Managing Food Intolerances
Last Updated: 3rd February 2023 · Written by Donna Mastriani
Many of us live with food intolerances. In fact, in the UK alone, there are believed to be over 2 million people suffering from one and sadly, a great deal of those don’t even know they have a problem. However, the good news is that there are ways to find out, and also effective methods to manage the issue.
Managing Food Intolerances
‘Intolerance’ and ‘Allergy’ have become quite interchangeable in modern parlance and it is easy to see how some people confuse the two, as some of the symptoms are quite similar. You can quickly identify your own individual issues by taking an affordable and effective IgE and IgG4 blood analysis test for just £74.99 by visiting the Lifelab Testing website or for a slower way, you could keep a food and symptom diary.
By tracking your exact food intake and noting precisely when adverse effects are experienced, it will soon narrow down where your problems lie. Some adverse reactions to offending foods can occur slowly over time, which will show as a general trend and can also be picked up with this kind of self-monitoring.
Plan for Your Daily Life
When you are managing food intolerances and you have identified the food you are intolerant to, it really helps to have a plan for how you’re going to avoid it. It’s a relatively easy task when at home, but can become more difficult when you’re out and about, especially if you’re going to a restaurant where you’ll not have full control of what goes into what you’re eating. Bread, dairy and potatoes are particularly difficult to completely eliminate when away from home, as many pre-prepared foods contain them.
If you know what restaurant you are going to be visiting, an effective step to take is to call them and ask what options you have to side-step the food that affects you. Often, there are set options on the menu dedicated to those with exactly this kind of problem, so go and find out!
How Long to Avoid Foods?
The question of how long to avoid particular foodstuffs will vary greatly from person to person and on the severity of the intolerance. Sometimes intolerances lie in foods that are a favourite of the individual in question and complete avoidance is not preferred. In this case, you’ll get a feel for how long to cut it out for by adopting a trial and error method.
A good rule of thumb is to wait until the symptoms disappear and then try a little, to see how much of the effects return. From this point, it is just a matter of self-regulation, driven by the severity of the reactions.
What Causes an Intolerance?
There are a number of different types of intolerances and sensitivities and therefore they are not all caused in the same way. IgG4 food intolerance involves the immune system and the increased level of these antibodies causes symptoms. There are those, which are enzyme-mediated, meaning the body is lacking sufficient amounts of a certain enzyme to break down a food component, like lactose intolerance. In this condition, the body lacks sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase to breakdown the lactose in milk and milk products. Histamine intolerance, similarly is also enzyme-mediated, with symptoms stemming from a build-up of histamine and the inability to break this down.
Not all intolerances and sensitivities are fully understood as yet, as is the case with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity; the mechanisms and causes behind this particular condition are not fully comprehended and still debated.
The effects of food intolerances are largely avoidable and the first step to dealing with yours is to identify it. Whether it’s via a Lifelab blood analysis test or using your own self-monitoring, the sooner you take action, the sooner you’ll be free of the unpleasant reactions that come with food intolerances.