The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss - Elimination Diet

In December 2012 and January 2013 I took on a blogging assignment to follow the Elimination Diet as published in Dr John Mansfield's book The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss. Dr Mansfield has found that there is not a One Size Fits All solution to weight loss and has successfully treated patients as individuals with regard to managing their weight issues. The book is about identifying what works for YOU with regard to weight loss. I was not paid for this but I did receive a complimentary copy of the book. I have blogged about my experience accurately and with no bias or incentive to persuade you either way ... this is just what happened to me.

First of all there are Six Secrets. Here is a summary of each.

The First Secret of Successful Weight Loss - Avoid Low Calorie Diets
The Second Secret of Successful Weight Loss - Avoid Low Fat Diets
The Third Secret of Successful Weight Loss - Identify YOUR Food Sensitivities (the elimination diet)
The Fourth Secret of Successful Weight Loss - Treat Yeast Syndrome if Indicated
The Fifth Secret of Successful Weight Loss - Reduce High Levels of Insulin (low carb diet)
The Sixth Secret of Successful Weight Loss - Have Thyroid Levels Investigated

My Results

In total I have lost 5 kg on the diet. I started on 84.8kg on 30th November and at the end I weighed 79.8kg . At my lowest I was 79.1kg but for me the weight loss came to a bit of a halt when more carbohydrates were reintroduced, leading me to suspect that a low carb diet (particularly limitting refined carbs) is the way forward for me.

I have also lost 32 cm in total - that's over 12 inches, which is staggering really.



More about the Elimination Diet

The Elimination Diet has been written by Dr Mansfield as is the result of 30+ years of experience working with patients. Apparently 70-80% if people find that identifying their food sensitivities and then avoiding those foods (of having treatment to desensitise them to those foods) solves their weight problem. For others there may be additional issues (the other 5 secrets). Completing the elimination diet takes a minimum of six weeks.

Stage 1 

For the first seven days you eat only 42 foods which have been identified as very low risk for sensitivities. The 42 foods do cover a wide range and I was surprised to find that it was easy to follow. You eat as much as you like of these foods, so I was never hungry. The foods included meats, fish, nuts, fruit and veg so it is healthy. I lost 3kg and 6cm from my waist in this first week!

If you are interested in reading about my progress, here are the posts.

A Prelude to the Elimination Diet
I Survived Day 1!
I Slept Through the Night
Results at the End of Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 2 is when you start reintroducing foods. You introduce one in the morning and one in the evening each day. These are foods that only a few people have sensitivities to, and include rice, chicken, beef, bananas, grapes, milk, eggs, tea and coffee. The aim is to broaden your range of foods that you can choose from as soon as possible. By the end of Stage 2 I had lost a total of 4kg and 8cm from my waist.

The Morning After (recovery from the grape issue)

Stage 3

This is where all the well known offenders are reintroduced, like wheat, soy, corn and different sugars. These apparently take longer to show a reaction and so the reintroduction process is a little different. Wheat, for example has to be eaten at all meals for 3 days. My weight loss ground to a halt in this stage. I wondered if it was due to fluid retention of a woman's cyclic nature, but it continued beyond that. Although I didn't identify any sensitivities to carbs, this (and what I know about myself from the past) is what makes me think that I should follow a low carb diet. 

In Summary

In summary I am pleased I did it, but there was no magic answer that made my fat go away. It has been an interesting journey, and I have learned a lot about how different foods affect my body and the way that I feel. It has proven to me without a doubt that I should reduce my carb intake once again, and has reminded me how much better I feel when I do this.  I have lost 5kg which is more than 5% of my body weight, and so will have a positive effect on my fertility, as well as many other aspects of my health.

If you are thinking of trying it, it is worth a go, and not as hard it might seem. 

The Future

Although there is no need to do the whole diet again (although apparently your food sensitivities do change over time so it could be valuable), I did feel great and lose weight on stages 1 and 2 and would happily follow a diet using those foods again, with the hope of boosting my weight loss even further.

