When many people hear the word ‘diet’, their mind jumps to restriction and calorie counting. But not all diets are the same! While there are many diets that focus on weight loss (Weight Watchers, Atkins, Jenny Craig, etc.), there are also many diets designed to improve overall well-being.
Did you know that those struggling with chronic issues like epilepsy, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes may be able to improve their symptoms by adopting new eating patterns? It’s true! There are diets for all of these conditions including the paleo diet, GAPS diet, and the ketogenic diet. But when it comes to indigestion and IBS, there’s one diet that can help pinpoint specific trigger foods: The elimination diet.
What Is the Elimination Diet?
Before we dive into the details of an elimination diet, it’s important to address what the elimination diet is not.
The elimination diet is NOT a weight loss protocol.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss what the elimination diet is for and who might benefit from it.
The elimination diet is a way to identify specific food sensitivities and intolerances.
Many people incorrectly assume that the food we eat does nothing more than energize our bodies. In reality, our diets inform all of our bodily functions. When we are eating foods that agree with our gastrointestinal system, we think more clearly, fight illness more effectively, improve our mood, and more.
While there are some general nutritional guidelines that apply to all humans, no two bodies are exactly alike. A diet that works well for one person may cause issues like inflammation, brain fog, and indigestion for someone else. This is why it’s important to recognize when your body is having an adverse reaction to something you’re eating, and to know how to identify potential trigger foods.
But the elimination diet isn’t only for those with glaring indigestion issues.
While the elimination diet was created to help those struggling with issues like IBS, bloating, and leaky gut, those without these symptoms may also benefit from an elimination diet. Because gastrointestinal issues affect the entire body, you may be experiencing fatigue, headaches, or joint pain as a result of your diet. An elimination diet will shed light on these issues and help you understand how specific types of food affect the way your individual body functions.
How to Do an Elimination Diet
The structure of the elimination diet is simple. First, you remove all potential trigger foods from your diet. Then, you slowly reintroduce them and monitor how your body responds. This will help you to identify which foods are responsible for your negative symptoms.
Potential trigger foods:
- Citrus Fruits
Nightshade Vegetables (Peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes)
While this may seem like a long list, there are still many foods that you can eat while eliminating trigger foods. It’s recommended that you eat only the following foods for two to three weeks before introducing potential triggers back into your diet.
- Fruit (except for citrus)
- Vegetables (except for nightshades)
- Game and Cold-Water Fish
- Coconut Milk
- Unsweetened Rice Milk
- Olive Oil
- Flaxseed Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Herbal Tea
- Black Pepper
- Fresh Herbs
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Spices (excluding cayenne and paprika)
After two to three weeks of eating only approved foods, slowly introduce potential trigger foods back into your diet.
How to introduce potential trigger foods back into your diet:
- Choose a single trigger food to reintroduce.
- Eat it freely in conjunction with approved foods for a day.
- Return to eating approved foods for two days.
- Monitor how you’re feeling and make detailed notes of all negative symptoms, no matter how small.
- Repeat with all potential trigger foods.
Negative symptoms may include:
- Brain fog
- Rashes or Breakouts
- Respiratory Issues
- Joint Pain
- Headaches or Migraines
- Gastrointestinal Pain
- Changes in Bowel Movements
How to Start an Elimination Diet
Traditionally, getting started is one of the hardest parts of an elimination diet. Transitioning from eating a variety of foods to simple meals comprised mostly of lean protein, simple greens, and rice isn’t easy.
In fact, many people report feeling worse the first few days of their elimination diet. Dramatic dietary changes can result in fatigue, cravings, and headaches, so whenever possible, it’s best to ease into the elimination diet.
To make the transition from your normal diet to an elimination diet, we recommend starting with a 4-day OWL Reset Cleanse.
This program, based on the principles of Ayurveda and Chronobiology, consists of three bone broth elixirs and three nutrient dense hemp mylkshakes packed with ingredients that restore and repair the gut wall, increase digestive fire, reduce inflammation, and draw toxins and heavy metals from the body.
While other cleanse programs deplete the body of essential nutrients, the OWL Reset nourishes the body, resets the gastrointestinal system, and fosters the optimal conditions for an elimination diet. After your 4-day cleanse, you can then transition into two to three weeks of eating only elimination diet approved foods, followed by the gradual introduction of trigger foods.
Not only will the OWL Reset prep the body for the elimination diet, it is also an effective way to transition habits. Use the four days of the OWL Reset to mentally prepare for your elimination diet. Create a plan for how you’ll cook at home and research restaurants that are elimination diet friendly. One of the biggest reasons people fail to finish their elimination diet is they become bored with eating the same meals every day. When it comes to a successful elimination diet, variety and balance are key!
The food we eat affects our entire being and it’s important to recognize which food groups may be causing harm to our bodies. Whether you’re currently struggling with food sensitivities or not, an elimination diet is guaranteed to reveal how your body responds to different types of food. This knowledge will help you determine the food your body needs most, and which foods to cut back on.
Before you begin your elimination diet, set yourself up for success by completing the OWL Reset. This will set the tone for the weeks ahead and allow you to begin the process of an elimination diet feeling nourished and healthy!
We look forward to hearing about your personal experiences with the OWL Reset and the elimination diet. Don’t hesitate to get in touch and share your story with us!
The OWL Family