The Elimination and Detoxification Diet ~ It's about Feeling Good!

Ali Segersten Jan 02, 2010 141 comments

What is the Elimination Diet? It is a program of eating designed to calm inflammation and balance the body. Once the body is calm, and the disease symptoms diminish, it becomes noticeable to a person when a “trouble” food is eaten and the symptoms come back.

If you have felt sluggish, had chronic health complaints, or just not felt quite right then an elimination diet is a useful tool that may help bring you to that optimal state of health you desire. Yes the elimination diet usually results in, on average, a 10 to 15 pound weight loss, but more importantly it promotes healing at the cellular level by identifying foods that are causing an immune reaction.

The Elimination Diet Cover Thumbnail

Everything you need to know about elimination diets is now in Print!

Learn how to safely and effective follow an elimination diet with our new book!

Complete with 125 delicious recipes, shopping lists, and meal plans, The Elimination Diet is a complete functional medicine resource for you to improve your health and feel better, naturally.

Go to our other website,, to download your FREE Elimination Diet Cookbook and Quick Start Guide!

The main focus of the Elimination Diet is getting the gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast, corn, and soy out of your diet. Doing this, along with eating a diet high in plant foods, calms inflammation and gives your body a break. Additional foods that can be problematic for some people are citrus, nightshade vegetables, certain nuts, among others. These foods are removed in the first two phases and are then slowly added back during phase 3 to note any negative reaction. 

An Elimination Diet is useful in treating the following health conditions:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Psoriasis
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • IBS
  • Chronic Migraines
  • GERD
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation / Diarrhea
  • Sinus problems
  • Weight loss / Weight gain
  • Infertility

Items to stock in your pantry and fridge:

please make sure you always use "organic"
  • dark leafy greens (dandelion greens, kale, collards, chard, bok choy, mustard greens...)
  • cabbage (all varieties)
  • lettuce
  • cucumbers
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • onions
  • yams
  • winter squash
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • carrots
  • celery
  • avocados
  • cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • blueberries
  • bananas
  • cherries
  • raspberries
  • plantains
  • pears
  • apples
  • brown rice
  • quinoa
  • wild rice
  • adzuki beans
  • mung beans
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • chia seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • pumpkin seed butter
  • sunflower seed butter
  • wakame and nori seaweeds
  • wild salmon
  • organic chicken
  • organic ground turkey
  • organic lamb
  • wild game
  • organic virgin coconut oil
  • organic extra virgin olive oil

Visit the Elimination Diet page on our other website to get started today with a Free Cooking Video Series!

Ready to get started now?

Go to the Elimination Diet Recipes page on this site to view all recipes for each phase of this diet. 


About the Author

Ali Segersten

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University and a Master’s of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. She is a Functional Nutritionist, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Alissa is the founder and owner of Nourishing Meals®.

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Hi there!

Have you considered following our Elimination Diet? The diet you are currently doing still contains things we keep out of our elimination diet. Here is a link to the book:

And online program:

I would consider removing the oats and agave (and coffee) for breakfast (we exclude oats, agave, and coffee for the entire diet). Try using the turkey hash recipe in the Elimination Diet book for breakfast instead. Also please look into FODMAPS and SIBO. You might consider getting a breath test for SIBO through a functional medicine practitioner. First try reducing the high-FODMAP foods in your diet such as the apples, raisins, onions, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, avocado, almonds, (and agave), etc.

Bison is in the bovine family (like beef) and is excluded on our diet as well. You can have elk, antelope, and venison though!

I would consider getting the Elimination Diet book and reading it through. Look into FODMAPs (MONASH University has some nice info and an APP you can download). Look into the supplements we recommend for digestive issues. We talk about adequate stomach acid production in the book as a starting point. You also might consider using some Soil-Based Probiotics like Body Biotics:

Then, when you are fully prepared, consider starting the elimination diet over. You should be getting better, not worse.

Hope this helps!

