Food Sensitivity Diets


Examples:  Gluten-free, Casein-free, Rotation diets, Elimination diets.  Any food can cause unwelcome symptoms, ranging from familiar problems like asthma to mysterious syndromes, such as fibromyalgia.  Learn which foods are most likely to irritate sensitive individuals.

STRATEGY:     Removal of potential dietary culprits

FOODS:           All foods are allowed except the ones suspected of causing problems.

The most common food sensitivities are:

  • Gluten (a protein found in wheat and similar grains)
  • Casein (dairy protein)
  • Soy and soy products
  • Corn and corn products (including corn syrup)
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

The above list includes only the most common food sensitivities.  Any food can be a culprit for a given individual.  Read my blog post about Food Sensitivities and ADHD to see the list of foods most likely to cause ADHD symptoms and how to determine whether your ADHD symptoms might be due to your own personal food sensitivities.

To read about the potential role of histamine (found in fermented, cured, aged, and cultured foods) in food sensitivities, click HERE.

Many of us are sensitive to carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates.  Read about carbohydrate sensitivity and take my carbohydrate sensitivity quiz by clicking here.


Food sensitivities can cause an impressive variety of physical problems; just about any bodily issue could be caused by an irritating food. Some examples include: migraine, rashes, stomach pain, sinus congestion, fatigue, digestive problems, ankle swelling, insomnia, itching, restless legs, bloating, sore throat, muscle aches, reflux, asthma, ADHD, and dark circles under the eyes.

These are essentially diet experiments that people can use to figure out whether certain foods are responsible for their symptoms. One or more foods are removed from the diet for several days to several weeks, and a diet journal is used to record symptoms over time.

Once the problem food is identified, it is up to the individual how often to eat the food and how much of it to eat. Some people discover that they can tolerate small amounts of certain foods, but if they eat too much of it, or if they eat it too often, symptoms will occur.

The most important benefit of these diets for people with food sensitivities is the ability to CONTROL how they feel because they understand how foods affect them.


These diets can be very frustrating; they require patience and careful recordkeeping. For people who choose to eliminate one food at a time, it can sometimes take many different experiments to figure out which food(s) is causing trouble. For this reason, some people prefer to begin with very strict elimination diets that remove lots of potential culprits all at once and then to put one food back in at a time, however these diets are very restrictive and can be hard to follow.

Also challenging is that some of the most common food culprits are found in a wide variety of processed foods, and it is not always obvious which ones.  Labels can be very confusing. For example, gluten is a hidden ingredient in many foods but rarely is the word “gluten” listed among the ingredients.  Gluten is not just found in wheat, but in other grains and in many vegetarian meat substitutes and processed foods; sometimes it may only be listed on the label as “filler.”  Another prime example is that “non-dairy creamer” is anything but—it contains sodium caseinate, which is made from dairy protein.

To make matters more complicated, some foods can cause symptoms right away, or only for a few hours, whereas other foods may have delayed effects or cause prolonged symptoms. For example, casein can cause symptoms for many days after eating it. Slowly digested foods such as grains and nuts may not cause symptoms until a day or two after eating them. This is why it is so important to keep track of symptoms in a journal, on a spreadsheet, or with a smartphone.

Sign up to be notified of my latest posts!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I will never give away, trade or sell your name or email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

  • Des

    Good morning Dr.Ede. I know you’re not authorized to diagnose or prescribe anything on your website, but some guidance would be greatly appreciated. I was able to guess- diagnose my brother with SIBO (it turns out, I was right) and ever since stumbling upon your website, I have taken the initiative to devise a diet for him to help him seal and heal his gut. I’ve already forbidden him to eat things like: chia seeds, excess kefir and dairy, sugar, grains and legumes and also told him to limit or avoid crucifers and excess fruit. And funny enough he feels more ‘free’ on this diet which consists of cod liver oil, liver, meat, fish, fowl, bone broth, fat, and some fruit like squash. What I’m wondering is, is there any comparably safer veg for him to eat other than tomatoes and squash, namely tubers? Do you think potatoes in general are easier on people’s guts than say, broccoli, or are potatoes just as offensive? It would be nice to know which veggies are okay or less “evil.” I know I already asked about sweet potatoes which are vastly different. I also noticed that if you fry a potato, the GL goes DOWN as oppose to boiling or baking it which makes blood sugar soar.

    • Peeled, cooked tubers are probably easier on the gut than, say, cruciferous vegetables, but until I have completed a thorough review of each vegetable family, I would rather not hazard any guesses.

  • shawnie

    hello –

    your story is amazing.

    I say that because you are the first I have heard say this aloud. I’ve been digging and digging – wading through information, trying to put it together… I’ve done so to a certain extent – feeling much better than what I did in the beginning but far from fixed. During my most recent search, I finally came upon something called “Histime” and I wasn’t sure it was a ‘real’ product so, I used it as a reference/search word and that is how I found you.

    My story, I also have noticed my “sphere of tolerated food” getting smaller. I’ve had food sensitives since birth – but grew out of most of them – so it was thought – and as I’ve hit ~ middle age, 50’s, they’re coming back in abundance.

    I’ve been tracking myself – journaling about my intake of food, what and symptoms, for about ten years. Way back, I started with low-glycemic diet because my Dr diagnosed me as glucose intolerant – I still had problems, so I went to paleo, then, a restricted paleo, now SCD which has helped most of all… but not completely… and I am now looking to change even further as I still have allergic rxns.

    I’m tired 🙂 and I just want to be well …

    on that note, I am interested in learning more about your histamine-free diet (a book would be excellent 🙂 ) so, I will keep checking back in. Thanks – Shawnie

  • terrence


  • Alberto

    This website has been tremendously helpful Dr. Ede. I just wanted to share that I have done elimination diets several times and each time it helped me identify the foods that I was sensitive to at the time, but you’re right it was very restrictive and required a lot of patience, record-keeping, and discipline. To make it easier, I found a blood test that was able to do this for me with one simple blood draw, and within ten days it gave me the end-result of what an elimination diet would’ve given me. The blood test is called ALCAT, and it wasn’t cheap, but it changed my life significantly. It’s better than other tests because it does not look at IgG (antibody) levels- which can give you false negatives and positives since antibody tests depend on prior exposure to the offending food. Instead ALCAT looks at your live blood cells, which is not dependent upon exposure. I went from not finding any answers through traditional medicine, seeing countless specialists that couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, to healing my gut and being able to function normally simply by removing the foods that were identified on my ALCAT test results. Also ALCAT recommends to rotate the non-reactive foods from the results every four days so as to not develop any new sensitivities. If anyone is suffering from a chronic condition and you’d like to learn more about it, contact Rodrigo (800.872.5228 ext 170) at ALCAT and he can guide you and educate you as he did with me. I hope this is helpful, and if it makes a difference in someone’s life, then it was worth the time to share.

  • Kristin

    Thank you for all your work! Do you have any information on salicylate sensitivity and how to discern between that and histamine issues? New to the site, so I apologize if I am just not seeing it.

    • Hi Kristin

      Thanks for reading! No apologies necessary–salicylate sensitivity is one of those things that I would LOVE to research and write about and it’s on my to-do list, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.

Last Modified: Nov 4, 2015