Chances are you or someone you know has experienced some unpleasant and unwanted symptoms after eating something. It could have been gas, bloating, skin irritation or brain fog among other symptoms. I can relate because it happened to me. I, like many others, have food sensitivities.
Are you wondering what exactly is a food sensitivity?
Let’s first break down the difference between food sensitivity, food allergy and food intolerance
Our immune system is our body’s army of defense, it protects us from potentially harmful organisms by producing antibodies called immunoglobulins.
This is an immediate reaction brought on by immunoglobulin IgE. This is what we know as an allergic reaction that can occur after minutes of eating. This is an intense inflammatory response with redness, swelling and tissue damage. Some common symptoms are a rash, itchy or watery eyes and more life-threatening symptoms can be difficulty breathing. An anaphylaxis reaction to eating peanuts or shellfish is an example of this.
It is a delayed inflammatory responsethat is triggered by immunoglobulin IgG. Symptoms may appear after hours or even days, so it can be hard to tell which food was the culprit. These inflammatory symptoms are not exclusive to the digestive system. Here is a list of some of the symptoms:
- diarrhea or constipation
- Headaches or migraines
- brain fog
- joint pain
This is not an immune reaction, so it does not produce an inflammatory response. It is simply the body being intolerant to something for various reasons. An example is lactose intolerance, where the body does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase that is needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in dairy. This can cause a lot of gas, bloating and diarrhea.
Ok, are you now wondering how could I possibly fall in love with my food sensitivity? Let’s get into that.
My constant bloating after meals, especially those I ate from restaurants, my irritated skin that would breakout routinely and fatigue were all clues that the foods I was not regularly eating were not treating me well. One of the reasons I found naturopathic medicine and eventually became a naturopathic doctor, is that I wanted to get relief from these long-standing symptoms and understand what was really going on. With the help of my naturopathic doctor, we uncovered my food sensitivities. At first, it was an adjustment to find the foods to replace the ones that I was sensitive to, cane sugar and dairy. It wasn’t fun to remove these foods and not have desserts or certain sauces and so on. However, embracing my food sensitivities was a gamechanger for me because it brought me relief from my symptoms and guided me towards my most optimal health.
The symptoms we experience are clues that our body is giving us to let us know something is not right. With food sensitivities, we need to remove the foods that are not treating us well, in order to reduce the low-grade inflammation and give the digestive tract a chance to repair the tissue damage.
Are you saying I need to stop eating the foods I love?
Adjusting your nutritional lifestyle is not about feeling restricted from eating the foods you love; it is about eating the foods that love you back! You are not restricting the quantity of food you are eating. You are choosing to eat foods that keep you energized, fuel your mind and body and that don’t cause you pain and suffering. Here are some ways to foster this body positive outlook when managing food sensitivities.
Reframing the narrative
Let’s reframe the narrative from I am not allowed have these foods, to I choose to have foods that make me feel great. Choosing foods that nourish and fuel the body is a narrative you can adopt when it comes to managing your food sensitivities. The goal is to feel good in your body and creating heathy boundaries around the foods that do and do not move you closer to this goal.
Mindset shift from scarcity to abundance
A mindset stemming from scarcity creates a narrow focus on the foods you cannot have. This does not serve you well. Shifting to an abundant mindset allows the view that you can add other foods instead and you can make as many new foods as possible available to you. The prevents a mindset of restriction.
Act of self-care
You are engaging in self-care when you choose the foods that nourish, heal and support you to live your best life. You are making choices that allow you to stay true yourself and your health goals because you feel the difference. You are no longer in pain and suffering because you chose to eat the foods that love you back! You are working with our body and not against it.
You are not alone.
I often meet clients who are struggling with inflammation and digestive complaints. They are confused and striving to find a solution, just like I was. If you think you might have food sensitivities or just want to improve your digestive health you need a strategic plan for evaluating your digestive function. Identifying your food sensitivities is the first step. Most people fear food sensitivity elimination but it is often much easier to do than live with suffering and dysfunction. Having a food sensitivity does not always mean it is a life sentence. It is possible to acknowledge what is right for your body and give it what is deserves so you can be the best version of yourself. You do not have to go through this alone, speak to a naturopathic doctor. It changed my life in many ways, and it can change yours too.
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Dr. Ramlal believes that we can all be the best version of ourselves and this starts with taking care of our health. We are worthy of having the life we want and doing all the amazing things we want to do. She is passionate about looking at the bigger picture of the factors that shape our health and curating strategies to help others reach their greatest potential.
Dr. Ramlal has a strong belief in creating a space to cultivate growth, awareness and fostering the mind-body connection to nourish the foundations of health.
As a clinician, her area of focus is helping those with digestive concerns such as irritable bowel syndrome, break free from the constraints of diarrhea, bloating and constipation that are keeping them from living and feeling their best.