Is an Elimination Diet Right for You?
by Lisa Shettle, MS, RDN, CD-N
If you’ve been experiencing chronic symptoms and cannot pinpoint the cause, you might want to try an elimination diet under the support and guidance of a trained healthcare professional. We are careful about using the phrase “elimination diet” at Swan Integrative because food eliminations can lead to very restricted eating, can be a trigger for disordered eating, and can lead to nutrient deficiencies if restrictions are long lasting. At the same time, a gentle, guided elimination diet can be a good tool for exploring food triggers and getting to the root cause of troubling symptoms. Our version of an elimination diet is a temporary meal plan low in potentially allergenic foods but not low in calories.
Some fad diets, extreme elimination diets or juice cleanses can slow metabolism and cause fatigue, blood sugar imbalances, and muscle loss. A smart, safe elimination diet ensures adequate calories and quality nutrients to prevent muscle atrophy. Without quality nutrients, your body will use muscle for energy—this is what we don’t want!
What exactly is an elimination diet?
Elimination diets exclude certain foods for a short period of time, usually foods that have the highest potential to be inflammatory or irritating. After a period of time with them removed, specific foods are slowly and strategically reintroduced. During this process, symptoms are monitored to determine possible reactions. Important areas to monitor include sleep, mood, energy, digestion, bowel habits, and any other symptoms. Paying close attention to how you feel both with and without certain foods on board can help to guide long term dietary adjustments to optimize health and decrease symptoms.
Why do an elimination diet?
Elimination diets are used to identify food sensitivities and intolerances that cause common symptoms like:
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- …and more!
Elimination diets help you to experiment and observe what happens in your body as you change what you eat.
Of course, it’s not the purpose of the elimination diet to get rid of all potentially high-allergy foods forever. The point is to eliminate certain foods and then slowly reintroduce them so that only the most problematic foods can be minimized long term. A diverse diet is always our goal!
Doing an elimination diet with a trained healthcare professional is always advised. It’s important to consult with a health care provider to learn how such a diet might interact with any health conditions or medicines you might be taking. The Nourish to Flourish Program is a great way to try a brief but effective elimination diet with the support and guidance of a registered dietician.
If you are looking for a fresh approach to feeling better or you have suspicions that your symptoms may be food-related, the Nourish to Flourish Program is a great chance to get some answers in a safe and healthy way. And as a bonus – most health insurance plans cover the nutritional counseling visits! Email us for more information and to get started now!