If it worked, I’d be a runway model. (Hint: I am not a runway model. I am shaped like I act: awkward. And fluffy.)
Now, if you have unexplained health issues that aren’t easily explained you might want to look at food. I did my very first elimination diet after my celiac disease diagnosis because I wasn’t getting better as fast as I should have been. It was recommended to me by a doctor. I did not want to do this, but it was beneficial for me to figure out what else was causing me harm. (read as bloody diarrhea and fatigue) Some reasons you might want to consider an Elimination Diet:
- Chronic tummy troubles of any kind (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, cramping etc.)
- Eczema or other rashes that do not respond to typical treatments
- Headaches, brain fog, or memory issues without a medical cause
- Unexplained fatigue. UNEXPLAINED Y’ALL.
- Depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns that you feel are not warranted.
- A close relative has moderate to severe food issues (Did you know Celiac disease can be silent? Yeah, might be worth investigating!)
What types of Elimination diets are there?
There are literally ALL KINDS of Elimination diets out there. There are ones that are SUPER POPULAR (ahem Whole 30) and ones that are not so popular… because I made them up. In general, I break them down into four categories:
This is the beast of all elimination diets. It takes out basically ALL the things. You drink pureed soup and hate yourself. This is the diet I followed post Celiac Diagnosis to try and figure out what else, besides gluten, was tearing my stomach apart. This one is HARD. I do not recommend taking on this level of elimination diet unless you have a dire medical need, which I did. And guess what? I still wasn’t able to stick with it. The reintroduction phase is SO. FREAKIN. LONG. I couldn’t do it. Since I was mainly trying to challenge soy, dairy, corn, legumes, and rice I switched gears down to the easier level…
Whole 30/ Keto/ Paleo
I call this the ‘I hate carbs’ level of elimination diet. Since I also have Type 1 Diabetes, I try to live in this zone when I can. But it is HARD. Everyone has probably heard of Whole 30 at this point. It has become a huge pop culture hit and man-buns and yoga pants everywhere are swearing by it. While it is true that everyone can benefit by doing what Whole 30 recommends, it’s totally not necessary for most people. However, if you’re curious about grains, legumes, and dairy… Whole 30 might be right for you. Mind you, 30 days isn’t as short as it seems. And doing a Whole 30 one time is like eating a salad once and then wondering why the effects don’t last a lifetime. Unless you learn something useful from it or plan to do it regularly.
Now, Keto and Paleo are Elimination diets. CALM DOWN GLENDA, YES THEY ARE. You are ELIMINATING certain macronutrients from your diet in order to alter how you metabolize food. so I guess technically you aren’t challenging anything per se, but they totally fall into the elimination category. Paleo has a cult-like following, but it is, in fact, really great for us Type 1 diabetics. And Keto is getting all the press for weight loss, but it does, in fact, have a strong history in the medical community for treating various conditions, like epilepsy. These diets can be maintained long term, but I know very few people who do it forever. Most of you reading this are considering it for the short term. DON’T LIE OT YOURSELF!
This is my personal favorite because it’s the easiest actual ‘plan’. It takes out the ‘big guns’ over a 10 day period (only one weekend!) while adding in a wackload of extra nutrition and addressing lifestyle as well. Which is what most people are REALLY after when they’re considering an elimination diet.
Out of all the crazy shit I have done food-wise, this has been the game-changer. It’s meant to be done once a month, once a quarter, or a few times a year based on your personal needs. So unlike the other plans, it’s not an open-ended abyss or a one-and-done-good-luck-move-on type thing.
A La Carte
I know plenty of people who minimize gluten and dairy, or don’t eat corn, or avoid artificial sweeteners, etc. If you suspect something is a problem for you… eliminate it! Challenge that bitch! With all my lovely conditions I try to live a gluten-free, low dairy, low sugar life. This my friends is my personal a la carte elimination diet! It doesn’t necessarily follow any PLAN it’s just how I live, most of the time, based on what I’ve learned throughout my shreds, Whole 30’s, the medical elimination diet from hell, and forays into keto and paleo. Oh yes, folks. I have indeed done it all.
Do you think you need to challenge anything in your diet? Are you unsure? Here’s the thing… you can always do one thing at a time. Slow and steady. The fitness and nutrition industry has us all in a tizzy thinking we need to follow all these rules and fancy programs to see results… we don’t. We just need to be smart. And consistent. Stay tuned for my upcoming post on elimination diet tips and tricks for those of you looking to skip the bullshit.
The most important thing to remember whenever you’re working on your personal nutrition is that garbage in= you feel like garbage. No matter what particular food/ ingredient/ macronutrient you’re challenging by elimination… focus on eating things without labels, fruits and veggies, and drinking loads of water. I know, I know.. easier said than done. But those things alone will help more than you know. Bonus points if you figure out its soy or whatever that gives you the toots!
Have you done an elimination diet? Tell me why and what your results were! I WANT TO KNOW!!