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

Ali Segersten Jan 02, 2010

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. 

Add Comment


I see that this post is no longer being answered, BUT I had to comment anyhow (just in case:)-- I am very interested in starting this diet although a little nervous and overwhelmed since I am an inexperienced cook. I am surprised that soy products are mentioned to go back into the diet after the phases. Isn't soy something to avoid all the time??

Ha, when it comes to elimination diet, I usually succeed for like 4-5 days, then it's back to my old eat everything self. It is so inspiring to see so more and more people trying out the elimination diet as the years go by. This just shows that more and more people are being more conscious with what they put in their mouth these days. It is now well past the new year. Hey but it is never too late to still go ahead with the elimination diet. I'll definitely try again next week :D

Hi Ali and Tom,

I'm on day 4 of your elimination diet and I tried making the sweet rice cereal for breakfast and could not get past the texture. Is it suppose to be sticky?

Also I haven't had one bowel movement since I started the diet is that normal? I've done the green smoothie fast, water and the past two days I've eaten brown rice with steamed sweet potatoes and avocado.

Also I've been having eating raisins as a snack is that okay?


Ali and Tom- I have the same question at City Books about hypothyroidism and cruciferous vegetables. I saw where Ali posted that Tom may answer this question early January 2010, but I couldn't find the post answering the question. I'm interested in doing the 28-Day Elimination diet but want to limit my intake of these vegetables. If you could direct me to the post with the answer or provide an answer that would be awesome. Thanks! - Rachel

Can leeks and pomegranates be eaten during Phase 1?

Thank you.

I am on phase 2 of the elimination diet. I feel really good. I am having just a couple concerns. I am having trouble eating enough not to loose weight. I did add salmon during phase 1 (I know I am a person that needs a lot of food). I have still gone from 98lbs to 91lbs. I also seem to have an increase in my hyperthyroidism type symptoms. For example, my heart races more and I feel jittery more often. Could this have something to do with a release of toxins, my body changing with the different diet, or the weight loss? Besides these worries I do feel really good.. I am almost scared to add anything back in :) but since I am a terrible cook I know it will be worth the risk.
Thank you for your book and blog!
April Koebcke


My husband and I are starting the Elimination Diet tomorrow. We have a freezer full of rhubarb, saskatoons & blueberries. Are these fruits ok to add to our smoothies for the next two days?

Thanks so much. Love the cook book.



I have a question in relation to manfuacturing questions.

I just started the diet and while shopping for legumes and split peas, I noticed that the packaging says..."Produced in the same facility that processes wheat, dairy, gluten etc"

How serious is this because I cannot seem to find out that is processed in a "clean or allergy free" facility!

Please advise because I dont want this to turn around and be a major issue.

Thank You.

I hope you are still responding to this post. I have noticed that they past few questions have gone unanswered.

I live in a rural town, and organic is virtually non existant, but I think I can still do this, I am pretty in tune with my body, but somethings are still not right (hair and hormones and I am already on thyroid medicine and it is at 1.8 and the TSH was good too); it has been suggested I follow some food combining rules and fix my digestive system. What are your thoughts on this?

After eliminating foods and finding what is reactive, are you at all ever able to eat those reactive foods or will they always be a problem?

Thanks, Joelle


I go to the gym a lot and I need extra protein during my workouts. I used to take Whey protein but I have taken that out b/c of the dairy in there. What can I substitute it with. Can I take "Rice Protein PowdeR"?


I started my cleansing yesterday about noon (skipped breakfast, but took my vegan probiotics) and did not put in the kale or collard leaves, only two handfuls of salad spring mix. Tom's medicine chest juice did not look green but brown (I did drink the whole thing minus the kale or collard greens). Today I made it with the 5 kale leaves and two collard leaves, it looks GREEN! Do I need to do the juice fasting an extra day because of this or is the two enough? What is the point of the two day juice fasting? Is there a way I should feel? Or does everyone feel different? I feel full today and not very hungry, unless the juice is feeling me up.

