Do you have a food sensitivity?
A food sensitivity can cause headaches, skin problems including acne, and of course digestive problems such as gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea.
Your digestive system is a complicated system and, whilst it may seem simple – you eat, you absorb, you eliminate – there are many steps that need to be taken to complete this process.
Your body uses enzymes, minerals, and even bacteria to digest foods. And when one of these elements is out of balance or not working optimally, your whole system can go off the rails.
One of the most common side effects of an imbalance in your digestive system can be food sensitivity.
So how do you know if you have food sensitivity and what the offending food might be? There are actually a few methods you can use, but here are the two most common ones.
Keep a Food Journal
Track everything that you eat in a food journal. You don’t have to track the amounts or calories, simply the substance. However, it is important to be detailed.
For example, if you have barbecue sauce, make sure to write down the ingredients. You’re likely to find both gluten and dairy in many condiments.
Learn To Read Labels Carefully.
For example, casein is a dairy protein. If you’re sensitive or allergic to dairy, you can have a reaction to a sauce simply because casein is an ingredient. Gluten, soy, corn, dairy, nuts, and eggs are common allergens.
Pay Attention To Any Symptoms You Experience.
- skin irritation including acne
- acid reflux
- stomach cramps
- and anything else that you consider to be out of the ordinary
And be sure to record them. You can download a free food journal here.
Evaluate Your Lifestyle
Note down your energy level, sleep quality and mental clarity as well as your general mood. Also pay attention to how you eat – “on the go”, sat in front of the TV or at the table with the family.
Look For Patterns
Over time you may notice specific triggers. For example, after you eat tortilla chips you may notice acne and diarrhoea. That’s a sure sign that you’re sensitive to corn.
Start an Elimination Diet
Another approach to identify food sensitivity is to go on an elimination diet.
An elimination diets lasts two weeks and it requires careful planning and attention to the ingredients in your food.
These diets should really be undertaken when you have the supervision of a health practitioner – dietician, nutritionist or doctor.
Cut the Most Likely Culprits from Your Diet
The most common elimination diet cuts out dairy, soy, gluten, corn, and sometimes eggs and nuts. Once you’ve completed two weeks without these foods, you can gradually re-introduce them to your diet.
For example, for the first week after your elimination diet you might try adding some dairy back into your diet by having a small glass of milk each day.
Re-introduce Food Types Gradually
Don’t go overboard – if you are sensitive to a food you’ll notice a physical reaction. You may feel sick; you may have stomach problems, get a headache or experience an acne breakout.
Ease back into each of the foods and track any symptoms you might experience by using your food journal. If you don’t have any symptoms, it’s likely safe to eat that food.
Food sensitivity is becoming a much more common complaint.
The reason for the current increase in food sensitivity isn’t yet known. It may be environmental, genetic, being overloaded with a certain type of food or a combination of all of these.
Whatever the reason, by identifying the foods that cause problems, you can improve your digestive health, your wellbeing and, in many cases, your whole life.