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Elimination Diets 101

What are they?

Do I need one?

Where do I start?

Elimination diets are exactly what they suggest, excluding certain foods for a period of time. They are used to identify many food sensitivities and intolerances that can contribute to a wide range of health conditions, bloating, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, inflammation, joint pain, rashes, and other symptoms. A food sensitivity is when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food. The gut may react poorly and cause indigestion, or the food may irritate gut tissues leading to other symptoms. For example, amines in red wine can expand blood vessels and contribute to migraines in some people.

There are 3 stages to an elimination diet: prep, removal, and reintroduction.

Prep phase lasts a week or so, and you’ll use that time to journal trigger foods, or you may have had testing and are aware of your foods already. You’ll then create a menu or plan for the first week (or some people prefer to layout a full month). This is a good time to reorganize your pantry, fridge and freezer. I also work with people on gaining social support for this journey during this phase.

The removal phase can last anywhere between 1 month and in some cases up to a year. When I work with people with multiple Autoimmune conditions it often takes awhile to curb symptoms before we re-introduce trigger foods. I need to point out that often people decide not to EVER reintroduce foods that are inflammatory for their condition. These may include but not be limited to dairy, gluten, sugar, processed foods/additives, caffeine and alcohol.

Without an elimination diet people are left to guess what they are reacting to. Was it the tomatoes from lunch? The glass of wine after dinner? Or God forbid the CHOCOLATE??? Symptoms can show up outside the gut, and often people can eat small amounts of foods and not have any symptoms. It’s often the build up of ongoing inflammation that later causes a reaction. All these things can make it a very confusing process.

If you aren’t feeling well, it’s often because of something you are eating pretty regularly. Omelets for breakfast, as an example. I’m a good personal example of this! Most healthy diets out there almost all contain eggs. It wasn’t until I did AIP (Autoimmune protocol) that I was able to identify my egg and some nut/seed issues. I then confirmed it with an IGG test. NO UNIVERSAL DIET WORKS FOR EVERYONE. That’s essentially why I’m here to help. An elimination diet can help you understand YOUR body. The diet requires sustained effort and time. If you have diagnosed IGE allergies you should not EVER eat those foods again. I’m talking here about foods that are more IGG sensitive-which produce a lesser and often delayed immune reaction. If you have Celiac you should also never reintroduce gluten. If you are pregnant, nursing, under the age of 18, have a diagnosed eating disorder or are looking to lose weight FAST then an elimination diet is not for you. Elimination diets are not for weight loss, although many people do often lose some weight from inflammation on them.

In the beginning of an elimination diet, I often work with clients on slow, mindful eating, eating until 80 % full, and hydration. I also often suggest a basic probiotic. We work on sleep and stress management and meditation. Next, we focus on only whole foods. After that we may remove 3-5 foods. If he/she is aware of certain sensitivities I will start there, if they are not, I will pull the top 3-5 allergens in my clinical experience. I often start with gluten, dairy and processed sugars. If a client comes to me with an autoimmune condition, I’ll often remove quite a few food groups temporarily. These may include, eggs, soy, nuts and seeds, grains, dairy, corn, alcohol, caffeine, and nightshades. If someone comes in with a diagnosed GI disorder, we may do what’s called a low fodmap diet and remove those foods that are hard to digest initially then reintroduce (this is often used in cases of IBS-not otherwise specified or SIBO). If a client has an autoimmune condition that is also a gut condition, I often layer a low fodmap diet with an Autoimmune diet.


  • Makeover your fav foods, if possible without the inflammatory ingredients you’ve removed.

  • PLAN AHEAD-organize your kitchen, plan a menu and purchase groceries. Choose proteins, fruit, veggies and what I call “smart carbs” like starchy veggies and maybe lentils, as well as healthy fats.

  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and examine labels closely. If you are shopping in mostly meat and produce you shouldn’t have to read too many labels!

  • Ideally, I tell people not to go out to eat during the elimination phase, but often that can be difficult. I may then work with them on safe restaurant choices.

The final stage is reintroduction… We will reintroduce ONE food back in at a time very systematically. You’ll pay attention to the common complaints you had before you started the elimination phase. You won’t start reintroduction until you feel 80% better or above. I often use a 15-point symptom checklist to evaluate this. We always reintroduce minimally processed food first and long term I don’t ever suggest people reintroduce processed food AT ALL because it’s not healthy for any of us.

One of the things that can help in this process is a good probiotic, more information below.

If you have questions don’t hesitate to contact me! I do free consults-schedule one HERE

Keep Moving Forward 😊 Sarah

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