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Elimination Diet

The Elimination Diet is not a diet to be done on your own or for a long time since it is too restrictive. This is a temporary diet to identify your unique food triggers, if any.

The duration is typically 3 weeks but differs for every person.

Initially, symptoms may worsen briefly due to withdrawal from certain foods.

These lists below are borrowed from the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) but there are many other resources such as Erin Livers' book Revitalize Digestion: Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Gut Healing Program: A Guidebook for Practitioners & Their Clients.

Why the Elimination Diet?

© 2016 The Institute for Functional Medicine

Symptoms and conditions that have failed to respond to conventional medical therapy may resolve when a person follows the IFM Elimination Diet. Specific foods or foods eaten frequently may be related to a long list of health conditions, including digestive problems, headaches, chronic sinus drainage, low energy, depression, mood swings, eczema, skin irritations, joint aches, asthma, weight gain, and others.


People may suffer from these symptoms for long periods of time without realizing that they can be connected to the foods they are eating. Often it isn’t until a food is removed that the connection between symptoms and foods can be made. The Elimination Diet removes common foods that may be causing symptoms and, with reintroduction, helps patients identify the foods that may be triggering their symptoms.

Often, symptoms that have failed to respond to conventional medical therapy will resolve by following the Elimination Diet. After the initial period of eliminating foods, many chronic symptoms should improve or disappear.


When the burden on the immune system is decreased, the body has an opportunity to heal. During the elimination period, it is important to make sure that the diet is still enjoyable and nutrient-dense. The road to optimum health starts with decreasing the burden on the immune system while ensuring adequate nutrition.

After completion of the three-week Elimination Diet, patients will undergo a food reintroduction process. The goal is to expand the variety of healthy foods available to an individual for daily intake. Reintroduction involves adding back one food at a time and observing whether that food is associated with negative symptoms.


Foods that continue to provoke symptoms (physical, mental, and emotional) are avoided for an additional 3-6 months, at which time reintroduction is attempted again.


Once the gut is healed, many foods that initially caused sensitivities may be reintroduced into a meal plan without symptoms. Healing the gut, and being able to successfully reintroduce foods is important, as eating the same few foods day after day does not provide the body with the full array of phytonutrients necessary for overall health. A diet with a large diversity of foods helps ensure that the body gets essential nutrients and is especially important for those who have digestive issues.


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