Hi! My husband and I have been doing our own illumination diet for the last 20 days. I'm not quite sure if it's us coming off having a fever and such, but I haven't been feeling better if anything feel a little worse. My stool is loose and made head feels foggy/dizzy. Our breakfast usually consist of gluten free oatmeal with agave, blueberries, and cinnamon with organic decaf coffee. I will snack on raisins and apples, some carrots during the day. Lunch ranges from tuna salad made with an Apple cider vinegar at celery and onions and Apple on spinach. Because we've taken out pork and beef, I purchased some bison roast and bison ground beef have made those for sautéed mushrooms and sweet potatoes on the side. We have also done the ice and burgers with sweet potato buns and homemade soup potato fries . We also have fermented sauerkraut and pickles. Try to drink apple cider vinegar water in the morning or if not in the morning during the day. I've made guacamole with vinegar instead of citrus and dipped veggies in or topped in on lunch and dinner. Made almond flour scones with coconut milk, a little of Xanthium gum, baking soda and salt and then added some strawberries . I say all this just to give you an idea but were eating. Is there something We are doing wrong. The introduction phase starts in two days and I was going to start with something simple like citrus and then go to nightshades and then beans and rice . And then start adding in the more high allergy foods . I would love your help.

Hi DJ~

Have you seen our Elimination Diet book? It has over 125 recipes that you could use. Here is the link:

Hi Vixx-

We address eliminating high FODMAP foods (which includes onions, garlic, and apples) for people with IBS in our Elimination Diet Book and Online Program. All of the recipes in both the book and program indicate with a symbol if they are low-FODMAP or not.



Garlic and onion are HUGE no-no's for people with IBS doing elimination. So are apples or anything made with them.

Hello. I've been on a very strict elimination diet for weeks now and am desperate for recipes, particularly simple, tasty ones that a single mother who works full-time can whip up. I am dairy, soy, gluten, sugar, bean, peanut and nightshade (potato, tomato, eggplant, pepper) free. I also cannot have grains, other than millet, even quinoa (and I do realize this is a seed, not a grain, but my body doesn't process it for some reason). I was a vegan for many years and am now starting to incorporate eggs, fish and beef back into my diet as I don't know what else to eat but am struggling with that as well. Please help!!!!

I'm suffering from frequent migraine and planning to start the elimination diet soon. But I seem to have similar problem with Ariana. If spinach is to be avoided, what's the best replacement for it?

We discussed the thyroid-cruciferous veggie debate in a more recent post. I recommend reading it and watching the video for the most up-to-date information on this subject…...

After much reading ....if you steam them it is better and won't have the same affects as eating them raw. Still have to be very careful about the amounts. I hope this helps

I am starting the Elimination diet on Wednesday. I tried it years ago and didn't make it through...hoping to finish this time! Thanks for this great resource.

Hello! New to your website and saw there is a new Elimination Diet coming soon. Have any idea when it will come?? Very interested in beginning an elimination diet but would wait if a new one was coming. Thanks!

I am on day 9 and have followed the diet strictly. However, I have not had complete relief from the symptoms that caused me to start the diet so I'm wondering if it's worth continuing? If it hasn't worked by now, does this mean that my issues won't be helped by this diet? Thanks in advance!

Hi! I'm doing the MediClear/ Elimination diet and it is my 2nd time. I did not find any issues with soy and was wondering if it would be okay to eat tofu during the 3 weeks? Thank you!

Good morning all,

I'm brand new to this elimination diet. I am starting this with my wife to support her. I plan on buying the book, but according to the website it's not available until Spring 14. So until then a few questions to help me get started:

I know there are phases, however, what are the details of each pahse? i.e. how long does each one last and instructions for completeing each phase.

I am new to this site & am VERY keen on starting this 28 day elimination diet..
However, I may not be reading close enough, but I cannot find how long to stay in each phase..
I've done the 2 day green smoothie "fast" and now am delving into phase 1.
Do I stay on phase one for 2 weeks?
phase two for 1 week and then phase three?

I don't know if its somewhere on the site and I can't find it, could I get some guidance? :)

I think it is such a great idea to have this support page - trying new diets can be SO difficult on your own.

That said, I just wanted to say to everyone that if this diet doesn't work, you may be intolerant to something else (as well), such as FODMAPS, salicylates, amines or glutamate to name a few. If you don't respond well on this diet, don't give up. Just do some more research, as not everyone fits into the same 'box'!

