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Elimination Diet Shopping List: What Foods to Eat and When to Have a Cheat Meal

Feel great again! Here is your elimination diet shopping list. Includes recipes, tips for weight-loss success, and advice for when to have a cheat meal.

Food intolerances and food sensitivities are increasingly common. Temporarily eliminating particular foods from your diet can help raise your energy, strengthen your immune system, and inspire weight loss. What follows are ideas about what foods to avoid, an elimination diet shopping list, and advice on when to have a cheat meal.

The food groups you may want to avoid on your trial elimination diet are the common food intolerance items:

  • dairy products
  • peanuts
  • grains
  • nightshade vegetables
  • and, most especially, any snacks that contain sugar.

Sugary snacks, in particular, are trigger foods that can inspire carbohydrate bingeing while also feeding the disadvantageous bacteria in your gut biome.

Many people have discovered that symptoms from their autoimmune disease are reversed when they do an elimination diet correctly.

The Cheat Meal Concept

While food allergies tend to be ever-present, food sensitivities and other digestive issues often lessen or go away completely after a few months on an elimination diet. To find out if this is indeed the case with you, a strategic cheat meal can be a good idea.

A cheat meal is an opportunity to experiment with reintroducing previously offending foods to determine if your body has become better at handling them. Lower within this article, I share important tips on how to do a cheat meal correctly.

Dane Findley helps others achieve stellar wellness with an elimination diet shopping list and cheat meal tips.
Dane earned a master’s degree in Counseling Depth Psychology from Pacific Graduate Institute. His past professional adventures include being a Therapist and Discharge Planner at a Dual-Diagnosis Hospital Inpatient Treatment Program, Digital Marketing Director for a real estate brokerage, and decades spent as a professional fitness and Pilates trainer. Today, Dane is a Healthy-Lifestyle Advocate and he curates the popular Quality of Life Newsletter – a free weekly update for creative types who want to increase their daily joy. Currently, he’s facilitating the new online course “Silver and Strong: How to Get Fantastically Fit After Age 50,” which helps people learn to eat for lean strength. Click-through for details.

Sequence of An Elimantion Diet

Here is a sequence for the elimination diet that many people have found helpful:

  • The first step in your elimination diet plan can be to simply remove all sugar in the first week.
  • In the second week, you remove dairy products.
  • In the third week, remove all flour and grains.
  • Week four remove peanuts and nightshades (regular potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant).
  • From that point forward, continue on with the elimination diet until 3 months time as passed.
  • At 3 months, you can try reintroducing one of the restricted food groups – I suggest starting with nightshades – back into a cheat meal.

I encourage you to consult with your medical doctor or healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your eating habits.

Elimination Diet Shopping List

Your best options for foods in the elimination diet are vegetables and meats – in that order. Here are some ideas for your elimination diet shopping list next time you go to the grocery store:

  • kale
  • spinach
  • romaine lettuce
  • Italian parsley
  • cilantro cucumber
  • broccoli
  • celery
  • cauliflower
  • daikon
  • avocado
  • carrots
  • sweet potato or yams
  • zucchini
  • frozen wild blueberries
  • lemons
  • ground turkey
  • grass fed beef (7% fat)
  • cage-free eggs
  • bison
  • coconut yogurt (dairy-free cultured coconut milk)
  • pecans and almonds.

Some advanced-level food elimination diets remove all nuts; however, I suggest allowing pecan and almonds, in the beginning, to see if you can tolerate them easily (you can always remove them later if needed).

How to Tell If Your Elimination Diet Is Working

It’s probably a good idea to wait until the end of three months on the food elimination diet before you decide whether or not it’s benefitting you. Here are things in yourself that you can observe:

  • energy levels: do you have more energy overall?
  • digestive system: less discomfort and less gas?
  • skin issues: is your skin appearing better?
  • eyes: are your eyes brighter and less red?
  • tongue: vibrant in appearance (and not yeasty)?
  • overall health: would you say that it seems to have improved?
elimination diet shopping list cheat meal

Elimination Diet Shopping List for Reintroducing Foods (for Cheat Meals)

After three months, here are ideas for your elimination diet shopping list for reintroducing previously eliminated foods:

  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • red potatoes
  • white rice
  • quinoa
  • Nut Pods creamer (for tea or coffee)
  • dark chocolate

The Philosophy Behind the Elimantion Diet Shopping List

For the most part, I’m not a fan of “dieting.”

Instead, I believe in permanent lifestyle upgrades.

There are some menu items that I will not allow myself to eat, no matter how tasty they might appear.

