The Plan

People have been asking how the elimination diet works. Ultimately, that depends on your goal. If the goal is to find food sensitivities, you’ll want to do the elimination and reintroduction. If the goal is to lose weight or eat right, you may only want to do the elimination.

Note: Elimination is cumulative. For example, wheat is eliminated the first week. It does not come back the second week. It stays out of your diet until its reintroduction time.

Elimination

Week 1: Wheat

This is the week that you will eliminate all wheat products from your diet. This includes wheat flour, bread, crackers, pasta/noodles, pastries, pie crust, pizza crust, cookies, cakes, muffins, donuts, some gravy, most cereal, flour tortillas, confectioner’s/powdered sugar, and some alcohol, such as beer and vodka. If you find that you’ve missed eliminating something, don’t panic! Technically, the first thing to be eliminated is gluten, but I’ve split that up into three weeks. Just make sure that you’ve eliminated all wheat products by the time you finish week three.

Week 2: Corn

This is the week that you will eliminate all corn products. This includes corn, popcorn, corn syrup/fructose (used as a sweetener in sodas, candy, etc.), corn starch (used as a thickening agent in many foods), corn chips, corn tortillas, some cereals, cornmeal, corn oil (often in vegetable oil), and dextrose, dextrins, and maltodextrins (can be found in a variety of items, including meat and cheese).

Week 3: Grains

This is the week that you will eliminate all other grains. This includes oats, rice, couscous, and quinoa. At this point, any cereals that don’t have wheat or corn should also be eliminated. Some foods use rice flour or rice lecithin, so keep an eye out for that.

Week 4: Nightshades

This is the week that you will eliminate nightshades. This includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and products derived from these items, such as paprika, cayenne, chili powder, potato starch, tomato sauce, ketchup, and salsa. Sweet potatoes are not nightshades, but tubers, and can still be eaten.

Week 5: Legumes

This is the week that you will eliminate legumes (beans). This includes green beans, peas, lima beans, butter beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, chickpeas (hummus, falafel, etc.), lentils, soy beans (soybean oil, soy lecithin, soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, miso, etc.), carob, bean sprouts, and peanuts (peanut butter, peanut oil, etc.). Soy lecithin is in many foods, including chocolate. You can find chocolate without it, primarily dark chocolate.

Week 6: Eggs

This is the week that you will eliminate eggs. This includes eggs, custard, mayonnaise, some sauces, some salad dressings, some ice cream, prepared meatloaf, pizza crust alternatives, some bread/tortilla alternatives, marshmallows, albumin, globulin, and lysozyme.

Week 7: Dairy

This is the week that you will eliminate dairy. This includes milk, cream, whipped cream, most ice cream, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ghee, yogurt, butter, whey, whey protein, lactose, and casein. This refers to these items made from the milk of cows, goats, sheep, buffaloes, etc. It is not just limited to cows.

Week 8: Seeds, Nuts, & Refined Sugar

This is the week that you will eliminate seeds, nuts, and refined sugar. This includes chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, black/white pepper, pine nuts, hemp, coffee, chocolate, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, sugar, sugar cane, sugar beets, brown sugar, artificial sweeteners, glucose, sucrose, sucralose, saccharine, and saccharose. It is okay to use agave and/or honey as natural sweeteners.

This is technically your first week of strict paleo. On strict paleo, you may eat meat, most fruits, and most vegetables. See week 9 for more information.

Week 9: Strict Paleo

This is the second week of strict paleo. All meats are okay to eat, but lean meats (turkey, chicken, fish, etc.) are better for you. The goal should be to eat about 4 ounces of meat per day, with red meat being eaten no more than three days per week.

Vegetables are okay to eat, with the exception of nightshades. You should also limit your intake of onions and mushrooms, particularly if you have a mold allergy. The goal is to have at least 2 1/2 cups per day of vegetables.

Fruits are okay to eat, with the exception of nightshades. Fruits with edible seeds are better for you than fruits with inedible seeds. The goal for fruit should be about 1 cup per day.

This doesn’t sound like a lot of food, and it isn’t really. However, you will adjust and find that you don’t get hungry as often when you eat what your body needs.


Reintroduction

If you are doing this elimination to test your food sensitivities, you may wish to do an extra week of strict paleo, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Reintroduction is done in sets of three days. You will reintroduce an item for three days, meaning that you must have at least one serving of that item every day for three days. If reintroduction doesn’t trigger any new symptoms, you may move on to the next item. If it does trigger new symptoms, this food should be eliminated from your diet. You must have eliminated it for three days before you can reintroduce the next item.

Days 1-3: Seeds

You may now add seeds to your diet. This includes chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, mustard seeds, black/white pepper, pine nuts, hemp, coffee, and chocolate.

Days 4-6: Nuts

You may now add nuts to your diet. This includes walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pecans.

Days 7-9: Refined Sugar

You may now add sugar to your diet. This includes sugar, sugar cane, sugar beets, brown sugar, artificial sweeteners, glucose, sucrose, sucralose, saccharine, and saccharose.

Days 10-12: Dairy

You may now add dairy to your diet. This includes milk, cream, whipped cream, most ice cream, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, ghee, yogurt, butter, whey, whey protein, lactose, and casein.

Days 13-15: Eggs

You may now add eggs to your diet. This includes eggs, custard, mayonnaise, some sauces, some salad dressings, some ice cream, prepared meatloaf, pizza crust alternatives, some bread/tortilla alternatives, marshmallows, albumin, globulin, and lysozyme.

Days 16-18: Legumes

You may now add legumes (beans) to your diet. This includes green beans, peas, lima beans, butter beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, chickpeas (hummus, falafel, etc.), lentils, soy beans (soybean oil, soy lecithin, soy milk, soy sauce, tofu, miso, etc.), carob, bean sprouts, and peanuts (peanut butter, peanut oil, etc.).

Days 19-21: Nightshades

You may now add nightshades to your diet. This includes potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and products derived from these items, such as paprika, cayenne, chili powder, potato starch, tomato sauce, ketchup, and salsa.

Days 22-24: Grains

You may now add grains to your diet. This includes oats, rice, couscous, and quinoa.

Days 25-27: Corn

You may now add corn to your diet. This includes corn, popcorn, corn syrup/fructose (used as a sweetener in sodas, candy, etc.), corn starch (used as a thickening agent in many foods), corn chips, corn tortillas, some cereals, cornmeal, corn oil (often in vegetable oil), and dextrose, dextrins, and maltodextrins.

Days 28-30: Wheat

You may now add wheat to your diet. This includes wheat flour, bread, crackers, pasta/noodles, pastries, pie crust, pizza crust, cookies, cakes, muffins, donuts, some gravy, most cereal, flour tortillas, confectioner’s/powdered sugar, and some alcohol, such as beer and vodka.

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