Food intolerances: 3 tips to discover problem foods

Discovering food intolerances can be tricky; there is some debate in the medical world about the best way to test for them. I discovered my own food intolerances by following an elimination diet, and have three tips on the best way to figure out your problem foods.

Tara Bannow of The Bend Bulletin (Oregon) recently wrote “Providers disagree over test used for food intolerance,” which looks at the difference between food allergy and intolerance, and the tests used to determine them. She found that people often visit allergists for help when their problem is actually an intolerance to food. Allergies cause symptoms like hives and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, while intolerances tend to have digestive symptoms. She discusses the different blood tests used to determine food allergies and their shortcomings, then explains that the best way to discover a food intolerance is through an elimination diet.

For more on the elimination diet, I read Suzannah Weiss’ article at Refinery 29 called, “What to Expect If You’re Considering an Elimination Diet.” She discusses two different ways to approach an elimination diet. One can first eliminate all the major intolerance food groups (including dairy, gluten, soy and corn) and then reintroduce them one a time. Or, one can just eliminate the test food (gluten) while keeping everything else the same, and look for a break in symptoms. Whichever way you go, she notes it’s important to keep careful track of how you feel throughout the test period.

Here are three tips for successfully identifying food intolerances through an elimination diet:

  • Read labels – To be sure you’ve completely eliminated the test food, you have to be incredibly vigilant when checking ingredients.
  • One-by-one – Only test one food or food type (dairy, gluten) at a time so you don’t confuse them.
  • Take notes – Keep a journal of everything you’re eating during the elimination diet so you’ll be able to easily identify problem foods.

An elimination diet can be annoying, but it’s worth the trouble to identify food intolerances so you can start healing.

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