Hi Ali,
You mention drinking lots of herbal tea while doing the two-day smoothie and I assume that would continue until one challenges in tea. However, I'm curious about rooibos specifically and I don't see any mention of it anywhere in this blog. Is it OK to drink rooibos while doing the elimination diet, or is it on the "not now, honey" list?

I purchased your cookbook in order to do the Elimination Diet. I'm really hoping there is a way to reach you to get answers to some questions, because I am extremely unhappy with the purchase. There is information on the website that contradicts what is in the book, and the information in the book is so vague, I can't believe you are justifying asking people to buy it just to get the 3-pg instructions for the diet. So few of the recipes in the book can even be used for the diet, from what I can tell, as there is no reference to most of them anyways. If you aren't going to provide the complete information on the site in order to get people to buy your book, then the book shouldn't be so confusing. For instance - from reading the book, it seems mushrooms are okay during all phases, and strawberries can be reintroduced for phase three... at least, this is what I assume, based on the words you use. However, I go to the supplemental webpage, and mushrooms and strawberries are on the "not yet" lists for all phases. And, coconut oil is in so many recipes, but I have an already-known allergy to it, so information about what is comparably acceptable would be helpful. And very importantly, can I use dried spices? And what about supplements - I take Vitamins C, D and B12 daily, along with other supplements - are these okay during elimination? I feel like this should be mentioned in a book I paid over $20 for, just to get instructions for a diet. I don't mean to seem more frustrated than is warranted, but I have been suffering from digestive problems that I am desperate to resolve, and it baffles me that it is so difficult to get help getting healthy. You google "elimination diet" and all you get is people who want to sell books and "cleanse" potions.

You need to check with your doctor. I will tell you that my doctor encourages smoothies and I saw the nutritionist in her office for guidance. I went from being Diabetes 2 to being in the elevated safe zone. I am trying to reduce my A1C blood test further. I did it entirely by nutrition. You have to understand the relationship between carbs, fats and proteins. If you just concentrate on sugar or carbs, that won't give you success. It is important that you glucose test your blood at least 3 times a day. Find out what affects your glucose levels. Not only does that include food, but also exercise, stress, meds, illness, injections, pain etc.

Smoothies with a safe protein for you, fresh vegetables like kale, and safe fruit in limited amounts will likely be safe, but you need to see a nutritionist. You also need to learn from your own experience by tracking your foods with your glucose levels. Bananas spike my glucose. I can get away with a small apple.

Even if you opt for medications for treatment, this will not totally take care of the situation. People must change what they eat.

I was recently diagnosed with diabetes (type 2) no meds at this point just diet and exercise I have been toying with the idea of the smoothie fast/ elimination diet . Would this be safe for diabetics

Hi Ali,

Great post on the elimination diet. When suffering from food intolerance, an elimination diet is also used; especially so for salicylate and amine intolerance. In such cases, even healthy food such as fruits and veggies need to be avoided and trialled to see if there is a reaction. I know this from personal experience. I no longer have any food intolerance issues and I am a high raw food eater. Thanks for sharing. :-) Stay well, Eileen.

Hey there,

I started this elimination diet today, jumping in to the two day smoothie fast. I am wondering if you have any recipe suggestions to keep the fructose level in my smoothies as low as possible? One of my suspected issues is fructose malabsorption.

Thanks for the input!

I'm gearing up to start this elimination diet and it occurred to me that my calcium and vitamin D supplements are no good (chewable - they contain lots of sugar). I've seen you recommend Thorne, but for budget concerns ideally I would get a supplement that has both calcium and vitamin D. I'm also considering if I need a magnesium supplement as well. Any advice or suggestions?

I'm currently looking at Rainbow Light. It's allergen and sugar free, which is better than what I'm taking now, but I wasn't sure if all the ingredients were good. Thanks!

Hi Ali! I just purchased your book through Amazon and am very excited to start an elimination diet because I have been in pain for years now, foggy head, depression, confusion, and just overall difficulty having motivation to do anything. I know it is a food intolerance/s that is causing this.

