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A friend was discussing with me about my recommendations for a woman that had acne. My friend said i told the poor woman not to eat bread, sphaghetti and anything too high in sugar. He said i was not being nice. I just laughed, whether i was nice or not the woman saw the result. She also realized that when she introduced some of those foods I asked her to cut out of her diet the acne came back.

The process described above is called food elimination. It involves eliminating some type of foods that we suspect is causing intolerance/allergy/sensitivities and re-introducing such foods one at a time to determine which food is causing the problem.

A lot of people suffer from Food intolerance/allergy and they don’t know it.  Someone even once said food intolerance/allergy is an oyinbo problem that Nigerians don’t have any food intolerance/allergy. What we see in movies—a situation whereby someone eats a particular type of food and they develop a rash or can’t breathe are extreme cases of food allergy. The milder symptoms of food intolerance/allergy include diarrhea, eczema, acne, indigestion and other digestive issues.

Common foods to eliminate include

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Peanuts
  • Citrus fruits
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Sugars and sweeteners
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Bread


Steps to follow in order to effectively do food elimination:

  1. Stop eating all common allergen/sensitive foods from the list above for about three weeks.
  2. During this time, carefully read food labels to make sure you’re really avoiding even trace amounts of these foods. Keep a food journal during these three weeks to record how you’re feeling. This will come in handy when you begin reintroducing the foods later on.
  3. After three weeks, reintroduce one food group at a time. Eat the suspicious food daily if you can for about 1–2 weeks and record your symptoms. Notice any changes in symptoms between the elimination phase and the reintroduction phase.
  4. If symptoms return after beginning to eat one of the suspicious foods, you can confirm that this food is a trigger by eliminating it once again.  The goal is to see if the symptoms clear up once again when the food is removed. You can see that the process is a bit of trial and error, but it shouldn’t take more than 4–6 weeks to pinpoint foods that can finally improve your symptoms for good.


I hope it is now clear why i made those recommendations to the woman and why it worked for her. Food elimination are not to be done forever. Once you pinpoint the food that is giving you problems find an alternate food that will supply the same nutrients that the food would have supplied if you were not eliminating it, for instance if you are cutting out cow milk you can take almond milk, soy milk etc. It might also help to take varied forms of the food that is causing the problem. Instead of fried groundnut(peanuts) take boiled ones.

I hope this helps someone out there.


Should You Do an Elimination Diet?

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Fadilah bakre

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