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‘Elimination Diets’ Could Do More Harm Than Good

By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TV
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Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TV Medical Reporter Dr. Mallika Marshall
Dr. Mallika Marshall is WBZ-TV News’ Medical Reporter and contributes...
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BOSTON (CBS) — The newest diet craze is about looking and feeling better.

When new mom Jessica Lee Anderson decided to go on a diet, it wasn’t all about losing the post-baby weight.

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

So Jessica decided on her own, to eliminate a bunch of food from her diet, like wheat, eggs, nuts, and most processed foods.

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

Medically supervised elimination diets have been around for a long time, but now they are also becoming a hot diet trend.

“Elimination diets are definitely gaining popularity,” said Marjorie Nolan Cohn, a registered dietician. “We have wheat-free, gluten-free, nut or seed-free as well as dairy-free.

Cutting out certain foods can cut down on some symptoms, like digestion issues or skin irritations.

“For someone who has a medical condition that warrants eliminating certain foods or food groups, the quality of life just improves dramatically,” Cohn said.

But not everyone has a medical reason for this kind of diet.

“The problem is that people think that often it’s an allergic reaction that’s triggering these symptoms when actually there’s no allergy at all,” Dr. Linda Lee said. “If you eliminate too fiercely then you can run into nutritional problems.”

Cohn points to some of the side-effects.

“Someone who goes gluten-free could actually increase their risk of diarrhea on a regular basis. People who go on a carb-free diet are actually increasing their risk for constipation and a dairy free diet is also going to contribute to potentially setting yourself up to have a low bone density or Osteoporosis later in life,” she said.

Jessica says her new diet isn’t easy but she’s committed to stick with it.

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

If you’re considering one of these diets but don’t have a specific allergy or medical condition, moderation instead of elimination may be a better option to try first.

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