How do you know if you have a food intolerance? Food intolerances or sensitivities can be responsible for skin rashes, digestive upset, muscle and joint pain, headaches, fatigue, or chronic cough and nasal congestion.
It was through an elimination diet that I first discovered my gluten problem. Gluten had been causing the terrible case of rosacea that had been plaguing me for years! You can read more about that on my About page. Although my rosacea cleared up gradually over the first months of eliminating gluten, I was left with occasional digestive issues. I just assumed they were caused by accidental gluten exposure. However, one year after completing Dr. Kimberley O'Brien's Elimination Diet Meal Plan, I'm happy to say that I have been able to sort out some other culprits for myself.
I am so impressed with Dr. Kimberley O'Brien's Elimination Diet Meal Plan that I've become an affiliate of the program and am enthusiastically promoting it!
ELIMINATION DIET MEAL PLAN
The Elimination Diet Meal Plan takes you on a seven-week journey of cleansing and refueling your body. You get to enjoy a variety of delicious meals. You'll identify if there are certain foods that are causing you symptoms like fatigue, bloating, skin concerns, headaches or joint pain. These types of food reactions are called food sensitivities. Dr. Kimberley (creator of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan) explains further in this free video series.
The Elimination Diet Meal Plan consists of two phases. First there is the 11-Day Elimination Phase. This is when we avoid the most common sensitivity-inducing foods. The body is allowed to detoxify and relieve itself of inflammation. You should expect to feel your best at this time. The Elimination Phase is then followed by two Reintroduction Phases. Foods that had been avoided are reintroduced strategically in a way that allows you to assess for any symptoms or health reactions. The online program includes detailed guides, tracking forms and symptom questionnaires, so that you know exactly which types of symptoms you are watching for. This is all in addition to the great recipes and meal plans for every meal and snack!
If you do react to a particular food on the Elimination Diet, you are supposed to pause the diet. Go back to the Elimination Phase to give your body a rest and allow your symptoms to clear up.
During the Elimination Phase, I felt wonderful! My skin was clear, and my joints felt so good that I went jogging for the first time in years! Then, during the Reintroduction Phase, one of the foods caused a distinct disturbance to my digestive system. Something had also caused my issues with joint inflammation to return.
My Food Intolerance
As it turns out, I seem to be sensitive to foods from the nightshade family, particularly potatoes. I don't do well with fresh tomatoes, but can tolerate cooked tomatoes. Oatmeal also causes me to feel less than my best.
Here's some good news! I had assumed that dairy was causing me some problems. After all, dairy is one of the most common sensitivity-inducing foods next to gluten. However, now that I've eliminated the nightshades and oatmeal, I seem to get along fine with dairy! That makes me very happy!
March, 2020 update: After eliminating the nightshade vegetables for a year or so, I find that I can tolerate them now without a problem.
Pros and Cons of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan
- SIMPLE, STRAIGHT-FORWARD RECIPES - Instructions are clearly explained, and there are no unnecessary steps. The most work you will be doing is the chopping of vegetables and the measuring of spices.
- WELL SEASONED AND FLAVOURFUL FOOD
- WELL ORGANIZED - The prep tasks are laid out in a manageable way with some extra prep work some evenings, but not most. The recipes make large batches and leftovers are worked into the meal plans. Therefore, you don’t have to cook from scratch every time you eat.
- FLEXIBLE - You can make your own variations, as long as you stay within the rules.
- HEALTH-BUILDING DIET - This diet goes beyond simply eliminating certain foods to refueling your body through nutrient dense whole foods.
- LIFETIME ACCESS - I’m glad that once we buy the plan, we have it for life, because the recipes very good!
- TRACKING FORMS - My first elimination diet experience could have been much more productive with these.
- ABUNDANCE - There is a lot of food in this diet. We certainly did not end up going hungry! I froze leftovers and took them with us for a trip in our trailer as soon as we finished the Meal Plan.
- EDUCATIONAL - If you’re not used to eating this way, the Elimination Diet Meal Plan is a great way to explore healthful food.
- ENJOYABLE - I so enjoyed making these new recipes that I didn’t think much about what I couldn’t eat.
- RESULTS - My skin has never been clearer or my joints felt better than when I was in the Elimination Phase. It’s awesome that we can eat this well, lose weight, and feel so great! And I thought I had been eating well before!
- OBVIOUS RESTRICTIONS - I really can’t think of many “cons” to this diet, aside from the fact that you cannot eat just anything and everything you might want. I have found that the Meal Plan keeps us so entertained with such a plentiful variety of interesting foods that there’s little time to think about what we might not be eating.
- TRAVEL CHALLENGES - Now, of course, the diet is easiest to follow when we stay home or pack lunches. However, putting off starting the diet is obviously not a good solution when you’re consuming something that’s harmful to you! When we did go out while on the Diet, we either took our food with us or ate at a salad bar.
- FOOD PREP - You might find that you are spending more time than usual chopping vegetables as you prep recipes. This is a good thing! You'll be eating real food! I don’t really know any way around that other than hiring someone else to do it for you! I suppose you could do a very plain, boring elimination diet that focuses on what’s being left out. However, you would likely find yourself hungry and scrambling for something to eat. You would be missing out on the nutritious, health-building component of the Elimination Diet Meal Plan. I would much rather do the prep work! My food processor was a big help here, too.
Update: The Elimination Diet Meal Plan has since been revised to require less cooking.
The only thing I really missed on the diet was coffee. We are encouraged to give up caffeine and alcohol while on the diet. This is important to improve the anti-inflammatory effects of the plan and to make it easier to assess for symptoms caused by the various foods. I missed coffee because it is a habit I enjoy. Physically, it was not as difficult to give up as I had thought it would be. I didn’t even have a “coffee headache,” which I have felt on occasion in the past when I was “due” for one. After going for a couple of weeks totally caffeine-free, I had an occasional green tea, maybe a couple times a week.
WHAT IF YOU WANT TO FOLLOW THE ELIMINATION DIET MEAL PLAN, BUT YOU’RE FEEDING A FAMILY?
I would suggest that if only one or two people want to follow the diet, you could follow the recipes and menu plans and serve them to the whole family. As long as the people on the diet get enough of it to eat, the rest of the family could supplement with whatever they want!
I would strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t have absolutely perfect health to try out the Elimination Diet Meal Plan at least once in your lifetime!
Discover Your Food Intolerance
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase Dr. Kimberley’s recipes or meal plans through any of the links on this blog, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. I am recommending this program because I believe so strongly in identifying and eliminating food sensitivities!
If you do check out the program, keep in mind that it’s priced in Canadian dollars. Depending on the exchange rate of the day, that might amount to a 25% discount for American readers!