Have you ever suspected that a food (or several) is causing you to feel lousy but you can’t put your finger on what it is? Maybe you’ve done an allergy test through your family doctor and been told you’re all clear. Or maybe you’ve removed the common ones, like dairy, gluten or eggs and still no luck.
The problem with food sensitivities, and what makes them so hard to pinpoint, is that symptoms can present themselves up to three days later. Even though gluten, dairy and egg sensitivities are common, for some people the culprit is a “healthy” food you wouldn’t suspect like a certain nut or fruit.
Not all symptoms of food sensitivities are digestion-related. Some of the most common symptoms include:
So, what can you do if you suspect you have food sensitivities? Luckily with most food-related problems there’s a solution. In the case of food sensitivities, there’s two main routes you can take: an elimination diet and food sensitivity testing.
An elimination diet is when you eliminate foods suspected of causing symptoms, and then reintroduce them one at a time to identify which ones are actually an issue. During an elimination diet you would remove foods commonly known to cause symptoms as well as ones you suspect you can’t tolerate well. Some of these foods include nuts, corn, pork, soy, dairy, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables, wheat and foods containing gluten, eggs and seafood. If your symptoms are alleviated during this period, it’s a good indication that food was the culprit.
Then, after eliminating them for a period of four weeks, you gradually reintroduce each food, one at a time, every three days. During the reintroduction phase you would monitor for any of the above symptoms, but even things like skin breakouts or anxiousness. Once you’ve determined that a specific food isn’t an issue for you, you would move onto the next one.
The benefit of this type of sensitivity testing is it’s inexpensive and can be really effective, specifically if you’re someone who is really self-aware when it comes to your symptoms. While you can’t eat a number of really common foods, there are still plenty of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, gluten-free grains and fats that you can enjoy. At HEAL, we’ve coached a number of clients through an elimination diet and can provide you with a custom meal plan so you know exactly what you can or can’t eat. Click here to book a free consultation with our team if this is the route you want to take.
There are also a few downsides to an elimination diet that make it not the ideal choice for everyone. First of all, some people have a hard time sticking to this way of eating (it is intentionally restrictive for a short period of time) and you really do need to be consistent for it to be effective. It’s best to do it during a quiet period and when you have a slower scheduler, few holidays, etc. and this isn’t a possibility for everyone. As I mentioned, you also have to be very self-aware to recognize symptoms that you wouldn’t otherwise think are food related, like migraines or mood. If you have a mild sensitivity you might not be able to recognize any symptoms at all, or you may just require much more of that food in order to experience symptoms.
The other test you can do is an IgG Food Sensitivity Test. This tests for food sensitivities, or delayed reactions like we discussed above (this is different from food allergies, or IgE reactions). The panel tests for 95 of the most commonly consumed foods, and antibody levels to candida (overgrowth of yeast), along with total IgE (allergy) levels.
The benefit of this type of testing is that it’s really straightforward and easy. We simply mail the kit to your home (for Canadian residents), you mail it back, and in a few weeks we share and discuss your results with you. Besides the convenience, the major benefit to this type of testing is there’s no guesswork - you know exactly what you’re sensitive to and to which degree. For example, you may discover foods you should only eat on occasion and the ones you should avoid altogether.
Again, if you get your results back and you find out you’re sensitive to certain foods, we can provide you with custom meal plans to help you learn how to adjust.
Finding out you have food sensitivities, or even just one, can be really daunting at first, especially if this food is a staple in your diet. But I assure you it quickly becomes second nature. You’d be surprised how many substitutes there are out there now for pretty much any ingredient. It’s also such a relief to finally figure out what’s making you feel so horrible that I promise once you know your triggers you’ll have less of a problem giving something up. We’ve had clients overcome migraines, painful digestive symptoms, finally be able to lose weight, and more.
Written by: Natalia Bragagnolo, RHN