An elimination diet if you suffer from food allergy or sensitivity
Fatigue, headaches, joint pain, gastrointestinal distress, or rashes – if you experience these symptoms from time to time without any particular reason, you may want to revise your diet. The best way to reveal a food allergy or sensitivity (without going to the doctor) is an elimination diet. These 5 food-elimination strategies will help you determine what is at the root of your symptoms.
1. An elimination diet is a straightforward process: first, you decide what food or group of foods you want to test (say, wheat, corn, or soy), and then eliminate it entirely from your diet for 3 or 4 weeks. During this time you should do a little research and learn to read labels carefully. In some cases, you might have to ask about the source and treatment of your food (for example, whether dried fruits from a health food store bin were treated with sulfites).
2. While you’re eliminating, start keeping a food and symptom diary. Write down what you ate and drank, what time, and how it made you feel. Record any symptoms and cravings you’re experiencing, too. Record the time symptoms occur, and watch for patterns. For instance, if your mouth itches every time you eat an eggplant, you might be sensitive to nightshades. If you break out in hives whenever you drink chamomile tea, it can be an allergic reaction to the ragweed family. Your diary will help you identify your triggers and link them to reactions, and you can look into your record when you reintroduce the food.
3. The next step will be to choose the food you want to test and eat it frequently over the course of 2 days. If you’re testing nuts, have peanut butter on rice cakes for breakfast, walnut milk for lunch, a handful of almonds for a snack, and a cashew curry for dinner. Then keep an eye on your responses for the next couple of days. Look to any kind of negative reaction: allergies or stuffy sinuses, scratchy throat, heartburn, wheezing, headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, diarrhea and/or constipation, skin rashes, fatigue, increased depression, confusion, or anxiety. All of these symptoms might be caused or exacerbated by food allergies or sensitivities. Write all your observations down to your diary.
4. If by the end of the third day you haven’t noticed any response, most likely that you can eat this food. If you’ve noticed a small response but you’re not sure if it’s coincidental, wait a few more days then reintroduce the food – it should be clear whether or not it causes a reaction. Refer to your diary to compare notes.
5. If you find you are having a reaction, you should eliminate this product from your diet. Elimination is the best way to treat a food allergy or sensitivity. This used to be the only way, however, over the past few years, allergists have discovered a technique called sublingual desensitization, in which the specialist prescribes tiny but ever-increasing doses of the food you’re allergic to, and over time, allergies and sensitivities decrease. Consult with your doctor about whether the treatment is an option for you.