It is not difficult to follow an elimination diet. Such a diet can be a help for many conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
For individuals with IBS, a person’s relationship to food can become fraught with tension. Many IBS patients run the risk of nutritional deficiencies if they put themselves on a severely restricted diet in an effort to try to calm their system. A helpful way to avoid this risk, and find out for sure if a food is a trigger food, is through the use of an elimination diet.
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Rule out food intolerance. Make an appointment with your physician to rule out an intolerance to lactose and other sugars or gluten.
Rule out food allergies. Although fairly rare, there is evidence that some IBS patients show antibody elevations in response to common food allergens. In studies, elimination of these foods from the diet resulted in symptom improvement within a period of three to six months.
If food allergies and food intolerances have been ruled out, you are now ready to try to identify your particular food sensitivities.
Start a food diary. Keep track of the foods you eat, what your stress level is, and what symptoms you are experiencing. Guidelines published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association recommend that you look at symptoms in the three days following eating a particular food. If this pattern appears on three different occasions, the food may be a trigger food for you.
Eliminate the suspicious food for a period of two weeks.
Assess the effect of the food elimination on your symptoms. If you see no improvement in your symptoms, slowly re-introduce the food back into your diet.
You may now repeat the process with another food that you suspect is contributing to your GI distress.