Of course the duration of the diet may vary. Children often see benefits in around a week, while the majority of adults need to follow a diet programme for 3-4 weeks for the same level of benefits.
Whatever you do, don’t make it too complicated. Please don’t worry about calorie intake or nutrient ratios. These are minor issues during your Elimination Diet. What matters is the elimination process itself. One other important factor to keep a focus on though is to drink enough volume of water. At least 2 to 4 litres daily is necessary.
Of course, the point is not to eliminate all the above foods forever. The aim is to eliminate them and then gradually reintroduce a food individually to enable you to monitor for any returning symptoms.
We suggest that when 3 weeks elimination has elapsed, you try reintroducing one single food group just for one day. Then spend two days monitoring your symptoms. You might try reintroducing dairy on a Monday for example. Maybe you eat some milk with cereal and eat cheese later in the day. Then spend Tuesday and Wednesday looking out for abnormal reactions to the reintroduction.
In the event of no symptoms returning, choose another food group on the Thursday and repeat the process, then do the same for all the other food groups and the culprit (if there is one) will be discovered.
This entire process should take up approximately 5 to 6 weeks if done correctly. When the experiment is complete, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge on your body’s responses to a range of foods.
What to look for
As we all know, diet affects everything. Central to this approach is monitoring how you are feeling.You should monitor your bowel habits, digestion, sleep, mood, and energy levels, for example.
As well as a food diary we thoroughly recommend keeping notes during the elimination phase especially and tracking and noting any and all physical, emotional or mental signs or symptoms. If your general wellbeing improves over the course of the elimination period, i.e. better sleep and more energy, better sleep, it is a strong indication that a food group you have been eating commonly is causing a problem. Equally watch out for negative and positive symptoms during the reintroduction phase. Negative reactions may include:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Joint pain
- Skin Inflammation
- Bowel changes
- Gut pain and/or bloating
- Brain fogginess
- Sinus or respiratory changes
Because you’ll be re-introducing foods that were eliminated one at a time, try observing food-related changes. Also anything different from how you felt during the previous three weeks could be a symptom, negative or positive.
Interestingly, some people report increased energy on reintroducing a food. But a stress response to the particular food could be causing this. And that’s a negative thing. So it’s really important to keep a log of all positive and negative reactions.