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I learned how to navigate with several food sensitivities, while still eating well. How can you do the same? By easily adapting some great gluten and dairy free recipes to meet your individual needs.
What's Behind Food Sensitivities?
Before I go much further, let's start with explaining the difference between food allergies vs food sensitivities. Feel free to jump ahead if you already know this.
What is Food Allergy?
You may be wondering why your allergy skin test didn't show positive for gluten and dairy when you know for a fact they cause you symptoms.
Essentially, this is because food allergy and food sensitivities are different. With food allergy, the reaction is usually immediate and presents as an IGE immune response complete with hives, swelling, rash, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.
IGE is a type of antibody that we produce almost immediately in response to allergens. Skin and blood tests can pretty accurately diagnose this type of allergic reaction. Foods that you react to in this way usually need to be avoided completely forever.
So then, What is Food Sensitivity?
Now, with food sensitivity, the reaction can be delayed and sometimes we don’t get symptoms for days. Yes, that's right, no symptoms for days after we consume an offending food.
Also, instead of hives, people may have less alarming, but still annoying signs like bloating, fatigue, pain, or even mood swings.
We don’t produce IGE antibodies to foods we are sensitive to, so they are harder to diagnose with typical allergy testing methods, like the skin test.
Why is Everyone on a Gluten and Dairy Free Diet These Days?
Because everyone in my family and many of my friends seem to have developed food sensitivities, I asked my doctor his opinion. "Why this is happening so often now?"
His answer was basically that nobody really knows for sure. However, his theory included antibiotics and autoimmune disorders. So, let’s start by looking at those two things.
These Reactions Explained:
When we eat, we should have enough stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and good bacteria to break down the food into the basic building block proteins.
We also have protection from toxins and bacteria that may be in the food we eat from entering the bloodstream. The GALT or gut associated lymphoid tissue does this job. In fact, sixty to seventy percent of our immune system is located in our gut.
When we are not able to digest food properly, the undigested food molecules are tagged as bad guys and our immune systems attack it. You guessed it! This creates inflammation.
With chronic inflammation and immune attack, come leaky intestinal wall or leaky gut. When you develop leaky gut, the barrier in the digestive tract is compromised. So, the antibodies, undigested food molecules, and some toxins escape into the bloodstream.
The barrage of “stuff” in our bloodstreams confuses our immune systems. Antibodies are sent out in response to the undigested foods. They also attack other things like our organs and tissues.
So, it can effect the brain, thyroid, skin, or pretty much any body system.
They are a wonderful, life saving invention but when misused can sometimes do more harm than good. I remember being prescribed antibiotics over and over for “sinus infections”.
Candida overgrowth and allergies were more likely the root cause. I had both, thanks to a crappy diet, high stress job, and undiagnosed food sensitivities.
Kill both good and bad
Antibiotics are routinely being used for longer periods of time and probably too often. They kill bad bacteria but they also kill good bacteria in the gut.
The good bacteria keep our bodies and our immune systems in a nice healthy balance.
We can develop an overgrowth of bad bugs when the good bacteria are killed off. Therefore, we are more susceptible to parasitic infections, candida overgrowth, and other ugly things that cause unpleasant symptoms; including leaky gut.
As was previously noted, a reason for increased risk of food sensitivity may be leaky gut.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Do food intolerances and leaky gut cause autoimmune disorders or is it that autoimmune disease of unknown origin results in damaged intestines and chronic inflammation, hence causing the leaky gut and food sensitivities?
Beyond those first two thoughts on the possible causes of food reactions, we have a few others to consider.
3-The Chemical Diet / Pesticides in Food:
These are basically poison to our bodies. It’s no secret that over the years, we have increased usage of chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides when growing and processing food. Whether we know it or not, we are basically eating the chemical diet.
However, our bodies are smart. They know what’s good and what’s not and they react accordingly; letting us know that the chemical diet is really not good for us.
4-- Genetic modification
The human body may not recognize genetically modified foods as real foods. Perhaps this is because they have toxins and bacteria engineered into the plants.
Almost every processed food we eat has wheat, milk, corn, soy, and egg in it. In our fast food society, we end up eating the same foods too frequently which increases our risk of becoming sensitive. There is a reason the popularity of gluten and dairy free recipes is increasing.
To say that our guts are sensitive to stress is an understatement. Our bodies go into fight or flight mode when we are stressed and the hormones produced, increase our heart rates.
Blood flows more readily to our muscles to prepare us to run, or fight, and digestion slows or stops. The priority is to survive so digestion takes a back seat to survival.
