The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide

Allergy Cooking with Ease

Easy Bread Making for Special Diets

Easy Cooking for Special Diets




How to Use a Rotation Diet

If you have multiple food allergies, one of the best ways to help yourself is to “rotate” your foods, or eat a rotation diet. A rotation diet is a system of controlling food allergies by eating biologically related foods on the same day and then waiting at least four days before eating them again. Such a diet can help those with food allergies in several ways.

Rotation diets may help prevent the development of allergies to new foods. Any food, if eaten repetitively, can cause food allergies in allergy-prone individuals or people with “leaky guts.” When my food allergies were first diagnosed, I was not told to rotate my foods. I simply eliminated the foods to which I was allergic. Four years later I had developed allergies to the foods I had used to replace the original problem foods in my diet.

A rotation diet helps you pick out allergies to foods for which you were not tested and may not have suspected were problems. If you eat a food on Monday, for example, by Friday, when you eat it again, the “masking” antibodies your body makes specifically for that food will be diminished. Therefore, you will realize you are reacting to it, even though you did not have obvious symptoms when you ate it on a daily basis.

A rotation diet allows you to eat foods to which you have a mild or borderline allergy and which you might not tolerate if you ate them often. Sometimes your reaction to borderline foods may depend on your stress level, other illness or infection, lack of adequate rest, or the season of the year. (For example, grain allergies tend to be more pronounced when the grass is pollinating).

A rotation diet can seem confusing, overwhelming, or confining at first. However, with a little instruction (as in The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide) and practice in using a rotation diet, it will get much easier. Like hearing aids, bifocals, or any other health aid, once you get used to your rotation diet, it will become easier to use and your health will be improved by using it. If you need help personalizing or using your rotation diet, contact Marsha McCulloch, MS, RD at

For more information about the development of rotation diets as a treatment for food allergies and how and why they can improve your health, refer to An Alternative Approach to Allergies by Theron Randolph, M.D., the “father” of environmental medicine. For a little more information about this book or to order it from, go the Print Resources page of this website.

The rotation diet in The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide is designed to help you get started on rotation. It is not set in stone and can and should be individualized. Rotation group numbers are listed with each food so you can easily move whole families of foods from one rotation day to another. For example, if you find that you do not have any vegetables that you like or can tolerate on one day of the diet, but have two families of vegetables on a different day, move one of those families to the day on which you do not have vegetables. (Be sure to move ALL of the members of the family or all of the foods with the same rotation group number). Or you might instead choose a vegetable family from the “extra foods” list and assign it to the day on which you have no vegetables. If your doctor allows, another option is to “split” a food family, eating some members of it on the day of your cycle for which you have no vegetables, and other members two days later.

The standard (beginning point) rotation diet in The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide contains a long list of “extra foods” that are not assigned to a specific day. One purpose of the extra foods list is to give you flexibility. For example, the families containing beef, white potatoes, and lettuce are in the extra foods list because it is usually possible to get these foods plain in a restaurant. Thus, you may want to save these foods for when you eat out so you have the flexibility of eating out occasionally when you find it necessary or convenient rather than being restricted to eating out only on potato-and-lettuce day. Other foods, such as seasonings in the mint and onion families, carrots, and celery, are on the extra foods list to allow you more versatility in your cooking. You can use carrots in chicken soup one cycle and in game stew the next, rather than always being stuck with carrots on “chicken day.” Be sure to write down when you use an extra food on your calendar so you will wait at least four days before using it again.

Foods such as wheat, corn, cow’s milk, legumes, and citrus fruits are on the extra foods list because they are common allergens. If you have a “borderline” allergy to them, you may need to rotate them at a longer interval than less allergenic foods. However, if you tolerate them well, you can assign them to any rotation day you choose.

When you first start a rotation diet, you may have to modify the diet based on your reactions. If you find that you are reacting to foods that you previously did not suspect to be problems, eliminate these foods from your diet, at least temporarily, and replace their food families with others from the “extra foods” section. This situation is sometimes called “unmasking” because on a rotation diet the days off from a certain food allow your level of antibodies to that food to decrease. Then when you eat the food again several days later, there no longer are “masking” antibodies to camouflage your reaction to the food.

Your health is important to all of the members of your family, so take the time to make some special treats for yourself as well as for other family members. For example, make yourself a large batch of “special” pizza and freeze some. Then the next time your family or friends decide to order pizza, you will be prepared with a pizza you can eat. Freeze portions of allowable desserts for each day of your rotation cycle. When there is a birthday party or when others are having a treat, pull your dessert out of the freezer and join the celebration.

