How often do you experience pain or stomach discomfort and figure it’s just part of life? There are many symptoms we have normalized because they come on gradually and are livable. We may not even fully realize them because they aren’t that bad and things could be worse. Some of my clients have even said when they share what they’re experiencing they’ve been dismissed by people in the medical profession saying it’s all in their head. I’m definitely not a doctor and I don’t diagnose people but I do know that food and lifestyle can play a big role in how good (or bad) we feel. Take food sensitivities or intolerances as an example.
When many people think of symptoms of food intolerances or food allergies they think of gastrointestinal issues or the severe allergy response of anaphylaxis. However, there are many different signs that you may have a food intolerance and it shows up in a variety of ways for different people.
Signs of a food intolerance could include:
Seasonal allergies such as a sore, scratchy throat or nasal congestion
Lack of energy/lethargy
Skin break outs, rashes or eczema
Diarrhea or constipation
This list is not comprehensive and if you do suffer from any of these symptoms it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a food intolerance or sensitivity. In order to find out for sure, here are a couple of approaches you can take:
Elimination diet – The idea of an elimination diet is to remove the food you think you may be sensitive to for a few weeks and then slowly introduce it back in to see if you have any reactions. If you aren’t sure what you may be sensitive to, you can remove a number of foods at once (e.g., corn, soy, dairy, gluten, sugar, etc.) and then add one back in at a time.
Allergy testing – By working with a General Practitioner, Allergist or a Naturopath, they can run blood tests to determine the foods you are sensitive or allergic to. While there are some drawbacks to blood tests they generally show a person’s sensitivity to a wide range of foods.
To give you an example of how the elimination diet works, I supported a client who would get a stuffy nose when he drank beer, so we decided to try a gluten elimination to see if the wheat in the beer is what he was reacting to. After two weeks of being gluten free he didn’t think he felt any different until he had a sandwich for lunch one day. Immediately he felt like he was coming down with the flu from body aches and his throat started to hurt. Now if he eats gluten he immediately feels the effects. As a result of being predominantly gluten free, the bloating in his stomach has gone down.
This is just an example of one person’s experience from doing an elimination diet, but it doesn’t mean everyone will have the same result.
If you follow an elimination diet and suspect you may have a food intolerance or allergy, it would be ideal to follow up with blood work to confirm and ensure you don’t restrict your diet for no reason.