Inflammatory foods – which for me include foods with processed grains and refined sugars – make me puffy and tired (and as soon as I’m done eating them, I usually regret it).

Also, when I eat simple carbs it just makes me crave more simple carbs and activates addictive urges around food. It’s better for me if I just don’t go there.

However, there are some cheat foods (hello, dark chocolate!) that I will allow myself.

I have friends who enthusiastically endorse the cheat meal concept; they report that having one meal each week when they can drink and eat almost anything they want really helps them to stay on track the rest of the week.

Many nutritional experts believe that allowing yourself a cheat meal once a week – when you can eat (practically) anything your heart desires – might actually help you to stick to your diet and ignite your weight loss.

Cheat Meal for Athletes: The Carbohydrate “Refeed”

“Some people – particularly athletes or people who exercise regularly – call their Diet Cheat Meal a “carb refeed.”

The diet cheat meal can be an opportunity to consciously dial up your intake of carbs to help offset the negative metabolic and hormonal effects from long-term low-carb dieting.

Low-carb eating, done for days on end, can eventually burn up your body’s glycogen – the carbohydrates stored inside your muscle tissue – which can begin to impact your mood and your performance.

For me personally, I solve this challenge by adding a small serving of white rice (that I make in my InstantPot pressure cooker) to my dinner once each week. One of my closest friends does quinoa instead.

During the rest of the week, I might limit my carbs to between 100 and 150 grams a day (I would go even lower if I didn’t workout so much. But my exercise schedule necessitates having more carbs than is strictly Keto).

Some bodybuilding friends I know do their once-a-week carb refeed by hitting the gym on Sunday morning, then going out for their cheat meal directly after the workout – a meal that includes a stack of gluten-free pancakes covered in real maple syrup.

3 Lower-Calorie Smoothie Recipes for a Cheat Meal

The fun part of making a smoothie is dropping the ingredients you’ve chosen into a blender and creating a concoction that meets your taste buds’ wants – while simultaneously fulfilling your body’s nutritional needs.

The advantage to using smoothies as a cheat meal is that you can include a bit more fruit than you might on a regular day.

“Smoothies come in all styles and flavors.These three recipes not only taste refreshing, but they also help you to feel better and are lower in calories than most standard meals.”

The best thing about smoothies is that, if made properly, they can improve your health.

Green smoothies also happen to be lower in calories than most standard meals so – even though they are rich and filling – dropping weight can be an additional result.

elimination diet shopping list idea: smoothies as a cheat meal

The main purpose of smoothies is to improve nutrition and health, but they also can help you drop fat. Many freshly made smoothies have between 285 to 385 calories, yet are satisfying – similar to the way a milkshake fills you up.

Smoothies are a part of my life. I’m 56 years old and fit.

I wasn’t always as fit as I am now; the reason I use my blender so much is that I want to have the high energy and excellent health required to live a passionate life.

I make all kinds of smoothies throughout the week. Some are as thick as ice cream and have more fruit than vegetables and those can be a good choice for a cheat meal.

Mostly, however, I have green smoothies that contain more vegetables than fruit and I often have those for lunch.

Here are three smoothie recipes for you to try. Compare how your body feels after you drink them, with how you’d normally feel after a snack or a meal.

1. Elimination Diet Shopping List Idea: Breakfast Smoothie

This smoothie is high in leafy greens and delightfully sweet – making it easy to kick-start your healthy day and meet your vegetable quota.

  • Pineapple Juice (1 cup) – This will be the liquid base. If you’d prefer you can cut your own fresh pineapple chunks but be sure to add enough water to cover the blender blades.
  • Kale (2 big handfuls) – This leafy vegetable comes in a dark green or purple color. It is a form of cabbage and has become kind of a fashionable food lately. Many nutritionists label it the most nutritious vegetable and a powerful antioxidant.
  • Parsley (handful) – Often used as a garnish, in this case, it compliments the kale by being mineral-rich and a great antioxidant as well.
  • Mint Leafs (handful) – Its pleasant taste enhances. Mint also cleans out your digestive tract and research indicate it has anti-cancer properties.
  • Ice (1 cup) – Adds a chilled and slushy texture.

You’ll really need a good blender to liquidize all those soft leaves.

2. Elimination Diet Shopping List Idea: Mango Surprise Smoothie

Here’s a nutrient-dense super-smoothie that’s extra good for you. This is a more advanced recipe for people who already enjoy the taste of vegetables. If you’re newer to smoothies, you probably want to start with more fruit and possibly even add a little honey or agave to this one.

