How to Shop While on an Elimination Diet

an array of fresh whole foods spilling out of a brown paper grocery bag onto a white surface.
Cheri Moore

Written by Cheri Moore

August 19, 2021

In continuation from last week, I am sharing tips and tricks about how to shop while on an elimination diet. As you use the food elimination chart provided in How to Shop Dairy-Free on an Elimination Diet, you will begin to learn more about your preferences for texture and taste. Thus, I have given you food for thought throughout this post as well as a list of new foods to taste and explore.

After you eliminate a food, you need to give your body time to heal. It takes two to three weeks for inflammation to decrease enough to observe behavioral changes like improved self-control and/or physical changes like the disappearance of hives.

Choose one food group to replace. Wait about 3 weeks. If you do not see or feel a change, add it back to your diet. Foods you can replace with surprising success, one at a time, are:

  • Gluten
  • Eggs
  • Tomatoes
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Bleached flour, sugar, and salt

Rotate Your Foods

Have you ever realized that nature rotates your foods for a reason? Think back to the days before refrigeration. Foods were eaten fresh only during its growing season. Thus, we ate strawberries in the spring. Blueberries and blackberries were eaten in July; pears in August, apples in the fall, etc. Eating seasonally naturally rotates the foods in your diet. I’m not saying you can’t have strawberries during the winter! One of my favorite meals are chocolate-chip pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and cool whip.

Rotating your foods is extremely important to prevent inflammation in your body. We all know the saying, “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” When your body is overexposed to a certain food, it can cause inflammation. If this is a completely new concept, take a few moments to read my post, Six Foods Contributing to Inflammation.

The Feingold Association is another wonderful resource helping you create an elimination diet plan. The Feingold Diet is used as a diagnostic tool by doctors to help you remove sources of inflammation. When foods that contribute to inflammation are removed from your diet, there are not only positive physical improvements but also emotional and behavioral improvements.

Tips on How to Shop While on an Elimination Diet

How to Avoid Gluten While Shopping on an Elimination Diet

bread containing gluten which should be avoiding while shopping on an elimination diet. the bread is sitting in and around a whicker basket on a wooden table. The background is a dark gray making the light browns of the artisan breads stand out.

Why Is Gluten Becoming a Common Allergy?

To say food has changed over the years is an understatement. As large cities and suburbs developed, farming had to change. The grocery store replaced family gardens and farms had to evolve over the years. Genetically modifying foods to produce higher yields seemed logical to meet rising demands. New wheat varieties have higher gluten content, and many believe it may be connected to the rise in celiac disease.

New studies are looking into why those who test negative for celiac still benefit from a gluten-free diet. Gluten sensitivities are now well recognized by medical professionals because of the inflammation in the body that is connected to the consumption of wheat.

Unfortunately, there is no way to test for gluten sensitivity. Interestingly, recent studies are investigating the impact of natural pesticides that are part of wheat’s DNA, amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATI Proteins) on people. Are natural pesticides the potential cause for these unexplained gluten sensitivities? Dr. Amy Burkhart’s article, Pesticides in Wheat: Their Connection To Gluten Sensitivities, explores this question.

Nevertheless, if gluten or potentially ATI proteins contribute to your inflammation, here are a few alternative products to use during the time you decide to eliminate gluten.

Alternative Products

  1. Breads
  2. Baking Mixes
  3. Snacks

How to Avoid Eggs While Shopping on an Elimination Diet

Pile of brown and white eggs sitting on a wood plank surface. Eggs in the background are sitting on a burlap sack. There is one brown egg in the foreground centered on the middle plank

You Can Bake Without Eggs!

While it may seem daunting, you can bake without eggs. Yes, eggs for breakfast may become a thing of the past, however, there are many high protein breakfast alternatives. You can check out my blog post, Tips on How to Bake Without Eggs, to get started. If you or a loved one have an egg allergy, you can learn how to read nutrition labels to look for ingredients that may contain egg at Kids With Food Allergies.

