Here’s a sentiment we hear with relative frequency from our first time cleanse participants: “I don’t have allergies.”
Most of us think of allergies as the bodily reactions that present themselves as hives, rashes, dry eyes, congestion, or a runny nose. What most people don’t realize is that sensitivities to food can also surface in the form of anxiety, depression, joint pain, asthma, bad breathe, body twitches, diarrhea, fatigue, brain fog, hyperactivity, puffy face, sluggish digestion and even weight gain — to name just a few.
My parents have a story about me as a toddler that’s a telling anecdote. As they tell it, I was a very easy going child, but once, at a friend’s house, not long after eating a meal containing wheat, I became agitated and combative and ended up biting my friend. My mom, who was ahead of her time, understood that my behavioral reactions were related to my food sensitivities. As I got older, these reactions shifted from hyperactivity to fatigue and depression. With hormonal shifts and aging our bodies can respond differently to the same food.
I’m an extreme example of food sensitivities, and the subtle nature of most peoples’ physical and emotional responses is likely the reason that of the estimated 90% of people who have some kind of allergy or sensitivity, the same percentage aren’t aware of their allergies.
Theron Randolph, recognized as the father of environmental medicine and the field of clinical ecology writes, “Most food allergies, by their very nature, are masked and hidden. It is hidden from the patient, hidden from his or her family, and hidden from the medical profession in general. It is said that often the solution to a difficult problem is right in front of your nose, but you cannot see it. In the case of food allergies, the source of the problem is literally in front of you, in the form of some commonly eaten substance that is bringing on and perpetuating chronic symptom. In my experience, food allergies are one of the greatest health problems in our country.”
The most effective method to test for allergies is to eliminate typical allergens from your diet and then reintroduce them systematically to see how you feel once you’ve eaten them again. This is one of our approaches in the Conscious Cleanse program. The truth is that most standard allergy tests aren’t precise enough to detect all of the foods that are causing problems, so the best way to explore your reactions to food, is to do the work yourself – to participate actively in a process of self-discovery and learn to recognize your body’s signs and signals. You know better than anyone how you feel, what it’s like to be in your body – and so you are your own best healer.
Below I’ve compiled a list of the most forward thinking and often not-so-obvious ways to identify that you might have an allergy or sensitivity.
With gluten-free kisses,
P.S. Leave a comment below and tell us if you have discovered an allergy that helped improve your health.
You might have an allergy if…
- You say “I can’t live without my (fill in the blank)”. Foods that you love and crave the most can be sabotaging your health. Many people with food allergies or sensitivities are actually “addicted” to the foods causing the problems. One of the sneaky things about allergens is that often, when you remove them from your diet, you actually feel worse – at least initially. Consider the effects of alcohol. When you wake up after a night of overindulgence feeling foggy and sluggish, it’s the Bloody Mary that takes the edge off. Food allergies work just like this so-called “hair of the dog” effect.
- You’ve tried several diets, eat “pretty healthy”, exercise regularly and still can’t seem to lose weight. When you’re eating foods that don’t work in your body, you become inflamed. That inflammation causes you to hold on to weight no matter how few calories you’re consuming or how much exercise you’re doing.
- You feel a bit “puffy”. Have you ever felt like you puffed up like a blowfish, literally overnight? Your pants feel too tight, your face looks a bit round and your hands may even be swollen. This puffiness is your body’s response to allergens. When you’re inflamed, you retain water, resulting in what I always refer to as the “puffy factor.”
- Your health isn’t what you want it to be. Although not glaring, you may have less severe problems — things like bags under your eyes, skin blemishes, low energy, inability to concentrate, constipation or slight emotional highs and lows. You might also experience more severe problems like depression, anxiety, high cholesterol, fertility problems, insomnia, diabetes or other serious conditions. The food you put in your body severely affects your health profile. If, on a fairly regular basis, you just don’t feel 100%, you’re probably eating something that you’re sensitive to.
- Your “seasonal” hayfever seems to stretch past the season. Many people experience allergies in spring or fall — the runny nose, dry eyes and sinus congestion. And maybe you experience some of these symptoms all year long. Congestion is commonly related to a dairy allergy; a runny nose can be related to a peanut allergy; and congestion is an inflammatory reaction. Start digging deeper into the symptoms you are experiencing to notice when they are showing up.