What You Can Learn From an Elimination Diet

A medically supervised elimination diet can help you find out how certain foods make you feel. If you’re feeling unwell and your health care provider suspects a component of your diet is the cause, they may recommend an elimination diet to determine if certain foods are contributing to your symptoms.

Family medicine physician Evan Allen, MD, and our team at Total Care Family Practice provide a full range of wellness services to help you stay healthy. When we suspect you have a food intolerance, we recommend an elimination diet to help identify the offending food(s). We share more about elimination diets and how this eating plan can help you feel better. 

What is an elimination diet?

An elimination diet is an eating plan that involves removing a food or groups of foods to see if your symptoms improve. We carefully reintroduce the foods to learn which ones are causing your symptoms. Because some food reactions can occur days later, an elimination diet takes time, care, and expert knowledge.

Many foods, food components, and additives can cause reactions in people who are sensitive to them. This is different from a true food allergy. However, an elimination diet is the best tool available to identify food culprits that may be causing you to feel unwell.

Food intolerance reactions are highly individual and may not involve the digestive system. Symptoms such as headaches and fatigue are common. Dr. Allen will help you get to the root of your symptoms. 

What is it like to follow an elimination diet?

Following an elimination diet requires some patience and diligence. You may be instructed to keep a food diary to track the foods you’re eating and your symptoms throughout the day. You must take care to avoid specific foods or components, which means reading food labels.

The typical elimination diet lasts 4-6 weeks. After you begin the plan, you may notice worsened symptoms for a few days. If the right foods have been removed, you may notice an improvement in symptoms.

Elimination diets vary in the number of foods you must eliminate. A patient who needs only to eliminate one food during the diet may find it relatively easy. Some patients may need to avoid several foods or food groups, and this may cause an inconvenience.

Keep in mind that you may need to cycle the elimination diet several times to narrow down the food culprits. It’s important to know that elimination diets are temporary, and necessary, to investigate the cause of your troubles. Most patients tolerate elimination diets well. 

Creating a long-term eating plan

Based on your results, Dr. Allen creates an eating plan to prevent your symptoms. The goal is to ensure that you’re getting optimal nutrition from a variety of nutrient-rich foods, while avoiding any food that causes you problems. Depending on the food you must avoid, this may require some adjustment as you change your long-term diet.

For instance, if you must avoid dairy, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with alternatives that supply crucial nutrients like calcium, such as green leafy vegetables. As you get used to your new way of eating, it will feel natural and you’ll appreciate the symptom relief.

The most important thing you learn by following an elimination diet is which foods, food groups, or food additives are causing or making your symptoms worse. Elimination diets are researched backed and very effective.

If you suspect that you have a food intolerance, call our office in Henderson, Nevada, or book online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Allen. 

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