What can you eat during elimination phase?

The elimination phase is an important part of many diets and eating plans. It involves removing certain foods from your diet for a set period of time, usually 2-6 weeks. The goal is to identify any problem foods that may be causing negative reactions like inflammation, gut issues, skin conditions, joint pain, or other symptoms. Once the elimination period is over, you systematically reintroduce eliminated foods one at a time while monitoring symptoms to pinpoint your personal trigger foods. Knowing your unique triggers allows you to customize an eating plan that works best for you long-term.

Why do an elimination diet?

There are several important reasons to try an elimination phase:

  • Discover food sensitivities/intolerances – Reactions to problem foods like dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, and corn are common. An elimination diet is the gold standard way to uncover if any of these foods are not agreeing with you.
  • Reduce inflammation – By removing triggers that spark inflammation, many people experience significant reductions in joint pain, skin conditions, digestive issues, and autoimmune flare-ups during the elimination period.
  • Improve gut health – Eliminating difficult-to-digest foods allows the gut lining to heal, balances gut bacteria, and reduces gut permeability (leaky gut), which translates to better digestion and less bloating.
  • Uncover hidden triggers of headaches/migraines – Food triggers are the culprit behind many recurring headaches and migraines. Eliminating potential trigger foods can provide much-needed relief.
  • Promote weight loss – Problematic foods can disrupt satiety signals in the brain and influence fat storage. Removing inflammatory and common diet-sabotaging foods often leads to reduced bloating and unwanted pounds.
  • Boost energy – When symptom triggers are eliminated, energy-draining inflammation subsides allowing for improved energy and reduced brain fog.
  • Identify baseline diet – Determining which foods you react negatively to provides a baseline elimination diet you can build upon long-term for optimal health and symptom relief.

Foods to eliminate

The most commonly eliminated foods during this phase include:

  • Gluten – Found in wheat, barley, and rye products. Gluten triggers inflammation, gut damage, joint pain, and skin issues in those with gluten-sensitivity.
  • Dairy – Milk proteins and sugars in dairy trigger inflammation, acne, digestive issues, and congestion for many people.
  • Soy – Fermented forms like tamari are usually tolerated, but unfermented soy can provoke food sensitivity reactions.
  • Corn – Highly genetically modified and often trigger symptoms unless organic.
  • Eggs – Especially if you regularly experience congestion, sinus issues, post-nasal drip, or asthma symptoms.
  • Nuts – Tree nuts and peanuts are common irritants and a frequent hidden source of inflammatory omega-6 fats.
  • Nightshades – Tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, and peppers contain alkaloids that aggravate arthritis for some people.
  • Citrus fruits – Oranges, lemons, limes, and others may worsen symptoms in those with recurring migraines.
  • Added sugars – Refined sugars feed inflammation, gut damage, and disrupt blood sugar stability.
  • Hydrogenated oils – Trans fats found in many processed foods strongly promote inflammation.
  • Alcohol – Especially with autoimmune issues, alcohol worsens inflammation and triggers symptoms.
  • Caffeine – Excess caffeine stresses the adrenals leading to inflammation and blood sugar spikes.

Foods to enjoy

Focus on eating the following nutritious foods during the elimination phase:

  • Non-starchy veggies – Greens, broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, summer squash.
  • Starchy veggies – Sweet potatoes, winter squash, plantains, yuca.
  • Fruits low in fructose – Berries, green apples, grapefruit, kiwis, plums, pears.
  • Clean protein – Grass-fed beef, wild salmon, organic chicken, turkey, lamb.
  • Bone broth – Soothes and heals the gut lining.
  • Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, duck fat – Provide anti-inflammatory fats.
  • Nuts and seeds – Soak and sprout nuts and seeds to reduce phytates and other gut irritants.
  • Fermented foods – Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and yogurt (if dairy is tolerated) contain probiotics.
  • Herbal teas – Ginger, chamomile, turmeric, and mint teas instead of coffee.
  • Spices – Turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, thyme, cayenne.
  • Mineral water – For hydration and electrolytes.

Sample day during elimination phase

Here is what a sample day might look like during the elimination phase:


  • Vegetable Frittata – Eggs baked with spinach, mushrooms, and onions.
  • Berry Smoothie – Berries, banana, coconut milk, collagen powder.


  • Massaged Kale Salad – Diced chicken or steak, kale, carrots, avocado, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar.
  • Leftover Roast Chicken Thighs.
  • Sweet Potato Wedges.


  • Coconut Curry Soup – Sweet potato, spinach, chicken, and curry spices simmered in coconut milk.
  • Ginger Salmon – Oven roasted salmon filet with ginger, garlic, and lime.
  • Steamed Broccoli.


  • Collagen Smoothie.
  • Carrots and guacamole.
  • Apple slices and almond butter.
  • Cucumber slices and hummus.
  • Kale Chips – Toasted in the oven with avocado oil and sea salt.

Tips for success

Follow these tips to help you stick to the elimination plan and quickly determine your symptom triggers:

  • Shop smart – Read labels and avoid processed foods. Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store where the produce, meat, fish are located.
  • Meal plan – Plan weekly menus centered around the approved elimination foods. Meal prep basics like grilled chicken and hard boiled eggs.
  • Drink up – Stay very hydrated with herbal tea, mineral water, and bone broth.
  • Support detoxification – Take Epsom salt baths, dry brush skin, or try infrared sauna sessions.
  • Reduce stress – Make time for relaxing walks, yoga, meditation, massage. Stress hampers healing.
  • Supplement wisely – Considering digestive enzymes, probiotics, L-glutamine, quercetin, omega-3 fish oils, vitamin C, and D.
  • Get enough protein – To balance blood sugar and prevent cravings focus on clean protein sources at each meal.
  • Avoid cheats – Even small cheats can trigger symptoms and prolong healing. Strictly stick to the plan 100%.
  • Keep a journal – Track all foods eaten, symptoms, bowel movements, and energy levels.
  • Be patient – It takes time to quiet inflammation and identify problem foods. Stick with the full elimination period before reintroducing foods.

