Elimination Diets- What are they and how do to use them.
Updated: May 3
Up to 20% of australian children and adults experience irritable bowel symptoms.
Before the elimination diet begins, it helps to keep a food diary for 1-2 weeks to track foods and start uncovering which food groups might be causing the problem and starting by eliminating them first.
The elimination diet is a short term trial to determine:
* which exact foods cause symptoms and should be removed from the diet
* which foods are safe to consume
An elimination diet lasts for around 6 weeks.
It starts by removing the suspect foods from one food group
for 3-4 weeks and then re-introducing foods one at a time for
2- 3 days whilst you track any and all symtoms.
Common foods that may cause food intolerances include:
*FODMAPs (natural sugars)
STAGE 1- ELIMINATION
The first stage of the elimination diet involves removing all foods from ONE food group you suspect may be causing symptoms.
This phase should last only 3-4 weeks, until all your symptoms have lessend or resolved.
If your symptoms do not stop, you will need to re-think which foods may be causing the symptoms, or if they may not food related at all, in which case you will need to seek medical assitance.
STAGE 2- REINTRODUCTION
Stage 2 involves reintroducing suspect foods back into your diet.
Bring back each food individually over 2-3 days whilst still removing all other suspect foods from the diet. Eg. If you have removed gluten from your diet, try a food that is low in gluten first, such as a small biscuit compared to toast.
Watch for symptoms straight after ingestion, a few hours after ingestion and the following day.
If NO symtoms re-occur then you have identified a food that can be assumed as a safe food, and you should continue trialling other foods from this group one at a time for the next 2 weeks, with the aim of them being re-introduced long term.
If symptoms re-occur after introducing a certain food back into the diet again, you have determined a food that triggers a reaction, you now need to determine which other exact foods in the food group are causing the intolerance.
For example, hard cheeses are relatively low in lactose compared to milk, so people with a lactose intolerance may be able eat small amounts of cheese but will need to remove milk from their diet, unless using a lactose free subsitute.
YOUR LONG TERM EATING PLAN
Now that you have eliminated the specific problem foods from your diet you most likely need to do so for life. Some children will outgrow their food intolerance but as we age, digestion slows causing food intolerances to appear and prove life long.
Gut health, however can impact our digestion in many ways and improving gut health with pro-biotics and a healthy lifestyle may lessen symptoms overtime.
Check out our video for some more tips.