In Part 1, we learned the reasons for undertaking a food elimination diet and provided a sample diet for you to follow, as well as some helpful hints for getting started. Here, we explore how to start reintroducing foods back into your diet at the end of the suggested three to four weeks.
At the end of the three to four weeks of elimination, reintroduce a single food for a single day only. And then monitor your symptoms for two days. For example, you might decide to reintroduce dairy on a Monday. That day you could eat some cheese and/or ice cream and drink a glass of milk. While getting right back to your elimination diet, monitor for any abnormal reactions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
If you have no observable symptoms, you may try reintroducing another food (i.e., eggs) on Thursday. You can continue this process for a couple more weeks, reintroducing one new food every few days, until you’ve determined what foods may cause you an issue (if any).
During the reintroduction process, watch for and record any symptoms (negative or positive) you’re experiencing. Negative reactions can include insomnia, fatigue, joint pain and/or inflammation, skin breakouts or rashes, headaches, bowel changes or abdominal pain, bloating, brain fog and sinus or other respiratory issues.
Because you’ll be introducing eliminated foods one at a time, you can be very observant of food-related changes. And virtually anything that is different than you felt during the previous three weeks could be a symptom, negative or positive.
Interestingly, some people actually report increased energy when a given food is reintroduced. Unfortunately, this may be created by a stress response to the particular food. And that’s actually a negative thing. So it’s important to keep a log of all reactions – positive or negative.
The Pulse Test
Another tool you can use during the reintroduction is the pulse test. First thing in the morning, after resting for about five minutes, take your resting pulse rate for one minute. Then consume the food you’ve decided to reintroduce (i.e. dairy), and retake your resting pulse rate at 20, 40, 60, 90 and 120 minutes.
A change in pulse, either increased or decreased, greater than 10 beats per minute, can indicate sensitivity to a given food. Repeat the test again later in the day after a second exposure to the food. If the same thing happens, this can definitely suggest a food intolerance.
Obviously, pulse rate can vary for a number of reasons; therefore, this test is not diagnostic of food intolerance. But when correlating it with symptoms, it can add additional valuable information.
This elimination diet will take approximately five to six weeks and, at the end of the experiment, you’ll know a heck of a lot about how your body responds to different foods. Food has the power to promote health or create disease, and following an elimination diet can be a rewarding and eye-opening experience. What you give up temporarily in creature comforts you’ll gain in lasting and unequivocal knowledge about your own health and well being!
Dr. Bryan P. Walsh is an advisor for Precision Nutrition and a graduate from the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine. As a nationally board-certified Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Walsh does not diagnose or treat disease but rather focuses on educating his patients, with the goal of supporting and strengthening their bodies using nutritional medicine.