An elimination diet (allergy or inflammation elimination diet) is a program where you remove a targeted group of foods from your diet for a specific amount of time. The most common foods that are typically removed from your diet are…foods that cause allergens, intolerance or inflammation in the body and include:
- Sugar – processed/artificial and/or naturally occurring
- Refined and Processed foods including pre-packed foods full of preservatives and additives
- Dairy products or milk (nerd fact from Webmd-Believe it or not, most adults around the world can’t digest milk — 40% of humans stop producing enough lactase to digest milk between the ages of 2 and 5. In the United States, it’s estimated that about 30 million people are lactose intolerant.)
- High starch carbs anything from potatoes to pasta
- Nuts – from peanuts to Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans
- Wheat and other grains with gluten, including barley, rye, and oats
- Fish or shellfish
- Saturated and trans fats
Whew. Now that is an exhausting list! If this list looks like a food diary of what you eat on a daily basis, join the club. Welcome to the typical American diet. And even if you do not eat the ‘traditional’ American diet and you are vegetarian or vegan you would be hard pressed to NOT find something you eat on this list.
So Why Should I Avoid These Foods? I Mean is it Really That Serious?
If you are serious about clearing your skin and more importantly improving your overall body health then ‘yes’ it is that serious. Your body has built in defenses against foreign invaders that may cause damage to healthy cells or bacteria and viruses that may signal and infection. This protective cycle is very effective and is the primary reason why the body is able to heal itself.
But what happens when the body can’t tell the difference between substances that are good for the body or bad? The body’s response is to attack everything, all the time…just in case. The excess amounts of chemicals in your body can lead to chronic inflammation – meaning long-term inflammation, which can last for several months or even years! For a brief overview of chronic inflammation and its harmful affect on your body take a minute to read an article from MD Anderson’s Center for Integrative Medicine.
What (or Is) Are the Benefits Of Putting Myself Through This Torture, Besides Having Great Skin and Being ‘Healthy’?
If having great skin and being healthy aren’t reason enough to dedicate yourself to doing an elimination diet then here are a few other benefits.
You’ll likely drop a few pounds…
Weight loss may not be your goal but is a side benefit of doing an elimination diet. Reducing processed foods, cooking from scratch, removing carbs, dairy and high calorie foods will have a positive effect on your body weight.
You’ll become a ‘picky’ eater (In a good way)…
If done correctly an elimination diet can fundamentally change the way you view food. You will no longer be oblivious to what certain foods do to your body and your overall well-being. It will make you think more about what you choose to eat.
What You Need to Know BEFORE You Decide to Start an Elimination Diet.
1) Make peace with the fact that your normal way of eating is going away…far away.
You have to come to terms mentally and spiritually with what you about to do. Recognizing this will push you through the first week (which is usually the most difficult). Your body will start to cry out like a child who just dropped it’s favorite ice cream cone on the floor and it’s not getting another one. Your body will not be happy and neither will you. You will most likely be tired, you may get headaches and your patience may be non-existent. Know that it is normal and remember WHY you are doing this.
2) You have to be all in. This is not for the weak.
To see results you have to be hardcore…don’t schedule this during vacation or weddings or graduations. Cheating will only bring you set backs and you have to do the elimination portion longer. Or even worst you may have to start all over from day one.
3) You have to remove ALL the items at the SAME TIME.
For years I was dairy free and then I tried removing gluten then maybe I would try removing refined sugar. You cannot hone in on what is really triggering your acne until you clear your plate of everything at the same time.
A Few Answers to Questions Popping Up In Your Mind…
NO you will not really be eating out…it can be done with a large effort on your part but the reality is no eating out. Cancel lunches with co-workers and plan dates that do not involve food unless you want to lose friends or significant others over being a Debbie Downer around food. You may tell your friends with your mouth that you are fine but your facial expressions will give away the internal pain.
NO you cannot eat pre-prepared foods to make it easier. That defeats the point. Pre-prep foods maybe (pre-cut onions and stuff like that) but no pre-prepared foods.
So YES you will be cooking…and cooking…and cooking. And I know you are too busy to cook all the time (so am I) so during my elimination diet I figured out some tips to help make things easier. I share them with you here.
And YES you may have to eliminate some foods for a very long time…almost forever. The 3-4 week time-frame is only the beginning. Most will tell you eliminate for 3-4 weeks but really 4 weeks is the minimum. And depending on your body’s response or current starting condition you may need to do the elimination diet longer. And frankly if you find a food that your body hates why continue to eat it or eat it often…even if it tastes good?
Remember that this is the beginning of your gradual progression towards clear skin.