William Whitehead, PhD did lots of research and found that what affects the stomach effects the brain and vice versa.
So, if we are mentally stressed it adversely affects our digestion and having poor digestive abilities directly affects our moods, thoughts, and behaviors.
Side note to further explain genetic modification:
Genetic modification is a process that uses biotechnology to manipulate the genes of organisms. GMO foods are an example of such manipulation. This is affecting crops of wheat, corn, soy, cotton, canola, and some others.
The result is a version of the same food, but with new, “desirable” characteristics. For example, they introduce flounder genes into tomato plants to make a crop that can withstand colder temperatures.
That's not all, they also inject bacteria genes into soy to make it resistant to pesticides.
This process has little testing proving long term safety for regular human consumption.
Most of us have heard the controversy around glyphosate. This harmful chemical is known for some undesirable side effects.
Glyphosate is being sprayed heavily on GMO crops for insect control as well as to help dry or dessicate, right before harvest.
Bt corn is enhanced with the bacteria bacillus thuringiensis which causes the corn to create its own poison that kills harmful insects. However, it may be killing other insects like the monarch butterfly.
Does it have the same effect inside of us? Is this bacteria poisoning our bodies as well?
Let me say again, the chemical diet equals bad news.
Time to Investigate
If this is all true, then it’s no wonder there is an increased prevalence of food sensitivity. No wonder you have to follow a strict gluten and dairy free diet just to feel normal.
Do you want to know more about genetic modification and the studies surrounding it? Click the link to this biomed review.
It is time
If you are experiencing some of the chronic health conditions mentioned in this post and have been unsuccessful in finding a diagnosis or treatment plan that works, it may be time to investigate the possibility of food sensitivity.
The Good News is....It may not be forever!
You don't have to avoid eggs or wheat or soy or dairy forever (as long as it's not a true food allergy or celiac disease)!
Sometimes avoiding the offending food for a number of weeks or months allows your system to heal.
The doctor told me we can think of it like this, "Your body can forget about the food if you avoid it for a while and not have the same adverse reaction after some time away from it."
So if enough time passes and healing happens, then you may be able to tolerate small amounts of the foods you were sensitive to.
You will have to be careful to rotate them back into your diet and only eat them every few days.
It is very important though, to also get off the chemical diet and eat clean, whole foods - minus the poisons.
Two products that may help when you eat foods you're sensitive to:
1-) Trienza for Food Sensitivities
Trienza is an enzyme supplement that may help you digest foods like gluten and dairy. For example, if you go out to eat and are not sure your food has gluten, dairy, or other sensitive food in it, take some and it may help minimize your symptoms.
You can read about it and purchase via this link if you wish, Trienza
2-) Takesumi for Food Sensitivities
Takasumi is bamboo charcoal. Takesumi can help minimize symptoms which is valuable if you're exposed to reactive foods. That can be found on this link, Takesumi
As always, please realize I am not a doctor and you should always consult yours before taking any new supplements or herbal medications.
If you are suffering from random symptoms that the doctor can't explain, an elimination diet may be worth a try.
What if your migraines are triggered by a food you never suspected? I actually know a lady who recently found out hers were from avocado by keeping a detailed food and symptom log.
Really? ...Avocado? ...Now I assumed those were so healthy and benign. Well, obviously not for her!
For me, it was nightshades, gluten, dairy, and soy! Yup that just stunk.
I'm happy to say I can indulge from time to time now (with the exception of gluten), without much trouble. I got tested and was positive for Celiac disease so no more gluten for me.
With that said, if I eat too much of the above foods, or eat them too often, I run into trouble. You will see why as you read on.
Overall, in case you're wondering why I even bothered to write about this, well, it's because this truly is the most accurate and the cheapest way to find out which foods bug you.
So What's it all About?
With this method, you eliminate all of your individual suspect foods completely for 3 to 4 weeks. That is to say, if you think dairy and chocolate are causing you to be sick, then start there. Everyone is different!
The theory is that it takes that much time for your body to start healing and to start to cool down the inflammatory response. Then you add the foods in, one at a time at least three times a day.
You need to be taking note of any symptoms that appear or reappear. If you have symptoms from that food, then it is a positive result. You are sensitive to that food and should avoid it.
You wait for the reaction to dissipate completely before trying to add another food back in.
Don't worry! We got you covered with some low carb recipes and tasty recipes for meal ideas. So, when you'r ready, you can jump right in.
Just make sure you look at the ingredients and substitute if needed to meet your own personal needs.
Which foods may someone eliminate with this method?