I also still have question marks over grapes, grapefruit, melon, and am not entirely convinced about my results for cheese and oats and so will re-test them in the coming weeks. Going forward, I am planning on a couple of days off, and then for to return to mostly stage 1and 2 foods so that there is less 'background noise' to make the retesting more obvious. I am going to add some flavours too, like chilli and garlic, and I am hanging out for some curry.

In the longer term, for a while I will also record what I am eating and how I feel each day, just to see how different foods affect me, and I will try and keep this in mind in the future too, instead of just stuffing it in! I am also planning on cutting down on carbs, particularly sugar, and avoiding alcohol. I will try to always keep the foods I ate and the way I felt during stages 1 and 2 in mind.

Update Feb 2013

I did revisit the diet, based on some Feedback from Dr Mansfield
I tried being Dairy Free, which wasn't as bad as I thought
But when I reintroduced dairy there was no reaction, so it wasn't milk
I did however discover some sugar issues and have reduced my refined sugar intake and started taking probiotics.

I still have not regained any of the weight I lost, which is a great thing!

Update March 2013

I wanted to feel like I did at the end of stage 1/during stage 2. After some thought about what I am eating now compared to then, I have massively reduced (almost eliminated) my wheat intake, and have reintroduced my Vital Greens. I felt better almost immediately. However, in the interest of the experiment, I tried eating wheat free cake. I think I am leaning towards the idea that it is not wheat in particular, just a carb thing. I am continuing with wheat free experiment though and have just ordered the Wheat Belly book just to see what that has to say. In the meantime, by avoiding wheat I am reducing my carbs, so that has to be a good thing.

Finally - (I hope, but fear not),  here is my personal opinion of the book!

If you are interested in buying the book it is available at AmazonWaterstones and The Book People. It maybe be worth checking them all as prices do change. Amazon also have a Kindle Version

Update April 2013

The process of wheat elimination begins!

To help me do this in a healthy way I did lots of research on the internet and I read It Starts with Food and then commenced the Whole 30.

Update May 2013

I finished the Whole 30. For me, this seems to be the way forward. It has changed the way I eat - I feel better and am losing weight and changing shape... I really think this could the diet solution I was looking for - though I never would have discovered it without The Six Secrets of Successful Weightloss

Update July 2013

The Whole30 is awesome. After some attempts to reintroduce different foods I came to the conclusion that I just feel better if I stick to an almost Paleo diet - it's hard to stick to with so many tempting treats out there - but so worth it! 

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Hello, and thanks for stopping by. My name is Emma and I am a lifestyle entrepreneur, writer, teacher, coach and mentor. I am passionate about eating real food, learning, travel and health. I get to spend my days with my amazing son who has chosen to learn from the world rather than at school. We write to share the life we love and to help others create a life they love too.


  1. Wow, you have really invested a lot in all of this and done so well, congratulations!
    I agree with him that sugar, and sensitivities to food can often be a big issue, especially for mums as we are prone to stress and our bodies aren't quite up to scratch for a few years after giving birth.
    I have fibromyaglia and even though I didn't have much sugar in my diet, just removing the 3 teaspoonfuls of sugar that went in my tea made a dramatic difference to my pain levels. I found xylitol (a natural sugar despite the odd name) was a great alternative.
    What I would say is that mindset is really important - you can do that using hypnotherapy apps, or the motivational exercise that I teach where you link all the things you love to getting healthy and fit.

    If you ever want to test out my book you are really welcome - I tend to have about 40 people testing my books as I enter the finishing phase, and you have been so thorough, I'd love someone like you on board!!!!

  2. Hi, I only just caught up with this comment, so sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I do remember checking out your blog after BrtiMums and thinking it looked really interesting. I did also wonder about fibromyalgia for myself at one point (after consulting Dr google!) and I also don't regularly eat much sugar and do use xylitol! I would love to have a look at your book please.

