Elimination diet

Table of contents:

Food sensitivities can underly a number of different clinical conditions, from skin conditions to respiratory conditions, headaches and of course, stomach symptoms.

For more information, see my lecture on the topic
HERE(external link).

As it turns out, blood and skin tests are not very accurate for identifying food sensitivities. The gold standard is actually the elimination diet - cutting out foods to see what happens to symptoms and then rechallenging foods to see which were causing the symptoms. Unfortunately, people often have multiple food intolerances, so it is not an effective strategy to cut out one food at a time.

Common food allergens:

EggCitrus (oranges)Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
Pork, beefChocolate, colaWheat (and rye, barley)
Peanuts, nutsCornSoy, some other beans
Fish, shellfishCinnamonTomato

I generally recommend eliminating ALL the commonly offending foods for a period of at least 3 weeks, and possibly up to 6 weeks, then adding foods back one at a time and tracking symptoms, realizing it can take up to 48 hours to develop symptoms after an exposure. There are complex elimination diets using multiple different less-commonly allergenic foods, but the simplest approach is an oligoantigenic diet, which picks just 3-4 foods for the first 2-3 weeks of the diet (until the target symptoms improve.) In the published studies with this approach, commonly-used foods include rice, lamb or turkey, and a vegetable like zucchini or broccoli, with only salt for a seasoning.

Generally safe foods:

celerysquashricelima beanszucchinipeach
chick peasparsleyspinachartichokeapplelentils
cucumberpotatomelonnavy beanscarrotpear
sesamegreen beanslettucepumpkintapiocalamb
sweet potatomaple sugarcranberrykashaolive oilcane sugar

See my handout describing this approach:
Image Elimination Diet

I also recommend keeping a diary as you add foods back - it can be confusing to identify delayed reactions. Track a variety of symptoms, including your weight (if you gain 3-4 lb in the first day or two, you may be retaining fluid from a reaction,) energy level, digestive symptoms, joint or muscle aches, nasal congestion or skin itching, bladder symptoms, and so on as well as the specific symptoms for which you are doing the elimination diet. You are welcome to use our reintroduction diary found here:
Image Food Introduction Diary