Basic Elimination Diet
If you or your child is experiencing different symptoms such as eczema, ADD, digestive upset, chronic joint pain, or low energy, this can be a sign of an immune system imbalance due to food triggers. When the immune system recognizes food antigens as a pathogen, then an immune response is generated similar to the immune response to a bacteria or virus. When this food "pathogen" is consumed daily, the immune reaction becomes chronic. The only way to determine if a particular food group is behind your symptoms is to do an Elimination Diet.
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What is the Basic Elimination Diet?
The Basic Elimination Diet is a simple elimination diet for beginners, which removes the top six inflammatory foods: gluten & wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae). This is an ideal elimination diet to get started on for adults who are new to the elimination diet process, and the elimination diet we usually recommend for children and pregnant women. The process of an elimination diet removes potentially inflammatory foods until symptoms calm down, which is then followed with a reintroduction phase that tests each food group to see if symptoms return.
A Basic Elimination Diet is beneficial for anyone experiencing:
- Hives (urticaria)
- Low energy
- ADD / ADHD
- Join pain
- Chronic digestive upset
- Nutrient deficiencies / malabsorption
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
How does a Basic Elimination Diet work?
A basic elimination diet begins with an elimination phase by removing all of the above six food groups for 4 to 6 weeks, or until symptoms calm down. The recipes for the Basic Elimination Diet on this website are ALL suitable for the elimination phase of this diet.
Foods excluded on a Basic Elimination Diet:
- Gluten (whole grains and flours from wheat, rye, barley, spelt, triticale, emmer, einkorn)
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream, butter, and ghee from cow, goat, and sheep's milk)
- Eggs (chicken and duck eggs)
- Soy (tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, soy beans, soy flour, edamame, soy protein isolate, TVP, some protein drinks)
- Corn (corn on the cob, cornmeal, corn starch, corn flour, popcorn, masa harina, corn tortillas)
- Yeast [Saccharomyces cerevisiae] (baker's yeast, brewer's yeast, beer, wine, wine vinegars)
What if I'm not feeling better after 6 weeks?
If there is still no improvement of symptoms after 4 to 6 weeks of strictly following this diet, then follow these steps:
- Add in a digestive enzyme supplement with all meals (this is beneficial to do throughout the entire diet).
- Add in a probiotic supplement to help rebalance your gut microbiome in order to help your immune system to be less reactive (talk with your healthcare practitioner about specific strains that would be best for you).
- Move to a Full Elimination Diet where additional potentially problematic foods are removed.
- Consider adding the Low-FODMAP Diet to this elimination diet on the diet tab in your user profile (for IBS symptoms, anxiety, and fibromyalgia).
- Consider experimenting with the removal of additional food groups such as grains, legumes, or nightshade vegetables (these can easily be added on the diet tab in your user profile).
How to reintroduce foods:
After 4 to 6 weeks on the Basic Elimination Diet, and after symptoms have calmed down, it is time to begin reintroducing foods. It is best to reintroduce foods from what are often the least problematic foods to the most problematic foods. Therefore, it is best to begin with introducing yeast and end with introducing gluten.
Start by adding in recipes that contain baker's yeast, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, or nutritional yeast. You will include these foods 3 times a day for 3 days. If any of your previous symptoms return, then immediately remove all yeast containing foods from your diet and wait until your symptoms calm down before reintroducing another food group. If no symptoms return after 3 days of consuming yeast ingredients, then wait 3 days to see if any delayed food reactions occur and then begin to test corn and soy in the same way. When you are ready to test dairy, use plain 24-hour fermented yogurt and hard cheeses (this excludes lactose as a potential irritant in order to see if dairy proteins are your issue). For gluten, it is best to use rye flour or barley flour made into flatbread or cooked rye or barley grains (this excludes wheat and helps to single out gluten as a potential irritant). If you don't have a reaction to rye or barley, then use wheat flour or spelt flour to make flatbreads or pancakes.