I started my cleansing yesterday July 13. July 12, I had a full bag of popcorn around 9:00 pm. I felt still very full the next morning (7/13), so I didn't start my juice until noon. Then I did drink the full Tom's Medicine Chest without the lemon. However, I didn't put in any of the Kale or collar greens, just two handfuls of spring mix lettuce. My questions is, is this good enough to finish my two day fast today, or should I do a third day? Today I did add 5 kale leave and 2 collar leaves. It is a lot more greener than it was yesterday. I did developed a slight headache yesterday, but did feel better when I woke up this morning, than the previews morning. What do you recommend? Thanks!

My husband and I have started the 28 day elimination diet and are on day 3. I have several health issues that keep recurring: migraines, vitiligo, as well as yeast issues. I have been told to stay away from all forms of sugar, including fruit, and this diet has me eating alot of fruit. Should I stay away from doing this because of yeast issues? Thanks so much for any help you can give!! Jana

RE: Anonymous (June 10)
I had the same question. I didn't have a good blender and ended up with lots of sludge. I asked the same question but with no response just went ahead with juicing. It's still somewhat helpful for you but not as much. I found that juicing though (especially if I made a bunch of smoothies a day) made be feel really sick and nauseous.
I'd suggest buying a good blender if possible or eating other foods too along with your smoothie. Or do as Ali suggested to me, "As far as a blender goes, can you replace your blade? If you have an old blender with a new, sharp blade then you can make the smoothies. Granted it won't be the same as a Vita-Mix but it still works. This is what we did until we got a vita-mix. You can go online to your manufacturer's website and order a new one for your model. :)" If you are looking for a good blender, I bought one that works great for green smoothies and other such things and it was under $100---way cheaper than a Vita-mix. I can let you know the brand/model if you like.

I also have a post about elimination diet recipes (phase 1 and on) so you might want to check that out.

I also blog GF, dairy-free, and sugar-free so hopefully you'll be able to find some good recipes there. :)

Good Luck! And feel free to email me with any comments/?'s. :) -Ari

Ariana Anderson
Blogging about GF, dairy-free, sugar-free recipes and living frugally!

I am on day four of the diet and I have a question on
using a juicer instead of a blender.... I have a terrible
blender but do own a juicer....I am having a hard time
drinking the "sludgy" part of the smoothies. Don't get me
wrong the Smoothies taste amazing but it's chunky due to
my is the juicer ok?

I have the same question as MamaAngie. When can you reintroduce vinegars and mushrooms? Also, a question on beans. I seem to have some issues but it's never consistent. Will mung and adzuki beans and lentils interfere with the diet's intentions? Because I'm so ready to be able to eat normally again... Thanks! Love the blog. And your cookbook.

Are cucumbers, raisins, and watermelon okay for Phase I?

And I saw that teff is allowed, but that's not the same as teff flour right?

My family (hubby, kids, sister, aunt and myself) have all been suffering from different health issues (some minor, some severe) and so are about to embark on the elimination diet together. I was wondering though about zucchini and olives; I couldn't find anything on your blog, website or cookbook about when they are acceptable. Also, when are we able to add back in buckwheat, mushrooms, vanilla, and vinegar? And THANK YOU for all the info and recipes you share here. It's been a great help for this sometimes overwhelmed mama!

So glad I haven't given up. I am on day 20 of the elimination diet. I am still in phase 1, the only thing I have introduced is salmon...just felt like I needed more protein. I am starting to feel so much better. Finally!!! I have decided to stay in phase 1 until I stop having eczema "flare ups". Otherwise, it would be hard to tell if I was reacting to something. I have absolutely no desire for the typical american diet anymore, yeah!!! It was challenging at first, esp bc I am a nurse & honestly, nurses don't eat well! But, it is starting to feel natural & normal to eat healthy, all of the time! Hopefully others will see how great I feel & look, and maybe make better choices for themselves. Thanks Ali for a fantastic elim diet & cookbook :)

Hi there- Ari here. I've been doing the diet for over 2 weeks and am wondering if it's healthy to do the way I have been lately. I have been doing it with only the things I know I can tolerate (lentils and brown rice) and then slowly adding other things in. Is that ok/healthy? Also, what if you slip one day and don't follow the diet at all? Do you need to start over? Thanks!

