‘The Elimination Diet’ Finally Makes Sense!

Perhaps I’m as dumb as a bag of rocks, and you’ll all think I’m a touch touched, but I finally figured out what doctors mean by an ‘elimination diet’. If you aren’t already aware, basically, you don’t eat anything, and foods are added back into the diet one at a time. I’ve always wanted to call it an ‘addition diet’, you’re not eliminating foods, you’re adding them back in. It’s always sounded backwards to me.

A few weeks ago I was watching TV, and chatting with fellow Masties online. I’ve always loved detective shows, I like to flatter myself that I’d be a fantastic detective if you did have to be a cop first! (Great deductive logic skills, but I can’t fathom running or shooting a gun). As I am reading the phrase ‘elimination diet’, the forensic detectives said ‘We didn’t know where to look. We eliminated this guy, then that one. Then we eliminated that friend and his wife. Then the kids were eliminated.”

Well smack me upside the forehead! The sentence ‘They eliminated the kids’ could have two completely different meanings. We assume that the cop actually meant ‘we eliminated the kids from the list of suspects’- the alternative would be pretty unusual. (To say the least 😳). When we’re watching a crime show, we understand the meaning of ‘eliminate so and so’, even without the qualifier ‘as suspects’. The use is quite different with food. We say ‘I eliminated x from my diet.’ all the time. When we say it, most people mean ‘I am no longer eating that food’. That’s common daily usage. But if we think of eliminating ‘x food from the list of suspect foods’, it means the exact opposite.

Ohhhh, I get it now!

So, when an allergist talks about an elimination diet, they could be talking about eliminating foods as a suspect, or eliminating a food from your diet. I’m not sure how to solve the confusion, but at least I am aware of where the confusion comes from, and I can ask for clarification.

And being a word nerd, my brain is happier once it figures that sort of thing out. I hate things that don’t make sense, they stick in my head and irritate me, like a pebble in a shoe.

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