Foods to Remove During an Elimination Diet


As I mentioned in the post about identifying food sensitivities, foods that are removed during an elimination diet may include the common allergens, foods known to contribute to a particular condition (ex: GERD), and/or any foods you suspect your body doesn’t handle well. To be more specific, here are some foods that are considered for removal during an elimination diet:

  • Common allergens: These are the foods that most often cause IgE reactions in people. However, they can also be a problem due to a sensitivity or an intolerance. These foods are: milk/dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts
  • Common sensitivities:
    1. gluten (from rye and barley also, not just wheat)
    2. corn
    3. nightshade vegetables (including eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers [ex: jalapeno, cayenne], potatoes [regular, not sweet potatoes], tomatoes, paprika [a spice], pimentos, ashwagandha [an herb], bush tomato, cape gooseberry, cocona, garden huckleberry, goji berries, kutjera, naranjillas, pepinos, tamarillos, tomatillos)
    4. salicylates and/or amines (natural chemicals found widely in many foods including tomatoes, broccoli, olives, spinach, mushrooms, avocado)
  • Foods that can harm the stomach lining / cause acid reflux: alcohol, carbonated beverages, chocolate, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, etc), coffee / tea (regular or decaffeinated), caffeine, fatty or fried foods, tomatoes, mint, spicy foods (like hot peppers, black pepper, and other hot spices)
  • Foods that may be difficult to digest: dairy, eggs, legumes (beans, lentils, soy, peanuts), beef, pork, grains (wheat, rice, quinoa, oats, etc), fatty foods (especially fast food)
  • Foods that feed the bad bacteria in your gut: white sugar, white flour, alcohol

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it gives you an idea of all the foods that can be considered for an elimination diet and why.

If you are thinking about doing an elimination diet (or a cleanse or a detox), start paying attention to how your body reacts when you eat various foods. While you may not be able to pinpoint an exact ingredient, it will give you some idea about what to consider for elimination. (To give you an example, I recently realized that I still feel full 3+ hours after eating cereal or pizza… I’m taking that as a sign that my body reacts negatively to wheat, or gluten in general.)

And remember, you don’t have to remove all suspect foods during your first elimination diet. You can pick the most common allergens and/or a set of foods that you are particularly curious about. Remove that set and see what the impact is after the 3 week washout and reintroduction. If after 6 months you still aren’t feeling as great as you want to, you can do another elimination diet by removing a different set of foods. By doing an iterative process, you may discover that you have some primary food sensitivities and, after you remove them, your body handles other foods perfectly fine.

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