I am a vegetarian as well and am curious to see what Ali recommends. I did try the elimination diet back in January, but just felt a bit too sluggish after about 10-12 days and didn't feel I could continue. I want to give it another shot though as I've been having a lot of stomach problems, so I'm curious to know if we should add in any other forms of protein now that salmon is included in the phase 1 list.

i am a vegitarian and i am beyond excited to try the elimination diet!!!! :) but i dont eat fish or meats...what should i do??? and would it hurt me to continue to drink coffee through the diet? what would the effects be?
thank you sooo much for your amazing website and cookbook! God Bless!!

Jen, I'm not an expert like Ali and Tom, but I have a lot of problems with inflammation (joint pains, asthma, allergies and rashes) and I also noticed an increase at the beginning of the elimination diet, both times... not sure if that makes a pattern, quite, but it did get better for me after about 2 weeks. What did help was drinking a LOT of water, taking cold showers, and making sure to eat enough - count your calories. I also found it helped to cook the greens (instead of eating them raw), even just blanching them before making smoothies.

I have had severe eczema/dermatitis since I've had my daughter 17 months ago. I am on day 9 of the elimination diet, but I did 4 days of green smoothie fast & I am feeling terrible. My symptoms have gotten so much worse. Eczema has spread & I am having facial swelling. I don't want to give up now, but am feeling discouraged. On a good note, so far phase 1 recipes have been absolutely delicious. I already have no desire to eat sugar,gluten,dairy,etc...well maybe cheese but that's fading fast! Ali, I just now read that you shouldn't nurse while detoxing. I still nurse my daughter once before bed, do you think I am harming her???

Hi there,

I have been on the elimination diet for 2 months, following strictly.

I was just wondering if you have any tips for keeping the challenge phase less overwhelming. I find every time I introduce anything I feel terrible afterward. Specifically with nightshades - should i try challenging each veggie on its own?

Thanks for your time and tips!

Hi this is Ariana again. But this time I thought I would share something. I put together a list of a bunch of your phase 1 recipes with the links to them and other recipes from other sites that I found about phase one foods. I thought this might be a helpful resource to direct someone to so I figured I would post the link here. :) I am loving phase one so far too and I'm already learning a lot! :)

Love the book; love the website. I've been doing the elimination diet for 2.5 weeks now. I am experiencing a lot of "fogginess" in my mind during the day, and feel a bit head achey. Does this sound within the realm of normal for 2.5 weeks? I have not moved on to adding lemons/limes, as I want to feel weel prior to diving in. Do you agree that I should not move forward until this clears up for me? Thank you and have a great day!

Hi this is Ari again. I'm at the end of day one. I followed your suggestion and tried eating some apples and pears because I felt like I needed to eat something but I'm still feeling really sluggish etc. Just drinking the smoothies and things (even when I add more fruits to them) makes me feel nauseated. I'm wondering if I should continue and keep going tomorrow with the green smoothies or just start phase 1? Also, I'm wondering if dates are allowed on phase one? I'm assuming they are because Ali has used some in her recipes for phase one?


I was wondering if Hemp Protein is ok to use in the elimination diet.

I have Crohn's disease (it was in remission for about 3 years due to diet work and supplements, but now the last 6 inches of my intestines have been bleeding for 2.5 years), I have extremely low progesterone (producing 5 percent of what I should - but supplementing with PROG cream),and I have been diagnosed with Chronic fatigue and Fibromyalgia. I have done the green smoothie fast the past two days, and boy am I ready for Mung Beans ;) Do you think this diet will help? I have tried Gottschal (too heavy and fatty for me), and a multitude of other dietary things, but never really strictly done an elimination thing.

