What is an elimination diet? An elimination diet is a diagnostic tool to determine if someone reacts unhealthfully to a certain food or foods. Here are some instructions on how to do it. I'll give you the short version here. Basically, you eat only non-allergenic foods including rice, turkey, and certain fruits and vegetables. You eat only these foods until your symptoms have gone away. Once you are symptom-free, gradually add in one of the allergenic foods at a time and see if you react. If you do - BINGO. If not - on to the next allergenic food.
Once you have found which foods you are sensitive to, you now have some decisions to make. How important is it to your health that you completely avoid this food forever from now on? Are your reactions minor? Are the reactions that you have to the particular food worth suffering through for the food?
Here are a couple of examples:
Female patient in her early twenties has been nauseous, vomiting and experiencing explosive diarrhea non-stop for three years. She and her doctor did all of the biomedical tests and exams to determine the cause. No cause was found. Because of her desperation, she was willing to try ANYTHING at this point and started receiving acupuncture and herbal treatments. She had some limited results - a decrease in the episodes of vomiting and her nausea. At this time, it was recommended that she consider trying an elimination diet. She agreed. She found that she was sensitive to dairy and wheat. Once she discontinued eating these foods, her symptoms disappeared completely within two weeks. After some experimentation with her diet, she discovered that she could have small amounts of wheat if it was organic and preservative-free.
Female patient also in her early twenties has difficulty breathing, with a sensation of being "stuck under a blanket and unable to absorb enough oxygen." She had seen several doctors who determined that it wasn't asthma, but offered no other explanations. She was advised to take benadryl every day, thinking that it was some sort of allergic reaction. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs brought some relief, but only for a a few days at a time. At this time it was recommended that she try an elimination diet and she too found that she was sensitive to gluten and dairy. Each food caused different symptoms in her. Gluten was the culprit behind the difficulty breathing. Dairy was behind a chronic post-nasal drip. After some experimentation with her diet, she decided that it was never worth eating gluten - even the slightest of contamination would lead to a week of symptoms. Dairy was okay as occasional treats for holidays, but she would know to expect her post-nasal drip to return for a couple days.
The most exciting part about elimination diets is the amount of knowledge that is gained! To all of a sudden understand where your symptoms are coming from, and to have the power to control when, if at all, you'll experience them!
Elimination diets aren't the answer for everyone, but what if it IS the answer for you? Talk with your acupuncturist or naturopath to see if it's right for you!