The Elimination Diet – Uncover Your Food Reactions!

by | Jul 29, 2015 | Health News, Nutrient Imbalances



The Elimination Diet – Uncover Your Food Reactions!

The Elimination Diet is a way of seeing the true effect the food you eat has on your body! Not only does the Elimination diet allow you to see what foods effect you, but it shows you HOW they make you feel.

Why the Elimination Diet?

Did you know some foods can trigger different reactions in your body? These can include food intolerances, allergies or a sensitivity towards foods that have higher amounts of things like – histamines (fermented foods, avocado, bone broths, aged cheeses and meats, dried fruit), salicylates (almonds, berrries, coffee, stone fruit, most herbs and spices) or oxalates (spinach, field greens, nuts, tea, buckwheat).

That’s right, foods, even the seemingly ‘healthy’ ones, could be the culprit of your ill health!

Some symptoms of these reactions include:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperactivity & bedwetting
  • Allergies (itching, hay fever, runny nose)
  • Stomach pain/ Diarrohea
  • Headaches
  • Eczema
  • Weight gain
  • Brain fog
  • Joint pain
  • Plus, more!

Experiencing these symptoms can be distressing. We often see people trying to chop and change their diet to find the culprit, only to become more and more confused. This is where the Elimination diet steps in!

How Does the Elimination Diet Work?

The Elimination Diet helps you determine if you are sensitive to anything in your diet. This is done by eliminating the foods most common to producing the signs and symptoms you’re experiencing – which is different for everyone! The biggies can gluten and grains, dairy and specifically for mood stuff such as anxiety caffeine related foods like coffee and black tea can be significant. The other more specific eliminations can be tailored by what you symptoms are.

These foods are eliminated for usually 3 weeks but sometimes up to 3 months. This elimination phase is important because foods can produce reactions in your body that can last up to 21 days! This means you could eat a certain food and still feel its effects 3 weeks later.

The goal of the elimination phase is to get you feeling your absolute best! Once we get to this stage, the ‘challenge’ can begin…

The ‘Challenge’

The Challenge phase is the most exciting part of the diet – Get ready to REALLY understand your body!

Challenging foods includes strategically reintroducing foods, one at a time, and only one, every 2 to 3 days. You need to carefully note any symptoms you experience on each reintroduction. Any new or returning symptoms experienced are likely to be due to that food. When a ‘problem’ food is found, we can then test different forms of that food and really pin-point where the reaction is coming from. This phase can take from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the amount of foods initially eliminated.

Important – Just because we find a ‘problem’ food, it doesn’t mean that food should be eliminated from your diet forever! By working on other areas of your health, specifically your gut health, this can be a major reason for you reacting to certain foods, we often find that you can begin to enjoy some of your favourites again – just may be in moderation! Each case is very different but working holistically you can usually see great results.

What to Expect

In the first few days, some people may feel tired, experience cravings or headaches. This can be a withdrawal reaction from caffeine or the foods you’re intolerant to as your body readjusts. This is a perfectly normal response and usually only lasts 2-5 days.

After this initially reaction, eliminating ‘problem’ foods often results in you feeling, well, fantastic! After only a week or two, people often report their symptoms improving. They have more energy and their headaches, mood, skin and bloating get much better. Our clients often say something like “I didn’t know I could feel this great!”

Are Nutrient Deficiencies a Risk on The Elimination Diet?

Nutrient deficiencies are unlikely if The Elimination Diets is short term. We recommend eating foods from all the allowable food groups to get a wide variety of nutrients! If the Elimination Diet needs to be extended, we need to work out what you may be missing by analyzing exactly what you are eating, running specific nutrient lab tests and then supporting you through targeted supplementation.

It’s important to remember that elimination diets are not designed for long term use and you should always undertake this process with a qualified and experienced practitioner.

Tips on How to Make Elimination Easy!

  • Involve the whole family (to an extent!): The elimination diet involves lots of beautiful wholefoods. This means you can cook healthy meals and just add in some ‘extras’ for the family. This will make meal planning much easier.
  • Pick your timing: Try to start the diet at a time where you are free from social engagements and when stress levels are low. This will make the adjustment easier.
  • Supervise children: For children on the elimination diet, close supervision is needed to ensure they do not sneak in ‘unhelpful’ foods. Sometimes it’s best to wait for school holidays before starting.
  • Diet break: If there’s an important dinner or a party that can’t be postpone, you can stop your diet for a day if needed. When you return to your diet, you may need to stick to your diet for another 5 days until your symptoms clear once again.
  • Reduce caffeine gradually: Sometimes it’s worth gradually reducing your caffeine intake over the first week of the diet to reduce withdrawals symptoms.
  • Plan ahead: Cook larger meals so you can have leftovers ready to go! Planning your week in advance can also be very helpful. Need help planning your meals in advance? Download our Meal Planner bundle for free! This includes even more tips to help you stick to a new diet.

What About Food Intolerance Blood Tests?

Although it may seem easier to get a blood test, this isn’t always the best way to get to the bottom of your food symptoms.

