There has been a lot of talk lately about food sensitivities. But what exactly is a food sensitivity, what are the symptoms, and how can you identify and treat the root of the problem? A fully functioning GI is essential to a healthy body. Inflammation, enzyme deficiency, motility issues, and much more are linked to food intolerance or sensitivities.
What exactly is a food sensitivity?
A food sensitivity or intolerance is an adverse reaction to a food that produces common signs and symptoms including feeling bloated, uncomfortable, lethargic, and foggy-headed. Asthma, migraines, mood disorders, and skin problems are also common symptoms of a possible food sensitivity. Undetected, food sensitivities could be the driving force behind why your not getting the results that you are looking for.
But how do I identify the food or foods that are giving me issues?
Introducing the elimination diet…
An elimination diet is simply the removal of a particular food or food group for a period of time and then reintroducing the food(s) systematically back into the diet in order to identify if any of the symptoms went away or improved after cutting out the particular food. Cutting out foods and then reintroducing them can help you detect dietary sensitivities that you may or may not have known you had. The length of the elimination diet can vary depending on your age. There are elimination diets as short as 7 days and as long as 6 months. Children can usually see benefit from a 7-10 day elimination diet whereas adults generally need 3-4 weeks or more.
Foods to EXCLUDE during elimination:
– citrus fruits
– tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes
– wheat, corn, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, oats, gluten
– soybeans, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, beans, peas, lentils
- Meat & Fish
– beef, chicken, pork, eggs, bacon, hot dogs, deli meat, sausage, shellfish, soy
– milk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream
– margarine, butter, mayonnaise
– alcohol, coffee, tea, soda
- Spices and condiments
– chocolate, ketchup, mustard, relish, soy sauce, barbecue, vinegar
– white or brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, desserts
What are the signs and symptoms?
Signs and symptoms include constipation, loose stools or diarrhea, burning in stomach, gas, bloating, undigested food in stool, bad breath, heartburn, foul smelling stool, nausea, etc.
Unfortunately an unhealthy gut normally lead into other hormonal, metabolic, and immune issues. Biofeedback is a fancy word for monitoring things like daily sleep, energy levels, digestion, mood, hunger, stress, soreness, performance, bloatedness, etc. Negative reactions to foods can include fatigue, brain fog, headaches, insomnia, joint pain, skin breakouts or rashes, etc. If you feel better during the elimination phase then it may indicate that a food you commonly eat is causing you problems. Try using a journal to record biofeedback during the elimination and then reintroduction stage.
After the elimination phase, it is now time to reintroduce each food or food group back into the diet to monitor symptoms. Start with reintroducing one food for one day and then remove for the following two days to monitor symptoms. Keeping a journal to record any symptoms or changes is recommended. After reintroducing the first food, if you have no observable symptoms then continue the process exactly the same until you have tested and monitored all foods that had been removed. Be sure to stay in the same food group before moving on to the next. By the end of the reintroduction phase, you should have a much better understanding of how your body responds to certain foods. If you notice symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, joint pain, bloating, brain fog, skin breakouts or rashes, headaches, bowel changes, sinus or other respiratory issues, increase in energy, etc. then one or more of these foods could be preventing you from reaching your goals.
Tips for success
As you can see, the elimination diet can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Plan ahead and set yourself up for success. The more effort you put into it, the more feedback you will get out of it. If you think you might be suffering from food intolerances, you might want to try an elimination diet. Food has the power to promote health or create disease. As always, please consult with your physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms as it could be the roadblock that is inhibiting you from reaching your goals.
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