I am starting the green smoothie fast, but was wondering (since it is winter) would it be alright if I boiled together so carrots, kale, garlic and celery and blend that all up in a soup/smoothie to drink along with green smoothies?

Also, I have heard people doing a fast for longer than 2 days, if we wanted to do it longer (to just make sure we are rid of these toxins) would that be alright as well?

Thank you so much for all your help. You both are so involved with what you are doing and it is amazing. I work at a health food store and I also have a degree in NFS, so I will be sure to mention your book and website to everyone else I know with digestive issues!

Hi Ali,
I've started on the elimination diet this week. I didn't realise that next week I signed myself up to give blood to the Red Cross service. Will this be an issue? Or does blood loss not make a difference whilst on the diet?

Dear Ali and Tom, yours is a wonderful site, I'm so glad I came across it! I'm seriously considering to buy your book as well but I'm not really sure in what extent are the ingredients you use different from what I can get here in Europe (France).

Once you wrote 'my boys are barely nursing so this was the time to start a diet'. My son is 15 months old and am breastfeeding him twice a day.

I didn't intend to separate him drastically, but I might as well be able to reduce to one breastfeeding per day quite easily. And I'm pretty much in need of doing something on my own as I came down with arthritis and doctors seem to reject the idea that this illness might as well be caused by food allergies of some kind...

Do you have any helpful tips to resolve this? Is only complete separation a solution, or one breastfeeding might not be that harmful (as I not exactly unintentionally tried to read between your lines).

Thank you very much for your comments. :)

Juicing vs. Smoothies? I do not like the consistency of smoothies and can not drink them. Can I get the same benefits if I use the same recipes but juice them instead of making a smoothie?

I have gone through all stages of diet up to Phase 3. I went off for 4 days what do I need to do to continue? Do I start at the beginning with the smoothie fast or continue where I left off? Any help would be appreciated.

I am very excited to receive the book and start the detox diet. I have been loosely doing a detox diet and not feeling better. Do I need to go off of supplements and also my dexilant (which is an acid-reducer for GERD) during this diet?

It's a pity the book is not available in Europe outside the UK :(

I love the sound of the smoothies but I definitely don't have access or the money to buy a good blender like a Vitamix. Are there other ways to prepare the smoothies?


I am on the elimination diet because of a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. My doctor didn't do phases, just a complete list of do's and don'ts plus detoxing.
My question, I am allergic to coconuts and bananas. What can I substitute for coconuts or coconut milk?

My dr suggested I go through this diet. I bought the Cookbook with the diet inside. I live in the middle of nowhere and although organic is out, I am able to obtain greens. Can I vitamix the greens separately and freeze in cubes to be used later in the green smoothies?
I have been able to order many of the other items online. This is the only "fix" I can think of to enable me to continue. If anyone else out there has any idea please let me know. Thanks, Becky

Almost a year ago I was diagnosed with Eosiniphilic Esophogitis (EE). Boiled down-my esophogus is loaded with white blood cells. From all I have researched, this condition is auto-immune and believed to be caused by unknown allergens (no one seems to be sure if they are food-related or environmental). I have only recently begun to experience symptoms - chest discomfot, burping, excess esophogial fluid. I have had cardiac problems ruled out. In speaking to my gastro dr last night, he suggested experimenting with an elimination diet. I was just wondering if anyone had tried this for EE and how you made out. Thanks for any input you can offer.

Hi... I'm not sure if I'm the only one confused...

I'm going to start this tomorrow, which means I'll be living on green smoothies for the next few days. It's my understanding that this means just greens and maybe a pear or apple added in. Is this correct? I'd love to add a banana or make the winter smoothie with cranberries, but I don't get to do that for two weeks, right?

Also... when do I get to add in bananas? It doesn't really say in the back of the book. I'm figuring bananas are a phase 2 food, but I'm not sure.

I'm looking forward to this, but some of the instructions are confusing.

