How to Tell If You Have a Food Sensitivity

Your digestive system is a complicated system. It may seem simple. You eat, you absorb, you eliminate. However, there are many steps taken to complete this process and many chemicals are necessary for things to go smoothly. You use enzymes, minerals, and even bacteria to digest foods. And when one of these elements is out of balance, or not working optimally, the whole system goes off the rails. One of the effects of an imbalance in your system can be a food sensitivity.

Food sensitivities can cause migraines, skin problems like  acne, and of course digestive problems ranging from gas and bloating to constipation and diarrhea.

So, how do you know if you have a food sensitivity and what the offending food might be?  Here are two methods you can try:

Keep a Food Journal

Track everything that you eat. You don’t have to track of the calories, simply the food. It is very important to be detailed. For example, if you have barbecue sauce, make sure to write down the ingredients.  You’re likely to find gluten, dairy, and other hidden ingredients are in condiments and sauces. You’ll also want to learn how to read nutrition labels.

For example, casein is a dairy protein. If you’re sensitive or allergic to dairy, you can have a reaction to a sauce simply because casein is an ingredient. Gluten, wheat, soy, corn, dairy, nuts, and eggs are common allergens. You’ll also want to pay attention to any symptoms you experience. Look for skin irritation including acne.

Evaluate your energy level, sleep quality, mental clarity, and your gastrointestinal system. Take notes. Over time you may notice patterns. For example, after you eat tortilla chips you may notice acne and diarrhea. That’s a sure sign that you’re sensitive to corn.  Get my free Food Journal Template here.

Elimination Diet

Another approach to identify food sensitivities is to go on an elimination diet.  An elimination diets lasts two weeks. It requires careful planning and attention to the ingredients in your food. The most common elimination diet cuts out dairy, soy, gluten, corn, and sometimes eggs and nuts. Once you've completed two weeks without these foods, you can gradually re-introduce them into your diet.

For example, for the first week after your elimination diet you might try adding some dairy back into your diet. You might have a glass of milk. Don’t go overboard. If you are sensitive to a food you’ll notice a physical reaction. You may feel sick. You may have stomach problems or get a headache or experience an acne breakout. Ease back into each of the foods and track any symptoms you might experience. If you don’t have any symptoms, it’s likely safe to eat that food.

Food sensitivities, Celiac Disease and other food-related disorders are becoming more common. It may be environmental, genetic, or a combination of both. By identifying the foods that cause problems, you can improve your digestive health and your well-being.

Blog, NutritionJenna Drew