How to Experiment with Your Nutrition While Living with Parkinson’s

Parkinson's elimination diet - Davis Phinney Foundation

In the first post in this series, we addressed the most important thing to know about Parkinson’s and nutrition: there is no one diet that fits all.

In the second post, we answered the 17 most common questions we hear from our community members about Parkinson’s and nutrition.

In this post, we want to offer a plan that can help you find out what Parkinson’s nutrition plan works best for you.

Your diet has the ability to potentially ease some of your Parkinson’s symptoms and increase your ability to live well, but how do you determine which foods are best for you?

The first step in any experimentation is to talk to your doctor, as all experimentation should be done under a doctor’s supervision. When speaking with your doctor, you should consider what you’re looking to refine, what you hope to improve through your diet and what goals you have in terms of how you’d like to feel. For example, do you want to…

  • Alleviate constipation, nausea, stomach pain and/or fatigue?
  • Have more consistent energy throughout the day?
  • Learn what helps you most before, during and after your workouts?
  • Fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer?
  • Lose or gain weight?

Once you have your goals, a popular technique to determine which foods your body doesn’t handle well is called the elimination diet. This is a short-term diet that requires you to eliminate and then gradually reintroduce certain foods into your diet so you can determine which foods cause you discomfort.

Foods that are commonly removed during an elimination diet include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Nightshade vegetables (eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, russet potatoes, etc.)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Starchy foods
  • Gluten
  • Meat and fish
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fats
  • Alcohol, coffee, soda
  • Sugar

You can also remove any other food groups you suspect may be the cause of your pain or discomfort or that your doctor recommends

When tracking your food and beverage intake, feelings and symptoms during your elimination diet or other experimentation, it can be helpful to record everything and watch for mood changes, variations in energy levels, increased or decreased fatigue, variable sleeping patterns, changes in breathing, bloating, stomach pain or cramps and changes in bowel habits.

Parkinson's Elimination Diet Daily Journal - Davis Phinney FoundationTo help with that, we’ve created a daily journal you can print and make copies of so you have them throughout your experiment. These will be very helpful to your doctor as you work to assess what’s working and what’s not.

Download the daily journal here.

You should keep in mind that the connection between the food you eat and your symptoms are not always obvious. Remember also that symptoms may take up to 24 hours to present themselves. Therefore, in the re-introductory phase of an elimination diet, it’s important to reintroduce foods over the course of two to three days and to record your feelings and symptoms throughout.

No matter what strategy you choose to help you determine the best Parkinson’s nutritional plan for you, only experiment under your doctor’s supervision. Finding out what type of diet to try and what foods make you feel best is sometimes a long process, but it’s also a worthy one. Learning more about what diet will work for you is a powerful step toward living well with Parkinson’s.  

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