Preventive Medicine Center Elimination Diet | Robert A. Erickson, M.D.

What is an elimination diet?

An elimination diet is designed to temporarily avoid certain foods for a 2 week period (this is called the elimination phase), followed by a period of systematic reintroduction of certain food groups. This latter phase is called the reintroduction phase and may last for up to 9 weeks.

What is this diet used for?

The purpose of this dietary protocol is to identify possible food sensitivities and/or allergies. Food sensitivities may range from mild to severe generalized allergic responses. According to current research, food sensitivities can cause or contribute to a vast array of problems including fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, food cravings, obesity, recurrent colds and other infections, chronic nasal congestion, postnasal drip, irritable bowl syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, angina, acne, eczema, psoriasis, canker sores, hives, muscle aches, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines/headaches, asthma, frequent urination, teeth grinding, bedwetting, and infantile colic. Most of these disorders have more than one cause, but food sensitivity is relatively common and a frequently overlooked cause.

Is this necessary? Why not just get lab tests?

Often this sort of exercise helps one get out of “food ruts”. This plan hopefully encourages you to try new foods. Daily repetition of the same foods is thought to be a major contributor to the development of food sensitivities. Also, a diverse diet is typically healthier because you are more likely to get a comprehensive intake of valuable nutrients. Although lab tests for food allergies may be useful, it is not 100% reliable and may miss food sensitivities that do not have an allergic basis.

General Instruction:

  • Create a daily food journal to record any changes.
  • This program provides all the nutrition that you will need while your body cleanses and heals itself.
  • Eat until you are full, but not engorged. It is better to eat several smaller meals throughout the day rather than 3 large ones.
  • Continue to take your medications and supplements unless otherwise directed.
  • You may initially (1-5 days) experience cleansing (detox) symptoms which could include headache, fatigue, increased food cravings, irritability, body aches or an aggravation of a symptom you already have.

Elimination Phase

This is a period of 2 weeks during which certain food groups will be eliminated from your diet. At a minimum, you should completely avoid dairy products, red meat, gluten and eggs. These foods are involved in more than 80% of all food sensitivities.

INCLUDE theses foods: EXCLUDE these foods:

Fruits: INCLUDE theses foods: Unsweetened fresh, frozen, or waterpacked canned fruits, fruit juices.
EXCLUDE these foods: All citrus fruits: oranges, grapefruit, banana, melons. Any sweetened fruit drink and dried fruit

Starch: INCLUDE theses foods: Non-gluten grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, teff, buckwheat.
EXCLUDE these foods: Wheat, corn, oats, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, and all gluten containing products.

Meats: INCLUDE these foods: All fresh caught fish such as halibut, salmon, cod, sole, trout; wild game; chicken; turkey
EXCLUDE these foods: Beef, pork, cold cuts, sausage, canned meets, egg, shellfish

Legumes: INCLUDE these foods: All dried beans (excluding soy)
EXCLUDE these foods: Soy and soy products

Nuts and Seeds: INCLUDE these foods: Almonds, cashews, walnuts,sesame (tahini), sunflower,pumpkin, and nut butters made from these seeds
EXCLUDE these foods: Peanuts, pistachios, peanut butter.

Dairy Products: INCLUDE these foods: Milk substitutes, such as rice milk or nut milk (excluding soy substitutes); kefir
EXCLUDE these foods: Milk, cheese, butter, cottage
cheese, yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt

Vegetables: INCLUDE these foods: Raw, steamed, sautéed, juiced, or baked vegetables (except those specifically prohibited)
EXCLUDE these foods: Canned vegetables or creamed
casseroles * If you are experiencing inflammation avoid: tomatoes, eggplant, red/green/yellow bell peppers, all potatoes (except yam/sweet potatoes)

Fats: INCLUDE these foods: Olive oil, flax seed oil, cold/expeller pressed safflower, sunflower, sesame, walnut, pumpkin, almond oil and dressings made from these oils
EXCLUDE these foods: Margarine, butter, shortening, processed oils, spreads, salad dressing (except those specifically allowed); no canola oil

Beverages: INCLUDE these: 8 cups filtered or distilled water per day, herbal tea
EXCLUDE these: Soda pop, alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, all caffeinated beverages (green or black tea, coffee, etc)

Spices: INCLUDE these foods: Cinnamon, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, sea salt and tumeric
EXCLUDE these foods: Cayenne pepper, paprika, curry powder containing cayenne pepper

Sweeteners: INCLUDE these foods: Brown rice syrup, fruit sweeteners, molasses, limited honey, stevia
EXCLUDE these foods: White or brown refined sugar,
maple syrup, corn syrup

Reintroduction Phase

For the next 9 weeks, food groups that have been eliminated will be progressively added to your daily diet. This systematic reintroduction of potentially allergenic foods will allow for the identification of any hypersensitivity you may have. In general, first reintroductions should be in small portions. Please follow the reintroduction protocol. Document any observations in your journal.

Week Food Groups to Add

1 Citrus Fruits (organic)

2 Soy and soy products (fermented)

3 Eggs (organic free range)

4 Red Meat (organic, grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free)

5 Wheat and gluten containing grains

6 Dairy (organic)

7 Shellfish

8 Nuts, peanuts, strawberries

9 Chocolate, coffee, and tea


There are times when the digestive tract has been severely impaired due to chronic disease or severe exposure to food allergies/intolerances. As part of the elimination diet program it is necessary to rebuild and heal the digestive tract. Dr. Erickson will outline what additional steps may need to be taken.