Been There, Tried it: Elimination Diet

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This is an elimination diet review, based upon our experience. This was the first step toward our gluten and dairy free lifestyle.  It built upon our understanding of the importance of limiting additives found in processed foods we learned through the Feingold diet.

Our decision to try an elimination diet was because we were struggling with our daughter’s inability to sleep, hyperactivity and unresolved stomach pain. There were nights she’d be up at 1am for the day,causing sheer exhaustion.

elimination diet
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

She never slept and had frequent stomach aches

My tummy hurts” was her response to our simple requests, like “Let’s clean up your toys,” and we didn’t know what to do. She’d say that at her preschool too, so the consensus was that the avoidance of requested tasks were behavioral. Similarly, our Pediatrician agreed with that assessment and did not find anything medically wrong. For this reason, we sought answers from an elimination diet.

The gut health connection

Being awake for hours upon waking hours, I did research in the hope that we could find an answer.  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 is both simple to follow and non-invasive, so we decided to try it.

The first step of the elimination diet was to remove foods people are most likely to be sensitive to: dairy, nuts, gluten, soy and eggs. With that in mind, we spent time googling recipes to prepare, and made a grocery store list.

Removing dairy was the biggest challenge for us, so I became well versed in dairy substitutes.

Stomach pain went away, behavior improved

For 4 weeks we strictly followed the elimination diet, and as a result we saw less hyperactivity and better sleep.  I kept pages and pages of notes so that we properly measured outcomes. The excitement when “My tummy hurts,” disappeared from her routine vocabulary was an equally important outcome. We believe some behaviors were related to stomach pain that she couldn’t express.

Gluten and Dairy were the culprits

After removing offending foods for 4 weeks on the elimination diet, we reintroduced them one-at-a-time for a week at a time, noting any physical or behavioral symptoms.  Subsequently, we determined that our daughter would benefit from a gluten and dairy free diet.

An elimination diet requires organization and attention to detail so, I created a one-page tracker with 7-days-at-a-glance for this very reason.

I’ve become interested in bullet journaling, a method of journaling and note-taking that uses bullet points as the core structure. The food and mood tracker has similar features because it allows for a quick list of foods and symptoms. It has places to track 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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