Eosinophilic Esophagitis & the 6 Food Elimination Diet: Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the esophagus, a muscular tube that connect the throat to the stomach. EoE is recognized as an allergic reaction, which may be caused by a food allergy reaction or airborne allergens.
Symptoms of EoE vary based on the age of a patient. While children experience nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, adults most often have difficulty swallowing, due to the narrowing of the esophagus. This may cause food to get stuck, which is known as food impaction.
While steroids can help reduce inflammation of the esophagus, making changes in your diet can provide long-term relief. One of the more popular and successful treatment options for EoE is called “The Six Food Elimination Diet.”
This elimination diet removes the six most common food allergens from your diet: milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanut/tree nuts, and seafood. At the beginning, patients are encouraged to remove all of these allergens from their diet for a six weeks. At the end of the six weeks, your doctor or dietitian will review your symptoms and reintroduce these food allergens one at a time, each for a two week trial.
Like all diets, the Six Food Elimination Diet requires commitment and self control. Fortunately, the diet boasts a 74 percent success rate and can help you identify which foods exacerbate your symptoms associated with EoE.
To increase your chances of success, here are three nutrition tips for the Six Food Elimination Diet:
Eosinophilic Esophagitis & the 6 Food Elimination Diet - Nutrition Tip #1: READ LABELS
The six most common food allergens are recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If an item contains one of these allergens, it can be found in a “Contains Statement” (i.e. Contains soy and wheat). Some food items may have a “May Contain” statement, in which case it is unclear if the product features the listed food allergen(s). In this case, it is best to call the manufacturer to find out more information about the product.
Eosinophilic Esophagitis & the 6 Food Elimination Diet - Nutrition Tip #2: TAKE A MULTIVITAMIN
Eliminating all foods that contain any of the six food allergens can be a difficult diet to follow. Many of these foods are great sources of nutrients and vitamins. To replace these lost nutrients, try a hypoallergenic daily multivitamin. However, be sure to read the label to make sure it does not contain the top six food allergens.
Eosinophilic Esophagitis & the 6 Food Elimination Diet - Nutrition Tip #3: AVOID CROSS CONTAMINATION
During your diet, make sure the foods you eat do not come into contact with any of the six food allergens. If you are cooking at home, wash your hands often and take special care in the kitchen. While it is best to avoid restaurants altogether while on this diet, let your server know that you cannot have any foods that contain the six allergens.