Food allergies and sensitivities can be a challenge to discover as some reactions are subtle and underlying and many reactions are not immediate.
Many people think that they only have a “problem” with a particular food when they eat it and get a reaction within just a few minutes. This isn’t true. You could have a delayed reaction which may not happen for up to three days later! Or you could have a reaction which isn’t as obvious as hives or swelling. Your reaction could be a runny nose, a headache, joint stiffness, decreased focus, heightened irritability, tiredness, lack of motivation, depression, hair loss, menstrual pain, inability to lose/gain weight, and hundreds of other symptoms that most people wouldn’t attribute to a food they are eating.
There are several ways to discover a food allergy or sensitivity. Over the next several blog posts, I’ll highlight several ways to do it. You can choose to do one or combine two or more to maximize your results.
Approach 1: The Food Elimination Diet (a.k.a. Cleanse)
Remove the Following Three Big Toxins and Allergens from Your Diet for 30 days.
You can do anything for 30 days. You are strong enough to do this, I promise. And you deserve to feel better. So give yourself just one month, and you’ll see.
1 – Wheat (gluten, whole wheat, sprouted wheat, wheat grass, white flour, soy sauce)
2 – Dairy (milk, yogurt, whey protein, casein, cheese, butter, ghee)
3 – Sugar (Cane sugar, corn syrup, sugar, molasses, fructose)
If you’re feeling up to it, also remove one, two, or all three of the following as well:
4 – Eggs (Mayonnaise, baked goods containing eggs)
5 – Soy (soy beans, edemame, tofu, soy lethicin, soy sauce, soy-based mayo)
6 – Animal Proteins (eggs, dairy, beef, chicken, seafood)
Prepare Yourself for Detox Symptoms
Your body will go through a detoxing stage – often about three days to a week into the elimination diet. You will probably feel like you are getting a cold, could experience headaches, body aches, brain fog and other ailments. The detox symptoms are different for each person and each type of detox. Just know that once you’re through it, you will feel better than you did before the detox even began. Get more information on detox symptoms.
On day 31, choose one food item you felt you just could not live without. For example, dairy. And eat that item all day. Eat ice-cream, yogurt, milk, cheese – any dairy item you want throughout the day. Record what happens to your body immediately after eating dairy. Write down how you feel later that day, that night, and for the next three days. Note how your body digests, how your body feels, and how you react emotionally. What did you notice? Did any symptoms return that had gone away over the last 30 days?
If there is no change in your body, then dairy is probably not the issue. If there are negative reactions, then dairy is mostly likely not your friend. So, eliminate it again.
Either way, give yourself a few days and then choose the next item on your eliminated list and reintroduce that item the same way you did with dairy. Keep note of your body’s reactions over the next several days. Eliminate that item from your diet for good if the reaction isn’t good. Reintroduce it slowly if you have no negative reaction and move onto the next item.
If you have absolutely no negtive reactions to any of the foods you eliminated and then reintroduced then choose another food group (animal proteins, soy, nuts, etc.) which you didn’t eliminate the first time and start over with the 30 day elimination of that item. Then reintroduce after 30 days and record the results.
If you’ve exhausted your list and still do not find answers then move onto one of the next methods. But first double check labels on all the food you ate during your 30 day detox were truly free of the eliminated food. For example, if you are eliminating wheat, be sure that easy to miss items like soy sauce (which contains wheat) was not hiding in any of the food you were eating. Allergens hide in sauces, marinades, and dressings, so be sure to read every label every time.
The elmination diet approach takes a little longer and can be frustrating, but it’s very effective to targeting specific types of foods which may be working against you.