Elimination diets: a disguise for an eating disorder or a helpful experiment in understanding our bodies better?
I’ve only heard of people doing elimination diets in order to isolate a food allergy or intolerance. Some important distinctions between a food allergy and a food intolerance:
Allergy – Symptoms come on suddenly and can be life-threatening. The reaction is triggered every time you eat the food, even in small amounts.
Intolerance – Symptoms come on gradually and are not life-threatening. The reaction may not be triggered unless a lot of the food is eaten or is frequently consumed.
The most common practice is to cut out a number of commonly triggering foods (milk (mostly in children), eggs, soy, gluten, peanuts, eggs, shellfish, etc.) and then add them back into the diet one by one, slowly, in hopes of identifying the offending food(s). If that sounds difficult, you’re right. But depending on the frequency and severity of the symptoms, it can definitely be worth the effort.
Now regarding the eating disorder part of your question…that would require the determination of a mental health professional. An elimination diet shouldn’t be confused with “eating healthy” as it’s intended to be a temporary process to identify a problem food. If the desire to restrict one’s diet has no basis on reactive physical symptoms, then it shouldn’t be considered an elimination diet.
You may have heard of the term “Orthorexia Nervosa” which is described as a “fixation on righteous eating”. This is not a diagnostic term that the American Psychiatric Association recognizes but it does sound official, doesn’t it?
Author: Tony Scartozzi
Tony Scartozzi was born and raised in a small town in Eastern Washington. After moving to Seattle in 2001, he attended Bastyr University and graduated with a degree in Nutrition. Driven by his passion for public health, his career has spanned the nonprofit sector, senior housing resources, food service training, and now works for a nutraceutical company that produces market-leading plant extracts used for supplemental health. Observing the severe disparity between advertisement spin and research-based knowledge, Tony has spent many years trying to identify and reconcile the difference. With Tony’s parents’ age beginning to show, his desire to investigate health-related topics has become a very personal one.