My consultant wanted to see if my health issues were being exacerbated by a food intolerance or allergy so I was asked to embark on a pretty extreme elimination diet and then had to reintroduce or ‘challenge’ foods which are typical allergens. I found it pretty tough and even though I already ate a good diet I still had some ‘detox symptoms’ such as headaches. It was worth it though as it yielded some really useful information and has since made it so much easier to manage some of my symptoms.
Food intolerances can be really hard to work out as it can take days for the symptom to appear and can also be due to an accumulation so you may be ok with a small amount of food one one day but not if you eat it everyday.
Please don’t try an elimination diet without the supervision of a professional, but if you are already working with a professional and have been asked to do one then here are 5 tips which may help you:
1. Plan the challenge for a quieter time where possible chose a period of time where you don’t have holidays planned and can avoid at least the eating part of social engagements.
2. Remind yourself of your goal you may need to do this constantly, but remind yourself why your doing this. If you’ve got to the stage of a professional suggesting an elimination diet you’re probably feeling fairly sick. Surely it is worth a few days/weeks of restriction if you’ll feel better again?
3. Use flavour in your food Ask your doctor/dietician if herbs, spices, vinegars, mustards, tea, coffee, herbal teas will interfere with the test. They all make food far more interesting.
4. Ditch the processed stuff Its not good for you anyway but now is a really good time to avoid anything processed. There is no point sticking to an elimination diet and then an unexpected ingredient in a processed food puts you right back to square one. For example gluten is in so many things you wouldn’t expect – ketchup, soy sauce, dressings. Also check your medications as some contain allergens.
5. Get your close friends and family’s support I’m not suggesting they do the elimination with you but explain to them what you are doing, why you are doing it and how they can help eg not suggesting that ‘just one bite of cheesecake won’t hurt’.
Overall, remember it’s only for a short time and if it helps you work out why you feel so rotten it will be worth it!