How Do I Know if I Have Food Sensitivities?
Usually we think of “allergies” as the runny nose and itchy eye symptoms from grass or dust and we recognize that some people have a dangerous allergy to peanuts or other foods that would make their throat close or lips swell. So we think that if we haven’t had hives or trouble breathing right after eating something that this means we don’t have any physical issues with food. However, the term food sensitivity refers to a different type of immune system reaction. These reactions happen in our bloodstream, as they don’t just cause symptoms in the throat or digestive system, they can cause symptoms anywhere, including:
- Fatigue—sleepiness or a feeling of physical heaviness
- Mental fogginess (trouble concentrating, thinking of the right word, etc)
- Worsening of anxiety or mood
- Muscle aches and tightness
- Joint pain and even swelling
- Weight gain, or an inability to lose weight despite cutting calories, working out, etc
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Nasal congestion with chronic fluid buildup behind the eardrums that can cause trouble with hearing, ringing in the ears, or dizziness
- Swelling in the nasal and sinus passages that contribute to sleep apnea, snoring, and recurrent sinus infections
- Skin rashes from eczema to acne, and worsening of autoimmune rashes like psoriasis
- Gastrointestinal symptoms including heartburn, nausea, bloating and cramping, excess gas, constipation and/or diarrhea
Another difference is that while traditional allergy symptoms usually occur within minutes of contacting the allergen, food sensitivities happen hours or days later. This delay makes it really hard to see the pattern and recognize what foods are triggering your symptoms. You can do an elimination diet to figure out which foods you’re sensitive to but that can be confusing, take a long time, and you may not eliminate one or two of the foods that are problems for you. We use BioTek Labs and send in your blood sample; they run antibody levels on 96 different foods/food components and send back an easy to read report. Unfortunately, insurances do not cover this test; it is $200 if you pay up front or $250 if you need to set up a payment plan. You’d spend at least that in time and groceries if you did the elimination diet!
If at least two of these symptoms ring a bell for you, talk to us about finding out whether you have food sensitivities. We are also here to help you figure out what you CAN eat once we review the results with you. We have a health coach on staff that will work with you to make these changes with recipes, cooking and shopping tips, and meal suggestions as well as nutritional advice. Usually what seems hard at first becomes natural after a few months, and people feel so much better they don’t mind not eating a few things they used to enjoy.