Food sensitivities, or food intolerance, can cause a number of different health-related issues. Some people refer to food sensitivities as food allergies. It's important to note that a sensitivity is different than an allergy, sometimes referred to as a True Food Allergy. A true food allergy, such as a life-threatening response to peanuts, can be dangerous and may require the use of medication or, in extreme circumstances, an epi-pen. Food sensitivities can cause significant discomfort but, to the best of my knowledge, are not life-threatening.
Symptoms of food sensitivities
One of the issues when it comes to diagnosing food sensitivities is that there may be a delayed hypersensitivity response, meaning it can take several days for symptoms to appear.
Symptoms are varied and often can be misdiagnosed as being something else. These include:
- Coughing or continual throat clearing
- General Malaise (feeling “under the weather”)
- Irritable bowel symptoms
- Sinus issues
- Stomach ache
- Repeated sneezing for “no reason”
- Runny nose
I noticed several significant changes in my health that lead me to believe I might be developing some food sensitivities. I realized that I was getting frequent rashes or flushes on my neck, my sleep was more interrupted (I kept waking repeatedly for no particular reason), I also noticed occasional low level aches in my small joints, and I realized I had developed a craving for cheese. Sadly when we “crave” foods it often turns out that this is because we have developed a sensitivity and become intolerant of them.
Because it had been a while since I've had food sensitivity testing I decided it was time to go ahead and retest myself. Here is my thought process after I received my results and read the report:
- Strong reaction – honey – “Darn! My favorite sweetener to deal with seasonal allergies. I often take a spoonful of raw, local honey in tea to help me through the winter allergy season. Oh well, I guess I'll have to give that up for now.”
- Strong reaction – fusarium vasinfectum (an agricultural fungus) – “Rats! Hard to deal with. I'll really have to be extra vigilant about washing produce and drying it carefully before use. Time to get out the humidity monitor and make sure the house isn't too damp.”
- Strong reaction – sodium benzoate (a preservative) – “Say what?!?! I'm guessing my exposure is coming from eating on the road because I KNOW I am not eating it at home.”
- Moderate reaction – Blueberry – “Darn! My favorite berry. Luckily there are lots of other berries, I'll just have to switch for a while.”
- Moderate reaction – Canteloupe/Honeydew – “Huh? Another fruit? I don't even eat that much fruit to begin with.”
- Moderate reaction – Cottonseed oil – “Again probably from eating out, I certainly don't have this at home.”
- Moderate reaction – Cheese (cow) – “Dagnabit [and yes, I do say this, it's my favorite “swear” word followed closely by dagnabitall] I was afraid of that. NO CHEESE! Seriously!” [That's when I realized the craving part was worse than I had thought]
- Moderate reaction – Raspberry – “Excuse me?? What??? No berries????” [note: a food sensitivity to more than one thing in a food group often means that there is a reaction to the group as a whole. For me the berry sensitivity means no acai, blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry, elderberry, goji berry, gooseberry, raspberry, and strawberry for six months.]
- Moderate reaction – FD&C Yellow #10 – “Oh man I seriously need to look at how much I am eating out or away from home.”
- Moderate – Dibutyl Phthlate – “hmmmm, time to look more closely at my personal care products.”
- Moderate – Ethylene Dibromide (a chemical solvent) – “no earthly idea where I could be getting exposed to this but I'll have to be more aware of my surroundings.”
These reactions are very similar to the sort of mental gyrations that many of my clients go through when we review their results. Although a significant reaction requires a six month avoidance of the substance and a moderate one only three months. I often just ask that they avoid everything for six months. We also embark on a healing gut protocol.
In my case I'm already doing most of what the healing gut protocol involves, however there are some gaps, especially when I travel. I'll be working hard to address those.
However, I'm going to confess that none of this will take place until after Thanksgiving. The results came after I had planned my menu, purchased food, and started cooking. I'll admit that I'm human and not able/willing to completely revamp my holiday menu with just a couple of days notice. I'm also not thrilled about mashed potatoes with no butter or cream, no homemade cranberry orange relish (made this year with kumquats picked fresh off the tree instead of oranges), no whipped cream on the pumpkin pie/custard. But believe me, I know how much better I will feel once I start on my new eating plan and clean up my food intolerances. I also know that the more compliant I am the better I will feel and that in six months it is highly likely that most if not all of these food sensitivities will have gone away.
Testing for food sensitivities
If you suspect you have food sensitivities you can talk with your doctor or order a test online. The test I used looks at 212 different potential allergens. You can see them listed below.
One of the reasons I like this particular company is because their test comes with a dietary rotation plan (you can get more information about what a dietary rotation plan is and how it works here). The report also comes with a laminated wallet card. The wallet card is so you can take it with you to the grocery store or when you are on the road to help you remember what exactly you are supposed to avoid.