Food Intolerance Testing can be expensive (ranging from $200 – $400+) and may produce false positive results. These tests only include certain foods and don’t test for all the different kinds of food reactions. We do sometimes also use specific testing and it can be quick and simple, but they lack something important… The experience of good health!

That’s what we love about the Elimination Diet, it gives you the opportunity to experience your best health and understand how certain foods make you FEEL. The Elimination diet can be a challenging and tedious process but its important to remember the long-term benefits!

What’s Next?

Starting an Elimination Diet is a very personal decision that is not always warranted in some cases. Working with a qualified and experienced practitioner can set you up for success by helping you choose the right path and support you every step of the way. Do you think you may have food reactions? Contact our friendly reception on (08) 8332 2271 or click here to book an appointment with one of our practitioners.


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Eat some more collagen and organ meat

Do I consume as much collagen and even organ meat as I should?

No I don’t but I have been adding a tablespoon or 2 of collagen (hydrolysate version is best) into my daily diet and I do like a bit of fried liver with thyme and onions or pate but just not as regularly as I really should.

Organ meats just have such high nutrient value they are invaluable. They are natures vitamin, mineral and nutrient punch. Things like vitamins B12, A, D & K, folate, choline, iron and Coenzyme Q-10.

Different versions of Carnivore Diets

Ok, back to CARNIVORE.

It has been around for quite a while but the last couple years it has really been gaining a ground swell of popularity.


It seems people are literally fixing or reversing long term chronic illnesses and on the way also gaining such vibrant health and people like Amber O’Hearn, Jordan and Mikhalia Peterson, Dr Shawn Baker breaking world records to boot and the folk at Paleomedicina.

Please note they actually all have their own way of carnivore dieting that work for them.

So never ever one diet for all!

Are there risks?

I know what you will be saying – we need plants in that our diet? What about fibre? What about feeding our gut bacteria? What about all the nutrients we need that we get from plants? What about red meat and bowel cancer?

These are important questions and we don’t have all the answers yet but there are signs of N=1 examples and multiple N = 1s showing tremendous benefits. Another way of saying this is, we don't have a scientific published clinical trial but, anecdotally 1000s of people as finding life changing health outcomes. Also people like Belinda and Dr Gary Fetke have highlighted information about where our current dietary paradigms and dogmas appear to have originated from here and here and also here.

Interestingly there are also numerous case reports of people eating nothing but meat for months to decades who suffer no apparent nutrient deficiencies.

When you consider the reverse and ask – is there any 1 singular plant food that when not supplemented in any way could sustain life for weeks to decades and show no clinical signs of deficiency?

The answer is an absolute - "NO there are is not a plant food that could do the same" as deficiencies are guaranteed, so interesting things to ponder.

Diet does change our gut microbiome and fermentable fibre is conventional thought of as being a key ingredient for healthy bacteria. Our gut bacteria usually need indigestible, fermentable plant fibre to eat and live.  Some animal based foods, such as collagen, are also thought to feed our gut bacteria, so its an evolving space for now.

As Maria points out a diet such as carnivore (animal only, mostly meat based) can change our gut microbiome, in part by reducing bacteria digestible fibre therefore potentially reducing bacterial numbers and this in some cases may well be the reason for the benefits.

The devil may be in the details - poor gut health (leaky gut) and bacterial composition (dysbiosis or pathogens) may mean great results (especially for those with allergies and autoimmune conditions) with low fermentable fibre carnivore diet. but this may not be optimal for all of us.

Another concept is the increased diversity of our gut microbiome. Increased diversity is conventional thought of as beneficial and gives us a more robust health but again details may matter, as above, and there are a few reports of diversity actually going up on a carnivore diet, so go figure!

This also means that a carnivore diet may not be optimal for all of us and might only mean that if you can't tolerate fibre or plant based foods you may be better off on a animal based  approach used as a therapeutic tool.

Something else that not many people talk about is a real and important risk of social isolation, this can include any highly restrictive eating pattern including plant based diets such veganism. As humans we need social interaction and contact for optimal health

So for some using a carnivore like diet in the short term may provide a perfect, yet extreme, reset. It can be used as a tool with a reintroduction of some plants foods when tolerated and this gives us convenience, flexibility, social interaction, antioxidants and an increased gut microbiome again with all the possible health benefits too. Mikhalia Peterson, who we mentioned above, actually does not enjoy her all meat restriction but continues to eat this way from necessity and continues to trial eating some plant foods provided she does not react.

The need to tweak and change

Here is what I will tell you – if you are chronically ill don’t keep pushing the ‘healthy’ diet whatever that is – vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, high fermented foods etc you need to rethink and change and try a different approach or sometimes just a small tweak may be needed.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome” and that is the whole point nothing is perfect and things need to change sometimes, so that is where we also come in to help and support you in finding something that works for you specifically.

Here is the punch line though – we (Maria, yes vego Maria, myself, one of he other clinic practitioners and a couple loony friends are going to do a month of eating only meat, water and salt - so yes all meat , just to see for ourselves what it feels like. Longer may be better but we thought we will see what a short trial does in our lives.

Stayed tuned for an up date as we are also taking pre and post diet pathology blood testing to also get an objective measure of what happens to our biochemistry.

All the best

Tim - Nutritional Medicine Specialist

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