Diagnosis of Food Intolerance
Food Intolerance and the diagnosing of it can be a real problem. This is mainly because different people experience symptoms to differing degrees. The symptoms of food intolerance can be as varied as skin conditions which can include rash and itching, Gut reactions such as vomiting and pain, constipation and diarrhoea, painful joints, headaches and feeling unwell.
Many people put up with these symptoms for a long time putting it down to growing older when in reality symptoms can be cut just by eliminating various things from our diet. Of course, it is important to note that not all symptoms are down to food intolerance and many can cover other disease areas. If you feel unwell and believe it could be something more, it is essential that you book an appointment with a medical professional to get it looked at.
Do you have a food intolerance or a food allergy and what is the difference?
A food intolerance is when you find it difficult digesting certain foods and have an unpleasant physical reaction to them. The symptoms of food intolerance can occur a couple of hours to several hours after digesting the food in question. The difference with an allergic reaction is that it can be immediate symptoms such as rashes or swelling even and in some cases, can be life threatening known Analyphaxsis.
So, if you believe you do have an intolerance, what should you do? Well the first ideal step in this process is to keep a food and symptom diary. If you would like to get your hands on our food and symptom tracker, simply enter your details in the box on the right and we’ll ensure you get access to that immediately so that you can begin your journey today. This will help you find out which foods are causing the symptoms and they can be straightforward for some and more tricky for others. It is a process that can go some way to helping understand what foods you are intolerant to.
A food diary combined with a food exclusion diet is an excellent way of seeking how your body is responding. The best way to do this for maximum results is as follows:
The diet needs to be followed strictly for at least a month for the purposes of diagnosis. With the exclusion diet you are eliminating one food at a time. You can also aim to remove food groups if this is easier for you for example you can aim to get rid of animal milks and dairy products first to see how you go with that. Foods need to be avoided for an initial two week period. During this process, planning is critical. If you need to replace ‘avoided’ food, shop for alternatives.
Then after this time, you reintroduce foods one by one with a gap of a couple of days between each new food introduction.
During this period you must mark down any symptoms or reactions to the foods that you take.
The diary should be continued until the food is identified.
This process is best done with one of Nutritional consultants and is really only suitable for people who are willing to follow the advice strictly and be disciplined to follow the process to a T.
Accurate records of the times and duration of all symptoms and stress as well as everything you eat and drink should help you identify the foods you are intolerant to. It is also wise to keep any packaging for reference should this be helpful. It is also worth noting, that you should keep a two week food diary before you begin any exclusion diet so that you have a diary checker for your nutritionist when you see her.
In relation to children, medical advice should always be sought and foods should not be restricted. Should you want help in this area and would like some support from our qualified Nutritionist, book an appointment here to see how she can help you get a greater understanding and your body’s response to certain food types.
What might be a challenge during this period of diet exclusion and reintroduction?
The main challenge will be to ensure you are disciplined about the types of food you are eating during the elimination and reintroduction diet. Other factors that contribute to the swaying of minds are roles such as cooking for a family or perhaps a social engagement that is guaranteed to have all the foods you are looking to avoid. It is really hugely important that you know the type of person you are. If you are likely to stick to this diet, then that’s great. If you know you will not then it maybe better to have a nutritionist help you through this process and get to the crux of the matter. If you would like to know more about our nutritionist’s consultations, please click here.
Alternatively you can see what other treatment options are available to you on our Treatments for Food Intolerance page.
Click on the image to download your weekly meal planner.
Important to note that you should not avoid foods or food groups for an extended period without seeking professional advice, always ensure your diet remains nutritionally efficient.
Read more in our Symptoms and Causes of Food Intolerance page which helps you understand what to look for and how to help yourself.