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  • Writer's pictureMiranda Welton

The Inconvenience of an Intolerance

What is a Food Intolerance?

You can experience various symptoms from being sensitive or intolerant to a substance. A food sensitivity or intolerance is different from an allergy, which can be life threatening. However, a reaction can occur immediately like an allergy or up to 72 hours after exposure, making it harder to track down. Here are some clues to if you may have an intolerance. An intolerance is different from an allergy. An intolerance is unpleasant or irritating, an allergy could kill or make you very ill.

baby with inflamed cheeks
Inflamed cheeks may indicate lack of probiotic's or an irritant

The main symptoms are:

  • Eating lots of wheat products can cause problems

  • Swelling of the body

  • Loss of energy

  • Digestive disorders such as IBS

Our body naturally produces histamine to help you get rid of something that's upsetting you, an allergy trigger or "allergen" for example. It gives you a warning that there is an issue present. It can be reaction to someone’s aftershave or perfume, soap powder or softener – so it does not have to be a food or drink you have consumed, it can be any type of substance, even a reaction from cat hair for instance from someone in the office who sits a fair distance away from you. Histamine reacts by making you sneeze, your eyes stream or you itch, it does whatever it can to get rid of the allergen. Sometimes the bowels will just open. The body is screaming ‘get it out’ and does so as quickly as it can. This is part of your body's defence system and is natural.

We can also experience:

  • Skin reactions like hives caused by inflammation of the capillaries, which is part of the lymph system.

  • Nerve reactions causing pain and aches

So what can we do about it? It may be time to change old habits

  • Eating a meal should be relaxing and enjoyable

  • Eat at a table – even if you are alone, make mealtime special

  • Start eating as a family. (Work life permitting, but as often as you can)

  • Put your phone away

  • Leave your work desk – go for a walk and eat outside if you can

  • Chew slowly and taste the food

  • Avoid fizzy drinks that fill you up with no calories but make your hungrier

  • Eat real food rather than processed – avoid those E numbers

  • Learn to cook and enjoy it and use the cooker rather than just the microwave

  • Get digestive enzymes – Enzyme Digest by Quest are brilliant, take one with each meal

Rotate your food

Plan meals so they are not all the same food types. For example, eat an egg for breakfast, jacket potato with a protein filling for lunch, meat/nonmeat protein with vegetables for your evening meal. If you have wheat, try and make this wholemeal as often as you can, this includes pasta, noodles and rice. Avoid the same item for three days to give your body a change, rather than wheat cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pasta for tea.

Menus will also be determined by things like Blood Type, Body type, gluten issues, known allergies etc, so may be the hardest part to determine. A finger prick test showing intolerance may help (York Laboratories are excellent). Taking a DNA test such with a company such as 23&Me can also show health and food issues. (Both these cost).

Find out what reacts to you rather than just popping a pill to deal with the issue. Take care of yourself - keep a food diary – it can take 72 hours for symptoms to emerge.

Eat a meal early in the evening, rather than at night when the body will have problems digesting it

Learn to love your body rather than be disappointed in it for reacting to foods you love.

Make a list of things you feel the desire to eat or drink and the times of the day you 'want it' or 'must have it'. You may then find a pattern. Sadly, it's often the things we crave that are the main culprit. It takes 72 hours to wean yourself off, so be patient, but keep trying.


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