Do you suspect you have food allergies? You’re not alone. Many people may feel sluggish or sick after eating food, but only a few people who believe they have food allergies actually do. If you’re worried you have a food allergy or sensitivity, you should find out immediately so you can avoid an allergic reaction next time you eat. Here’s what to do if you think you have food sensitivities.
Visit Your Doctor
An allergist can tell you whether you have a food allergy more accurately than you can guess if you do. If you think you’re allergic to a certain food, you can easily stop eating it. But if you avoid foods you don’t have to; you can deprive yourself of vitamins and other essential nutrients. Even if you’re convinced you are allergic to something, you could be wrong. Only a doctor can tell you if you’re intolerant or allergic to any type of food. The difference between intolerance and allergy is essential to help you figure out what’s life-threatening and what’s simply uncomfortable.
Doctors can perform allergy tests to help you discover what you’re allergic to, but it might take more than one test to learn the food causing your allergic reaction. Common signs of an allergic reaction include
- Itching or tingling in the mouth
- Shortness of breath
Once your allergy is discovered, your doctor can prescribe medications to help you treat it, such as epinephrine, which can save your life after an allergic reaction. Also, some dentists can identify an allergy because of your oral health and its effects on your gums and teeth.
Keep a Food Diary
If you’re not allergic to foods and simply believe you have a food sensitivity, you can keep a food diary to discover what’s causing the reaction. By writing down everything you eat and drink and how you feel after consuming it, you may be able to pinpoint the culprit at home. For example, if you eat a cookie and have gas and pain after, you could be allergic to gluten or sugar. Once you discover the foods that make you feel uncomfortable, you can begin avoiding them and finding ways to eliminate them from your diet. In this case, you could eliminate sugar from your diet.
Another great way to help you figure out what’s causing your food sensitivities is to eliminate things you believe to be the source. For example, suppose you ate a hamburger and got terrible stomach cramps and nausea after. It could be the beef or gluten in the bun, but you’re unsure. An elimination diet can help you pinpoint what caused the discomfort. In this case, you’d eliminate either beef or gluten from your diet for two to four weeks and see how you feel. If you don’t have any symptoms, then you’ll know which ingredient was causing the problem. However, if you still have symptoms, you’ll need to repeat the process and eliminate the other potential culprit from your diet for a few weeks.
Visit a Dietitian
Whether or not you’ve visited a doctor to uncover a food allergy or a food intolerance, you must maintain a healthy diet. Eliminating something nutritious, such as dairy, from your diet can leave you without essential vitamins and nutrients. If you’re eliminating any healthy food from your diet, it’s best to speak with a professional who can tell you what to replace it with. For example, if you must eliminate dairy, find out what you can replace it with that has the same nutritional value.
What Foods Are Common Culprits?
Knowing the common food intolerances can help you begin eliminating things from your diet without having to guess too much. These are the common culprits of food intolerance.
- Peanuts and tree nuts
Don’t Remove Entire Food Groups at Once
If you rely on a particular food group for essential nutrients, it’s not a good idea to remove every food in the group at once. For example, if you believe you’re intolerant to dairy, you can start by slowly cutting it out of your diet by eliminating ice cream, milk, and cream. If you like to eat yogurt, you can try keeping yogurt in your diet to improve your gut health since it’s a good source of probiotics. Cutting out healthy foods can negatively impact your gut’s biome and cause nutrient deficiencies, so it’s never a good idea to cut out an entire food group, especially if you eat something healthy every day.
What to Do If You Can’t Figure It Out
In some cases, you might not have a food sensitivity even if you think you do. For example, if you find yourself with a stomach ache after dinner, you might have overeaten. After all, the symptoms of overeating are quite similar to those of food sensitivities. Both overeating and food sensitivities may cause:
- Stomach pain
If you’ve tried everything above, including elimination diets and food tracking, and still can’t find the culprit, consider how much you’re eating and try limiting your portions or starting a diet.
Additionally, you should look for other causes of your discomfort. Many different types of foods can cause your body to react in the same way intolerances can. For example, soda pop causes bloating because of the CO2 bubbles. So instead of thinking you’re allergic to soda, you might have to realize that’s your body’s natural reaction to something you’ve put in your stomach.
Do You Have Food Sensitivities?
If you believe you have a food sensitivity, the best thing you can do is try to figure out what’s causing you pain and discomfort. Once you begin noticing the symptoms of any type of food intolerance, begin a food diary so you can take note of the different kinds of foods and how they make you feel. A food diary can help you find a pattern in what you’re eating that could be causing discomfort. Then, use an elimination diet to help you find the true culprit and eliminate it from your diet completely. Once you’ve eliminated the food you’re intolerant to, find alternative foods with the same nutritional value so you don’t deprive your body of essential vitamins and minerals.
Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, making art, and her pup Ruby.