Is food intolerance testing only for a few?
I always thought, one needed to react strongly to a food (responses like cramps, vomiting, looseness of the bowels, etc.) before you could call your reaction an intolerance. However, less obvious indications, like low energy, lethargy, migraines, digestive problems, low moods, and anxiety can tremendously affect the quality of your life in the long run.
What is the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy?
Firstly, I would like to point out an important difference between food intolerances and food allergies. Food intolerances are less serious than allergies, in the sense that they cause people to feel ill, for instance, as the body cannot digest the food eaten or the same food can irritate the stomach with digestive consequences; while allergies can cause life-threatening reactions, with symptoms like breathing problems, throat tightness, swelling, abdominal pain, or a drop in blood pressure.
How I found out I was food intolerant and how I coped with it
Since my teen years I remember feeling lethargic and in a ‘cannot be bothered mood’ a lot of the time. There was a time when I was feeling so poorly that it took me a long time (sometimes months) to recover from a normal flu, an iron deficiency, or an infection. Obviously, my immune system was poor and was being affected by something I could not figure out.
Reading about food intolerance tests, I decided to take one, even though I was not experiencing all the clear symptoms which usually are more noticeable and therefore mentioned. After the test, which was performed by taking a blood sample; my results were quite surprising, I was intolerant just to three products; cow’s milk, soy, and egg white. Only three foods, but those are ingredients that you find hidden in almost everything; even in a little snack.
I have to confess it was not easy, not because of my lack of commitment to changing my diet, but to find something I could grab on the go, and eat when I was travelling, at work, or out socialising. I soon realised it was impossible to find the right food when I was out and about. Reading the ingredients of even the most accommodating food, like vegan foods, I still could find something that did not work for me. However, I stuck to it, cooking everything from scratch, and I now feel great with my health. My migraines disappeared, my low mood and lethargy are gone as well, leaving space to enthusiasm, great energy, and motivation to get up and go.
Do food intolerances ever go away?
Food intolerances can be fixed with a process of food elimination and re-introduction. Depending on your intolerance level, you will have to stop eating the foods that cause the intolerance for a few months. The re-introduction process is as important as the elimination one. In my case, I re-introduced the reactive food once every two weeks for the first month and once a week for the following month, which after that I was free to eat as before taking the test.
If you feel like something is going on with you and experiencing lack of energy, low mood, headaches after meals, bloating, and generally feeling worn out, it could be the food you are eating. I highly recommend you speak to a registered nutritionist or dietician and ultimately get tested. It is a bit of an investment, a test can cost up to over £200, but it will sort your situation out and be well worth it in the long run. I had mine done in a proper clinic, my blood sample was sent to the laboratory to be tested and I had a follow-up appointment with a biologist nutritionist.
There are many reliable companies and clinics that offer these tests; I have been seeing a lot on the market lately, offering convenient home to laboratory testing services, with free delivery and return. However, be wary of cheap, attractive offers. Again, I would suggest you do your research or see a registered nutritionist or dietitian.
Once you have your results and need to start the intolerance diet organise yourself with all the food you need. Clear your kitchen cupboard putting away all the food you must avoid replacing it with what will be your staple goodies. It can be a daunting task at the beginning, so perhaps, start after your holiday or important coming up celebrations you might have.
Follow the diet 100% as instructed by the health professional, because it will be for the best and surely life-changing. Be aware that you might need more time than usual to prepare your food, as it will be probably nearly impossible, as it happened to me, to grab something on the go to bite. Don’t give up as remember that it is only a temporary situation and soon you will have to re-introduced the food you left behind.
If you wish to know more about my experience with food intolerances and how I coped and adapted with the new food ‘prescribed’ to me, please leave a comment here below. I would love to hear about all your food intolerance stories and answer the questions you might have.