Tag Archives: food allergy

Elimination Diet: A plan to discover food sensitivities

Do you ever have digestive issues or skin irritations?  Do you get headaches or sometimes just feel “under the weather” and not know why?  Or experience on-going problems that you can’t seem to figure out?  There is a possibility you may have a food sensitivity or intolerance.

Food intolerances or sensitivities are becoming more and more common.  Allergy tests do not show if you have a food intolerance since it’s not an actual allergy.  So it’s important to take note of any signs or symptoms you are having and try to get some answers!

My previous blog post was about Food Allergies and Sensitivities  what the signs and symptoms are and which foods are most likely to cause issues.  If you experience adverse effects after eating a food or you just don’t feel good sometimes, you may want to consider trying an Elimination Diet.

An elimination diet is a short term plan that avoids certain foods that you think may be causing problems.  Then you individually reintroduce those foods to find the culprit.  The 8 foods that account for about 90% of all food allergies are the ones to be eliminated from the diet.  These include:  dairy, gluten/wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish.

There are several different versions of the elimination diet.  Some are very restrictive and also eliminate pork, beef, beans, coffee, citrus fruits, all nuts, and more.  I guess the more you restrict, the more you’ll find out, but I find this to be too difficult.  If you suspect a food is causing issues that’s not one of the 8 common allergens, then by all means add that to the list of foods to avoid.

The duration for an elimination diet is 21-23 days (some plans go as long as 6 weeks).  The reason for this is that it takes about 21 days for your body to remove the foods’ antibodies.  In order to get the most benefits from an elimination diet, you must avoid the offending foods for at least 21 days.

How to do a basic elimination diet

It’s important to take note of any symptoms you are having.  Bloating, energy levels, digestive issues, skin problems.  Write it all down before you begin.  Avoid the eight foods (or any food that you suspect) for 21 days.  Make sure you completely avoid the food, which means you’ll become an expert at reading food labels.  If you consume even a small amount of these foods, it’s best to start over to get an accurate response.  It is helpful to keep a food diary during this time so you can keep track of what you’re eating.

Now it’s time to “test” each food individually.  On day 22, choose one food that was eliminated and eat it several times that day (and that day only).  Record any symptoms you have for the next 48 hours.  If you have no symptoms, repeat and note any symptoms again for two days.  If you don’t notice any adverse symptoms, then you can assume you don’t have a sensitivity or intolerance.  Follow the same steps with each food (only one at a time).

By following this basic elimination diet, you can find out if any of these foods are causing you to feel bad or have symptoms that you never realized.  After testing each food, it’s your choice to continue eating that food or avoid it.  It’s very important to listen to your body during the “testing” of each food.  You may notice that you feel great without gluten or you no longer have break outs when avoiding dairy.

Elimination Diet. A plan to find food sensitivities. Click To Tweet

When doing an elimination diet, be sure you are eating enough whole, nutritious foods to fuel your body.  This isn’t a weight loss plan.  It’s a plan to help figure out how to feel your best each day!  It may be meticulous and take some planning, but over the grand scheme of things a few weeks isn’t long at all.  And don’t we all want to feel our best.

Have you ever done an elimination diet?

If not, do you feel the need to try it?

Food Allergies & Sensitivities

It is estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. This includes about one in thirteen children under the age of 18.  Each year in the U.S., 200,000 people need emergency medical care due to allergic reactions to food! (Food Allergy Research &  Education)

A food allergy is a medical condition when a food causes a harmful immune response.  This allergic reaction happens because the immune system attacks proteins in the food that are normally harmless.  The body thinks the food in an invader.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction to a food can be mild or severe and can appear immediately or up to two hours after exposure. Symptoms include:

  • tingling sensation in the mouth
  • itching
  • rash
  • hives
  • swelling of the tongue or throat
  • vomiting
  • cramps
  • difficulty breathing
  • drop in blood pressure
  • severe reaction called anaphylaxis can be fatal

Any food could be a potential allergen, but there are 8 foods that are the most common:

  1. dairy
  2. eggs
  3. peanuts
  4. soy
  5. gluten or wheat
  6. tree nuts (walnuts or cashews for example)
  7. fish
  8. shellfish

*Some allergists have concerns that a sesame allergy is on the rise*

Having a food allergy is nothing to take lightly.  It can impact your quality of life.  There is no cure as the best thing to do is avoid the food and know how to recognize any symptoms.  It’s not easy to steer clear of these foods as they are used abundantly in many processed foods.  Luckily, there is a law that requires food manufacturers to list any of the common 8 potential allergens on food packaging.  Also, if there could be any cross-contamination where the food was processed.

Food sensitivities or intolerances are not as serious as food allergies but can have many similar symptoms.  The immune system does not play a role in food sensitivities as it does with food allergies and symptoms of intolerances are not life-threatening.

Sometimes a food intolerance is from a deficiency in an enzyme that is needed to breakdown a food.  An example would be lactose-intolerance.  This is from a shortage of lactase, which is needed to digest the sugar.

Food Allergies and Sensitivities. Do you know the signs and symptoms? Click To Tweet

Food sensitivities are usually self-diagnosable.  There aren’t any accurate, reliable tests to determine food intolerance.  The best way to figure out if you have any food sensitivities or intolerances is through an elimination diet.  My next blog post will be all about the elimination diet and how you can discover foods that may cause symptoms.

An allergic reaction to a food can appear immediately or within two hours, but signs of a food intolerance may take longer to show up.  It can take hours or up to 2 days.  The following are signs or symptoms of food sensitivity or intolerance:

  • stomach and abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • headaches and migraines
  • hives
  • feeling “under the weather”
  • runny nose
  • chronic muscle or joint pain
  • rashes or other skin conditions

As you can see, experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis would not be very pleasant.  The best treatment for a food sensitivity is to avoid the offending food and the hardest part is figuring out what the offending foods are.

Two important facts to remember are

                           *food allergy is an immune system reaction to a food

                           *food intolerance is an inability to digest a food

Food allergies or sensitivities don’t have to wreck your life!  They can be controlled.  A medical processional can identify a food allergy.  A sensitivity or intolerance to a food is best found by doing your own research. Listening to your body and knowing the signs and symptoms will set you up for success.

Do you have a food allergy?

Do you experience any of the symptoms of food sensitivity?