How to Use a Food Elimination Diet to Discover Your Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivity testing and elimination diets are a dynamic duo. A food sensitivity test can tell you how strongly your immune system reacts to different foods – based on measurements of IgG antibodies in your blood. An elimination diet, in turn, can help you use the food sensitivity test results to efficiently cut out the exact foods that give you unpleasant, unruly food sensitivity symptoms.

So how does an elimination diet work?

Here, you’ll find the answer to that exact question as we break down the 3 main types of food elimination diets.

Basic Elimination Diet

Step 1: Stop eating any foods – for at least 4 weeks – that you have either a High or Moderate reactivity to (as determined by a food sensitivity test).  

For example, if your food sensitivity test reveals that you’re highly reactive to peaches, then you’d stop eating any peaches for a minimum of 4 weeks. And if you’re moderately reactive to coffee, then you’d likewise stop drinking – or eating – anything that has coffee in it for 4 weeks.

Step 2: Choose one (and only one) of the highly or moderately reactive foods to eat on Day 1 at the end of the 4 week period. Then, don’t eat that food – at all – for the next 2-4 days while observing closely for any food sensitivity symptoms (and recording any symptoms in a food diary, if you’d like).

If you don’t experience any symptoms – then great! You can completely add that food back to your diet and eat it as you normally do.   

But what if you do experience food sensitivity symptoms? In that case, stop eating that food for a much longer period of time – about 6-9 months – before you try adding it back to your diet.

Step 3: Then, move onto another food that you eliminated from your diet in Step 1. Once again, you eat that food for one day (as much as you’d like), and watch closely for symptoms throughout the next several days.

Whole 30 Elimination Diet

Although the Whole 30 and Basic Elimination Diet are alike in many ways, there’s one key difference: in the Basic Elimination you first remove the foods that are highly and moderately reactive, while in the Whole 30 you start by removing the foods that are highly, moderately, and mildly reactive. (Note: this Whole 30 Elimination Diet is based on information on reactivity levels that you get from a food sensitivity test – and is not to be confused with the Whole 30 Diet in which foods are eliminated for a month without IgG testing results.)

The Whole 30 Elimination Diet works like this.

Step 1: Stop eating any foods – for at least 4 weeks – that you have either a High, Moderate, or Mild reactivity to.

Step 2: Choose one (and only one) of the highly, moderately, or mildly reactive foods to eat on Day 1 at the end of the 4 week period. Then, don’t eat that food – at all – for the next 2-4 days while observing closely for any food sensitivity symptoms (and recording any symptoms in a food diary, if you’d like).

If you don’t experience any symptoms from that food, you can completely add it back to your diet. On the other hand, if you do experience symptoms, stop eating that food for a much longer period of time – about 6-9 months – before you try adding it back to your diet.

Step 3: Then, move onto another food that you eliminated from your diet in Step 1. Once again, you eat that food for one day (as much as you’d like), and watch closely for symptoms throughout the next several days.

Quick Elimination Diet

The Quick Elimination Diet doesn’t take as long to complete as the above two elimination diets. However, this quicker approach may sacrifice accuracy for speed: compared to the Basic and Whole 30 Elimination Diets, the Quick Elimination Diet is less effective at pinpointing the exact foods you might be sensitive to.

But if you’re crunched for time, the Quick Elimination Diet works like this.

Step 1: Remove one reactive food from your diet for 4 days – most people start with their High category foods then work down to Moderate and then end with Mild to get through all the foods they want to test.

Step 2: Eat that food on the 5th day, then don’t eat it for the next 2-3 days as you watch for symptoms. If you don’t experience any symptoms, then add that food back to your diet. If you do detect symptoms, then eliminate that food from your diet for 6-9 months before you try adding it back again.

Step 3: Repeat Steps 1-2 for each food that’s highly reactive. Then take the same approach to foods that are moderately reactive and mildly reactive (until you have gone through all the foods you want to test).

Which Elimination Diet is Best for You?

It really depends on which elimination diet best fits with your health goals and lifestyle. For example, if you’re determined to uncover – with a relatively high degree of accuracy – the exact foods that are causing you symptoms, then the Basic Elimination Diet or Whole 30 Elimination Diet might be for you. On the other hand, if a quicker process suits your lifestyle, then consider trying a Quick Elimination Diet. And if you haven’t yet taken a food sensitivity test, you can now take one from the convenience and comfort of home – no lab visit needed.

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