I can’t help but laugh a little. I made a pretty big vow to whip myself into blogging shape. I made a few recipes but waited to post so I could spread out my work. What happened? My husband’s new diet.
See, my husband, Jon, has always had a sensitive stomach. We constantly went back and forth about what ailed his stomach. We blamed the usual suspects like cabbage, beans, etc. So I left these foods out of his lunch. But the stomach did not subside. It reached a crescendo during Super Bowl week when my husband described the pain as unbearable. So we are in a current food overhaul. I’ve heard of some diets where people cut out common food intolerances to try and pinpoint the culprit.
Okay so let me back up- what the fudge am I talking about? Most of us are aware of Food allergies (IgE). Doctors test for these allergies by pricking a needle on your skin and waiting for signs of irritation. This is an immediate response to the allergy trigger, and most people have a general sense of their allergies. That seasonal allergy? IgE. That girl who carries around an EpiPen just in case of “nut-dust”? IgE. These allergies are easy to identify.
But food sensitivities (IgG), are more difficult to identify. Food “sensitivities” can be called allergies or intolerance. Testing for these allergies is usually done with a blood sample. Information about this is relatively new, and sadly, that means that most insurance companies don’t currently cover this testing. Basically it is a delayed reaction to the “bad foods.”
Symptoms can be a little vague. They range from digestion issues (IBS, bloating, blood in stool, constipation) to skin irritations (acne, eczema, hives) or even general aches (fatigue, headaches, puffy eyes). Many symptoms can be passed off as side effects of other ailments, so knowing that you may actually have any food sensitivities isn’t simple.
How can I find the problematic foods?
Many people suggest venturing on an elimination diet that can range from 14 days to 6 weeks. This means not eating certain foods at all for a few days. Then you slowly add back one food at a time, patiently seeing how it affects you. If you react to the food, remove it, and wait a week, and add any other new foods. Jon and I removed certain foods for only one week, and we are reintroducing foods that are the most likely least offensive each week.
Which foods should you consider removing? Well, you could be intolerant to pretty much anything. I have an intolerance to cucumbers; my boss has it for onions and tomatoes. But there are common foods that cause people problems, and they are mostly eaten by Americans.
- Refined Sugar
So does this mean I can NEVER eat that again?
Maybe. Some people believe that food intolerances develop over time. Some theorize that these intolerance can snowball and may get worse the more you eat the food. But if you isolate the problem early on, you have a chance to limit how it can effect your system. If you are sensitive to a type of food, you can usually have one type of that food every four days. For example, suppose you have an intolerance to wheat. You can eat pasta, then wait 4 days before consuming any gluten and have a bagel. This keeps your system clear of the offending food. That said, you might find that ANYTIME you eat that food your stomach goes on strike. A lot of it is just paying attention to your body.
And you might be able to rule out some of the listed common offenders. For example, Jon and I eat eggs, but we only do so on weekends, when stomach pains are at the lowest. Corn is never really in rotation. Rarely does corn find its way in our foods. We also avoid corn syrup and other corn based by-products.
I feel better! This is great! But I am still having stomach issues…
Although you may have identified some food intolerances, there may be 10 more of which you are unaware. This is when you might want to get blood tested for all food intolerances. You may endure out of pocket costs, but if you’re having serious problems, it is well worth it. You might find out that your intolerances are not as severe in certain amounts. For example, my boss thought she couldn’t have any Allium plants, which meant no onion, leeks, garlic, shallots, scallions, or chives. But it turned out that she could have garlic in minimal amounts.
Another example? Say you deduced you can’t have wheat. Fine and dandy. You cut it out, look for the gluten free products and live your life. Then slowly some pains come back. You could have an allergy with an ingredient that is commonly found in gluten free products, such as a lesser known grain like amaranth.
Some people are afraid of being tested and finding out that they can’t eat anything. Understandable. You need to eat to live. If you get a laundry list of things you can’t eat, you will have a month of pain in the ass adjustments. But once you fine-tune, a most of your ailments go away. Consistency can make a huge difference in your life.