  3. Great to read this blog, I am currently on day 4 of stage 1 so its early days yet. Just hoping it gives me some of the answers to what I am intolerant to.
    Thanks for taking your time to post this its really helped.

  4. Good luck with it - I hope you find the answers. It was a long road of if elimination and reintroductions and it is hard to know what is doing what. I got sick of it to be honest. I have since discovered the Paleo diet and stopped worrying about trying to introduce things and just 'eat clean' all of the time. That's hard to stick to mind you, but I feel so awful when I eat something else so that's a big incentive. I hope its a simple thing for you, but if the elimination diet doesn't help I really recommend the Whole30. Also, my whole journey with food was completely taking over the blog, so I started a separate blog which you might find useful

  5. Thanks Emma

    I have been doing The Harcombe Diet since January and have lost 3 stones but it stalls and is so slow now and I believe intolerances are the problem, I have already cut out all dairy but still its slow and I have at least another 6 stone to lose so its frustrating at best. I am hoping that I can narrow down exactly what I may be intolerant too. The Paleo diet is often mentioned on the Harcombe forum that I belong to as its very similar to that way of eating.
    You post was very informative and I am sure will help many people if they decide to go on the ED.

    Thanks again

  6. Well done on the 3 stone! That's an awesome achievement.

    I have looked into the Harcombe diet, it is quite similar I think, except you are allowed dairy aren't you? and snacks and cheats - there's none of those on the Whole30.

    I have still only lost 5 kg in this whole process (10 to go), The thing for me was that i felt so GOOD (as in healthy and energetic) when I had eliminated most things (at the end of stage 1) and even though I was introducing things one at a time nothing showed up as being the culprit but I gradually felt worse and worse.

    Until the elimination diet I didn't know how good I could feel! For me the focus then changed to feeling good more than losing weight, but I think I will gradually lose if I stick to it, as more energy means more activity. It's a slow process though. Lots of people in Dr Mansfield's book did find something obscure that was their key, but sadly it wasn't that easy for me. It may be worth just introducing one new thing per day to give any reaction more time to show... but I am no expert of course. DO let me know if you find something - I am so fascinated by the whole topic now.

    There is info in It Starts with Food that suggests you may just need to eat clean for a while (may be quite a long while) while your body heals before the weight loss continues. The book is definitely worth a look.

    Anyway, good luck - I know how hard it is when you are 'being good' and nothing is changing, but I'm sure it will if we stick with it!


  7. Thanks Emma

    I have to say The Harcombe Diet has been amazing and its what I shall continue to follow until I lose all the weight I need to. I have been on every diet possible and this is more a eating plan rather than a diet. It re writes everything we have been taught about food but it basically cuts out sugar processed foods and refined carbs and does not mix carbs with " fat " meals. I always tell people that I can have a steak tomatoes and green beans then have strawberries and cream for dessert and I am still losing weight on that!
    I was only once it started to slow up that Zoë Harcombe assessed my diet sheet and we came to the conclusion that is must be dairy but I know that carbs too are something for me to avoid. This is the main reason for looking at the ED as I would hate to think I have cut out ALL dairy when in fact its only 1 particular thing that does not agree with me.
    The ED was suggested by a member on the Harcombe forum so I thought Id do some research today is day 4 and I am 4lb down so we will see how the rest of the week pans out. I will keep you posted.

    Take care

  8. That sounds really hopeful - Dr Mansfield's feedback to me was that there had to be something when I lost weight quickly at the start like you have done. He said dairy for me, but when I retested there was no immediate weight gain. I do however think he could have been right based on what I have experienced since, so I think dairy is a problem for me too, but I am hoping that avoiding it for a few months will mean that hormones rebalance themselves and I will be able to tolerate a little, and yes, then I will reintroduce one things at a time, for a week or more just to be sure.

