Elimination Diet and Food Group Re-Introduction Guidelines

Elimination Diet and Food Group Re-Introduction Guidelines

A typical way to reduce symptoms when having gastrointestinal (GI) issues is to eliminate certain foods. It has been shown that the most common “trigger” foods include gluten, dairy, beef, nuts, eggs, soy, refined and artificial sweeteners, corn, alcohol, and caffeine.

You don't have to avoid all these trigger foods at once. This can be a personalized approach, where you try eliminating a few foods at a time. Reflect on your current diet, and consider starting off with foods that are more likely to cause your GI symptoms.

The elimination diet is meant to be followed for 1-2 weeks, when these foods are removed to see if your symptoms improve. Once this phase is done, you can slowly reintroduce the foods individually, to help identify your “trigger” foods.

It is helpful to keep a food journal when you introduce these foods and document any symptoms that you experience. The following meal plan offers guidelines on healthy meals that eliminate some problematic groups of foods. Some of these items can be prepared over the weekend, and can last you a couple of days!

Healthy Foods for Meal Preparation

Proteins Options

  • Ready-made rotisserie chicken (this can last a few meals throughout the week). Flavor with basil, cinnamon, oregano, paprika, or other herbs/spices

    • Add to a salad or make a chicken fajita bowl with bell peppers, brown rice, and avocado

  • Canned tuna/salmon/sardines

  • Frozen salmon/turkey burgers

  • Ground turkey (can be made into a taco bowl or chili with vegetables)

  • Smoked salmon

  • Shrimp

    • Bake shrimp in oven or air fryer. Lasts a few days in the refrigerator. Add to salads or eat as is.

Vegetable Options

  • Arugula

  • Artichoke

  • Asparagus

  • Bell Peppers

  • Broccoli 

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Cucumber

  • Green beans

  • Dandelion greens

  • Kale

  • Mushrooms

  • Radishes

  • Spinach 

  • Spaghetti squash

  • Swiss chard 

  • Tomatoes

  • Zucchini

  • Heat any frozen vegetable in the microwave or cook in an air fryer to have as a side dish.  Drizzle with olive oil. Lasts a few days in the refrigerator

  • There are ready-mix salad bags that have an Asian mix like cabbage, kale, etc. Can simply sauté those and make them into a stir fry. Can top with chicken or shrimp

Complex Carbohydrates/Starches

  • Black, brown, or red rice

  • Buckwheat

  • Butternut squash

  • Oats

  • Quinoa

  • Sweet potatoes

Cook quinoa/rice ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Add it to salads or have it as a side dish

Healthy Fats

  • Avocado 

  • Avocado oil 

  • Coconut oil 

  • Chia seeds

  • Ground flaxseeds

  • Hemp seeds

  • Olive oil, Extra virgin

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Sunflower seeds

Herbs and Spices

  • Basil

  • Cayenne pepper

  • Cinnamon

  • Ginger

  • Oregano

  • Rosemary

  • Turmeric

Note: Always check food labels, especially if you are avoiding gluten and soy. You may not expect soy or gluten in some foods, but they may be present

Meal Options

Breakfast

  1. ½ cup (120 g) of oatmeal with berries (can also use frozen berries), unsweetened apple sauce, and 1 tablespoon (15 g) of flaxseed meal or chia seeds. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired

  2. 1 cup of dairy-free yogurt (e.g. coconut) with frozen berries

  3. Chia pudding: add 3 tablespoons (25 g) of chia seeds, ¼ teaspoon (1.25 g) of vanilla extract, and ~½ cup (120 mL) of unsweetened almond milk to cover the seeds). Keep in refrigerator overnight, and top with fruit, cocoa nibs, or pumpkin seeds)

  4. Mashed avocado on gluten-free bread with 3 slices of smoked salmon

  5. Smoothies

  • Liquid base: Water, coconut water, milk, or unsweetened non-dairy milk

  • Add veggies: Spinach and kale (both high in magnesium and help keep blood sugar levels stable)

  • Low-sugar fruit: Apples. raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, lemon, lime, pomegranate seeds, and oranges