  • Almond Milk (1/2 cup) – For the liquid base. Almonds are good for digestion and one of the few alkalizing nuts. This milk has a very smooth texture as well.
  • Organic Cucumber (1) – Peel the skin to ensure a clean smooth texture. This is so good for a smoothie and is known for its many healing properties.
  • Organic Spinach (1/2 cup) Very high in iron. You can use fresh or frozen, I prefer frozen for smoothies as it won’t spoil. I can then save the fresh produce for salads.
  • Mango (1/2 cup) – Mango has a flavanoid in it that is anti-aging, but is also great tasting and adds a sweet kick to the smoothie.
  • Plant-based protein powder (2 tablespoons) – Our body builds and repairs itself with protein so it’s important to make sure we get enough. Adding plant-based protein powder to a smoothie is a great way to naturally give your body more building blocks and provide yourself with energy.
  • Ice (1 cup) – To add that chilled smooth taste that’s so desirable in a smoothie.

3. Elimination Diet Shopping List Idea: Coco-Cashew Smoothie

This can be either a smoothie on its own or an after-dinner dessert. It will taste like an ice cream milkshake, but made from the all-natural sugars found in the ingredients.

  • Dates (6) This super sweet fruit is full of healthy nutrients, make sure to remove the pit first.
  • Cashew Nuts (2 cups) – Soak them in a jar for a few hours to soften and allow the protein level to rise.
  • Raw Cacao (to taste) – A healthier, purer version of chocolate. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons (but don’t go overboard or it will taste bitter).
  • Peeled Frozen banana (half or whole depending on preference); this will help give it the texture of a milkshake.

When blended and poured into a glass, sprinkle some carob nibs or nutmeg on top.

“…compare how your body feels after you drink a freshly made smoothie, with how you’d normally feel after a snack or a meal”

You can change and adapt the ingredients and their portions to meet your wants and needs. For instance, I can’t have dates (see recipe above) as I have mold sensitivity. But I use monk fruit instead.

Many Dieters Find the Cheat Meal Helpful for Weight Loss

According to Doctor Oz, for people who lose weight by having a weekly cheat meal, the reasoning is two-fold:

  • cheating stimulates the thyroid gland and turns up the metabolism
  • cheating gets rid of the taboo of wanting what you can’t have, thereby curbing cravings

It’s important to understand that a cheat meal is not a binge day.

•   IDEA: if you like chocolate, try dark chocolate bars with chili peppers (the spice makes it self-limiting, and the capsaicin gets your metabolism going)

Lengthen Your Healthspan Through Calorie Restriction

Research seems to support calorie restriction as a key method for living better for longer. It can be helpful to think of this as extending your healthspan,” instead of only extending your lifespan. The idea isn’t to just live longer, it’s to live longer with great health.

“…if you follow these suggestions then you statistically will have a better chance to live longer and to leave a positive legacy”

I know “calorie restriction” has an ominous sound to it. But it’s actually not so bad. I’m five-foot-nine-inches, so as long as my workouts are normal, then 2,000 calories a day seems to work fine. Bear in mind, those are 2,000 quality calories.

There are periods when I workout strenuously every day. On those days, I allow myself even more calories.

  • Your own daily caloric intake should be determined by your height, genetic metabolism, and fat-to-muscle ratio.
  • Everybody’s unique, so everybody’s number can be different.
  • Ask your doctor and nutritionist what the right caloric intake is for you.

The bottom line is this: in order to take your health to the next level, you will likely need to consume more vegetables within your typical daily diet.

Freshly made green smoothies are an excellent solution to the problem of how to consume more vegetables.

This article provides a general overview of one possible anti-inflammatory diet. For complete guidance – and meticulous action steps – on how to successfully do an advanced-level anti-inflammatory diet (and quite possibly to feel and look better than you ever have before) I recommend my course Silver and Strong.”

Additional Sources on Elimination Diet Shopping List and Doing a Cheat Meal Correctly:

Medical Doctor Mehmet Cengiz Öz on Eating Plans that Reduce – http://www.doctoroz.com/

Scholarly Research on Elimination Diet: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/elimination-diet

Science Reveals How Restricting Calories Might Prevent Disease – http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2011/7/Protection-from-Disease-The-CR-Way/Page-01

Lucy’s Cookies – http://www.drlucys.com/ (not anti-inflammatory, just fewer calories than typical cookies)

TruWhip – http://www.truwhip.com/ (not anti-inflammatory, just fewer calories than typical whipped cream)

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