Some doctors recommend starting with a version of the following list. because they tend to be the most common foods or additives causing people trouble.
- Aspartame/Artificial sweeteners
- Artificial colors and dyes
As you can imagine, eliminating all of these foods at once is really hard. If you are not 100% compliant, then your results may not be reliable. This is mighty tough to do with all the possible cross contamination out there. You will need to plan ahead of course and probably start with some gluten and dairy free recipes as these are common items to be sensitive to. From there you can adept them to suit your individual needs.
You can find more guidance and elimination diet recipes below
If you want to know how to do your own elimination diet. Here is just one web site that gives a fairly detailed plan to follow. www.wholelifenutrition.net.
There are also several diagnostic options available of varying costs and accuracy, There are both blood and stool testing. These can be expensive and the accuracy is sometimes questionable.
The elimination diet is an accurate way to get a diagnosis but it takes a lot of work, discipline and organization. Initially it is very restrictive and you may be avoiding whole food groups.
Consider supplementation on a short term basis or making sure you add in something like almond milk with calcium and vitamin D when you are eliminating dairy.
Are you ready to be meticulous?
I hope so because to do this correctly, you have to be meticulous about logging your food intake and your symptoms.
Although we can become sensitive to almost anything, the following foods seem to be more common culprits; wheat, gluten, milk, egg, corn, soy, nightshades, aspartame, MSG, colors and dyes. Once you get your diagnosis, it is important to avoid the foods that cause you symptoms.
Be careful not to fall into the pattern (like I did) of eating the same things every day, no matter the season. Recall that overexposure to some foods can increase your chances of being sensitive to it.
For me, I soon became sensitive to nuts because I was eating them several times in a day. A rotational and seasonal diet of mostly whole organic, anti-inflammatory foods has been very helpful in managing my own health.
With a diagnosis of multiple food sensitivities comes a new lifestyle. This new lifestyle is managed with pre-planning, time management, smart grocery shopping, and doing more cooking and food prep at home.
You will be pleased to know that we did not starve when we did this; even with all the different food issues we are working around in our household.
In other posts on our blog, lettucethrive.com, we share money saving ideas, more low carb, gluten and dairy free recipes that are adaptable to different food sensitivities, and other useful tips on incorporating this lifestyle into your busy schedules.
So without further adieu, I hope you find these ideas useful and that this list provides some assistance.
Adaptable Gluten and Diary Free Recipes-
Now, here are a few meal ideas for you! Most of these are low carb recipes as well.
- Two eggs scrambled and cooked together with chopped onion, spinach, and organic turkey breast and berries on the side
- Paleo toast with organic
peanut butter and an Apple
- 2 Boiled eggs, organic bacon, half- banana
- Berrylicious omelet
- Peanut Butter Banana muffins
- Smoothie-be creative but watch out! Many smoothie recipes are loaded with sugar. Even natural fruit sugar can become too much
- Coconut flour pancakes
- Blueberry Muffins
Lunch Ideas-Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes
- Chicken or turkey Lettuce wrap
- Left overs from dinner which sounds so basic but truly, this is a huge time saver!
- Gluten and Dairy Free Soup with paleo crackers
- Salad with boiled eggs, meat/ salmon, and seeds of your choice
- Burger in lettuce leaf bun
- Chicken mince
- Stir fry with chicken and vegetables
Dinner Ideas-Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes
- Bison steak with sweet potato, broccoli
- Chicken adobo (soy free)
- Fish with mango salsa
- Gluten and Diary Free Thai Chicken
- Spaghetti Squash "Spaghetti" and Gluten Free Meatballs
- Chicken Tenders Gluten Free (optional dairy free)
- Mexican Turkey Chili
- Dark Chocolate
- Avocado dip with celery/carrots
- Flavored Pumpkin Seeds are great!
- Any Paleo Bars, the brand we like is literally called, Paleo by Julian Bakery
- Trail mix
- Coconut crisps are sweet and crunchy and you can find them in almost any grocery store.
- Go raw snacks My favorite flavors are the ginger or chocolate. I would not go for the pizza one.
For more ideas on Prepping Meals,you can read this post. which is focused on saving money and time when trying to eat healthy. Also, for some more gluten and dairy free recipes (often soy and nightshade free as well), check out our recipes page.
*Disclaimer Elimination Diet: The information provided in this website is for informational purposes. It is based on my own personal experiences and opinions. I am not a medical doctor and what is written should not be used to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. The product links are not meant to be construed as medications or treatments and you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements, herbal products, or starting exercise programs