Anyway - I love your site and your recipes! Keep up the fabulous work.


Ariana, yes this feeling is totally normal. Be sure to drink enough water as well. If you must eat something, go for an apple or pear.

Hi there- this is Ari again. I finally started the diet today with the smoothies. Is it normal to feel weak and lethargic and just generally "blah"?
-Ariana Anderson
The Frugally Rich Life

Ariana - Organic is very important, this way, we eliminate chemical residues and GMO's from the diet, both of which can cause numerous health problems, including weight gain. However, if you have the opportunity to visit a Farmer's Market then talk with the farmers. Some might not be certified organic, which is very expensive, but still might be practicing sustainable agriculture. They key is finding sustainably grown and pesticide-free produce.

Yes, if you already know that spinach affects you then keep it out.

As far as a blender goes, can you replace your blade? If you have an old blender with a new, sharp blade then you can make the smoothies. Granted it won't be the same as a Vita-Mix but it still works. This is what we did until we got a vita-mix. You can go online to your manufacturer's website and order a new one for your model. :)

oh--1 moore thing......I have nticed a sensitivity to spinach----should i just keep off it, or ? I always get diaherra when I eat it...tooo much fiber perhaps? Also, what do I do about not having the best blender---I know these smoothies require a lot if blending plower?

I see that its mentioned that you should get organic? How important is it to do so? And with what products is it most important?

Ariana - Yes, in this post, there are links to recipes on this blog for each phase. These are new recipes not in the book. You could start with these and then add more once you receive the book. You could even begin a trial run by simply adding in some of these new recipes without actually starting the elimination diet. This way it will be more of a gradual change (for some people this is key). Have fun with this and keep an eye on how you feel. :)

Sorry, for the extra after thoughts! I think this is the last one! :) Also, do you have any suggestions or guidelines/recipes that I could use for the first few days while I wait for the cookbook to arrive in the mail? Thanks!!!

Ariana - You can find info about Tom's services here:

The best way to reach him is to call his cell and you two can talk about what would work best. The number is on the link. Hope you find healing in this. -Ali :)

Oh, and I'm assuming this would help someone who struggles with overeating too?

How do I contact Tom? And how much does it cost? And how does he help? :)

Ari - thanks for your comment. The elimination diet could certainly help many of these issues. You may want to consider remaining in phase 1 for an extra week to give your system time to calm down. With everything you have going on you may even want to set up a phone consult with Tom, even 15 minutes with him could help significantly and steer you into a customized elimination plan. -Ali :)

Dear Ali and Tom,
First of all, I love your blog. I am an avid reader and fan. Thanks for all you do! :)
I have some questions. I've been contemplating doing the elimination diet for quite some time now but I've been wondering if it would really be beneficial to me and worth the time/energy to do it.
I have a lot of health issues. I have dealt with them in the past by going GF and dairy-free, and also refined sugar-free. I have gone back to eating gluten and dairy and seem to be ok,(I have tested negative several times for both celiac and allergies) but my health issues are still there (just as they were when I was eating GF and dairy-free.) I still continue to eat refined sugar-free sometimes.
Would the elimination diet help with any or all of these problems? I have: IBS, gastritis, fibromylgia, chronic back/neck pain, plantar factitious, ADHD, post-concussion syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Some of the symptoms of these are: constipation/diaherra (alternating), bloating, headaches, fatigue, fogginess, not being able to focus or concentrate, etc. I am on several different medications but would like to not have to be on so many and to be feeling better! One of the biggest problems too is just generally beign sluggish and always going through a cycle of gaining weight (20+ lbs) when I'm at school and then I have to work really hard all summer to get it off only to gain it again when I go back to school. I know that this isn't the most important problem, but I don't feel good when I am boarding the line for overweight. Anyways, if you could offer any suggestions or help, it would be greatly appreciated!

