This is one of the most common questions I get asked when taking a client history.
“I am wondering if I might have a problem with gluten/wheat/dairy? After eating, I feel so tired and bloated, sometimes I have to run to the loo!!”
And I’m not just asked this for tiredness and gut issues but also for skin problems, migraines, anxiety, and PMS.
As a Naturopath my focus is on identifying all of the possible things that can contribute to my clients’ problems.
Then building the best plan to sort those problems out using natural remedies and lifestyle changes.
And food sensitivities are usually part of the picture…… but not always.
Is it a food allergy or food sensitivity/intolerance?
There is a big and important difference between a food sensitivity and a food allergy.
Food allergies are extremely serious and need to be properly diagnosed by a doctor so that if needed, the appropriate treatment, such as an EpiPen, can be prescribed.
A food allergy reaction happens within minutes of exposure to the food and is very specific.
A food sensitivity may not be noticed for up to 72 hours and symptoms are more generalised. Find out more about food allergies from the HSE website here.
Food allergies are actually not very common but over the past 15 years in practice I have seen a marked increase in sensitivities.
For about one in 10 of my clients, food is part of the root cause of their symptoms.
The remaining 9 out of every 10 have become sensitive over a period of months or even years.
This is usually due to a build-up of toxicity and inflammation from our nutrition, use of products, stress, lifestyle, trauma and past illnesses.
While removing certain foods for a period of time is part of getting your energy and wellbeing back, it’s only part of the picture.
How do you know you might have food sensitivities?
The clients I see with food sensitivities experience some or all of the following:
- Tiredness particularly after eating
- Bloating, burping, flatulence
- Gut issues
- Bowel problem
- Skin issues
- Recurrent infections
- Mood swings
- Headaches and migraines.
- Anxiety, overwhelm and low mood
- That tired but wired feeling
What to do!
You can try these at home methods to figure out which foods you might have issues with.
If you know a food is causing a problem, remove it for 2 weeks and then reintroduce it and observe your reaction.
Diary and symptom method:
Keep a record of what you are eating and how you feel a few hours after eating. Write down how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. After about 10 entries, check to see if there’s a pattern. Remove that food for 2 weeks and then reintroduce as in the observation method.
If there’s a particular food you cannot do without, (it’s usually unhealthy, for example sugar), you may also have a sensitivity to that.
Try your best to remove this for 2 weeks and you may in fact find some of your symptoms clear up!
A mother brought her teenage daughter to me. She was fainting every couple of days at school and became extremely angry at the drop a hat. This was causing her major problems at school and at home. She was constantly in trouble and hated herself for it. She had been to doctors and had blood tests and brain scans without anything showing up.
I tested her and sugar and soft drinks showed up. She told me she ate a chocolate bar and a certain brown coloured soft drink every day and couldn’t do without them! We had a talk about how she would like to be so she decided to give up her daily fix. I also prescribed remedies to support her in doing this.
Her mother told me her school had rung to ask what she had done! The change in the girl’s behaviour was so improved, they were astonished. Both mother and daughter were delighted. And she had kicked her addiction!
Let food be the medicineHippocrates
Is cutting out whole food groups a good idea?
We evolved to be omnivores, eating a wide variety meat, fish, and plants.
So for our health it’s very important we have a varied diet. Cutting a particular food group out for a long period is not ideal.
That’s why identifying potential food sensitivities, finding out why these have developed and correcting the underlying issues that led to them in the first place are so important for our current and future health.
I test using kinesiology to find out exactly which foods the body is reacting too. And it’s usually not the food the person thinks is the problem.
For example, a client of mine had a very healthy diet but often felt tired, bloated, and anxious.
She had tried to cut out wheat, then gluten, then dairy to no avail.
When I tested her, it turned out the problem was actually yeast. She loved to use stock cubes in her cooking so once she switched to a yeast free variety and implemented the other changes I requested; her symptoms cleared.
For my clients with chronic, ongoing symptoms it’s unfortunately not always as simple as not eating chocolate, soft drinks, or stock cubes.
Working with my clients, we look at strengthening, detoxing and repairing the body using homeopathy, remedies, herbs and micro nutrients as well as excluding certain foods, and including others. We also look at stress, lifestyle and addressing any past trauma.
So, what can you do to help yourself now?
- Try the observation, food diary and addiction methods above.
- Work on your overall health by eating a balanced, healthy, unprocessed, organic diet.
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat at least 7, ideally 10 portions of vegetables with a couple of portions of fruit a day. (Fruit and veg you know you are not reacting too.)
- Exercise in a way that’s fun for you to help your body clear itself out.
- Try dry skin brushing!
- Manage stress
And if you know you need help now then book in for a discovery call with me so we can look at what’s going on for you and what you can do about it.
Remember food sensitivities are a sign your body is out of balance and struggling to maintain good health.
See this as an early warning signal that you have veered off the path and an opportunity to getting back to feeling healthy and full of energy, for life!
I love this Victoria. I suffered from a number of autoimmune diseases for years, that were causing ‘weird’ symptoms in my body that the Medical Profession couldn’t decipher.
However, I did a food elimination diet for two months and found dairy to be the biggest trigger for my symptoms.
Between cutting out dairy and a few other holistic treatments for the first time in 20 years I feel as though my body is running back at optimum health.
Hi Rachel, that’s fantastic! I became passionate about natural medicine and nutrition after using it to get rid of an autoimmune disease myself! I had to get rid of dairy, gluten, carrots, broccoli and onion for a while!! Still cannot eat white bread but that’s not a bad thing ;-). You know what I love is that you now have control over your health so here’s to a very healthy and long life xx
Thanks Victoria for all your very valuable help and information.
It’s strange times we are living in and it’s always nice to feel the support and generosity of other people. Thanks again for all your support and encouragement.
Hi Mary, you are so very welcome! I hope these times usher in a whole new and improved spirit of looking out for each other although we don’t do too badly here in Ireland! Kindest regards Victoria
Thanks yet again Victoria for all your help and support which have made a big difference to my health and well-being.
You are so very welcome Anne! 🙂