Food intolerances: How to know if you have one + What to do about it
You might be thinking “Oh I’m not allergic to anything, I don’t need to read this” but let me first explain that a food allergy is completely different than a food intolerance. The difference is that an allergy causes an immune response in the body that often can be life threatening when consumed. An example would be a peanut allergy and when eaten that persons tongue swells up and their airways begin to close.
Compared to a food allergy, a food intolerance may not present itself for several days. It could also be certain amounts of food that trigger a response. Because it is not an allergy, a small bite of the food may not have the same effect compared to a whole meal of it. It depends on the individual and the severity of the sensitivity. Also because this is not an immune response, there are different symptoms that may present themselves.
Some but not all of the symptoms can include:
-Mood swings such as anxiety
-Acne or eczema
-Cold like symptoms such as runny nose or cough
Everyone reacts differently but if you begin to notice a pattern of symptoms occurring after a frequent meal you may be dealing with a food intolerance.
You might also be thinking, “Where do I even start? I eat so many different foods in a day and in my life!”
Some common, but not limited to, food INtolerances include:
-Artificial flavoring (yes even you’re zero calorie, sugar free mystery substance may not be so healthy)
Some of these foods are rather healthy but for certain individuals, that food does not agree with them. This list only shows the most common, there are plenty of foods out there that may be triggering for a certain individual like large amounts of broccoli or beans for example. Sounds super healthy but can cause extreme bloating and gas for someone. Keep this in mind as we get deeper into it!
I myself have never had any food allergy before, so when I began to notice possible food intolerances from having these symptoms I was a bit overwhelmed and lost on what to do. I knew something I was eating was making me extremely bloated, consitpated, and anxious which lead me to a million questions of my own. “What food is causing this?” “Why all of sudden is it happening now?” “What can I do about it?”
Don’t worry I got you covered. I’ve done the research and the work and I want to help you too so together we don’t have to be uncomfortable human beings walking around not knowing what the hell is causing this.
Identifying the food intolerance.
Easier said than done. This requires you to go back and forth to the drawing board and will most likely always be a process. But I am promising you it is worth it when you find the culprit that has been causing you these unwanted symptoms.
The reason I say you might have to go back and forth is because there might not be only one food sensitivity. I myself know for a fact that I am sensitive to eggs, dairy, gluten, sugar, and caffeine. Although I was able to identify those ones , there are STILL foods that I am working on identifying.
Don’t lose hope, when you find even one food that is causing you this and you remove it, you may begin to already start feeling somewhat better already!
You have a few options to identify the food intolerance(s):
Food Journal. This is the first thing I always recommend to someone looking to bring some awareness to their diet and symptoms. You might not even realize how crappy you’re feeling until you begin to write it down!
So what you do is get a journal or a chart and put the date of the day and from there begin to write down every piece of food and drink that enters your mouth along with the time and any symptoms that occur before or after eating. You do this for the full day. I highly recommend repeating this for a whole week. If you really want to get specific, you can write down a certain amount of the food. You don’t have to write down to a specific gram but just a ball park range like half a cup for example.
This will be beneficial because you might being to see a pattern of symptoms reoccurring. Also the tricky thing with food sensitive is that sometimes symptoms might not show up for a couple of days which is why I recommend a week or longer doing this.
I found this method to be extremely impactful because you’re bringing awareness to the food you’re eating (which is beneficial itself) AND it’s completely free. You’re doing it in the comfort of your own home and you’re taking action towards better health. #winning.
Do an Elimination Diet. When you’ve done the food journal, you might have identified some possible food triggers. From there, you want to remove the food(s) for a certain amount of time and see if that help OR you might want to go straight to the elimination diet from the start because you already have a feeling you may know what is causing it.
The elimination diet specifically eliminates the most common food sensitivities: Gluten, dairy, soy, refined/added sugar, corn, alcohol, peanuts/some nuts, eggs, packaged processed foods, caffeine, and certain nightshades. I highly recommend removing those foods for a certain amount of time as well just to see if it still could be a possible cause.
The way it is set up is you remove those foods and any foods you may think are triggering the symptoms, for a full 21-30 days and then reintroduce one food at a time for several days in small amounts and see how you react. If you feel fine? Awesome! If not, maybe that food isn’t the best fit or just in small amounts. Then you repeat and try out a different food for a couple days and see if any symptoms occur with that food etc.
Get tested. There are tests out there that can test food sensitivities but I can’t promise how reliable or accurate they are. Plus, it also costs money when you have the two other free options listed above that you could try out first.
But I get it, sometimes it’s really frustrating and you tried the diet and eliminating a million different foods but still feel crappy.
I myself tried out one test by Everlywell that tests 96 common food sensitivities. High on the list for me was wheat and eggs. Eggs was something I was in denial for a bit so it definitely helped having a test confirm that for me. And of course when I took them out I felt instantly better (sometimes we need that extra push.) If you’re curious check it out here. But again, I highly recommend trying out the first two options because I think those are the most accurate. Like mentioned before, you may be fine with certain amounts and you may truly feel symptoms from a food that the test doesn’t show.
So there you have it! Now you know what a food intolerance is and how you can identify one for yourself. The next step is of course removing that food (at least for now) and working on repairing the gut so you can get back to feeling gooood! Stay tuned for a whole blog post on that, trust me I’m just getting started. But baby steps, identify the root cause, remove, and thennn we can repair.
I hope this brought some light to why you may be feeling this way and please know you are not alone. I’m bringing awareness to this because I’ve dealt with it and I know so many others have to. If you thought this was helpful, please share with someone else who might be going through it to. It’s always easier figuring it out with a friend/coach!
It’s only going to get better from here,