The Elimination Diet

Mindd Diet Protocols

The elimination diet is one of a growing “special diet” section online and in your local bookshop. This can reassure you that you are a part of a large and growing group of people whose digestive tracts are demanding that we reconsider our modern diet, medications, environmental toxins and stress levels. By offering a comprehensive overview of some important healing diets and a great selection of cookbooks, we endeavor to give families an idea of how fun and easy “special diets” can be.

There are many dietary protocols and principles that help children with ADHD, asthma, allergies, and autism also help individuals suffering from Coeliac, Colitis, Crohn’s, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, anxiety and depression.

Individuals dealing with metabolic and digestive disorders require special diets to avoid foods that trigger allergies or harm the digestive tract. There are a number of “elimination” diets that can help in this way. While elimination is sometimes necessary, in many instances certain foods can be reintroduced once the gastrointestinal tract has had time to heal.

In general, we recommend an organic, fresh, whole food diet with no/minimal refined flours and sugars and no processed foods, artificial additives, colorings or preservatives. And plenty of filtered water containing minerals is essential.

Following here is a valuable dietary protocol, the elimination diet. The implementation of an elimination diet involves a system to identify foods which are causing ailments and unpleasant physical reactions. 

The Elimination Diet

Elimination DietThe elimination diet allows for a systematic method to identify foods which are causing ailments and unpleasant physical reactions.

The identification of offending foods, followed by the exclusion of these foods will reduce overall inflammation and allow healing to take place.

Common triggers will be eliminated from your diet, and then each food will be challenged individually in order to assess whether or not it is a trigger of your symptoms.

Who is this diet for?

The elimination diet is beneficial for anyone who experiences local or systemic discomfort but is unable to pinpoint the triggers of these symptoms.

Anyone with digestive incompetence will highly likely be reactive to some foods and therefore, healing the gut will also be a focus of this protocol. Optimal digestion will aid in protecting the body from inflammation caused by large food particles being absorbed into the bloodstream through a hyperpermeable intestinal wall.

This diet is not intended to heal people with classic IgE food allergies (eg: anaphylactic peanut allergies).

Allergy Vs. Intolerance- What is the difference?

A true allergy is an immune reaction to a protein component of a certain food. It is a response mediated by IgE antibodies and reactions usually occur immediately after ingesting the offending food. In the case of an allergy, multiple organs may be affected and in the worse case, it can be life threatening. Anaphylactic shock is an example of this.

An intolerance does not involve an abnormal response of the immune system, however, it can still involve multiple organs and cause a wide variety of symptoms. An intolerance is triggered by food chemicals and can be influenced by numerous factors, such as:

  • Deficiency of specific enzymes (eg: lactase and lactose intolerance)
  • Digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome can make you more sensitive to foods and cause intolerances.
  • Genetic mutations can affect the ability of an enzyme to degrade specific chemicals found in food, such as diamine oxidase and its ability to break down histamine.
  • Physical and emotional stress can induce aversions and reactions to certain foods.
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Coeliac disease. Although there is immune involvement, it is a delayed hypersensitivity response and is not a classic food allergy.

Symptoms of food intolerances

Symptoms vary from person to person, and as they can affect multiple organs, they may manifest differently. Below is a table of some common symptoms, this is not an exhaustive list.


Digestive system

Nervous system

Respiratory tract






Cramping, bloating, pain

Reflux, indigestion

Heartburn, nausea

Anxiety, restlessness


Brain fog, fatigue



Sneezing, wheezing, tightening of airways

Runny nose

The more sensitive you are to a food, or a chemical in that food, the lower your threshold will be, and the less you will be able to tolerate it. The duration of the reaction that is experienced is also varied, reactions often last a few hours, however, they may go on for days.

General Elimination

Commencing the process by undergoing a general elimination for 1-3 weeks allows for the majority of common offending foods to be assessed.

The following foods are the most common triggers and need to be avoided:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy (milk)
  • Gluten
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Other nuts
  • Corn
  • Soy
  • Tomatoes
  • Oranges
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

These foods are then reintroduced to challenge the body and assess any reactions.

A diet diary should be kept during this period in order to track symptoms which you may experience.

Challenging a food

The challenging process will take 6 weeks, with each challenge taking 3 days each. A food will be reintroduced, and any symptoms that are experienced will be recorded. The symptoms are highly likely to be caused by a reaction to that particular food. That food is then removed from the diet to see if the symptoms subside.