Alternative Products

  1. Egg replacements for baking
    • Cornstarch
    • Flaxseed
    • Overripe bananas
    • Applesauce
    • Yogurt
  2. High Protein Breakfast Ideas
    • Yogurt with fresh fruit and granola
    • Ham and cheese breakfast sandwich
    • Oatmeal
    • Chia pudding
    • Peanut butter and banana toast (add chia seeds for extra protein)

How to Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup While Shopping on an Elimination Diet

background is a wooded lake. In the foreground is a male hand holding a glass bottle of classic coca-cola. The bottle is being held tilted to the left.

What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup?

High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn syrup. It is cheap and easy to produce. Therefore, you will find it on many nutrition labels in your grocery store. While too much sugar in any form is bad for you, “High fructose corn syrup also contributes to diabetes, inflammation, high triglycerides, and something we call non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” according to Dr. Hyman. High fructose corn syrup sugar triggers inflammation anywhere in the body, including the brain. Doctors encourage individuals with hyperactivity and attention deficits to avoid high fructose corn syrup.

Alternative Products

  1. Cereals
  2. Syrup
  3. Soda
    • Cane sugar sweetened sodas are a refreshing alternative often found in glass bottles. Popular brands like Pepsi and Dr. Pepper offer cane sugar sodas in cans.
    • Jones Soda Co.
  4. Condiments

How to Avoid Tomato Based Products While Shopping on an Elimination Diet

ripe tomatoes handing on the vine in a garden

Why are Tomatoes Difficult to Digest?

While some people have no problems with tomatoes, those with digestive problems may find that acid foods irritate their stomachs. The acidity of tomatoes, as well as citrus fruits, can irritate the stomach lining. Luckily, there are a few ways to replace tomatoes in your diet and still enjoy your favorite Italian dishes!

Alternative Products

  1. Marco Polo Ajvar-red pepper, eggplant, and garlic spread

In my effort to improve my health, I decided to figure out a way to avoid tomatoes without giving up the taste. One day, I accidentally found the tastiest tomato sauce substitute, Ajvar, while browsing the web. It is not sold in most grocery stores.

Ajvar is a red bell pepper and eggplant spread that has an uncanny similarity to the texture and taste of tomato sauce. The product is imported from Bulgaria, which is one of the reasons the ingredients are very wholesome. Foods imported from Europe tend to have fewer additives. artificial colors, etc.

I use this product two ways. If I want pasta, I start by adding a little water to the Ajvar and mix it over low heat. Then, I pour it over my pasta. Another option is to use Ajvar full-strength as a substitute for tomato sauce on homemade pizza. Ajvar is the perfect solution for people with an intolerance to tomatoes or an allergy. Amazingly, I even crave Ajvar when I want a treat.

2. Carrot Ketchup

If you need to avoid tomatoes, there are multiple brands of carrot ketchup. I personally like the Nomato brand, which is also gluten free.

Other Ingredients to Avoid While Shopping

  • Bleach – bleach is an organic property, so make sure to look for it even on an organic nutrition label.
  • Propane – propane is one of the common propellants in aerosol cans. Cooking sprays may use propane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, n-butane, and/or isobutane. (think about other aerosol can food products: cooking oil, whipped cream, some cheeses, etc.)
  • Artificial food coloring – artificial food coloring like red negatively impacts attention & focus.

Instead look for unbleached flour, Redmond Real Salt, Himalayan sea salt, and organic unbleached sugars.

Save Time and Money

Cooking really does save time and money. When you cook, the key is to make more than what you need for just that meal. Leftovers are so convenient to have in the fridge and are easily repurposed to create tomorrow’s supper! There are also money saving tips on my blog, Affordable Gluten Free Cooking and Baking Tips.

Over time, I have learned to plan meals in my head like a chain reaction:

When I cook fried chicken, I cooked extra for the next day’s lunch of chef salads with black beans. The next day, I used the leftover black beans in my taco meat for supper. On day three, we enjoy nachos topped with taco meat, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, and sour cream for lunch.

When I cook BBQ chicken, I cook extra for the next day’s BBQ pizza. Yummm!

When I cook steak, I make my daughter’s delicious squash casserole. The next day spaghetti topped with squash is an Italian favorite. It also keeps my blood sugar from spiking.

When I make homemade chicken salad with onion, celery and boiled eggs, I also make soup using up the rest of the onion and celery. Extra boiled eggs compliment chef salads, potato salads, and are a great side to enjoy with a bowl of oatmeal.

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