Examples: Gluten-free, Casein-free, Rotation diets, Elimination diets. Any food can cause unwelcome symptoms, ranging from familiar problems like asthma to mysterious syndromes, such as fibromyalgia. Learn which foods are most likely to irritate sensitive individuals.
STRATEGY: Removal of potential dietary culprits
FOODS: All foods are allowed except the ones suspected of causing problems.
The most common food sensitivities are:
- Gluten (a protein found in wheat and similar grains)
- Casein (dairy protein)
- Soy and soy products
- Corn and corn products (including corn syrup)
Many of us are sensitive to carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates. Read about carbohydrate sensitivity and take my carbohydrate sensitivity quiz by clicking here.
Food sensitivities can cause an impressive variety of physical problems; just about any bodily issue could be caused by an irritating food. Some examples include: migraine, rashes, stomach pain, sinus congestion, fatigue, digestive problems, ankle swelling, insomnia, itching, restless legs, bloating, sore throat, muscle aches, reflux, asthma, ADHD, and dark circles under the eyes.
These are essentially diet experiments that people can use to figure out whether certain foods are responsible for their symptoms. One or more foods are removed from the diet for several days to several weeks, and a diet journal is used to record symptoms over time.
Once the problem food is identified, it is up to the individual how often to eat the food and how much of it to eat. Some people discover that they can tolerate small amounts of certain foods, but if they eat too much of it, or if they eat it too often, symptoms will occur.
The most important benefit of these diets for people with food sensitivities is the ability to CONTROL how they feel because they understand how foods affect them.
These diets can be very frustrating; they require patience and careful recordkeeping. For people who choose to eliminate one food at a time, it can sometimes take many different experiments to figure out which food(s) is causing trouble. For this reason, some people prefer to begin with very strict elimination diets that remove lots of potential culprits all at once and then to put one food back in at a time, however these diets are very restrictive and can be hard to follow.
Also challenging is that some of the most common food culprits are found in a wide variety of processed foods, and it is not always obvious which ones. Labels can be very confusing. For example, gluten is a hidden ingredient in many foods but rarely is the word “gluten” listed among the ingredients. Gluten is not just found in wheat, but in other grains and in many vegetarian meat substitutes and processed foods; sometimes it may only be listed on the label as “filler.” Another prime example is that “non-dairy creamer” is anything but—it contains sodium caseinate, which is made from dairy protein.
To make matters more complicated, some foods can cause symptoms right away, or only for a few hours, whereas other foods may have delayed effects or cause prolonged symptoms. For example, casein can cause symptoms for many days after eating it. Slowly digested foods such as grains and nuts may not cause symptoms until a day or two after eating them. This is why it is so important to keep track of symptoms in a journal, on a spreadsheet, or with a smartphone.