“We eat a lot of different things over a day, so it can be hard to isolate which food, if it is a food, that is making you unwell. There are a few strategies that can be used to determine which food doesn’t agree with you. It is a good idea to figure out whether you need to eliminate it from your diet completely or just moderate it. Read on to learn the best methods for finding out which food is making you feel unwell.
See a doctor
First things first, if you find yourself feeling unwell regularly the best thing to do is see a doctor. A doctor will be able to help you determine whether it is food that is making you sick or something else entirely. They will also be able to distinguish if you have a food intolerance or a food allergy. This is an important distinction to make as a food intolerance can be uncomfortable, but a food allergy can potentially be potentially life-threatening. Both a non IgE mediated allergic reaction and an intolerance can cause nausea and stomach pains, but hives, a swollen throat, and itching or tingling of the lips are all signs you're having an IgE mediated allergic reaction which is more dangerous. If you think you have an allergy, seek professional advice.
Start a food diary
For at least a week, make a record of everything you eat or drink, and when and what symptoms you have. After a week or so, look for correlations that may suggest causation. With an IgE allergy mediated reaction, symptoms will appear almost immediately. However, another type of allergy response, which is non IgE mediated may take several hours to occur. Food intolerances may also take time to manifest themselves. Remember to always check the ingredients list on any packaged foods you consume. It may not be the food as a whole, but one ingredient that's triggering your reaction.
Start an elimination diet
If you have suspicions about which food may be causing a reaction, stop eating it. If the reaction to the food is severe then see an allergy specialist. If the reaction to a food is resulting in feeling unwell or uncomfortable then slowly add this food back into the diet after a two-week delay. If the symptoms return then you probably have identified which food is the problem. Check food labels, as the ingredient you are avoiding may be in some items you wouldn’t expect it to be. Try and avoid coffee and alcohol during this period, as they can upset the stomach and confuse symptoms.
Get an allergy test
The only way to determine if you have an intolerance is through the elimination and reintroduction of foods. However, you can be tested for food allergies. A skin prick or blood test can be performed to help diagnose allergies – either by observing reactions on the skin or by measuring the amount of IgE antibody produced to a specific allergen in the blood. Sometimes allergists will introduce the food in a controlled environment if the diagnosis is not clear.
An allergy test alone does note diagnose or rule out an allergy. The results need to be interpreted by an experienced doctor or allergy specialist in the context of your symptoms. Negative reactions may not mean it is OK to eat this food. Consulting with your specialist is key.
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