Dane Roubos, D.C. www.BodyMindPeace.com
Halfway through the stressful program at chiropractic college in 1981, I began suffering from intense allergy-like symptoms. Feeling curious and somewhat desperate, I went on a juice fast for 3 days to see if foods were involved.
I was greatly relieved to find that my runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and fatigue completely disappeared. Of course, I was still left with the task of identifying which foods were causing the problem. That wasn’t easy in those days, as there were no reliable lab tests for food allergies.
A rigorous elimination diet has been the “gold standard” for food allergy testing for decades. It’s started with either a fast, or very limited diet. If your symptoms clear up, you know your problems were related to your diet.
To find out what was causing the trouble, foods are then reintroduced one at a time until the symptoms return. But here’s the catch: reactions to food can be delayed for up to 5 days! The whole process can be very tedious, time-consuming, and difficult for most people to do.
I usually use either Applied Kinesiology or a certain blood test panel to identify possible food reactions. This makes it easier to navigate the elimination part of the program. The person then embarks on a modified elimination diet, similar to the one below. If food was the problem (and it was accurately identified), they will usually start feeling better within a week. Please see Food Allergy Testing for more information on these methods.
The minimum Trial Period is 7 days, and a 10-14 day period is recommended.
The most accurate is a plain water fast, but that has many inherent problems, and I don’t recommend it for such a long period. People can be allergic to anything, but following the diet below works very well for most.
Generally Safe Foods
These are the least allergenic foods, and are safe for most people. A few people may be reactive to some of the foods on this list, so it is not 100% foolproof. It is important to use relatively fresh, organic food which you have prepared yourself so you know what’s in it.
Here are some allergen-free recipes, with a section on adaptation for certain food sensitivities. This may be especially helpful if you are not used to preparing whole, natural foods from scratch.
It is wise to avoid foods with chemicals such as preservatives and pesticides in general, and especially during the elimination diet. Before you begin your program, please see “Hazards Along the Way” below for some important tips.
Brown rice is the foundation, and millet is the other grain – neither have gluten (as do most of the rest). Food for Life makes a nice brown rice bread, and they have a millet bread as well. If you do not do well with brown rice, you can use white rice for the test period.
Some people are reactive to legumes, especially soy. If you want to try other legumes, it’s best to wait until you’ve been on the “test phase” for seven days. Go easy – maybe once every few days. Stick to something like mung bean, lentil or alfalfa sprouts, which are the easiest to digest. If you want to try cooked legumes, you can do so after making sure the sprouts are OK. For this purpose, I recommend mung dahl, which is easier to digest. You can probably find it in your local food co-op.
Carrots, celery, chard, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, bok choy, sweet potatoes, yams, onions & garlic are usually OK for most people.
Fruits (It’s best to avoid fruit if yeast (candida) is a possibility, which it might be if you are sensitive to mold)
Organic mango, pears, or blueberries are rarely a problem for people. You can also try organic bananas (regular ones are full of fungicides), after a week on the trial elimination diet.
Stick with raw cashews for a week or two, and avoid regular nuts or seeds of any kind for the trial period. Organic cashew butter would probably be OK, too. (Cashews aren’t really nuts, and have a different composition). Reactions to tree nuts, peanuts and various seeds are fairly common.
Free-range or organic, unprocessed (other than grinding) turkey, chicken, or lamb. Type Blood type “A” people are more likely to have trouble with red meats.
Sea salt, white or black pepper (white is safer if you suspect mold allergy), organic olive oil or coconut oil should be OK. No vinegar – you can try fresh lemon or lime juice if you need something sour for a dressing (only if you know you’re OK with citrus).
Herb tea, fresh carrot/celery/parsley juice (or combo with veges listed above). Lots of water!
I recommend you avoid tap water and most bottled water, due to the likelihood of toxins from the water itself, or absorbed from plastic containers. Please see my water articles for more information.
The Most Common Allergens - the “Big Three” and Others
Cow’s milk or its derivatives, such as cheese, butter yogurt, keefer, etc. are extremely common allergens. Goat milk might be OK, but best to wait until the trial period is over. Blood type “O” people are more likely to have a sensitivity to milk products.
Wheat or Gluten Gluten is in almost all grains (including oats and barley. Commercial oats often have some wheat mixed in, so you will need to use “Certified Wheat Free” Oats if you want to include them. Rice & millet are gluten-free. Buckwheat and Quinoa are supposed to be OK, but I react to them personally, and I recommend you avoid them during the test period, just to be sure.
Avoid soy carefully, as it’s a common allergen and is found in almost everything that comes in some kind of packaging. Watch the labels on packaged foods! Most Vitamin E is made from soybeans. The cleanest Vit E I’ve found is “Ultimate E” from Thorne Research. Thorne products are carried by many chiropractors and some pharmacies.
I strongly recommend that all packaged foods be avoided for the trial period, because of they usually contain one or more of the “Big Three.” There is no guarantee that the label is truthful or accurate. Wait until the “challenge phase” to try anything that comes in a can, box, or other packaging!
Other common allergens:
Nightshades (peppers, eggplant, regular potatoes, tomatoes, paprika, and cayenne)
Citrus – usually oranges, but sometimes lemons & limes
NutraSweet, and other artificial sweeteners
Unfortunately, your most favorite food is often a problem, especially if you crave it!
Also avoid vinegar, mayonnaise, and wine or booze of any kind. This would include common products like salad dressings and protein bars (they almost always have milk, wheat, oats or soy).
Hazards Along the Way
Packaged foods (even in the “health food section”) almost always have common allergens in them, and should be avoided completely during your 2 week period, and avoided as much as possible in general. Packaged foods are usually “dead” foods.
Package labels can be deceiving, and the fact that something is not listed on the label is no guarantee that it is not present in the food. This is one reason why I ask people to prepare their own.
Eating in restaurants will almost certainly mess things up, as the employees have little understanding of the issue, and poor knowledge of what’s actually in their food. An Organic Food Co-Op deli is more likely to be knowledgeable of what is really in their food.
After the Trial Period
At the end of the period, assuming you feel better than when you started, introduce one new food a day, and see what happens. Reactions can be delayed up to 4 or 5 days, but usually occur within 1-2 days. This means if you have a reaction, you’ll need to backtrack a few days (eliminate recently added foods) until things improve again, then re-challenge with those foods, introducing a new one every 3 or 4 days, until the culprit is discovered.
Tricky business – it requires commitment and patience!
If making dietary changes or breaking habits are difficult for you, please see the short article on PSYCH-K.