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Experts Urge Caution Before Trying ‘Elimination Diet’

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — “Elimination dieting” is trendy, but is it healthy?

As CBS 2′s Alice Gainer reported, the latest diet craze has people cutting entire food groups out of their diets in an effort to cure a variety of ailments, often without the guidance of a health professional.

For example, Jessica Lee Anderson went on a diet not to look better, but to feel better.

“I ate a lot of processed food,” she said. “I ate a lot of fast food. And I had just gotten so tired. I wasn’t feeling very well.”

She researched a plan online and decided to go on an elimination diet.

Anderson cut out wheat, eggs, nuts and most processed foods.

“Eliminating certain things in the diet had helped other individuals, so I figured what the heck?” she said. “Let’s give it a chance.”

Medically supervised elimination diets have been around for a long time. But recently, a growing number of dieters have been tackling them on their own.

“For someone who has a medical condition that warrants eliminating certain foods or food groups, the quality of life improves dramatically,” said Marjorie Nolan Cohn, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

But some experts believe many people go on the diet who don’t actually need to.

“Sometimes diet is not a cause of symptoms,” said Linda A. Lee, clinical director of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Also, cutting out certain food groups without the guidance of a medical professional could leave you at risk for other health problems down the road.

Lee suggests that instead of elimination, many people should consider moderation instead.

“If you have specific symptoms that you want to address, I would really encourage you to discuss it with your doctor first before you decide that you’re going to embark on an elimination diet,” she said.

Anderson said her elimination diet has achieved the results she was looking for, and she’s committed to staying on it for the long haul.

“I do miss pizza,” she said. “I miss other types of things. But nothing tastes as good as just feeling awesome.”

Experts say it’s important to remember that elimination diets are a treatment, not a cure. If you do find one that eases symptoms, you’ll have to permanently eliminate that food group to keep feeling the benefits.

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