It is important to journal during your elimination diet. Write down the date, what you ate, and how you felt that day, along with a list of any symptoms. This journal will be essential to look back on at the end of your diet to notice any patterns about food consumption, sleep, moods, energy, and symptoms. This way you can more deeply connect the foods you eat to how you feel.
What can I cook and bake on a Basic Elimination Diet?
If you are new to the idea of an elimination diet, it can feel totally overwhelming. Luckily, this site provides the support you need to find recipes and plan meals for a successful diet. The most important thing to remember when going through an elimination diet is that if you are not prepared it will be very difficult to avoid the foods you are accustomed to eating, especially if you get over-hungry. When you get hungry you will need to have snacks prepared that you can reach for! Take a weekend to clean out your refrigerator and stock it with approved ingredients for this diet. Make up a big batch of these Cookie Dough Energy Balls or these Cinnamon-Sunflower Truffles. These Brown Rice Crispy Treats are great to make for a child going through an elimination diet. Have a batch of plain Hummus or Herbed Hummus on hand for a nutritious snack to eat with raw veggies. Other nutritious elimination diet snacks that can easily be whipped up include this Berry Vanilla Milkshake recipe, or these Salt and Pepper Kale Chips, or try this recipe for Chocolate Almond Apricot Bars!
Elimination diet breakfasts are easy too! Start out with a high-protein nutrient-dense breakfast of homemade Chicken Sausage Patties and a Gut-Healing Green Smoothie. These egg-free and gluten-free Banana Pancakes are a favorite among children. Top them with sunflower seed butter or almond butter for a more nutrient-dense breakfast. Make up a big batch of the Cinnamon Spiced Granola (using gluten-free oats) on the weekend and use it to top a bowl of coconut milk yogurt and blueberries for a quick elimination diet breakfast.
We have hundreds of elimination diet main dish recipes on this site. Also, be sure to look for the "Modifications" section on recipes that can easily be modified to be elimination diet-safe. Elimination diet main dishes can easily be made by combining meat or fish with a starchy vegetable or gluten-free grain and a non-starchy raw vegetable or green. Vegetarian main dishes can include a grain and legume along with a non-starchy cooked or raw vegetable. Try this easy recipe for Sheet Pan Chicken and Potatoes and serve it with Steamed Green Beans or a simple lettuce and cucumber salad with this Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette. This Herb Roasted Halibut recipe is delicious served with Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds and Sautéed Asparagus with Lemon or this Brown Rice and Cabbage Salad. This Moroccan Chickpea and Potato Stew makes a great vegetarian elimination diet main dish. Serve with a big green salad with this Lemon-Garlic Dressing and a pot of Long Grain Brown Rice.
Baking on an elimination diet is easy! Try this yeast-free and gluten-free Whole Grain Flatbread, or this recipe for Gluten-Free Pumpkin Scones. These gluten-free and egg-free Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes are a delicious treat on an elimination diet. This gluten-free Pita Bread recipe is very easy to make and perfect for eating with Chicken Salad or Hummus and cucumbers. Try this no-bake Salted Raw Chocolate Tart for a birthday or holiday treat while on an elimination diet!
How do I start a Basic Elimination Diet?
- Become a Nourishing Meals® member today!
- When setting up your user profile, choose Basic Elimination Diet.
- Go to the Search page and start adding recipes to your meal plans and calendar! Many of the recipes on this site can be modified to be safe for the Basic Elimination Diet; check the modifications section at the bottom of this page for more recipes that may not show up in your search.
- Use one of our sample meal plans on this page to get started!
- Spend a weekend meal prepping elimination diet snacks, soups, and breakfast items that you can have on hand.
- It is best to follow the Basic Elimination Diet elimination phase for 4 to 6 weeks and then begin reintroducing foods in a reintroduction phase as outlined above to see how your body responds.
- New elimination diet recipes are added weekly to keep your meal plans tasty and exciting, so stay tuned!
- Join our Nourishing Meals Community Facebook Group for notifications with new recipes and more! Everyone is welcome. Our Elimination Diet Support Facebook Group is also a great place to get extra support when following an Elimination Diet.