Food sensitivity testing and elimination diets are a dynamic duo. A food sensitivity test can tell you how strongly your immune system reacts to different foods—based on measurements of IgG antibodies in your blood. An elimination diet, in turn, can help you use the food sensitivity test results to efficiently cut out the exact foods that give you unpleasant food sensitivity symptoms.
So how does an elimination diet work?
Step 1: As determined by a food sensitivity test, select a few foods you have a high or moderate IgG reactivity to that you want to try eliminating. Stop eating these foods for at least 4 weeks.
For example, if your food sensitivity test reveals that you have a high IgG reactivity to peaches, then you’d stop eating peaches for a minimum of 4 weeks. And if you have a moderate IgG reactivity to coffee, then you’d likewise stop drinking—or eating—anything that has coffee in it for 4 weeks.
Important note: This doesn’t mean you should have a gap in your diet if you cut out multiple foods during this period. Instead, find substitutes to maintain a balanced diet. Try oranges instead of peaches. Swap out coffee for tea. Trade pasta for rice or quinoa. In other words, find another similar food that you can eat instead. The goal of this diet is not weight loss, and your health shouldn’t suffer because you temporarily took out certain foods.
Step 2: Choose one food you've temporarily removed from your diet, then reintroduce it on day 1 of the add-back phase. Eat one serving, then don't eat that food or reintroduce anything else new during a 2–4 day buffer period. Check closely for symptoms. It can also be helpful to keep track of everything (symptoms, and foods you’ve reintroduced) in a journal.
If you don’t experience any symptoms, great! You can add that food back into your diet and eat it as you normally would.
But what if you do experience symptoms? In that case, stop eating that food for a longer period of time—about 3–6 months—before you try adding it back to your diet.
Next, move onto another food you eliminated from your diet in Step 1 and repeat the process.
If you haven’t yet identified which foods may be causing your symptoms after eliminating and re-introducing foods you had high to moderate IgG reactivity to, consider trying the same process for foods in your mild IgG reactivity category.
We understand that life happens, and it can sometimes be tricky to completely eliminate certain foods for a 4-week period. There have been a few studies to support quick elimination diets where participants eliminated a food or a few foods for 2 weeks instead of 4 weeks before re-introducing them and monitoring for symptoms. Ultimately, though, the 4-week elimination diet with add-back challenge is a more thorough way to hone in on a true food sensitivity.
And if you haven’t yet, consider taking a food sensitivity test from the convenience of your own home.