Category: 

What is an Elimination Diet?

A food diary is kept during the elimination diet.
Wheat is commonly associated with food intolerance.
Those who have nut allergies must completely eliminate these products from their diets.
Food allergies may manifest as hives.
Most people allergic to chocolate can tolerate carob as a substitute.
Dairy is one kind of food commonly linked with food intolerance.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
The fewest car accident fatalities occur on Tuesdays.  more...

October 23 ,  1983 :  Suicide bombers killed nearly 300 US and French military troops in Beirut.  more...

An elimination diet is a type of restrictive diet which is used to identify food allergies or intolerance. Typically, patients embark on an elimination diet under the advice of a doctor, although some people may experiment with such diets on their own to see if they can identify the root causes of their medical problems. Food allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms including intestinal distress, heartburn, hives, rashes, and difficulty breathing; by eating an elimination diet, a patient can identify foods which should be avoided in the future.

There are two methods for carrying out an elimination diet. In the first, people slowly withdraw foods which are commonly associated with food intolerance, such as wheat, chocolate, dairy, nuts, and acidic fruits. A food diary is carefully kept, and the patient makes sure to record any symptoms experienced. At least a week is allowed to elapse between each withdrawal, ensuring that only one food is responsible for a change in symptoms. When a change is experienced, the patient knows that the most recent food removed from the diet is probably responsible.

Ad

The other technique is to start out with a very bland, plain diet of foods which are unlikely to produce symptoms. The patient slowly adds foods back in, recording what he or she eats and what symptoms are experienced. Five days to a week is allowed between each re-introduction, to ensure that symptoms will be isolated. When symptoms do emerge, the patient knows which food is responsible, and he or she can avoid it in the future.

While many people associate food allergies with severe reactions like those experienced by people who are allergic to nuts, these allergies can also be very subtle. Some medical conditions such as celiac disease, for example, are linked with food intolerance but it may take years for a doctor to realize that an allergy is causing the symptoms. Since elimination diets are very demanding, doctors do not recommend them lightly, and they impress the importance of sticking to the diet on their patients.

Once an elimination diet has identified problem foods, a patient should ideally avoid them in the future. An experienced allergist can talk about alternatives to these foods to keep the patient's diet balanced, varied, and enjoyable. Some patients choose to eat small amounts of dangerous foods on an infrequent basis because they miss them, and they should discuss this desire with their doctors.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

bluedolphin
Post 3

What's the best base for doing a food elimination diet? Should I start with foods like chicken and potatoes for several weeks and go from there?

burcidi
Post 2

This is how I figured out my intolerance to dairy and soy products too.

Most of us are allergic/intolerant to many foods. Intolerance doesn't always mean full-blown allergic symptoms. Sometimes the signs are subtle and difficult to notice when foods are not slowly introduced to the body.

turquoise
Post 1

My sister-in-law did this with my three year old nephew because he was experiencing gastro-intestinal problems lately. He started getting diarrhea and hives from time to time but my sister couldn't tell what it was. His pediatrician suggested an elimination diet because his allergy tests weren't showing allergies for anything.

So she started feeding him bland foods that he could tolerate without problems and then started adding veggies and fruits.

The day she gave him raspberries, he broke out in hives. A few weeks later, he had strawberry yogurt and had hives and diarrhea. She hasn't given him any raspberries or strawberries after this and he hasn't had hives or diarrhea. This allergy elimination diet really works!

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email