Why an Elimination Diet Could be the Answer
Let’s be brutally honest for a second. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with the new diet fads that circulate each year. It’s frustrating when “results” aren’t shown and the problems we were promised would magically be fixed end up getting worse. Throwing the towel in and raising our hands in defeat is not a good feeling. It’s estimated that 45 million Americans diet every year and chances are you’re not alone when feeling this way.
Our bodies and skin moods are beautifully different and what may work for some may not work for others. Diets should not be labeled as one size fits all. The foods you eat have been scientifically proven to impact your skin, your mood, and everything in between.
That’s why having a healthy relationship with food is so important. Certain foods may increase inflammation which can cause flare-ups or lead to bloating– two not so fun things. In order to figure out your relationship with food and a nutrition plan to help you and your skin moods thrive, an elimination diet may be in place.
A what? A diet? I know, I know but hear me out. An elimination diet isn’t what you think it may be. Sure, it’s a diet in the textbook definition sense, but it offers much more flexibility and it allows you to have the reigns. I like thinking of it as a tailored meal plan to discover a happier, healthier you. Let’s break it down.
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet is a tailored eating plan created by you that omits a food or food group that is believed to cause an adverse reaction. Adverse reactions fall into three main categories:
- Food allergy
- Food intolerance
- Food sensitivity
Food allergies result in an immediate reaction from the body’s immune system while food intolerances and food sensitivities lead to a delayed response from the body’s immune system. The timing may be different, but the crucial fact is that these all lead to the same end result, inflammation. The repetitive action of eating a food or food group that the body rejects may lead the body and immune system to reach its threshold, the tipping point where symptoms start showing.
Medical professionals recommend elimination diets in order to find the source of symptoms. Symptoms from food allergies, sensitives, and intolerances vary on a large scale from headaches to irritable bowel. Flare-ups and breakouts may not be traditional symptoms; however, they can occur as a result of the skin's inflammatory response from the foods ingested every day.
It’s hard to diagnose and treat skincare issues since it’s such a personal matter, so why not take matters into your own hands? The benefits of an elimination diet are endless including reducing moody skin flare-ups, stomach and bowel irritation, headaches, bloating, and moodiness. You get to discover which foods fuel your body best, so you can feel incredible.
How to Get Started
In order to successfully carry out an elimination diet, it’s recommended to follow five steps.
1. Create your game plan.
Figuring out a list of potential problem foods may be a challenge but asking yourself a few key questions like “what do I eat the most” and “what foods would I have trouble giving up” can help jump-start the list. Common food culprits are dairy products, gluten (sigh), eggs, and beef products. Eliminating one of these could be a good place to start.
Additionally, being prepared for the weeks to come can help ensure you successfully carry out your eliminated choice. Planning around stressful events or a vacation, and meal prepping can help minimize the risk of accidental slip-ups. You’re also going to want to grab your closest friends and family members because they’re going to be your biggest cheerleaders who help hold you accountable during the whole process.
2. Compile your list of food(s) and eliminate them.
A daunting idea but totally doable. The elimination should last for two to four weeks with no exceptions. This means eliminating the food(s) whole or as ingredients in other foods. For example, elimination of dairy means you would have to avoid whey since it is technically a dairy product.
Food labels are meant to become your best friend during this process. If a mistake were to be made, the entire process would have to start from scratch! That’s why making a plan is crucial so the chances of slip-ups are minimized.
3. Reintroduce the foods back into your diet.
Doctors recommend extending the diet from two weeks to four weeks if symptoms have not improved during the two week time window. It’s also important to note that some people experience worse symptoms the first day or two when they first eliminate the food(s). During the two (or more) weeks, five consecutive days should pass one-hundred-percent symptom-free before the foods are reintroduced into your diet.
Additionally, if you eliminated more than one food, medical experts advise introducing the foods at different times during the introductory period. This allows for the recognition of possible symptoms related to each food individually rather than guessing if both were introduced at once.
4. Evaluate your results and create a new diet plan.
Sometimes the first try of an elimination diet may not work and it may take a couple of test runs to narrow down if your body is having any adverse reactions to food. Other times, the first try is a success. If a food or food group is narrowed down, steps should be taken to avoid or eliminate it entirely. When making the diet change and going through the diet process, be sure that adequate nutrition is still being met through replacements for the food(s) taken out.
There’s no better feeling in the world than accomplishing something and you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Going through an elimination diet may be a tough task to tackle, but the results are rewarding. Uncovering unknown food allergies, food sensitivities, or food intolerances leads to a happier, healthier you, and a happier skin mood too.
Written by Lauren Conklin