Do you have a hunch that something in your diet is preventing you from feeling your best? It may be a sign that you have a food sensitivity, and a qualified health professional can help you know for sure. Not all food sensitivities are easy to test for, and that’s why clinicians may use an elimination diet as part of the diagnosis process. Lily Nichols, RDN, CDE, CLT, of PilatesNutritionist.com attests, “Elimination diets remain the gold standard in confirming food sensitivities.” Strange as it may sound, it’s important not to dwell on the “elimination” part of the process. Elimination diets should be about finding the foods that work best for your body.
The process starts by keeping a food and symptom tracker. Two to four weeks should be long enough to capture both immediate and delayed reactions. Record everything that passes your lips and any symptoms that develop. This is your baseline data. It should be an accurate reflection of your current diet, so eat the way you normally would. Then it’s time to evaluate your food and symptom tracker, looking for patterns in the foods you eat and the types of symptoms that arise. What foods do you eat the most often? What foods are you eating before symptoms show up? Typical allergens include eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat. Common food intolerances can include sulfites, MSG, nitrates, etc. Keep in mind that symptoms can show up within a few hours of eating (e.g., stomach cramps, diarrhea, hives), but some may be chronic (e.g., fatigue). Using this data, make a list of your potential symptom-triggering foods, aka “trigger” foods, which will be used in the next steps.