Knowing is half the battle, and discovering the cause of your allergies can sometimes be an epic battle indeed! Visiting your friendly local allergist is a great place to start— he or she can run a variety of tests to get you heading in the right direction to discovering the cause of your discomfort. There is also a way you can take control of the process and become directly involved in your own diagnosis: enter the elimination diet!
Elimination Diet Basics
The basic idea of the elimination diet is to remove lots of food groups from your diet all at once, then slowly reintroduce them one at a time. That way, it will be much more clear which food or foods are causing a reaction. Think of it as doing a science experiment where you’re both the scientist and the test subject.
The Elimination Diet Helps with More than Just Food Allergies
Even though we’re talking food, the elimination diet is not just for food allergies. Remember our recent blog on functional medicine and gut health? How well your gut is doing can determine a lot about how well the rest of you is doing, and the root cause of many allergy, asthma, and other symptoms can actually be in your gut. It makes sense, then, that what you eat can have a huge overall impact on your physical and mental health.
Starting your Journey
Always consult with a doctor before beginning any type of diet. Check in with your allergist of course, but also consider meeting with a dietitian to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition during this process. Generally, the better you want this to work, the more foods you should eliminate at the beginning. A very thorough elimination diet will start out by deleting gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, pork, beef, chicken, nuts, citrus, beans/lentils, coffee, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc). Before you panic, remember that that still leaves you with a ton of tasty choices: most kinds of fruits and vegetables, meats like turkey, lamb, and fish, and rice.
The Next Step: Reintroducing Food Groups
After around 2-3 weeks staying away from the selected food groups, begin to slowly introduce them back into your diet. (One at a time, remember?) Pick a food group, eat it for a day, then watch yourself closely over the next few days to see if you’re having any reactions. If not, you can safely add that food group back into your diet while you go ahead and try out another food group. If you do notice a reaction, take note of it (careful note taking is key for any scientist!) and (obviously) stop eating foods from that group.
For example, eat a few servings of pork on one day, then stop eating it again for the next day or two and keep an eye out for symptoms. If you have no noticeable reaction, add pork back into your diet for good and move on to the next food to try.
When you’re done reintroducing all the food groups, you should have a list of foods that you reacted to and what the reactions were. Now take your data to your allergist to discuss the results and come up with a comprehensive treatment plan. And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back! All that hard work was worth it!
We Understand: the Elimination Diet is a Big Change!
Yes, a thorough elimination diet can hugely helpful in pinpointing allergies and other symptoms and allows you to take some control of your treatment in the often overwhelming world of asthma and allergies. But elimination diets can also be really difficult. They are restrictive by nature and require lots of planning (overhauling your pantry, food prep, keeping notes, etc), and they only work if you are able to stick to them. So if you’re in the middle of final exams, are crushed at work, or you have a child going through the terrible twos, a restrictive diet may feel impossible right now. And that’s OK! If you are not at a point in your life where this sounds viable, don’t beat yourself up. Remember that even small changes in your health can have huge benefits.
If the full elimination diet is too big a step for you right now, there are still other super healthy changes you can make in your life. A great start is adding a quality, verified supplement like JuicePlus+ into your diet. JuicePlus+ is a scientifically supported powerhouse line of supplements that helps make up for the nutrients you can’t always get from diet alone. Nutrition plays a key role in our physical and mental health, and JuicePlus+ helps get your body what it needs.
Whether you go for the total overhaul of your eating with the elimination diet or you want to boost your nutrition without a lot of hassle with JuicePlus+, changes for the better when it comes to your health are always a good thing! And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to hear from you.