With much thanks, Ari
Ariana Anderson
The Frugally Rich Life

Hi Shari - Thanks for your comment. Yes the elimination diet would be very beneficial for your son. You would want to jump right into phase 1 and skip the green smoothie cleanse. Though make sure he drinks at least 1 cup of green smoothie every day with meals. It is possible that he could begin to gain some weight once the digestive issues are taken care of, though most adults lose weight on this diet. You may want to consider keeping in all beans (except soy) during all phases to give more food options. In fact, you may consider waiting to introduce tamari, tofu and all soy products until the challenge phase. Hopefully now that the warmer weather has begun to move in there will be more produce options for you. :)

Hi, I just found your website/blog and am very interested in starting this elimination diet. I am nursing almost full time a 10 1/2 month old so am not going to start with the green smoothies. I saw in one of your comments left by someone that they had a 6 year old boy with vitiligo. My son also has Vitiligo and is 8 has had it for a couple of years do you think this elimination diet would help that? He love sugar and prefers to eat things that arnt good for him. He is completly vegetarian has never shown an interest in meat so i would have to adjust some of the foods in the phases. He is a very skinny boy and i am always concerned about his nutrition since he is extremely picky and loves breads and sugar and prefers them over just about everything. He does like most vegetables and fruit and loves a good veggie soup with barley/lentils/beans. He also has some i believe digestive issues like his father and skin issues as well. Both i believe are very allergic to something and have alot of skin reactions. I thank you for your time and all the information and recipes you post on your blog very interesting to read. I love studying nutritional information just would love to get my whole family involved. I live in Alaska so its hard to get all the produce in tip top fresh condition but i will do my best!! Thanks again Shari

Thirteen days of phase one and I am about done with lentils, mung beans and adzuki beans. Phew. I am extending phase to 15 days since I decided to not do the smoothie cleanse. I can't say I am feeling any different after 13 days of this, but we'll see if anything changes during the challenge phase.

Hooray for being on vacation! :-)

Wash The Day Away - Do you mean green smoothies? Or are you consuming only juice?

Sarah - It sounds like it would be best to extend Phase 1 for another week. Some folks report staying in phase 1 for weeks (sometimes months) until symptoms subside.

xinrachel - This diet is not an anti-candida diet (though some of the recipes are suitable for it). You may want to consider looking into The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates.

Anon - You can view our FAQ page for more info regarding your question.
We don't recommend that children do the 2-day smoothie fast though offer smoothies throughout the diet. Using apple juice in place of water is fine if that is how they prefer them - better to drink them than not (though for others reading this it is best to use water to avoid the added sugars that juice contains). If you feel they need animal protein then use wild Alaskan salmon during phase 1. Hope this helps! :)

My family plans to start the detox phase on Monday. I have a couple of questions. First I have an 10, 8, and 6 year old I was going to have join dad and I on the cleanse. My oldest has complained of stomach pains off and on for a while and 6-year-old has vitaligo. So I thought it might not harm them. Would you recommend this for children or should dad and I be the only ones. If it is okay for the kids, I've already done some experimenting getting them to drink the green smoothies. They seem to prefer them with organic apple juice instead of water. Is this okay? Or do you have to use the water in the smoothie?
Thanks for your help.

I am on a candida cleansing diet which prohibits consumption of any sugars at all, so no fruit, only stevia which kills yeast.
I would love some advice, recipes and thoughts about the no sugar aspect of this diet.

Hi, Today is my last day of phase 2, but I'm wondering if I need to wait until I'm feeling really good to start adding lemon/lime? I've had diarrhea since I started the elimination and my eczema is still present, so should I wait until I'm symptom free before adding things in? Thanks, Sarah

Just starting Phase 1 with nothing but juice - is it normal to be feeling nauseous?
I am still taking vitamins. I make sure to eat, at the least, an apple with them as to not upset my stomach. But still feeling pretty nauseous.

We added salmon as an option for those feeling like they need animal protein. Salmon is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids so it is ideal to consume in small quantities during the diet. Some folks do best with no animal protein while others do better with some. I did talk about it in one of my phase 1 posts, don't remember which one at the moment. Hope this helps. -Ali :)

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