The elimination diet, once used as an effective dietary intervention to determine food allergies, has now turned into something it was never meant to be – a weight loss tool.
The concept of an elimination diet is simple. Eliminate an entire group of foods from your daily intake (gluten, to use a timely example) and then add it back in and monitor what occurs in terms of the body’s physical reaction to adding it back. If the body reacts negatively, then a likely food allergy exists, and that type of food should not be consumed for fear of triggering that allergy and everything that comes along with it.
Keeping that in mind, the goal of an elimination diet has, and always will be, to determine an allergic reaction or food allergy. IT IS NOT A WEIGHT LOSS TOOL, and using it as one is not only ineffective long-term it can also be very unhealthy.
Three Red Flags of Elimination Diets
1). Elimination Diets Fool You: by the very nature of an elimination diet, you cut calories. If you’re eliminating things from your diet, it will likely cause you to eat less (although some people certainly eat more of other things to compensate). Eating less will result in a calorie deficit, which as we’ve established several times before will lead to weight loss.
This weight loss is a product of fewer calories, NOT the elimination of a certain class of foods from your diet. In point of fact there is absolutely ZERO research that suggests any food, when consumed in moderation, results in the inability to lose weight. Likewise, there is similarly NO research that suggests weight will be lost by eliminating certain foods from your diet.
2). Elimination Diets Can Lead to Malnutrition: if there isn’t a need to eliminate food sources from your diet, you shouldn’t do it. A varied, well-balanced, diet provides you with the various vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need. When you start eliminating foods because you think they’re “bad” for you, there is a risk of malnutrition. When this happens, the body doesn’t function as well, which normally results in less exercise, and by way of that, less fat loss.
3). Elimination Diets Lead to Rapid Weight Regain: from a behavioral standpoint, going “cold turkey” on any type of sustained habit doesn’t work. If you completely eliminate something from your diet, you haven’t really made a behavioral change. All you’ve done, by rigid rule, is decide to deprive yourself of something you otherwise like or maybe even need. Deprivation is not behavioral change. True behavioral change takes time.