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Elimination Diet: Do It Right

Elimination diets feel like a mystery. How do you do them? What foods do you pick to eliminate? How do you know if you’re actually avoiding the food 100%? Why don’t I feel better? There’s very little guidance out there to help you navigate it as well. I love seeing people say “just do it.” Yeah…that’s helpful. Thanks. I’ve decided it’s time to walk you through how to do an Elimination Diet well.

First Step: Identify The Foods You Want to Eliminate

Typically when you’re doing an elimination diet it’s because you’re trying to feel better. Sometimes you’re flying blind “Eliminate dairy and gluten and see what happens” while other times you’re basing the elimination based on the results of a food sensitivity panel. Either way, make a list of what you are avoiding.

If you’re avoiding gluten and dairy, for example, you’ll want to write down all the names for gluten and dairy so that you can read labels and know what you’re eating.

If you’re basing your elimination off of blood results, make an easy-to-follow list of your avoid foods.

Step Two: Identify All Your Can Eat Foods

This is the most missed, and most important, step. You need to know what you CAN eat. This makes meal planning and dining out a million times easier. Having a long list of “can eat” helps you feel more positive about the entire experience.

Step Three: Plan

Typically an elimination diet is for 6-8 weeks. You’ll want

  • 4 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches (you can rotate in leftovers but plan for 4)
  • 12 dinners

This combination streamlines your budget, reduces overwhelm, and gives you just enough variety to prevent boredom. I recommend finding restaurants in your area that accommodate food restrictions so that you can enjoy time out with friends and date night.

Step Four: Reintroduce

Depending on the type of elimination diet you’re doing, you may try to reintroduce the foods you’ve been avoiding. It is recommended that you start with one food at one meal and wait 3-4 days before trying again or adding in another food. Watch for symptoms including:
  • Headache
  • Stuffy nose
  • Mucus in the throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Acne
  • Pain and stiffness in joints and/or muscles
  • Other symptoms you previously struggled with
If you experience any negative symptoms, it’s a good idea to continue to avoid exposure to that food. An Elimination Diet is the gold standard when it comes to finding trigger foods. Blood tests help guide and I do highly recommend them as I see people reacting to foods like cilantro, onions, and garlic which no one would ever think to avoid. Doing an elimination diet well can help you feel better and experience relief from symptoms.

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About Us

Hi friend!

I’m Marian Mitchell, Health Coach, Chronic Illness Warrior, Mom, and Food Lover. I help you navigate the food and lifestyle side of Chronic Disease Management with coaching, meal plans, recipes, podcast, and this blog. You can thrive without eating the same 4 things every day. I’m here to show you how.

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