How to Do an Elimination Diet, and Why Everyone Needs to Do One
- People are becoming more and more aware of food intolerances recently, and people who identify their food sensitivities have amazing results simply by avoiding those foods.
- One way to identify food intolerances is by doing an elimination diet.
- The process involves avoiding certain foods completely for a few weeks, then reintroducing them into the diet one at a time to identify which foods produce a reaction in your body.
- Even if you don’t think you have any strange symptoms, it’s a good idea to do an elimination diet at least once
You may have mystery symptoms that seem to come and go. Or you have symptoms that seem to be there all the time. You may have gone to the doctor, who told you that you need to get more sleep, or that everyone starts to feel this way by a certain age. Or, you have no noticeable symptoms whatsoever, but you know you don’t have as much energy and brain power as you could.
The answer to those nagging issues might be on your plate. People are becoming more and more aware of food intolerances, and people who identify their food sensitivities have amazing results simply by avoiding those foods. One way to identify food intolerances is by doing an elimination diet.
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet is a way to test yourself for food sensitivities. The process involves avoiding certain foods completely for a few weeks, then reintroducing them into the diet one at a time to identify which foods produce a reaction in your body.
Symptoms of food sensitivities
You might think of food allergies as the more sudden, life-threatening type, like swelling up from eating peanuts or shellfish. Food allergies and intolerances can cause a noticeable reaction like the severe swelling that you know as an allergic reaction, or you might not notice anything at all. Most often, you think your food intolerance symptoms are something else entirely, because they present in so many different ways. You could experience:
- Dry skin
- Digestive upset
- Stomach aches
- Joint aches and pains
How your body reacts to different foods is highly individual.
Why everyone should do an elimination diet at least once
Even if you don’t think you have any strange symptoms or food sensitivities, it’s a good idea to do an elimination diet at least once. Here’s why.
You will learn what feeling like yourself really means
Chances are, you don’t know how good you can feel, every single day. During an elimination diet, people report an initial detox period that lasts a few days, followed by feeling more energy and clarity than ever. If you come out of the initial elimination diet slump feeling like a superhero, that’s a big indication that certain foods affect you.
You will identify foods that cause inflammation in your body
Between stress, pollutants, chemicals in our food and water, and other environmental stressors, modern society deals with a lot of inflammation. Your inflammatory response is an important part of your immune system, and you need it to rally when necessary. You also need it to turn off when its work is done.
When it stays engaged long-term, you have chronic inflammation. Over time it can chip away at healthy cells and tissues until things have gone too far, and you end up with real damage and disease.
Symptoms of chronic inflammation are subtle, to the point that it usually stays imperceptible to you…and your doctor. If a food causes your chronic inflammation, an elimination diet can bring that to light. When you feel low-level symptoms all the time, like feeling tired, foggy, or you have small aches or skin issues, you get used to it, and you think it’s normal for you. When you feel amazing for a few weeks, you’ll notice symptoms when they come around following a food you’ve been avoiding.
When you bring foods back, take notice of everything happening in your body, and even your mind, no matter how small.
How to do an elimination diet
The trickiest part about an elimination diet is deciding which foods are most likely to cause a reaction. Luckily, that part is done for you. The Bulletproof Diet Roadmap, takes into account how likely a food is to cause inflammation and reactions in your body. If you eat from the Roadmap’s green zone, you’re eating foods that are good for you and highly unlikely to cause a reaction.
Here’s how to do an elimination diet, using the Bulletproof Diet Roadmap as a cheat sheet:
- Eat exclusively from the green zone for three weeks. If you had noticeable reactions, like skin rashes or a nagging cough, that are clearing up after a while, keep going until your symptoms are noticeably improved.
- Make a list of foods you want to test yourself for reactions.
- Choose one test food to reintroduce into your diet. Eat it with abandon for 3 days.
- Take detailed notes on how you feel, and make a point to notice everything you’re feeling. No matter how small it seems, write everything down.
- After Day 3, go back to only green zone foods for 3-4 days, until you’re feeling back to normal again. Then repeat steps 3-5 until you’re through your entire list of test foods.
To make it easy for you, the Bulletproof 30-day Upgrade has a built-in elimination diet with a journal that will help you zero in on what foods to enjoy and which ones to avoid.
Or, you can take the shortcut
There are several tests you can do to see if you have food sensitivities. Two of the more reliable ones include:
- Viome. Viome combines information from a microbiome test with a metabolic test to see how your body and the flora in your digestive system interact with specific foods. You get a personalized plan to stay balanced and run at max power, without foods slowing you down.
- EverlyWell. EverlyWell involves pricking your finger and dotting a card with a few drops of blood to test IgG reactivity (a measure of an immune response) for 96 different foods. (Enter “bulletproof” at checkout for 15% off of your order.)
Maybe you have mystery symptoms, or maybe you don’t notice anything specific but you know you’re not performing as well as you could. After a short experiment, you could have a fairly good idea of what you should eat and what you should avoid. It’s not as difficult as it seems. Pick a month and go for it. You’ll be glad you did!