Dawna Ara, L.Ac.

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Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (Part V): The Elimination Diet

As stated in my last post there are blood, saliva, and urine tests you can do to determine which foods you need to avoid. I don’t recommend getting tested until you have gone gluten free and/or have done an elimination diet and are still experiencing symptoms.

Besides Cyrex Labs, the tests can be expensive and often times unreliable. Plus, if you are already avoiding certain foods or don’t have them in your diet regularly, chances are antibodies for those foods won’t show up on the test. Really the best and cheapest thing to do is to go gluten free or try an elimination diet.

Who Should Do An Elimination Diet?

If you’ve been searching the internet to find answers to your allergies or digestive issue or have taken the time to read all the articles in my gluten intolerance series, then maybe it’s time to try the elimination diet.

The elimination diet is not a weight loss diet nor is it a long term diet. It is a short term diet to help expose foods that are potentially causing you a problem. Elimination diets remove all foods that people commonly have reactions to. Most common allergenic foods are gluten (surprise), eggs, soy, dairy, corn, beef, pork, chicken, beans, citrus, coffee, nuts, and nightshade vegetables. After 3-4 weeks of being on an elimination diet you then add these foods back in one at a time and observe your response. The elimination diet will help you determine if you need to live gluten free and possibly dairy or soy free as well.

Most of the time people feel better after only a few days on an elimination diet but keep in mind you may very well feel worse. If you get nauseous, headaches, sweats, irritable, and fatigued don’t be surprised if you have an addiction to any of the foods eliminated. And by addiction, I mean addiction, not unlike drug or alcohol addiction.

Food As Drugs

Turns out gluten and milk both contain molecules that get converted into morphine like chemicals in the gut. Gluteomorphins from gluten and caseomorphins from casein (milk protein) are partly responsible for that comfort feeling you feel when you eat these foods. Many of us are literally addicted to the foods we eat. If you do feel worse, do your best to get through those first couple of days. If you find that it is unbearable this may be a sign you need help and should seek nutritional guidance from a Functional Medicine Practitioner in your area.

The Elimination Diet Guidelines
Foods To Include Foods To Eliminate
Fruit: most fruits are allowed citrus (lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruit)
Vegetables: most vegetables are allowed corn, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers)
Nuts & Seeds: Coconut, flax, pine nuts peanuts, walnuts, sesame, pumpkin, hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, and nut butters containing these foods
Meat & Fish: organic turkey, lamb, wild game, fresh fish pork, beef, veal, shellfish, cold cuts, canned meats, hot dogs, chicken, sausage
Grains:Non-glutenous grains & starch suc as rice, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, teff, tapioca wheat, corn, barley, spelt, rye, triticale, oats, kamut, and all gluten containing grains
Beans & Legumes: split peas soybean products (tofu, soy sauce, tempeh, miso, textured vegetable protein, soy milk, soybean oil, soy yogurt), lentils
Diary: rice milk milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, eggs, ice cream, frozen yogurt, cream, non dairy creamers
Fats: cold expeller pressed olive oil, ghee, clarified butter, flax oil, coconut oil margarine, butter, shortening, salad dressings, hydrogenated oils, mayonnaise, canola, processed vegetable oils
Sweeteners: only fruit from the above allowed list sugar of all kinds (brown, white, honey, maple syrup, agave, molasses, brown rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup HFCS, sweets)
Spices & Condiments: vinegar, sea salt, fresh herbs and spices, garlic, cumin, basil, carob, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, mustard, parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, turmeric, tarragon chocolate, ketchup, relish, chutney, soy sauces, barbecue sauce, steak sauce, teriyaki
Beverages: fresh purified water, herbal teas, sparkling water coffee, tea, soda, alcohol

After avoiding these foods for 3-4 weeks add them back in one at a time and be sure to keep a journal or log of how you feel mentally, emotionally, as well as physically. If you don’t feel any reaction to a particular food then it is most likely ok for you. If you notice any symptoms then you might have an allergy or intolerance and should avoid those foods in the future.

Next up, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (Part VI): Guide to Living Gluten Free.

About Dawna Ara
Dawna is an acupuncturist, herbalist, functional medicine practitioner, a mom, wife, writer, nature lover, chef and whole foods advocate. She teaches how to live a healthy lifestyle through her website Eat Play Work Sleep.