Why Elimination Diets Don’t Work

Elimination diets involve removing certain foods from your diet. For example, a low-carb diet is considered an elimination diet because you are removing carbs (mostly) from your menu. Gluten-free, low-fat, and vegetarian diets are all considered elimination diets as well. While many people sweat by these diets, the truth is that they may not work as well as you want them to. In fact, the diets may actually backfire and cause you to GAIN weight in the end.

The Deprivation Mindset

One of the main reasons elimination diets don't work as well as you'd expect is due to the fact that your mind has a tendency to want what you can't have. You may not be a big bread eater, but the moment you cut it out of your diet, it's the thing your mind tells you it wants more than anything else. The concept of "forbidden foods" is almost too tempting to ignore, which is why we end up eating those foods when we inevitably cheat on the diet.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Elimination diets may also lead to nutritional deficiencies. For example, a low-fat diet can cause you to consume a lot of carbs (including sugar), but very little of the fat your body needs to activate stored acids. When you cut dairy products from your diet, you eliminate the best dietary source of calcium. You may also end up depriving yourself of vital unsaturated fats, which play a role in cardiovascular function, antioxidant activity in your body, and organ function. By cutting out a certain type of food or food group, you also cut out all the nutrients obtained via that food. The result could be nutritional deficiencies.

Short-Term Effects

The truth is that it's very difficult to keep up with an elimination diet for more than a few weeks or months at a time. Some diets, such as low-carb or low-fat diets, are impractical for those who eat out a lot. It is possible to make a total change to a vegetarian or vegan diet, but it's not easy. Even if you're fully committed to an elimination diet, it's very likely that you'll backslide, eat the wrong thing, or slip into your old eating habits. This type of diet tends to have short-term effects, but it's often difficult to sustain your efforts over the long term.

The Secret Isn't Elimination, It's Balance

When it comes to eating, the secret to weight loss and dieting is to eat healthy, and make sure you're getting a proper balance of nutrients. Veggies should be your primary source of nutrients, along with fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. A small quantity of dairy and starchy carbs are also vital for a balanced diet. You can cut artificial foods and sugars from your diet, but give yourself permission to indulge every now and again. If you feel deprived of treats and delicious foods, you'll have a much harder time sticking to your diet.

When Elimination Diets Help

Let's get one thing clear: there are times when an elimination diet can benefit you. For example, those with celiac disease need to eliminate gluten from their diet, and the lactose intolerant should eliminate dairy from their menu. There are times when cutting certain types of foods can help to treat a medical condition, reduce obesity risk, or prevent cardiovascular problems. In these cases, it's always good to consult a doctor before cutting a food group from your diet. However, understanding that there are times for elimination diets may clear up whether or not you should try cutting out certain foods.

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