Been There, Tried it: Elimination Diet

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Before moving to a gluten/dairy free diet several years ago, we first tried the Feingold Diet, and then did a 4-week elimination diet.  We struggled to understand our daughter’s behaviors and inability to sleep.  There were nights she’d be up at 1am for the day.

variety of vegetables on display
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

She would often answer a one-step task requests such as, “Let’s clean up your toys,” with “My tummy hurts.”  She’d say that at her preschool too, and the avoidance of a requested task appeared to be behavioral.

Have hours upon waking hours, I did research.  A lot of it.  I started to read about the gut health connection and inflammation from food sensitivities and it made sense.  At the very least, an elimination diet was relatively simple and non-invasive.  We started by eliminating dairy, peanuts, gluten, soy, and eggs and did so for 4 weeks.

Removing dairy seemed to be the biggest challenge for us, and I became well versed in dairy substitutes.

After 4 weeks, we saw less hyperactivity and better sleep.  I kept pages and pages of notes to measure outcomes.  I noticed that she no longer said, “My tummy hurts.”  Perhaps some of her behaviors were related to stomach pain that she couldn’t articulate.

After eliminating a typical list of offending foods for 4 weeks, we began to reintroduce them one-at-a-time for a week at a time, noting any physical or behavioral symptoms.  This is how we determined that our daughter would benefit from a gluten and dairy free diet.

To keep track of foods and moods during an elimination diet and while re-introducing foods, I created a one-page tracker that allows for 7-days-at-a-glance to help keep organized.

Recently, I’ve become interested in bullet journaling, a method of journaling and note-taking that uses bullet points as the core structure.  Although I wouldn’t classify this as a true bullet journal, it does allow for a quick list of foods and symptoms, with a place to mark which one applies to each day, for each meal:  breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to make your tracking more efficient.

Get your free food & mood tracker here.

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