An elimination diet plan is generally used to figure out which foods could be causing discomfort or pain after they are eaten. Usually, diet elimination plans are used when a food sensitivity or intolerance is suspected. Food allergies, on the other hand, are usually established by testing a protein, IgE, to determine reaction.
Food sensitivities, food intolerances and food allergies are very different issues. None are pleasant, but each has its own set of symptoms and brings varying levels of potential danger. It’s important to know the differences, because an allergy can be life threatening, and there is no test to predict the severity of an individual’s allergic reaction. On the other hand, food sensitivity or intolerance can often be determined by using an elimination diet to identify which foods are causing the problems.
Food Sensitivity, Food Intolerance or Food Allergy?
Food sensitivities generally occur when you eat a food item and your body reacts negatively afterwards. Symptoms can include:
- Body aches
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
Food sensitivities are not usually life threatening even if the accompanying discomfort might be painful.
Food intolerances are generally associated with problems digesting certain food items. When the body tries to digest the offending food, symptoms can include:
- Stomach cramps
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Joint pain
Symptoms of food sensitivities and intolerances are very similar. And like with food sensitivities, reactions from food intolerance generally are not life threatening, but the pain can often be excruciating.
However, with food allergy, the body has an immune response to certain foods causing a reaction that can range from mild to severe and include:
- Swelling of limbs, lips and/or throat
If you and your doctor have determined you may have a food sensitivity or intolerance, the next likely step would be to create an elimination diet plan.
What Is An Elimination Diet Plan?
The purpose of an elimination diet is to remove from the body any chemicals or food proteins that may be causing you food related symptoms. There is a standard list of the most common foods that cause problems for most people. Those foods are eliminated from your diet for several weeks, then reintroduced one by one. If any of the systems return, the recently added food item is noted and removed again. The rationale is that when the offending foods are removed from your diet, it allows your body time to naturally detoxify itself and essentially reboot so that it functions properly again.
Doctors and clinicians find the elimination diet plan a very helpful diagnostic tool. It is easy to follow and has minimal side effects. Some people who regularly consume caffeine products, like soda or coffee, may suffer withdrawal symptoms like irritability, headache, fatigue or increased hunger. However, most people find that after the first week of the plan, they feel more energized, mentally clear and alert, and experience a decrease in joint and muscle pain.
Elimination diet plans can be a great tool to help find out which foods may be affecting you. If an elimination diet is right for you and you need help creating a plan, check out our article “How to Create An Allergy Elimination Diet Plan” for information and tips.
Do you have any experience with elimination diets you’d like to share? Please join the discussion below.