Now that you have decided to embark on an elimination diet for yourself or your child, there are a few things that I would like to cover. Remember why you are doing this and what you hope to gain. This isn’t a fad diet.
8 Tips for a Successful Elimination Diet
Clean Out the Kitchen and Prepare Wisely
This means to research why you are choosing this elimination diet and to take the time to understand and commit to it. If your head is not truly in the game, your chances of successes are minimal. Your health is at stake, educate yourself on why the foods you have been consuming may be the root (or aid in symptoms) of chronic issues. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator and start from scratch. Many seasonings and packaged items that you may think to be harmless are full of flavorings and other products not allowed on your elimination diet.
Meal Prep is Key
Find a few easy to prepare, easy to cook, and easy to clean up after recipes as your staples. The key is not to replace your current diet’s unhealthy foods with a diet-friendly version, but instead, try new foods or learn how to prepare things in new ways. If eating out was a go-to, preparing lunches for the week ahead of time will keep you on track. If dinners are always a last-minute thought, utilizing a slow cooker or pressure cooker may help you out. You can wash, chop, and portion foods after your grocery trip to make them easier to grab for meals throughout the week.
Keep a Food Journal
You need to write down your food consumption times and ingredients. You should also include your mood, sleep patterns, and ailments. You will be able to start seeing a pattern throughout your elimination diet that will help you to decide what foods are safe and which are trigger items.
Have a Support System
Are you entering this elimination diet alone? If a friend or family member is also on board, it will be a bit easier to stay motivated. But it’s completely doable to sail these seas solo, too. It is, however, important to have support. This means that your spouse or family should avoid eating your biggest non-diet foods in front of you. They can help you choose meals, talk with you about your experience, or simply cheer you on. Talking with others who have been through an elimination diet is also extremely helpful (and motivating).
Never Have an Empty Kitchen
When hunger strikes, food needs to be available. Keep high protein, diet-safe snacks premade and portioned and ready to grab. Toss some in your bag and pack a few for work (or school for a child). Visit the grocery store when needed to replenish fresh produce and other daily staples but stick only to what is on your list and avoid aisles filled with foods you are avoiding.
Do Not Cheat
Remember that this is not a weight-loss diet. If you cheat early on in an elimination diet, you will have to start from day 1 again. You will have to give the body time to detox from the consumed items. An elimination diet is done to learn the foods that trigger your ailments. Once you hit ‘baseline’ for a few weeks, you will be allowed to add back in items one at a time. From that point, you will know what triggers your body. Then it is up to you to either limit or permanently eliminate them from your daily life.
The Two-Week Detox Period
The first two weeks will be hard. I am not lying here. The body will go through a detox with headaches, mood swings, and exhaustion, especially if your previous diet consisted of highly-processed foods and lots of sugar. Push through and stay strong. Your body needs to be cleaned out so you can become the healthiest you possible.
The detox period does end, and you will feel better. You should even start feeling great. Your energy should increase, sleep should be easier, and your mood should improve. Some people feel so good that they become scared to reintroduce foods at the end of their elimination diets, but remember that you want to learn exactly what’s negatively affecting you. Knowledge is power, don’t be afraid to gain this knowledge.
Your Diet is Your Business:
You do not have to explain your choice to anyone, but if someone genuinely is interested in learning about your journey, you can share whatever you choose with them. That being said, you have the right to tell others to worry about what’s on their plate not what’s on yours.
For a school-aged child:
Talk to his teacher prior to beginning the diet. Let her know why you are doing this and ask her to please follow your food guidelines while he is under her watch. This goes for any childcare provider, including family members.