I'm on my 11th day of phase 1. I still have bad gas and bloating despite eating great. I added in salmon and had one serving a day for 3 days and my stomach issues got worse (not sure why). I stopped and went back to the normal phase ! diet but still have gas, what should I do? The gas and bloating to get worse at night.Also, my husband is doing the diet with me and he has had loose stool the entire time and its not gotten better and were on day 11. Can he move on to the next phase? Could I be sensitive to one of the food on the list like rice or something? Thanks your advice would be so helpful because I'm ready to end this diet because I'm not getting anywhere.

I'm not great with computers and can't figure out how to leave my questions on the comment board and I tried emailing but haven't heard back. What phase can I add gluten free flours and rice milk or hemp milk? Also I have a hypthyroid at the moment and was told to stay away from raw cruscifous veg. if I cook them it should be fine, have you heard about this? Also when can is use sourdough starter and make some yeast free bread?
Thanks you guys are wonderful!
Natalie Visser

Hi, I was wondering about homemade coconut milk yogurt for phase 1 of the elimination diet? I see coconut milk is allowed, and if the yogurt starter was just bacteria, no sugar, would it be acceptable? I guess you have to use a thickener for coconut milk as well, would any be OK phase 1? Thank you!

Elly - Yes, continue with phase 1 foods plus your additions until you see a complete clearing. 12 weeks is most beneficial. 4-5 days between food introductions might be best in your case. Also consider adding homemade organic chicken stock and cultured vegetables to your phase 1 food list. These foods are incredibly beneficial in healing the gut (a damaged gut lining is usually the cause of eczema and other allergies). Fish oil and glutamine supplementation can also be very beneficial.

I will try to get back to the rest of the comments at another time....sorry folks, we don't always have time to respond to all of them!

I am doing the modified elimination diet (w fish, chicken & lamb) while breastfeeding my son, who suffers from facial eczema.
I have nearly made the first two weeks. It is slowly clearing, however should I keep with Phase 1 until his skin has completely cleared? Also, when it comes to phase 2 & 3, should I wait longer, say 4-5 days between introducing new foods to see if there is a reaction?
Thanks - feeling healthy & great! :)

My husband and I take daily supplements of fish oil, and have found it makes a huge difference in our health. Can we continue taking fish oil supplements while on the elimination diet?

Thank you so much for this grate page! Can I use spirulina and chlorella on phase 1?

Can I use salt when I'm on the diet?

How many days am I supposed to spend on each phase?

Hi Ali and Tom,

I was wondering why it was suggested to leave out the curry spice in the recipe for lentil soup in Phase 2. Is it the combination of the spices, or one or two problematic spices that normally go into a "curry spice mix"? When would those spices be allowed? (Cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, garam masala...etc)

Also, I did not see the answers to the following questions, and had them myself...when can mushrooms and vinegar and vanilla extract be reintroduced? It is not outlined in the cookbook, nor in the Phase food lists PDF.


Jennifer, Sarah...

I'm not an expert, but my intuition tells me to avoid those things, except maybe olive oil.

Olves are usually steeped in a brine which may contain additives, preservatives, or at least some acid (which you know, is avoided during phase 1). So unless these are home-made salt-cured olives or something, I would leave them out.

For Brown Rice Syrup, I'm honestly shocked you would want to sweeten the green smoothies at all. If you use ripe pears they are already very sweet. Our tastebuds get seriously out of wack from eating sweets, maybe you need some time to adjust?

I have a similar question to Jennifer's, is olive oil ok during phase. I'm also wondering about organic brown rice syrup, in Phase 1, for sweetening green smoothies.

Hi! I'm in phase 1 and loving! minus the difficulties of limited food and feeling a bit tired but I know my body has never felt better! Quick question...i love chocolate!! can I eat carob during any phases? And are olives okay to eat because we can have olive oil?

To Unknown,

I have done the elimination diet a couple of times and I think you can skip the smoothies if you want/need to. I have problems with low blood sugar also and it helps to remember to keep eating the smoothies when I am hungry. You're not supposed to be hungry those days. If that doesn't help, I think you could add in one of the really neutral foods, like cooked mung beans, but I'd ask Ali what she thinks about that.

I am not sure if this is being answered anymore. But I am in the middle of the first day of juices and am feeling terribly sick. I have pretty bad hypoglycemia so I was wondering if I should skip this part and go straight to phase 1?

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