    Re the Harcombe diet, I have heard lots of good things and I did actually sign up for this month's 30 day blitz to get more info and am finding it really interesting reading, even though I decided to do the whole30 again instead. The snack and cheat thing about the Harcombe diet worried me - I need to be kept on a tight reins!

  9. That's great news Emma, the 30 day blitz is turning out to be a huge success in the club, members are posting photos of their meals daily, some of the pics are wonderful I feel sure if they posted a book just of those examples the plan would create a lot of public interest. Its amazing what you can eat Eg skin on your chicken the fat on your pork chop/steak and to cook in butter and banish the margarine is such a refreshing way to lose weight, its a culmination of many years of research by Zoë , as I said I have done them all so it proves that it works because if I can lose 3 stone since January anyone can!.. If your not on the forum its worth joining its £1.00 per month and the members are amazing and offer full support at all times. I don't think I have waited longer than 20 mins for a question to be answered. We have a conference in Birmingham in September where I am looking forward to meeting Zoë Harcombe after all the amazing changes this plan has brought me she is a lady who's hand I really want to shake!

  10. Well a update as of day 6 and I have only lost 1lb! which I have to say I am very disappointed with more so if you bare in mind I have over 6 stone still to lose.
    Have stuck to it by the letter ( even did the epsom salts to start .. yuk!) but very little has changed. Obviously with doing The Harcombe Diet for 6 months it has made this easier but I am looking forward to re introducing foods as from tomorrow evening. The only thing I can think of is that on THD we only have 1 piece of fruit a day due to the natural sugar content and on this I am having fruit for breakfast ( could not stand meat or fish) and 1 piece of fruit midday and in the evening so im betting its that.
    Also I monitored what my weight change was from morning to night as I thought that I would ever be able to judge what a intolerance was unless I knew my " normal daily gain" well it was 3lb! unbelievable since im living on turkey/lamb and green veg... :(
    Still, I will persevere I have come too far and want to test these possible intolerances so watch this space...

  11. How annoying! I agree about the sugar. I ate more sugar in the elimination diet than I had done for several years prior to it, and I don't think it did me any good at all. I would recommend reading It Starts with Food. There is a lot of stuff in there about the impacts of different foods on the body, and the need to give it a total break to heal. From what I have read of the Harcombe diet it would compliment it quite well. I hope you get some answers soon.

  12. Thanks Emma I will take a look at that.

    Day 9 and I still have not lost anything and I am now testing foods but fortunately have not reacted to anything so far... time will tell!

  13. Hi Emma I just wanted to give you a final update on the ED unfortunately I only lost 1lb in weight and I never reacted to 1 single thing! A bit of a waste of 3 weeks but I gave it a try, after I had worked my way through most of the list I gave up as things like carbs are not what I eat anyway. A shame as I had hoped that perhaps I was intolerant to some foods without knowing it but it seems that's not the case but it was worth a try.

    Consequently I am sticking with The Harcombe Diet I kept the ED within its parameters when I did it, keep a eye out for me in The Daily Mail, I am in their Sunday Supplement in January next year as one of a few ladies who have had their weight loss journeys tracked for a year. Various diets like Slimming World gastric band Etc are being covered I believe. I am 3 stone down now ( Since Jan) but want to dearly be at least 4 by the time the photo shoot happens this December. I am giving it 100% of my efforts so hopefully it will still shift even if it is so painfully slow.

    Take care and thanks for your support.

  14. I'm sorry to hear that it didn't work, but I think the Harcombe diet is a much better option really - changing your eating for life has to be better. The ED was the same for me, except I lost a bit at the start - I think just from cutting out the carbs. My next step is to get into some regular exercise - difficult as a single mum with a toddler but I have to make it work too. I hope you manage to lose the extra stone by December - do feel free to remind us about your appearance in the news in Jan. Good luck as your journey continues.

  15. Thanks Emma, will do.