Variety is important for “mental health” as well as for nutritional reasons. It is especially important for children. Although they will be eating the same combination of foods every fourth or fifth day, these foods should be in different forms so that they don’t get tired of what they are eating. Often, changing a recipe very slightly and calling it by a different name will improve a child’s attitude toward that food.

If you eat out or travel, you may find it difficult to stay on rotation. It is better to eat a food to which you are not allergic but which you just had yesterday than to choose a food to which you are allergic. This advice also applies in other situations. For example, in the pizza illustration above, it would be better to eat your special pizza from the freezer even if it is made with the same grain you ate yesterday than to eat the “normal” pizza.

Occasionally I am asked how much of each food should be eaten on a rotation diet. Assuming you are not eating sugar or foods to which you are allergic, your hunger should be a good indicator of how much food you need. You should not need to weigh portions or count calories because weight tends to normalize when food allergies are controlled and allergic cravings and food addictions are eliminated. If your weight is not beginning to normalize after several months on a rotation diet that eliminates ALL of your problem foods, you should be evaluated for thyroid or other metabolic problems. Individuals with Wilson’s disease can exhibit symptoms of hypothyroidism in spite of normal blood tests for thyroid hormones because their thyroid hormones do not have normal activity in their bodies.{1}

Although you do not need to count calories or weigh portions, you should try to eat a balanced diet, getting complex carbohydrates, protein, a little fat which includes essential fatty acids, and lots of vitamins and minerals from vegetables and fruits, as tolerated. Those of us with food allergies may not find it reasonable to follow the USDA’s food pyramid strictly and eat eleven servings of grains per day. I have talked to more than one person who developed food allergy symptoms when they decided to eat a “healthier” diet including large quantities of grains. This made their latent grain allergies more pronounced. If you are allergic to a few grains, you may have some degree of allergy to all of them, so do not overeat your safe grains. Let common sense, your body, and your doctor be your guide to how much of any food you should consume on a rotation diet.

Keep yourself from getting too hungry or feeling deprived. This will increase your ability to resist eating your problem foods and thus will improve your health. Plan ahead and have the right foods available before you get hungry. Hunger, combined with the lack of the right foods to satisfy it immediately, causes most of the problems encountered in trying to stay on a rotation diet. Prepare large batches of crackers, breads, and muffins using the same sweetener and oil with each flour each time, freeze them, and you will be prepared when that day of rotation comes around again. If your doctor will allow you to eat foods more than once in each rotation day, start your rotation day at dinnertime, prepare a large portion of the main dish, and eat it for breakfast and lunch the next day.

Remember that your allergy diet hopefully will not remain at its original level of strictness forever. After you have successfully eliminated your allergic foods for the length of time your doctor suggests, you may be able to add them back to your diet in moderation and on a rotated schedule. Treating the root causes of your food allergies can also lead to improvement in your ability to tolerate foods. If you take low dose immunotherapy, you may even be able to get back to a “normal” diet and forget all about both elimination and rotation.

A rotation diet alone is not “the answer” to food allergies. You must also get to the root of your problem, pursue appropriate treatment for the underlying causes of your food allergies, and heal your leaky gut. However, a properly used, highly diversified rotation diet will give you the most nutrition for the least amount of allergic reaction. Improved nutrition can only lead to improved health.


1. Interview with E. Denis Wilson, M.D., “Wilson’s Syndrome: New Light on Thyroid Dysfunction,” Mastering Food Allergies Newsletter, #71, January/February 1993, pp. 4-7.

The information on this page is abridged from
The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide ($24.95, eBook $13) (to PromoPageUFA) © 2007 and
Allergy Cooking with Ease ($19.95, eBook $10) (to PromoPageACWE) © 2007


The information on this page is abridged from
The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide
($24.95, eBook $13) © 2007
Allergy Cooking with Ease ($19.95, eBook $10) © 2007

For more information about these books, click on the book's title above.

To order any of the books mentioned on this page, click here


The information contained in this website is merely intended to communicate material which is helpful and educational to the reader. It is not intended to replace medical diagnosis or treatment, but rather to provide information and recipes which may be helpful in implementing a diet and program prescribed by your doctor. Please consult your physician for medical advice before changing your diet.

There are no warranties which extend beyond the educational nature of this website. Therefore, we shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person with respect to any loss or damage alleged to be caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this website.

Copyright 2020 by Allergy Adapt, Inc. The books from which this website was excerpted copyrighted in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.