Oct 23

Elimination Diets

With growing concerns

about food intolerance, elimination

diets have become

increasingly popular procedures

for diagnosing and

treating harmful reactivity

to foods.

Let’s take a

deeper cut at the primary tool for dealing with this problem.

First, we need to be clear that we are not necessarily talking

about the type of elimination diet mentioned in the Edgar Cayce readings

where foods are used to increase elimination (eliminate toxins)

from the body. Rather, the modern use of the term means that

foods that are thought to produce negative reactions in the system

are carefully eliminated from the diet.

Presumably, Edgar Cayce did not need to rely on this type of

elimination diet – when necessary he simply gave readings that

listed which foods each individual should avoid. Without Edgar

Cayce around to provide this service, the modern elimination diet

serves a useful function for applying the Cayce model.

Elimination Diet Basics

Most elimination diets have two phases – exclusion and reintroduction.

The exclusion phase is a systematic avoidance of

any food that might be causing trouble to see if the symptoms go

away. If the symptoms decrease or clear up, the offending foods

are then systematically reintroduced to confirm the intolerance.

Keep in mind that elimination diets are an assessment technique.

If you fail to follow the diet fully, it simply won’t work. The

problem is that if your symptoms don’t clear you can’t be sure

whether the indiscretion, no matter how slight, caused the symptoms.

So if you do use an elimination diet, take it seriously and follow it faithfully.

Variations on a Theme

Practitioners who have worked extensively

with patients with food intolerance

have noted that the system often is most

reactive to common foods that are eaten

regularly or in quantities. Thus the elimination

procedure often focuses on strategies

for eliminating common foods.

If you are serious about doing an elimination

diet, I strongly recommend that you

obtain and study Food Allergies and

Food Intolerance by Jonathon Brostoff,

M.D., and Linda Gamlin. This is the best

resource on the subject that I have seen.

Here are some of the variations on the

elimination diet theme from the Brostoff

and Gamlin book:

Lamb-and-Pears Diet – Just as the

name implies, you only eat two types of

food. Originally developed in the United

States where lamb and pears are not frequently

eaten, this form of elimination diet

may be helpful for individuals with a great

many food sensitivities. Due to its blandness,

it does require substantial willpower.

In countries where lamb is eaten regularly

(e.g., Britain and New Zealand), turkey can

be substituted for lamb.

Few-Food Diet – This variation allows

about a dozen or more foods that are not

eaten often. Naturally, the list will vary

from region to region and patient to patient.

Typical foods for this format include

parsnips, turnips, and carrots.

Rare-Food Diet – This is an extension

of the few-foods approach, except that the

food list focuses on exotic items such as

cassava or buckwheat. Because these

foods are never (or rarely) consumed, they

are unlikely to provoke a reaction. For diagnostic

purposes, this is an especially

useful variation, because if you fail to get

better eating only foods that you have

never eaten before, you are probably not

having food intolerance problems. Although

this diet can be costly, it does offer

increased palatability for those ready

for a culinary adventure.

Elemental Diet – The items utilized in

an elemental diet are made from ordinary

foods, except that the molecules are broken

down into smaller units. The concept

is similar to formulas used for babies that

are sensitive to cow’s milk. Theoretically,

the smaller molecules are less likely to produce

altered reactions in the digestive

system, although in practice this is not always

the case. The main drawbacks to

this variation is that it usually tastes

dreadful and can be expensive. Brostoff

and Gamlin regard this as the last resort

option for those who have not responded

to other types of elimination diet.

A Three-Stage Approach

Recognizing the challenges of implementing

an elimination diet, Brostoff and

Gamlin have devised a three-stage approach

designed to provide the optimal

chance of success with the least chance of

harm. Here are the three stages:

1. The Healthy-Eating Diet – For one

month eliminate all foods and drinks that

have a drug-like effect on the body,

namely: coffee, tea, colas, cocoa, chocolate,

alcohol, and sugary foods. Be aware

that you may experience some withdrawal

symptoms during this stage. You may

also experience substantial healing from

this stage and not need to go further.

2. Simple Elimination Diet – This

stage just excludes the most common offending

foods such as grains, dairy, citrus,

peanuts, and any foods that you normally

eat in large quantities or that you crave.

3. Rigorous Elimination Diet – This

stage is for those unfortunate individuals

who may have sensitivities to many different

foods. Although the exact form of the

diet will vary with each individual, the fewfood

diet or rare-food diet are leading contenders

for this stage.

As with any diet, an elimination diet

should only be done under the supervision

of your physician. As noted above, you

may experience negative side-effects from

withdrawal as your system adjusts. The

elimination diet is a powerful assessment

and treatment modality that must be used

carefully. Get the book and consult with

your physician if you think this approach

may be indicated for your situation.

Of course, you will need to plan carefully

and keep a record of what you have

done. Patience, consistency, and commitment

are required. This is where mental

and spiritual ideals come into play. You

may find that you are eliminating

negative reactions at more than just

the physical level.

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