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: Stop eating the foods—for at least 4 weeks—that you have a high, moderate, or mild reactivity to (as determined by a food sensitivity test).
For example, if your food sensitivity test reveals that you’re highly reactive to peaches, then you’d stop eating peaches for a minimum of 4 weeks. And if you’re moderately reactive 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 nectarines or 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 found any symptom-causing foods after eliminating your high and moderate foods, try the same process for foods in your mild category.
If the two-step approach seems like too much for you right now, or you feel like you can’t live without certain foods for that long of a time period, the quick elimination diet is a good option to consider. It’s not as precise, but it can help provide you with a snapshot of how your body might be handling a certain food.
The quick elimination diet works like this.
Step 1: Remove one reactive food from your diet for 4 days. Most people start with their high category foods, then work down to moderate, and then end with mild to get through all the foods they want to test.
Step 2: Eat the food you removed on the fifth day, then don’t eat it for the next 2–3 days as you watch for symptoms. If you don’t experience any symptoms, then add that food back to your diet. If you do detect symptoms, then eliminate that food from your diet for 6 months before adding it back.
Repeat steps 1–2 for each food that’s highly reactive. Then, take the same approach to foods that are moderately and mildly reactive (until you have gone through all the foods you want to test).
Overall, the first option is a more thorough way to really narrow down which suspected foods are causing you discomfort. However, we understand that life happens, and it can sometimes be trickier to completely eliminate certain foods for a 30-day period. So, if you’re in this situation, the quick elimination diet is a good option to start with for some quick insights. Ultimately, though, we encourage you to pursue the multi-phased two-part elimination diet to really hone in on which foods truly may be a food sensitivity.
And if you haven’t yet taken a food sensitivity test, you can now take one from the convenience of your own home.