For the last two months I have been on an elimination diet to try to figure out what is causing my GI issues. I am not going to go into much detail with the results, but I wanted to provide some meal ideas and resources because I spent hours searching for something like that before I started my elimination diet. I will include links to recipes and things that worked for me, but not a full meal plan because I think they are relatively useless, one size doesn’t fit all and something that works great for me might not work at all for you, and something that works for you might not work for me at all.
An elimination diet is a way to figure out food sensitivities and allergies through the process of elimination. In a nutshell, you remove most all possible allergens from your diet for a period of time (I did ten days. It will take longer for adults (about two weeks to a month)). The reason to remove all of them is that confirms that your problems (GI or not) are food related at all. Once you have felt better for at least a week, you begin to carefully ‘challenge’ possible problem foods very carefully. If you feel good, then you can leave it in your diet. If you get sick again, then you take it out and rechallenge again in a few months. I recommend writing everything that you eat down and every possible symptom you have. To be honest, it is super boring and time consuming, but totally worth it in the long run. I highly, highly recommend an app called mySymptoms. It is very simple, and though very low tech, makes tracking things super easy. After you have been tracking for a while, it guesses what you might have eaten and then you can just click on the food item. I have the free version, and it works perfectly for me.
If you are going to do an elimination diet, you should do the ‘hardest’ because if you don’t take every possible suspect food out of your diet and you still have problems then you will have to take everything out anyway. And you will probably feel absolutely awesome on total elimination – so it is totally worth it. .
Here are the things that I eliminated. (I am already GF and DF, but I am listing that anyway, I just didn’t rechallenge them)
Gluten (includes barley, spelt, rye, etc)
Nuts (also eliminate seeds if you currently eat a lot of them)
Citrus fruits, bananas, apples, and pears
Nightshade vegetables (peppers, white potatoes, eggplant)
Onions and garlic
Processed oils (only eat olive oil and coconut oil)
Alcohol (not a problem for me because I am thirteen, but I thought I should mention it.)
Caffeine (again, not a problem for me)
Beef (including veal) (I don’t eat it in the first place, but if you do, eliminate it)
Pork (I don’t eat this either, but if you do, eliminate it)
Processed meats (once again, not a problem for me)
Now you might be thinking ‘what can I eat?’. I definitely was when I started this.
You can eat :
Most fruits and vegetables
Chicken and Turkey
Rice and quinoa
This looks like nothing, especially compared to the ‘eliminate’ list. I am going to go through the above list and tell you about some of the amazing ideas I discovered. Then I will be telling you some of my favorite meals for this diet and an example two day meal plan.
No recommendations on how to prepare it, just eat a good amount of it, otherwise you might get constipated
Roasted vegetables –
Roast Brussels sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes at 475 degrees Fahrenheit until they are crispy. I like the sweet potatoes sliced thin like chips.
Make large stir fries
Make fried rice
Eat lots of raw carrot sticks
Make squash soups
Sweet potato chips from the store (brand – ‘Food Should Taste Good’)
Add chicken to stir fries
Turkey wraps – Use soy free vegenaise, tortillas (more info below), lettuce, and julienned carrot. Just use a sliced deli turkey.
Fried chicken –
Dip chicken in rice milk and then some rice flour and then pan fry it
Put chicken or turkey slices in salads
Quinoa bread –
Follow this recipe but substitute 3/4 of a teaspoon of baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar for the baking powder. Also substitute one flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax to 3 tablespoons of water. Whisk it together and refrigerate for 15 minutes, or until thickened) and an oil, water, and leavening egg (Whisk together 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of oil, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar for the other egg. Instead of the hard cider use 1/2 cup sparkling apple cider (make sure it does not have added sugar) and 1/4 cup club soda. My Namaste GF flour blend worked for this diet. Your loaf will be shorter, so make a smaller pan.
Make brown rice tortilla wraps (recipe)
Make homemade rice milk (the store bought one has processed oils)(recipe)
Make a large amount of brown rice or quinoa at the beginning of every week
I make a simple fried rice for breakfast every morning. We bought pre julienned carrots. Stir fry a large handful and then add some rice. You could add cooked meat as well. Move it around in the pan until the rice is hot. Add some coconut aminos (more info below), stir and cover the pan. When it is hot and steamy, eat it with some fruit.
Unsweetened rice cakes
Brown rice/quinoa pasta
Tabbouleh – don’t use the onion, garlic, lemon, or lime. Double the parsley and cucumber. You can even make tabbouleh tacos if you put it in tortillas. It is also good eaten with a spoon. I like to add crushed sweet potato chips for a little crunch.
Puffed rice with rice milk – no nutritional value, but it works if you are super hungry and can not think of anything to eat.
Unsweetened Sunflower seed butter
Granola bars – melt Sunflower seed butter and coconut oil. Add some puffed rice. Mash it into a paste. Add some more puffed rice and stir gently. Press it into a pan sprayed with olive oil and refrigerate until firm. Slice into bars and enjoy within three days.
Add toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds to rice milk and puffed rice.
Something I never did but meant to – make chia seed pudding with Chia seeds and canned coconut milk. Add fruit for for sweetness.
Just eat them as a snack
Roast vegetables in olive oil
Use coconut oil in granola bars (above)
Use either coconut or olive oil in my fried rice
Cook things in oil!
Use salt and pepper on things that taste bland.
Add some turmeric to the cooking water of brown rice pasta to give it a more pasta like color (it is often very pale) and some anti inflammatory benefits that are good for healing your gut.
Try making chicken noodle soup. Add thyme, turmeric, and a bay leaf or two.
Coconut aminos are a sweet sauce made from coconuts. It tastes a bit like mild soy sauce. The brand coconut secret can be found at ‘New Seasons’.
Remember… No garlic powder. And I am not lying when I say it was one of the hardest things for me.
Okay, now that I have explained all the amazing items (and some meals) you CAN eat, I am going to give some meal recommendations and a sample meal plan.
Breakfast fried rice (above)
Ricey breakfast : Rice with rice milk, fruit, and Sunflower seed butter
Big plate of fruits and vegetables with sunflower seed butter
Lunches and dinners –
Turkey wrap (above)
Squash soup (tasty over rice)
Stir fries (lots of veggies, chicken, rice, coconut aminos, maybe a little chicken or vegetable broth)
‘PB and J’ (toast a slice of quinoa bread (alternatively, use a rice cake). Spread on Sunflower seed butter and top with fresh raspberries, strawberries, etc)
Tabbouleh (more info above)
Baked sweet potato (I just do it in the microwave) with brown rice, roasted vegetables, and torn up turkey slices (or any other meat)
Anything mentioned above.
Celery or carrots and Sunflower seed butter
Small piece of quinoa bread, toasted with a little salt
Example of the meal plan –
Day 1 –
Breakfast : Breakfast fried rice.
Snack :Carrots and Sunflower Seed Butter.
Lunch : Squash soup over rice with quinoa bread.
Snack : ‘Granola’ Bar
Dinner : Vegetables and Chicken stir fry.
Day 2 –
Breakfast : Ricey Breakfast.
Snack : Elimination diet friendly tabbouleh with crushed sweet potato chips.
Lunch : Turkey wrap.
Snack : Toasted quinoa bread
Dinner : Salad with roasted Brussel sprouts, sweet potato and cauliflower. You can add some sautéed chicken as well.
In this article, I have explained how to do the elimination stage of the diet. If you have any questions at all, feel free to comment and I will try to answer them. Soon, I will post all about how to reintroduce foods, along with some awesome recipes!