Elimination diets are something I recommend to many of my patients, and, as someone with food allergies myself, something I am intimately familiar with. The thing I really love about elimination diets is that once you go through the process of food allergy elimination and reintroduction for testing, you have a very clear visceral understanding of how any particular food allergy affects you. You know WHAT the allergen is, you know HOW it affects you personally, and you know HOW LONG the reaction lasts for. Then you get to choose - you can eat the allergenic food and suffer, or you can avoid the food and feel well.
Completing an elimination diet and finding no food allergy triggers can seem anticlimactic, but is equally good information. If nothing shows up positive, you know that food is not the issue and you can cross that possibility off your list and move on to other interventions - herbs, supplements, acupuncture, pharmaceuticals - whatever is appropriate for your symptoms and your case.
In short, a healthy elimination diet is a powerful tool for understanding your symptoms. It can rule food allergies out as a problem, or it can give you control over your symptoms by understanding a food allergen and being able to make choices based on that knowledge. No medications, no supplements, no interventions - just choice. Powerful, simple, effective.
The symptoms of a food allergy can be quite broad. They can include a wild array of things including but not limited to:
How Does an Elimination Diet Work?
When you are constantly eating foods your are allergic to, there are a couple of things going on in your body. First - you have inflammation. There is a constant war being waged inside and inflammation is the result. Since the fight is constant due to repeat exposure, however, your symptoms might seem mild though consistent - some symptoms are due to the battle, some symptoms are controlled by the battle - you can’t really tease them out.
Second - you release endorphins and you can crave the allergen because your body is in pain. The constant battle between allergen offender and immune system defender is invasive. Your body releases endorphins to blunt the pain of the invasion, so you can actually crave the thing you are allergic to because of the mini high the battle produces.
An elimination diet stops the war by removing the offender so the defense can rest. The inflammatory response calms down, the endorphin release returns normal, and you find a new baseline. When you test the allergen, therefore, the defensive walls are down. When first contact hits, your body has to mount a larger response and you feel more of the symptoms related to that specific allergenic food (the troops are sleeping and have to wake up AND defend the walls of the castle, takes more energy).
Yes, this means your reaction seems more severe but actually it isn’t - you just feel more of it because you are starting from calmer baseline.
How Do I DO an Elimination Diet?
An elimination diet is something you can do on your own - you do not need supervision, though it is ideal to work with a naturopath or an acupuncturist so you have someone to come to with questions. Acupuncture can also help calm down your reaction to any specific allergen so you recover faster.
You can link to a PDF of my elimination diet instructions using the button below, as well as the Thorne Mediclear Patient Guide which outlines a broader elimination diet, as well as the use of detox supplements like Mediclear and Nutriclear which can help you cleanse the gut a little faster.
Questions? Contact Rebecca.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.