Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Elimination Diet for the top 11 food allergies

Over the years I have encountered many people who quietly live with chronic maladies like rashes, hay fever, and digestive disorders, and they wonder if food might be a contributing factor. Some of them have heard about food elimination diets but have no idea how to successfully go on one. Well, here’s my plan for an easy FOOD ELIMINATION DIET to try. Keep in mind that if you are very diligent, you will only have to do this once. Also, the actual diet is easier than you think. Just plan well and focus on all the things you CAN eat, rather than all the foods you CAN’T eat.
This experiment will take approximately one month, two weeks for your body to expel the irritating foods, and two weeks to slowly add them back in. It will be easier to have the whole family go on the same diet but if you have someone who is digging their heels in the sand, just tell them to eat whatever they would like OUTSIDE the house but at home, these are their only choices.
First, a little allergy background: There are four general categories of irritants to the body: food, animal dander, chemical smells (bleach, formaldehyde in clothing, nail polish, etc.), and environmental particles (dust mites, mold spores, pollens, etc.). Most sensitive people are challenged with more than one of these categories but it’s the food irritants that are the easiest to control. Let’s dive right in.
The 11 most common food irritants in their purest forms are:
dairy products – milk, cottage cheese
gluten – wheat, barley, rye, malt (pasta, grape nuts cereal, rye crisps)
sugar – sugar cubes
eggs – usually it’s the yolks that are more of a problem
cocoa – chocolate powder
red and yellow food dyes – Jell-O, unsweetened Kool-Aid (sweeten with honey)
corn – corn on the cob, popcorn, corn chips
citrus – oranges, pineapple, lemons, tomatoes
soy – tofu, soy nuts, edamame
peanuts – natural peanut butter, peanuts
preservatives – BHT (in most chewing gum), sodium benzoate (flavored drinks), potassium sorbate (frozen otter pops)
(Although there are countless preservatives in our foods, for some reason these three are the most common irritants.)
These are the foods you will be eliminating for 2 weeks!
STEP 1: Go through your cupboards, refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, and bag up all of the foods that contain these ingredients. If you have been eating a traditional American diet, you should have about 80% of your food in bags. Put them somewhere out of eye sight (perhaps the garage,) and head to the store to stock up your next two weeks of acceptable foods.
STEP 2: Go food shopping. Here are lists of acceptable foods by category. BE CREATIVE and take your positive attitude to the store with you. Basically, you will be eating simple foods with a few ingredients in a non-processed form.
OILS – all cold pressed oils are safe (except corn oil).
PROTEINS – all nuts (except peanuts), seeds, meats, poultry, nitrate-free sausages, and beans, are safe. Season with salt, garlic, onions, or anything else that’s pure.
VEGETABLES – all veggies (except corn)
FRUITS – all fruits (except oranges, lemons, pineapple, limes, tomatoes, anything citrus)
DRINKS – non-citrus juices, non-caffeinated teas, club soda
CARBOHYDRATES – anything with rice, potatoes, tapioca, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth
Here are some meal and snack suggestions:
Breakfast – rice cereal with almond milk, homemade home fries, fruit, beans and rice
Lunch – rice crackers with almond butter and fruit sweetened jelly, turkey, chicken, roast beef, rice pasta with garlic and oil, salad, tuna or salmon with Best Foods Mayo, baked potato with broccoli, homemade potato salad, rice cakes topped with tuna
Dinner – meats, poultry, fish, or beans, brown rice, rice pasta, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, healthy oil potato chips, homemade cole-slaw, homemade potato pancakes thickened with rice flour
Snacks – dry roasted nuts, celery and carrot sticks, cucumbers with salt, potato chips, fruit (melons, blueberries, and peaches), smoothies with almond milk, non-citrus fruits, and honey, apple sauce, jicama, avocado dip (just mash it with water and salt.)
STEP 3: Start the diet. One very important thing to keep in mind is that food which you are sensitive to, can act like a drug. There might be withdrawal symptoms. On day three, my six year old daughter had a screaming tantrum for almost an hour in front of the refrigerator begging, I mean desperately begging for a piece of bread. I almost gave in but something told me to stand firm. Boy am I glad I did because from this diet we found out how intolerant she was to gluten products. It was my homemade organic whole wheat bread sweetened with honey that caused her to have the most violent reactions.
STEP 4: Add one category of food at a time back into your diet every other day. It a small amount in the morning, and if you do not have any violent reactions, eat lots of that food for lunch and dinner. Make sure the food consists of one or two ingredients. For instance, on the day you eat dairy, don’t eat ice cream which also has sugar and eggs. Drink milk and/or eat cottage cheese instead. Keep a journal of how you sleep, how you feel emotionally, and what your body does physically (rashes, irritability, tension, gas, sneezing, itchy nose, palette, or skin, joint aches, respiratory congestion, stomach cramps, nausea, etc.) If there are no negative reactions, you now can add that food back into your diet. If you are not sure if you reacted, keep the food out and test it again later. If you have a reaction, stay away from that food. Often times, you can handle certain foods in moderation but not in excess. In that case, you could probably rotate a small amount of that questionable food in your diet every 4 days or just eat a small amount once in a while when you are eating out and do ok. That’s what I do with dairy products.
Well, my friends. Good luck with the diet and stay healthy!
Arnel McAtee

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