As many as 1 in 5 Americans may have food allergies. These aren’t easy to recognize since, while the symptoms may be obvious, a varied diet and the speed of digestion may make the culprits difficult to identify.
Sometimes, it’s hard to know what foods cause reactions. A common way to discover what foods work and don’t work with your body is through a food elimination diet. Eliminating and reintroducing some common suspects helps you pinpoint foods you should avoid and those that are fine for consumption.
A healthy diet, one that works for your body, is a vital part of your overall well-being, a key point of focus at Winnie King, MD Aesthetics and Wellness. Identifying and eliminating foods for which you have an allergy or intolerance provides a foundation for good health. Here’s what you need to know to plan your own elimination diet.
The goals of an elimination diet
You may already suspect there’s something in your diet that isn’t tolerated by your body. By eliminating foods from your diet and later reintroducing them while tracking your body’s response, you’ll have a more precise idea of your problem foods.
Through the phases
An elimination diet has two phases. The elimination phase lasts about two or three weeks, where you stop eating a group of suspected problem foods and let your body adjust. You may notice symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and gas reduce in frequency or intensity, indicating that one of the foods in this group may be the culprit.
The reintroduction phase adds foods back in one at a time over several days as you watch for signs of allergy or intolerance. If the first reintroduced item causes no symptoms, you move on to the next. You continue this pattern until you start to experience symptoms. The most recent addition is a problem food and you can eliminate it permanently or discuss alternatives with Dr. King.
Symptoms to watch
During the reintroduction phase, you may experience the same symptoms you had prior to the elimination diet or you could see new signs of sensitivity. Be on guard for signs and symptoms such as:
- Breathing changes
- Changes in bowel movements
- Cramps or abdominal pain
- Fatigue with no other obvious cause
- Joint pain
- Rashes or other skin changes
- Sleep disorders
If you experience immediate symptoms including throat swelling, breathing problems, or a suddenly appearing rash or hives, seek emergency medical care, as you may be having a serious allergic reaction. Discontinue the elimination diet until medically cleared to resume it.
There are different levels of elimination diets, from simple to strict. The right choice for you depends on your symptoms prior to testing.
You can discuss your elimination diet plans with Dr. King, who may have suggestions for you based on her evaluation of your symptoms and medical history. It all starts with a consultation. Call the nearest office to book an appointment now.