Robert McFerran 7 – Elimination Diet

ARTHRITIS — Searching for THE TRUTH — Searching for THE CURE


I’ve often talked with folks that were confident that foods didn’t have any impact on their symptoms. I ask if they’ve ever run a good ‘elimination’ diet and a surprising number assure me that they have. Upon further questioning I always find that they have only eliminated a couple of foods, say milk or wheat or nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc.). Even though milk and wheat are common food allergens and nightshade vegetables create problems for those possessing one specific metabolism, this should not be considered a true elimination diet.

Over 85% of people with chronic disease have food allergies. Most will find not one, but a handful of foods acting as the major culprits. This is the reason why eliminating just one or two random foods is all but useless. If you were allergic to a large number of tree pollens, springtime grasses and weeds, the removal of only one of these airborne allergens would usually have little impact on your total allergy symptoms. If the allergen was added back into the mix you probably wouldn’t notice. The effect from this one allergen would be hidden or ‘masked’ by your already prominent symptoms to the other allergens. The same phenomenon occurs with foods.

How could we find whether the airborne allergen in the above example was a significant factor in triggering our allergic symptoms? The best way would be to place ourselves in a room with perfectly filtered air (in essence eliminating all airborne allergens) until our allergy symptoms abated. The specific allergen would then be re-introduced and any allergic reaction noted. In this way the impact of a single, specific allergen can be isolated and tested. What was previously thought to be a rather insignificant allergen would often deliver a surprisingly strong allergic response.

We can do the same thing with foods. Historically ‘spring water fasts’ have been employed. Patients would drink only spring water for the initial 4-5 days. This type of ‘fast’ would obviously eliminate all food allergens from the diet. It was maintained for 4-5 days to also allow physical elimination of all foods eaten prior to the start of the ‘fast’ from the digestive tract.

Spring water fasts have one major problem. A significant percentage of individuals cannot tolerate them and should not try them. Their metabolic demands make any kind of extended water fast dangerous. Fortunately years of previous testing has provided a list of ‘safe’ foods that can be temporarily substituted for your usual diet. These foods are not completely hypo-allergenic but they do have a low allergenic potential. In other words they are rarely found to induce a reaction. The foods include cod, trout, mackerel, pears, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, yams, celery, zucchini, carrots and peaches. Any foods routinely eaten more than twice a week should be removed from the list. All the foods must be fresh and in their ‘whole’ or natural form. No cans or other packaging allowed.

Spring water or sparkling water are the only acceptable liquids. The only allowed condiment is sea or mineral salt. Steaming is an excellent method of preparing foods during your elimination diet.

Prior to starting the diet you’ll need to purchase a bottle of magnesium citrate (found in the laxative section) and alka-seltzer ‘gold’ (it’s found only in the gold colored box). All drugs should be continued. Smoking should be ceased when initiating the diet. You will not be able to eat at restaurants during the diet.

If you work, Thursday evening will be the best time to begin. Wait two hours after dinner and pour one-half of the contents of the bottle of magnesium citrate into a tall glass. Add an equal amount of water and some ice and drink slowly. Repeat the same procedure with the remainder of the magnesium citrate just prior to retiring.

Friday morning’s breakfast and all subsequent meals for the next six days should consist exclusively of the ‘safe’ foods (cod, trout, mackerel, pears, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, yams, celery, zucchini, carrots and peaches). You may eat them in any combination and in any amount as often as you want throughout the first six days. Take note of what you are eating and how often you are eating it. You won’t be able to remember so keep a diary. You will need that information later.

By Friday evening (day 1) you should start feeling your first ‘withdrawal’ symptoms. You won’t be getting the temporary lift provided by your allergenic food(s). Withdrawal symptoms can take many forms. The most obvious is an increase in joint swelling and pain. Headache, muscle aches, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms are very common. Strong hunger pangs and cravings are usually present. It’s not unusual to still feel hungry shortly after a meal.

Withdrawal symptoms will worsen on Saturday and Sunday (days 2 and 3). The intensity of these symptoms should not be underestimated. In fact many will feel completely crippled during these days. Withdrawal symptoms can be somewhat ameliorated by taking one tablet of alka-seltzer (in the gold box) in a large glass of water. This can be repeated every 4 hours if needed. You should try to drink plenty of water. It will help speed elimination and the ‘clearing’ of symptoms.

By Monday (day 4) some will feel significantly better as their withdrawal symptoms begin to clear. This ‘clearing’ will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday (days 5 and 6). While younger people tend to clear their symptoms earlier, 85% of all arthritics will clear a large part of their arthritis symptoms by day 6. After clearing most report that they feel better than they have in years.

Now that symptoms have cleared new foods can be introduced, one by one, to the base diet of ‘safe’ foods that you’ve been eating the past 6 days. Up to 3 foods can be tested each day if there is no reaction.

NB : If fresh/frozen mackeral not available, can substitute cod, or other white fish even. People who are pretty sure they are H-G can add in lamb.


Bob doesn’t recommend that people attempt the elimination diet without the full protocol. But some people will find this site who are desperate for some help, and who will want to have a go anyway. We have compiled a page which is a combination of text from this chapter, information from Walt Stoll’s archives and hints from our personal experiences of doing the diet ourselves. I repeat, it NOT a full protocol, but will hopefully give enough information for people to get some meaningful results.

Click here to go to the elimination diet instructions, but make sure you come back and read the rest of Bob’s book before trying it.

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