“Elimination” Diets

The word elimination can conjure up some negative feelings. The first one that comes to mind for me is deprivation. Eliminating things sounds like a chore, it sounds hard, it sounds like no fun. But elimination diets are also the most cost effective and revealing dietary evaluation tools that we have. And for good measure, since we are talking about digestive health – elimination can be ridding ourselves of… toxins and what have you.

Elimination Diets ARE NOT:

  • Deprivation Diets
  • Chicken and Rice Diets
  • Starvation Diets

Elimination Diets ARE:

  • A tool to help you identify dietary triggers
  • A chance to remove potential allergens and reset
  • An opportunity for your body to heal

A lot of people tend to think that this means you are going to be eating rice for a month. Well, that is not so – in fact there isn’t really one elimination diet. One of the major elimination diets in the world of functional medicine is the six-food elimination diet that takes out the top 6 allergens from your diet. The idea in any elimination diet is to take out the possible culprits that you are evaluating intolerance to, and then assessing reaction to the diet, and then reintroducing, or testing your tolerance to the things that you had removed.

In the case of the 6-food elimination diet you are taking out: wheat, dairy, soy, corn, fish, and nuts. These are the most common allergens. Even though you would not use type of tool to test for a food allergy, these allergens are common triggers of dietary intolerances. Taking them all out of your diet at once allows your body to have a clean slate so that when you test them one at a time you can figure out what is causing you trouble. The six food elimination diet is one popular (though admittedly difficult to implement) therapy for Eosinophilic Esophagitis. This is also the basis of the popular Whole 30 diet.

There are many other styles of elimination diets. One of the most popular ones in my practice is the low-FODMAP diet which is also a type of elimination diet that takes out fermentable carbohydrates to evaluate intolerance to those groups of carbohydrates.