How to know if you have food sensitivities?
All 4 of us here have food sensitivities of some kind. All 4 of us are sensitive to gluten and dairy in all forms, my youngest is also allergic to eggs and my oldest is allergic to corn in all forms...yes...and corn is in EVERY PROCESSED THING. To say that our lives have become complicated is an understatement!
We found out about our food sensitivities/allergies by elimination for my husband, myself and my oldest daughter, and through blood testing for my youngest because there was one thing I couldn't determine if she was allergic to it or not. PS- I use the terms allergy and intolerance interchangeably because some people say that you are not allergic if you do not have an anaphylactic response, and that is simply inaccurate. The definition of allergy according to Websters Dictionary is "a damaging immune response by the body to a substance, especially pollen, fur, a particular food, or dust, to which it has become hypersensitive."
It does not stipulate that one must have certain severity of immune response to qualify for an allergic response. Digging deeper, there is a very complicated cascade of chemicals like histamine and mast cells that are released that lead to varying degree of reactions within the body. For some people, that histamine response causes abdominal pain and migraines, for some, it leads to brain inflammation, and for others it leads to anaphylaxis. To me, any inflammation of the immune system that creates a negative impact on ones health is an allergy. This goes for people too ; ) ha.
Back to what I was saying. My husband had developed blisters on his hands and feet on a daily basis. It was extremely itchy and uncomfortable as you can imagine. He went to his doctor who prescribed him a cream, but it never really improved. I began to do my research and found out it had a name, dermatitis herpetiformis, and that the underlying cause was gluten and or dairy. He cried many tears, but eventually decided to try cutting gluten out of his diet. He immediately dropped 10 lbs, and the blisters went away! (PS...can you imagine what was going on in his gut if that's what his hands and feet looked like???). I also noticed that my then 2 year old had what are called allergic shiners. Basically under her eyes were purple and she looked chronically tired. She also had intermittent constipation, and eczema. I had cut out dairy when I was breastfeeding and that seemed to help the eczema, but then when I reintroduced it her eczema got worse, she then developed constipation so I knew dairy was out. Her skin cleared up again, and I noticed she wasn't getting colds as often. I then cut out gluten because she still was having some alternating constipation/diarrhea, as well as hyperactivity that would happen whenever she ate gluten. So it only made sense that I would cut it out too. Her symptoms began to improve immediately.
I honestly didn't notice a huge difference in how I felt until I had gluten again. I didn't sleep the entire night, and developed a huge blister on the bottom of my foot, I also felt really depressed the following day which was not my norm. I noticed that when I didn't have gluten, my energy levels were steady during the day, and I wasn't sleepy after meals (you should feel more energized after eating- not the opposite!).
With my youngest daughter, we had already eliminated gluten and diary because she would react to my breastmilk whenever I ate those things, but once she was weaned, she developed hives 2 times to an unknown food source so I ended up doing the blood test to determine what it was.
There are a few schools of thought on allergy testing. One is that the blood test or skin test is the only way to determine if you should or shouldn't eat something. While this can be a helpful tool, especially for preverbal children who can't tell us how they are feeling, It is not always accurate as you have to be regularly ingesting a substance for it to test positive in the blood and that is not an option for some people. The tests don't always detect what they should. I much prefer to pay attention to how I feel when I eat something. Do I feel bloated or achy? Am I unusually angry and emotional (yes...food impacts your gut health and can mess with neurotransmitter function thus affecting mood). Do I break out or develop a rash? Those are all symptoms of a food intolerance. Another way you can tell if your body doesn't tolerate something is to take your pulse 15 minutes prior to eating, and then 15 minutes after eating. If your pulse is elevated after eating, more than likely your body does not tolerate that food.
Signs and symptoms of a food allergy/intolerance:
Achy joints and muscles
Intolerance to wheat in spite of not testing positive on a blood test or testing positive for celiac.
Rashes or itchy, dry skinPurple/blue hue under the eyes (for darker skinned people this will appear more grey/brown)
This is a limited list, but if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's definitely worth finding a good functional medicine doctor or Naturopath who can help get things turned around!
Another way to determine if your body doesn't tolerate something is to do an elimination diet. There are several to choose from, and I will post some resources on how to find one that fits you best. Usually you can tell by weight loss when you remove something. I lost 5 lbs of water weight in one week when I eliminated gluten and I did not cut calories or anything else! Then, as you slowly reintroduce foods, pay attention to how you feel, any symptoms you might be experiencing including mood and bowel movements.
You deserve to live a life of wellness, purpose and abundance! Even though making these changes has impacted our budget, our lives are SO much better. We aren't sick as often, our moods aren't affected by every little thing we eat, and we are overall just more healthy than we were before.
In my next post, I'll be talking about how to begin switching your diet over to healthier options, as well as how you can begin to heal your body of the inflammation caused by food allergies.
To your wellness!