How to reintroduce foods

Once you’ve completed the full elimination diet period (usually 4 to 6 weeks), it’s time to systematically reintroduce eliminated foods one at a time. Reintroducing foods requires some strategic planning and patience. Go slowly, and pay close attention to any reactions over the next 48 hours after eating a food. Here is the best way to reintroduce foods:

  • Wait until all elimination symptoms are gone before starting to reintroduce.
  • Reintroduce just one food at a time.
  • Try a small portion of a food, ideally by itself.
  • Wait 48 hours before trying another food, monitoring symptoms.
  • Keep an elimination diet food journal, recording all reintroduced foods and symptoms.
  • Start with least problematic foods first, like fruits andpseudo-grains.
  • Never reintroduce more than one food within a 3-4 day period.
  • Return to the elimination diet if any symptoms reappear.
  • Remove problem foods that trigger symptoms during the reintroduction period.

Potential reactions to look for

Carefully observe your body over the 48 hours after reintroducing a food and look for these possible reactions:

  • Digestive issues – Bloating, pain, constipation, diarrhea.
  • Sinus congestion, post-nasal drip.
  • Headaches or migraines.
  • Brain fog, lack of focus, poor concentration.
  • Fatigue, low energy, drowsiness.
  • Joint pain or stiffness.
  • Skin rashes, acne, or itching.
  • Changes in mood – Anxiety, irritability, depression.

If any symptoms return when adding a food back, remove that food again for at least another month. Cross food sensitivities off your list so you know what not to eat long-term. Keep tracking symptoms and reintroducing foods one at a time until you have a clear understanding of your personal trigger foods versus your safe foods. This sets you up for success with customized eating tailored just for you!

Food Reintroduction Order

A strategic order for reintroducing foods is:

  1. Pseudo-grains: Quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth.
  2. Starchy vegetables: Sweet potato, yam, winter squash, plantain.
  3. Fruits: Melon, banana, mango, apple.
  4. Nuts and seeds: Start with almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut.
  5. Eggs
  6. Dairy: Ghee, yogurt, kefir first then milk.
  7. Gluten grains: Barley, rye, oats, wheat.
  8. Soy: Edamame, miso, tempeh then unfermented.
  9. Nightshades: Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes.
  10. Citrus fruits
  11. Caffeine
  12. Beans and legumes.

Go slowly and be careful when reintroducing gluten grains, dairy, soy, and nightshades since those are common triggers.

Signs you may need to continue eliminating

In some cases, continuing to eliminate problematic foods for additional time is wise. Extend the elimination period if:

  • Symptoms don’t fully resolve after the elimination phase.
  • Symptoms return whenever reintroducing trigger foods.
  • You reintroduce multiple foods too quickly.
  • You experience reactions to many different foods.
  • Your condition relapses after reintroduction.
  • Blood tests confirm delayed food sensitivities.
  • Intestinal permeability remains elevated.
  • Digestive symptoms persist.

Be patient and keep removing triggers while supporting gut healing. Work closely with a functional medicine practitioner to get to the root cause of what’s leading to ongoing food reactions.

Food sensitivity testing options

Lab testing can provide additional clarity if food sensitivities persist. These are options to discuss with your doctor:

IgG Food Intolerance Test

This blood test measures delayed IgG food antibody levels against up to 250 foods. Higher IgG levels indicate inflammatory reactions and intolerances to those foods.

IgE Allergy Test

The IgE allergy blood test is optimal for detecting type 1 immediate food allergies like peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and eggs.

Celiac Disease Testing

Blood tests for celiac disease help diagnose gluten-sensitivity and intestinal damage from eating gluten. tTg, DGP, and EMA antibody levels are markers of celiac.

Intestinal Permeability Assessment

Testing for leaky gut involves drinking a lactulose and mannitol sugar solution and measuring excretion levels. Abnormal results indicate damaged intestinal tight junctions.

Food Sensitivity Hair Analysis

Hair tissue mineral analysis can detect inflammatory reactive foods and nutrients imbalances caused by problem foods.

Elimination-Provocation Food Challenge

This gold standard diagnostic starts with an elimination diet, followed by individual food reintroduction while observing for reactions.

Long term elimination diet benefits

Adhering to an elimination-provocation diet can provide lasting benefits including:

  • Resolution of chronic inflammatory symptoms
  • Reduced pain and stiffness if you have arthritis
  • Clearer skin and less acne
  • Improved energy and reduced fatigue
  • Enhanced mental clarity and concentration
  • Weight normalization and reduced cravings
  • Better sleep quality
  • Balanced hormones and fertility
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Healthy gut function and more regular bowel movements
  • Decreased autoimmune disease activity


Doing an elimination diet with careful reintroduction provides extremely valuable insight into which foods are optimal for you long term versus which foods provoke inflammatory or allergic reactions. Listening to your body’s signals helps you pinpoint your unique trigger foods. Avoiding those personal triggers whenever possible can lead to profound health improvements with potentially life changing benefits.

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