June 10, 2019

Vegan Elimination Diet

What is a vegan elimination diet and when should you do one? Learn everything you need to know and read about my personal experience.

Sweet spiced sweet potato fries

I love sharing bits and pieces of my life on The Plant Based Catholic, but I don’t usually write about super personal things. Well, this post and some future posts are definitely going to change that. Because a couple weeks ago I started an elimination diet. And I want to tell you about what happened in case you’re going through something similar.

What is an elimination diet?

An elimination diet is a process of diet adjustment which usually lasts a month or two. During the process you remove certain foods from your diet for a couple weeks, then add them back in slowly to determine if you have a food sensitivity.

Elimination diets vary. You can eliminate different foods depending on what sensitivities you think you have. The most common food groups removed are:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Peanuts

Depending on the foods you think bother you, you might also eliminate:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Legumes
  • Meat
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Added sugars
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Nightshade Vegetables
  • High FODMAP foods not listed above

What is a VEGAN elimination diet?

For any diet, that’s A LOT of foods to stop eating. But while eating a plant-based diet, it sounds pretty impossible.

Good news, it’s not impossible. I’m living proof of that. Effectively, a vegan elimination diet isn’t that much different than a non-vegan one. As you can read in the list above, some elimination diets do include meat, but often only the most “restrictive” ones. But plant-based eaters should be more careful about what they’re eating. So many of the foods that vegans rely on for key nutrients are eliminated during this diet.

That being said, it IS possible. That’s one of the reasons I want to share my experience. I’m doing this diet and so can you.

Oil-Free sautéed spinach

When should you do an elimination diet?

There are many reasons why you might want to do an elimination diet. But as I mentioned above, you use an elimination diet to figure out which foods you are sensitive to.

This often begins with unexplained symptoms or other health issues.

Personally, I started my elimination diet because for years I’ve had stomach issues. I’ve experienced extreme bloating, gas, constipation, and fatigue. All without a clear cause.

My stomach problems are actually what led me to eating plant-based. A few years ago, I cut out dairy my diet to see if it was the cause of my symptoms. During that process, I did more research on dairy’s effects and (long story short) ended up becoming plant-based.

Cutting dairy definitely solved MANY of my problems. And if you’re experiencing any unexplained digestive issues, I highly recommend ditching the dairy.

Eating dairy-free didn’t solve all my problems, however. And even after I went completely plant-based I was still experiencing symptoms. I couldn’t pinpoint a cause. After the end of the semester, my bloating was worse than ever. It lasted for weeks without letting up.

I’d thought about doing an elimination diet before, but it always seemed so difficult. But I reached the point a couple weeks ago where I was fed up with my symptoms. I realized that I deserve to prioritize my health. God didn’t create me to live in this misery. So I decided to start.

What is the process?

There are two ways (that I know of) to go about an elimination diet.

Option 1: Stop eating the foods you’ve chosen to eliminate. For 3 weeks eat any other foods you’d like. After 3 weeks (the time it takes for your system to reset) begin reintroducing foods from your elimination list and watch for symptoms.

Option 2: Eliminate certain food groups for 3 weeks, like you would for option 1, but also test other foods for sensitivities. Start by fasting for 24 hours. Then, introduce one food on your good list. If you don’t experience symptoms, add in another food (or food group) on your “good” list the next day. Repeat this for the initial 3 weeks. (<– I chose this option!)

With both options, if you experience symptoms stop eating the food — you probably have a sensitivity.

When you’ve reintroduced all the foods on your “bad” list, you’re done! Hopefully you’ve found the foods that irritate you and now you can avoid them and live symptom-free.

If it still sounds kind of scary, don’t worry. Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing about my journey and give helpful tips for making it through this diet. It’s worth it!!

Also, if you’re looking for elimination diet-friendly or low FODMAP meals, I’ve got you covered! During my diet I didn’t want to just stop creating recipes for you guys, so instead I’m posting some of the meals that I made for myself. They are simple meals, often involving only a few foods. But they’re still delicious. Stay tuned, friends.

Ginger tea

P.S. Read about Week 1 of my vegan elimination diet.

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