You might have heard about elimination diets, and maybe you're considering trying it out. But before you do, it's good to learn more about what it involves and how it could benefit you. Let's take a look at some of the basics around elimination diets, including the benefits and how you could start.

What is an elimination diet?

An elimination diet is normally recommended when people suspect they have an allergy to a certain ingredient. It could be that you have consistent bad skin which seems to appear whenever you eat a certain meal, or maybe you feel sick every few days and can't quite pin down why.

An elimination diet involves cutting ingredients out of your diet and adding them back in one by one to figure out which ingredients were causing an issue. Some people prefer to do it slightly differently, cutting out one ingredient at a time until they find the culprit.

How do you decide which ingredients to eliminate?

This is arguably the most difficult part of an elimination diet – trying to decide which ingredients to eliminate. People often eat a wide range of different ingredients on a daily basis, and most of us don't read the packaging and are mostly unaware exactly which ingredients are going into our bodies.

Think about the problems that you are experiencing and that are causing you to consider an elimination diet. If you have bad skin, for example, dairy products are often among the first ingredients to be eliminated. You should research or speak to your doctor specifically about your problems and which ingredients could be causing it.

How long does an elimination diet take?

Different people will have different results, and some people have found the problem or allergy after just a few days. On average, it's recommended that you try an elimination diet for 3-4 weeks. If you have cut out foods and you are on a limited diet, add a new ingredient back in every 2-3 days.

How will you know which ingredients are problematic?

In order for an elimination diet to be as effective as possible, you should keep a food journal and document what you are eating and how you are feeling. Ideally, you should do this for every meal, but some people only have time to complete a journal once a day. By monitoring your symptoms and foods, it will be easier to discover which ones are causing you a problem.