  • Healthy fats: Ground flaxseed, chia seeds, avocado, or coconut oil

  • Protein: You can add unsweetened protein powder (e.g. pea, hemp, pumpkin seed)

  • Extra flavor: Cocoa or cacao powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, vanilla extract

Consistency: You can thicken the smoothie by adding ice cubes or using frozen fruit or thin it by adding water or more non-dairy milk

Berry Smoothie recipe

  • 1 cup (240 g) spinach or kale

  • ½ cup (120 g) frozen berries

  • 1.5 cups (360 mL) unsweetened vanilla almond milk

  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of ground flaxseed

  • Dash of cinnamon

  • ½ banana (optional)

Lunch and Dinner

  1. Grilled salmon filet with a side of leafy greens (kale, spinach) and ½ cup (120 g) cooked brown rice or ½ baked sweet potato

  2. Taco Bowl • The base of your taco bowl can be any leafy green (arugula, spinach, kale, lettuce).  • Add ½ cup (120 g) of cooked brown rice or quinoa • ½ avocado • Sauté mushrooms and bell peppers • Sauté ground turkey with seasonings • Add nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor (optional)

  3. Canned salmon salad made with dijon mustard, cucumbers, olive oil, olives, and bell peppers over a bed of leafy greens

  4. Rotisserie chicken with a side of canned beets, green beans, and ½ cup (120 g) of quinoa

  5. Asian salad (comes ready in a bag) topped with chicken or shrimp

  6. Lean turkey meatballs with gluten-free pasta or brown rice

  7. Gluten-free tortillas with baked white fish topped with pico de gallo and salsa

  8. Rotisserie chicken over a bed of salad greens with vegetables of your choice (e.g. tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers), pumpkin seeds, olives, and homemade salad dressing (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt & pepper, or tahini with lemon juice and olive oil) 

  9. Gluten-free bread with organic sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, red onion, dijon mustard 

  10. Stir-fried cauliflower rice with vegetables (can add shrimp or chicken for extra protein)

  11. Chicken salad wraps: Chicken, mixed greens, and guacamole wrapped in a gluten-free tortilla or iceberg lettuce

  12. Tuna salad: Canned tuna mixed with vinaigrette, chopped onions and celery, chopped olives, lemon zest, and black pepper

Snacks

  • 2-3 squares of dark chocolate (look for at least 70% cacao)

  • 2 kiwis (great for gut health)

  • 1 cup of berries

  • Baked apple with cinnamon

  • Baked sweet potato fries with dried herbs

  • Raw vegetable platter: Slices of bell pepper, cucumber, celery, and cherry tomatoes

  • Roasted kale chips (Use a simple recipe with kale leaves, olive oil, and seasoning)

  • Seaweed crisps

  • Olives

  • Pickles

Food Reintroduction Guidelines

After an elimination diet, you will reintroduce different groups of foods. Here are the food groups that you can reintroduce one at a time, including examples of each kind. Every three days, reintroduce one particular food group. The order doesn’t matter.

For three days, watch for symptoms as you reintroduce the group of foods. Try a small amount on day 1, have twice the amount on day 2, and have a larger portion on day 3. If symptoms don’t flare up, then you’ll be able to have this food in your diet later on.

Challenge #1 (e.g. corn)

  • Day 1: Introduce one small portion of food (e.g. 1/2 cup [120 g] of corn)

  • Day 2: If no symptoms occur, eat twice the amount as day 1 (e.g. 1 cup [240 g] of corn)

  • Day 3: If no symptoms occur, eat a larger portion than day 2 (e.g. 1.5 cups [360 g] of corn)

Challenge #2 (e.g. nuts)

  • Day 1: Introduce one small portion of food (e.g. small handful of nuts)

  • Day 2: If no symptoms occur, eat twice the amount as day 1 (e.g. 1/4 cup [60 g] of nuts)

  • Day 3: If no symptoms occur, eat a larger portion than day 2 (e.g. 1/2 cup [120 g] of nuts)

Note: Only have a “challenge” food for one to three days. Do not add it back into your meal plan until the elimination diet is over. If a food causes symptoms, remove it immediately. Wait until your symptoms completely disappear before challenging with the next food.