The RPAH Elimination Diet developed as the careful approach eliminating all foods where there was evidence for the presence of the suspect food chemicals. The Diet Detective Approach is less strict. I developed it beginning in 1975 when there was little useful analysis data, and additive labelling did not exist. I found the best way to the most effective diet was to do careful clinical research recording the foods my patients reacted to. This meant the diet approach progressed over years with the realization that some foods were lower risk than others, and some foods caused reactions in some and not in others.
It could be said that the RPAH Elimination Diet is a defined diet approach as the group start by excluding all suspect foods, whereas the Diet Detective Approach is an individualised approach, as it excludes foods which cause reactions in most people. This means it makes the diet as easy as possible. These approaches still have much in common and can be seen as very similar when compared to use in USA or UK where the low additive, low chemical diets are not as scientifically accepted as they are in Australia. However the differences are worth noticing.
The Diet Detective Approach emphasises some important ideas. In the 1970s the idea that food sensitive people were supersensitive, especially to smells was incorporated. By the 1980s, I recognised the importance of the Total Body Load as a good way to think about all the food chemicals, whole foods, factors in the person, and in the environment, that should be minimised during the diet investigation. If you investigate diet without incorporating smells and other environmental factors you will not have as good results. The total body load idea means that if you reduce all the known suspect foods you may tolerate a glass of good wine, a little chocolate, or a favourite fruit occasionally. Individual variation in what people most suspect was also built-in.
Another important difference is that the Diet Detective Approach uses the Family Sensitivity History. The History provides information about which foods are suspect or cause reactions in close family relatives. Foods that cause a reaction in one family member should be investigated in all other members. As well as foods the Family Sensitivity History can note smells, inhalants, stress, infections, fussiness and supersensitivities that occur.
Using the information from the family can also show if milk or wheat or other foods commonly causing allergy problems should be just limited (in a special way) or excluded altogether. This makes the diet more personal; it changes the general Diet Detective Diet to the Family or Individual Elimination Diet. After the 4-week trial each person tests groups of foods or single foods they want to return to their diet.
The clinical research also showed that tolerance is variable and may not be related to food chemical analysis. Nor is it related only to the symptom. This supports my position that the right diet is in the person not in the symptom. What this means is that you don’t provide a particular diet to respond to a certain symptom. Instead, you design the diet to fit with the particular person – and this will give good results for whatever symptoms they have. For instance, dairy and wheat tolerance are not only related to gut symptoms. Some with gut symptoms do not need to exclude them and for some they can aggravate other symptoms.
The whole Diet Detective Process with all the helpful detail is provided in my book Are You Food Sensitive? in the 2014 edition. To keep the diet as easy as possible there are more foods allowed in the initial Diet Detective Baseline Diet than the RPAH Elimination Diet. The amounts are limited but the variety is much greater. Two examples are mild flavoured red pawpaw, and mild carrots with no bitter flavour. The quality of flavour and mildness can make the difference between a distressing reaction and no reaction. In fact flavour itself is investigated. By the 1980s I explained much by saying “most foods high in flavour are suspect”.
Artificial flavour is used in ten times the amount of additive colour so needs to be excluded from food, drinks, sweets, and medications. Vanilla and carob caused reactions in one quarter of the research group studied for my Masters Degree, so they should be excluded from the diet trial. On the other hand, highly nutritious and useful foods such as peanut butter and canned fish need only be excluded if the family has an allergy to them, or the smell is disliked enough to be a good indicator for their exclusion. Sorbates and gallates as preservatives are often used in small amounts, so need only be excluded where individuals note a reaction (such as to cheese singles). Another part of keeping the diet as easy as possible is the inclusion of an ‘Easy Elimination Diet’ for those who want to start even easier.
After the diet trial challenges are related to foods tolerated with discussion on the possible chemicals they contain, not the other way around. Corn and capsicum were both regarded as “high” salicylate, and hence excluded by the RPAH diet. However limited corn is rarely reported as causing a problem, while capsicum often is. The book Tolerating Troublesome Foods discusses over 300 foods, giving their comparative chances of causing a reaction to thousands of patients over the last 40 years. You will learn that well-cooked crusty bread is better tolerated than soft bread, and that mild sweet strawberries are better tolerated than strong tart ones.
Both the RPAH Elimination Diet and the Diet Detective Approach have been carefully developed in Australia. The USA and UK texts mostly disregard salicylate as a factor. Research there has concentrated more on allergy.
Since aspirin sensitivity occurs much more often in food sensitive patients, this strongly suggests that salicylate is relevant. Dr Swain’s analysis data (from RPAH) has been a helpful basis in this regard. RPAH lists now include patient tolerance as well as the levels of salicylate found in Dr Swain’s analysis of the early 1980s. Both these processes are very useful as they both begin with a broad approach, lowering salicylates, amines, glutamates, and additives. They both address the reality of food chemical intolerance as a factor in the treatment of many symptoms.
For additional information on the Diet Detective Approach you can obtain my books via Kindle for just US$5, and read over 70 free Articles on www.FoodIntolerancePro.com. You can also obtain the supportive books as a download or hard copies, and use the information to help your family members. You would be wise to also work through the process with the help of an accredited practicing dietitian.
In short, the RPAH elimination diet has many similarities with the Diet Detective Approach, and will often be a solid place for people who think that diet may play a role in their symptoms. The Diet Detective Approach is based around what works with actual patients in a clinical environment: for that reason it can be more flexible, personalized and easier to fit into busy lives.
D'anah Wallace says
Thank you! Yes. I have found that I need to test every individual food separately (not just food/chemical groups ie salicylates, amines etc). The RPAH elimination diet just didn’t uncover the culprits, for me. It is a long road, but at least now I am finding out what I personally cannot safely have and what is Ok for me.
Your books have been a great help. Thank you!