  • Continue the elimination diet even during the challenge phase, as only one food group is challenged/reintroduced every 3 days.
  • On the day of the challenge, eat 3 servings of the food in multiple separate meals. However, if you notice a reaction to a food straight away, do not eat any more of it.
  • After any reaction, revert to eating the elimination diet.
  • After the challenge day, resume the elimination diet and observe symptoms for two days, and let symptoms settle before challenging a new food.
  • If a food that is challenged does not cause any symptoms, it is still excluded from the diet until all challenges are complete.
  • If you react to a certain food, it is ideal to avoid that food for 6 months and then reintroduce it slowly.

Your practitioner will help you with a specific challenging protocol to follow.

What to eat on the elimination diet



Fruit & Vegetables All fresh fruit vegetables Corn, Tomatoes, citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit)
Nuts & Seeds Coconuts, water chestnuts All nuts and seeds
Meat & Poultry All fresh meat and poultry Small goods and cold cuts, sausages, salamis, crumbed meats
Fish & Seafood All fish and seafood


Eggs All  eggs and products containing eggs
Grains Gluten free grains- rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, millet, amaranth wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt
Legumes Lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black eyed peas, navy beans, butter beans Soy and all soy products
Oils Olive and coconut oil Butter, nut oils, vegetable oils (sunflower, canola, flax seed, macadamia, walnut, sesame)
Sauces/condiments All fresh herbs and spices, coconut milk, curry paste Tomato sauce, chilli sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, lemon juice, tahini, peanut butter, pesto, mayonnaise, some dips,
Dairy products All dairy products
Drinks Herbal tea, fresh fruit juices that don’t contain citrus or tomato, soda water Coffee, black tea, green tea, chai, milk and flavored milk, lemonade, tomato juice, orange juice
Sweeteners Stevia, molasses, raw honey, maple syrup, small amounts of conventional sugar Candy, lollies, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup

Meal options for the elimination diet

Below is a sample menu of various meal options for the elimination diet


Lunch & Dinner


Sautéed greens



Organic bacon

Buckwheat pancakes, maple syrup, berries

GF muesli (buckwheat, quinoa), fruit, coconut yoghurt, coconut milk.

Quinoa porridge, coconut milk, maple syrup, fruit

Smoothie: rice/pea protein, greens, banana, berries, coconut water, rice milk.

Grilled chicken/beef

Brown Rice

Sautéed vegetables

Gluten free pasta, bolognese sauce (without tomato)

Ginger chicken stir-fry with Asian greens and rice noodles

Mixed salad (greens, avocado, black beans, carrots, cucumbers) and grilled chicken breast. Apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing.

Roast lamb, roast vegetables, salad.

Slow cooked meat with vegetables, mashed cauliflower.

Vegetable sticks, eggplant dip.

Rice crackers and homemade hummus without tahini.

Frozen berries, coconut yoghurt and maple syrup.

Guacamole and rice crackers

Points to note about the elimination diet

  1. Usually, within one week of the elimination diet, people experience an improvement in their symptoms.
  2. Do not reintroduce or challenge with a food unless there has been an improvement of 50% or greater in symptoms.
  3. If after 3 weeks there has been no improvement in symptoms, you may need to pursue a more in depth elimination diet which addresses increased sensitivity to a variety of other foods including amines, salicylates, yeast, preservatives etc…
  4. If after 3 weeks there has been no improvement on the more extensive allergen elimination diet, it is highly likely that the symptoms are not due to food and an alternative approach to assessment and treatment should be implemented.
  5. After removing an offending food from the diet for 1-3 weeks, the body can become hypersensitive to potential triggers, ingesting a trigger may result in an exaggerated reaction. Reintroduction of certain foods may carry a risk. Do not challenge a food which has brought about a severe reaction in the past (difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth and tongue). Do not challenge a food that you have never eaten before.


Turnbull JL, Adams HN, Gorard DA, 2014, ‘Review article: the diagnosis and management of food allergy and food intolerances’, Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 41(1): 3-25.

Swain AR, Soutter VL, Loblay RH. Friendly food: recipes for life. Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit. Murdoch Books, Sydney 2002.

Diet Profile Research and Writing:

Kimberly Kushner BHSc (Nutritional Medicine), BHSc (Naturopathy) for MINDD

Mindd Foundation