Of course the length of the diet can vary. Children can usually see benefits in around a week, while most adults need to follow a diet programme for 3-4 weeks for the same level of benefits.
Whatever you do don’t make too complicated. Please don’t worry about calorie intake or nutrient ratios. These aren’t very important during an Elimination Diet. What matters is the elimination process itself. One other important factor to keep a focus on though is to drink enough amounts of water. At least 2 to 4 litres daily is necessary.
Of course, the aim is not to eliminate all the above foods forever. The point is to eliminate them and then slowly reintroduce them, one at a time, so you can monitor yourself for symptoms.
We suggest that at the end of the 3 weeks of elimination, you reintroduce a single food group for one day only. And then monitor your symptoms for two days. For example, you might reintroduce dairy on a Monday. Maybe you eat some eat milk with a cereal and eat cheese later in the day. The need then is to monitor for any abnormal reactions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
If you have no observable symptoms, you may try reintroducing another food on Thursday. And so on, reintroducing one new food every few days, until you’ve determined what foods may cause you an issue (if any).
The entire process will take approximately 5-6 weeks and, at the end of the experiment, you’ll know a lot about how your body responds to different foods.
What to look for
As we all know diet affects everything. The key to the approach is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. For example, you’ll should monitor your bowel habits, digestion, sleep, mood, and energy levels.
As well as a food diary we recommend keeping notes during the elimination phase and tracking any physical, mental, or emotional signs and symptoms. If you feel better during the elimination period (i.e.more energy, better sleep), it may show that a food you have been eating commonly is causing you a problem. Equally watch out for negative and positive symptoms during the reintroduction phase. Negative reactions can include:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Joint pain
- Skin Inflammation
- Bowel changes
- Gut pain and/or bloating
- Brain fogginess
- Sinus or other respiratory changes
Because you’ll be re-introducing eliminated foods one at a time, you can observe food-related changes. And anything different from how you felt during the previous three weeks could be a symptom, negative or positive.
Interestingly, some people report increased energy on reintroducing a food. But a stress response to the particular food could be causing this. And that’s a negative thing. So it’s really important to keep a log of all positive and negative reactions.