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How To Follow an Elimination Diet

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Updated November 03, 2013

How To Follow an Elimination Diet
Photo: Photodisc/Getty Images

The best way to identify a possible food sensitivity or intolerance is through the use of an elimination diet.  This is not a "diet" in the traditional sense, but a way to systematically find out if certain foods are causing symptoms in your body.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Minutes per day

Here's How:

  1. Make an appointment with your physician to rule out an intolerance to lactose or gluten. Don't skip this step! It's importance is more fully explained in this article: "Before You Go Gluten Free for IBS".

  2. Start an elimination diet. Eliminate any suspect foods for a period of two weeks. Many people start by eliminating all dairy, gluten and soy products.

  3. Start a food diary. Keep track of the foods you eat, what your stress level is, and what symptoms you are experiencing. Try to assess the effect of the food elimination on your symptoms.

  4. At the end of the two weeks, slowly re-introduce one food group at a time back into your diet. Pick one food group and eat foods containing that item on the first day.  Don't eat the food for the next two days, but look for symptoms. If you experience symptoms, then you have identified a food trigger.  If your symptoms do not return, you can consider that food group to be non-reactive for you.

  5. Once you have a clear sense of whether one particular food group is a trigger for you, you are ready to repeat the three day process with the next food group.
  6. Source:

    Heizer, W., Southern, S. & McGovern, S. "The Role of Diet in Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Adults: A Narrative Review" The Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2009 109:1204-1214.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  4. What to Eat with IBS
  5. How To Follow an Elimination Diet

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