7 Things That Might Happen If You Try an Elimination Diet
Elimination diets are exactly what they sound like: It’s where you temporarily remove all possible food triggers (like gluten, dairy, sugar and caffeine…so everything we eat on a regular basis) from your diet for two weeks and slowly reintroduce them back into your life to see how each one affects you. Thinking about trying one yourself? Here are seven things that might happen if you do.
You Might Feel Worse Initially
Honestly, days two and three are no picnic in the park. By now, the shiny luster of a new diet has worn off and you’re hankering for a cookie and a large iced coffee to wash it down. Cravings aside, you might have a dull headache and feel low on energy. This is totally normal and especially common in people who habitually consume caffeine and sugar, says Dr. Aviva Romm, an MD in family medicine and obstetrics and author of The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution. It gets better, but in the meantime, drink lots of water and use this time as a perfect excuse to cancel plans and draw a bath for yourself.
You’ll Become More Adventurous with Your Palate
Even those of us who aren’t picky tend to stick to what we know, but when there’s a limit to which types of foods you can eat, you start to broaden your diet, says Dr. Romm. For example, did you know that sweet potatoes make an excellent breakfast hash and cauliflower is a pretty convincing substitute for rice? (Oh, and if all of this sounds overwhelming to you, there are delivery services like Sakara Life that offer programs like Level II Detox that take all of the prep work out of the equation.)
You’ll Sleep Like a Baby
Like we said, the first couple of days can be tough and will leave you spent—which is great for your bedtime. In the following days, you’ll notice how much easier it is to fall asleep (and stay asleep) when your body isn’t busy digesting a heavy dinner. And in the absence of a nighttime snack, you might find yourself wanting to go to bed earlier anyway.
You Might Feel Bloated
Here’s the thing: Vegetables are packed with fiber and water—both of which are great for you but can cause some bloating while your body adjusts to the change (and, um, clears out your system). Try sipping on some peppermint tea throughout the day to help ease these symptoms.
Your Skin Might Look Better
We weren’t sure if it was our imagination at first, but after two weeks of clean eating, we noticed that the painful bumps that usually dot our chin weren’t there and our complexion looked a bit calmer and brighter overall.
You’ll Become More Mindful of Your Meals
On busy days, it’s usually easy to grab an energy bar or fit in a rushed bowl of cereal between meetings at your desk. But when you can’t fall back on prepackaged snacks, you’ll actually make time for your meals and realize that the right foods will balance your blood sugar levels so you have a steady source of energy throughout the day, says Dr. Romm.
You Might Stop Dieting for Good
Here’s the biggest pro of an elimination diet: It isn’t really a diet in the traditional sense. It’s not meant to be a quick fix to lose a few extra pounds—it’s an information-seeking strategy to identify which foods your body doesn’t tolerate well, says Dr. Romm. Once you have a better understanding of that, you’ll know what to cut out—or at least scale back on—when you return to normal eating.