What would you do without food? Not only does it nourish your body, it helps you celebrate life’s accomplishments, comforts you when you’re down, and brings family and friends together. So, what do you do when your body rejects certain foods?
The first step is identifying exactly which foods cause an intolerance or trigger your immune system to mount an attack, or allergic reaction. Dr. Farah Khan and our team here at Millennium Park Medical Associates in Greenwood Village, Colorado, can help you nail down the culprit or culprits with a medically supervised elimination diet. Here’s how it works.
Understanding the elimination diet
Simply put, the elimination diet cuts out specific foods from your diet to help you identify which ones cause a problem. Eliminations diets are especially helpful for identifying food intolerances or sensitivities, which cause symptoms but don’t involve the immune system.
While many food allergies can be determined by a blood or skin test, an elimination diet can confirm the diagnosis and/or help you pinpoint the exact culprit within a food group that’s triggering a response.
The elimination phase
The first part of the elimination diet is the elimination phase, where you avoid certain foods you suspect may be causing a problem. For instance, if you always have digestive problems after eating lasagna, you may be allergic to or sensitive to dairy products, wheat, tomatoes, certain spices, or eggs.
Dr. Khan helps you narrow down the items to avoid, and explains how to keep a food diary that provides valuable information about your reaction to certain foods.
It’s important to read labels carefully, as many foods contain ingredients you may not suspect are harmful to you or that trigger a reaction. Some food additives have been known to cause sensitivities or allergic reactions, too, so pay attention to artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colorings, and flavor enhancers.
Be sure to monitor your diet closely during this phase, not only for possible problematic foods, but also to make sure you maintain a nutritious diet despite the ingredients you’ve eliminated.
The reintroduction phase
If the elimination phase has provided relief from your symptoms, you can logically deduce that something on the list of eliminated items is to blame for your reactions. During the reintroduction phase, you’ll add those items back one at a time and write down your physical reactions in your food diary.
If you have only a mild reaction to some foods, you may be merely sensitive to that particular food rather than clinically allergic to it. It’s still valuable information, as you can avoid that food when possible and be prepared for a response when you eat it.
If you have a severe reaction to a particular food you’ve reintroduced, such as an instant rash or hives, a swollen or closed throat, or trouble breathing, seek emergency medical help immediately.
Types of elimination diets
Depending on the severity of your allergies and the suspected allergens, Dr. Khan may recommend one of several different types of elimination diets, including:
- Basic: elimination of one type of food, such as dairy or wheat products
- Moderate: elimination of several food groups, such as dairy, eggs, nuts, wheat, yeast
- Strict: elimination of all foods except a short list of fruits and vegetables, chicken, rice, and lamb
Dr. Khan supervises your elimination diet and monitors your responses to help identify food sensitivities, food allergies, and severe reactions, including anaphylaxis, which can lead to life-threatening problems, such as a constricted airway, shock, a dangerous drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.
If you suspect a food allergy or sensitivity but can’t figure out what's causing it, schedule an appointment with Dr. Khan and get to the bottom of your food-related itchy skin, oral swelling, digestive issues, respiratory problems, or worse — anaphylaxis. Call today or book online using our handy scheduling tool.