If you regularly experience indigestion, nausea, or excessive gassiness after eating, you could have a food intolerance or allergy. While both can cause gastrointestinal distress, a food allergy is potentially much more serious. In some people, a food allergy can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening immune system response that can cause hives, swelling of the lips and throat, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms warrant a trip to the nearest hospital emergency room.
On the other hand, a food intolerance does not involve an immune system response. Instead, when a problematic food is ingested, it is not properly digested and begins to ferment inside the gut. One example is lactose intolerance, which can cause diarrhea and gas due to the body’s inability to properly digest lactose, which is commonly found in dairy products. Other common culprits include eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy.
Keep a Food Diary
The best way to determine whether you have a food intolerance is to keep a food diary. Write down the ingredients of everything you eat and when your symptoms occur. Then, after a week, look for correlations that may suggest causation. This approach to food sensitivity testing can take some detective work on your part, but being aware of what you’re eating and how it affects you is the key to pinpointing a food intolerance.
Once you’ve identified the foods you think may be causing your distress, stop eating them. Choose several basic foods that you know for sure aren’t causing your symptoms, and base your diet on those foods for the next two weeks (that’s approximately how much time your body needs to “reset” itself). Be sure to stay well-hydrated while you eliminate foods. As your body rids itself of inflammation, it also loses essential fluids.
After two weeks, add one food that you eliminated back into your diet. Wait three days, and if your symptoms don’t return, add another food. Continue this process until you find a food that causes symptoms. When you identify a reactive food, wait three days for your immune system to calm down, then add another food.
If you react to a certain food, you may not have to stop eating it forever. After your immune system calms down for a few months, you might find that you are able to add some of the problematic food back into your diet and feel fine.
See a Doctor if You’re Still Having Problems
While some people find solutions quickly, others require more intense investigative work. If your at-home elimination diet doesn’t provide a solid result, see a professional. If you’re a member of Optimum Direct Care in Orlando, FL, our doctors can perform a more in-depth food sensitivity testing to determine which foods are causing your problems. To learn more, contact us today.