6 Tips for Enduring the RPAH Elimination Diet

by | Jul 18, 2022

Anyone who has been through an elimination diet will know how tedious it can be. Satisfying cravings is onerous, eating out is near impossible and the novelty of playing diet detective day-in day-out gets old fast. A challenging process to say the least, it’s important to remember that a crappy (relatively short-term) diet is infinitely better than a lifetime of crappy symptoms. So with that in mind, I’ve created the following tips for helping get through the frustrating yet enlightening journey that is the elimination diet – trust me, it’s all worth it in the end.

Tip #1: Stick your symptoms where you can see them

If you’re struggling to stay motivated or prone to throwing in the towel, I recommend grabbing a piece of paper and writing down the symptoms that bring you the most grief. Once you’ve done this, stick it front and center on the fridge so every time you walk past, you’re reminded of what you’re working towards – eliminating as many of these symptoms as possible.

Having your symptoms displayed prominently is also a great way to remind friends and family of why you need to be so restrictive with your diet. If they can see the motivation behind what you’re doing, they’re more likely to support you by cooking meals that cater to your needs and limiting their use of offending chemicals in your presence.

Tip #2: Restock your fridge and pantry

Out of sight out of mind holds true for the elimination diet. We all know the feeling of coming home tired at the end of the day and reaching for the most comforting/appealing thing in the fridge – consequences be damned! If you stock your fridge and pantry with only “approved foods”, you’re more likely to succeed in the investigative process. Trust me, you don’t want to have to repeat the whole diet again because you muddied the results with a couple of choccy biscuit variables.

Nonperishable items can be stored away in a large tub until after any offending chemicals have been identified, while fridge items can be used up before starting the elimination diet, donated, or stored in a family/friend’s fridge until the process has finished. It’s worth noting that household products and cosmetics are also notorious for containing salicylates, often identified by their strong fragrance. Try to avoid any strong smeling products during this time, and replace them with low chemical options if you can (e.g. salicylate-free cosmetics, salicylate-free cleaning products). 

Tip #3: Buy easy-to-prepare ingredients

Those who’ve never had to undertake an elimination diet may take for granted the convenience of purchasing ready-made meals/sauces or eating out whenever the feeling strikes. To help make life easier when on the elimination diet, I suggest purchasing good quality, small portions of your meats, chicken, fish and use pre-cut and/or frozen veggies whenever you can to cut down on prep time – every second counts! I also recommend preparing some homemade “safe” condiments, so you can add flavour to your meals and salads throughout the weeks.

Tip #4: Create a weekly meal plan

When undertaking the elimination diet myself, the first thing I did was make a list of my preferred foods from the “safe” list. I then used these food items to come up with meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the week. Breakfasts and lunches were always the same and it was only on the weekend that I went for something a little different (e.g. eggs on toast instead of porridge).

To help create some semblance of variety, I made sure to develop 7 dinner ideas, each featuring a different protein/carb/fat. When I had it clear in my head what I was going to eat, I whipped up a spreadsheet of my daily meals then stuck it on my pantry door so either I or my husband could refer to it before doing the grocery shop. Decision fatigue is real guys. Taking all those day-to-day meal choices out of the equation is a big help in preventing resistance. 

Tip #5: Use your phone calendar to track your symptoms

Using a calendar diary to make notes of your symptoms makes it easier to track progress and link any reactions to a specific food/chemical/quantity. You should record daily what foods you ate and at what time, any symptoms experienced and their severity, along with any life events (e.g. dined out, stressful situation, had your period, exposure to fumes, etc.). I suggest keeping these records on your phone, first, because most people always have their phone on them so it makes it easier to record any symptoms as they occur, and secondly, paper records are more easily lost/destroyed, so having them on your phone, is to my mind, the more secure option.

Tip #6: Ask yourself if now is the best time?

Before starting an elimination diet and subsequent challenges, consider whether it’s a good time in your life to undertake such a drastic change. If you are under a lot of stress or about to travel, it might be a good idea to postpone until you have enough energy, time and support to engage fully with the process. And if your social life usually consists of many a brunch/lunch/dinner dates, perhaps ask your friends if, during the elimination diet, you could do activities that don’t revolve around food (think going to a movie, concert, walk around the park, clothes shopping, footy game etc.). 

DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 


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