The elimination diet is a bear of sorts. It’s commonly used to identify foods that you may be sensitive to. Check out my blog here for more info on the difference between food allergies and sensitivities. An elimination diet removes the most common sensitivity foods, and then adds them back in one by one. Keep in mind that this is a challenging approach to identifying food allergies. I would recommend working with a registered dietician (who is plant-based friendly!) to lead you through the process. Another great resource for identifying and thriving with food sensitivities (especially if you’re vegan) is the Food Allergy Survival Guide. It includes it’s own version of the elimination diet plus recipes. Here’s a basic overview of the elimination diet approach:
- You begin by eliminating caffeine, alcohol, and junk food for 2-3 days.
- Then, for 3-4 weeks, you avoid the most likely food triggers: gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, pork, beef, chicken, beans/lentils, coffee, citrus fruits, nuts (coconut, pine nuts, and flax seeds are allowed), and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, and hot peppers). If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, I recommend keeping split peas, beans, and legumes (minus all soy products) in your diet and filling up on gluten-free foods like rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, teff, and millet.
- After at least 3 weeks, you add each food (one at a time) back in for 1 day only, and observe symptoms on the following 2 days (so, reintroduce gluten on Monday only and observe any possible side effects on Tuesday and Wednesday).
- If nothing is observed, add that food to your diet and add another single food back in for one day, observing how you feel on a second and third day.
It takes a while to determine which foods might be triggers, but it can be well worth it if you’ve been struggling! There are also a variety of tests you can do to identify food sensitivities and intolerances, which are listed in my blog.