Food intolerances and allergies are definitely on the rise, according to Allergy UK, and the most recent figures show that in the last decade, the number of us who have true food allergies has doubled. Many of us are also living with symptoms that could be caused by undiagnosed food intolerances and allergies, and the first step towards learning how to live with them is to find out what they are.
Lots of people think that the way they feel is ‘normal’ even though they seem to be living with low-level symptoms all the time. Lethargy, tummy upsets, rashes and headaches aren’t a non-negotiable part of modern life, we weren’t meant to feel this way, and once you start looking more closely at what you eat and how it affects you, you’ll be amazed at the difference a simple everyday food can have on your wellbeing.
Intolerance to a food (or more than one food) is a lot more common than a true food allergy, like an allergy to nuts or shellfish, and the effects are slower to develop, so it can be hard to pin down what’s causing you to feel ill. Sometimes keeping a diary of your symptoms and what you’ve eaten might help you see a pattern. Personally, I noticed bloating and indigestion after eating certain foods, extremely disrupted sleep patterns and generally feeling of ‘brain fog’. The brain fog and fatigue felt similar to the feeling of a hangover, despite not having had any alcohol the previous evening! Being intolerant to dairy and egg I would know if I had been accidentally ‘intoleranced’ and I often refer to it as a ‘dairy hangover’. There are just 24 hours difference between the two pictures of me above- before and after an evening of celebrations that involved processed foods and alcohol. It took over a week for my body to get back to normal!
If you keep track of what you eat and any symptoms like IBS, diarrhoea, bloating and headaches, you might see that you feel worse after a pasta meal, something cheesy or even wine (yes, alcohol intolerance is a thing!). One thing to bear in mind about alcohol is a lot of it contains gluten and lots of red wine contains egg protein and milk (believe it or not). If you have unknown intolerances to these things you are likely to feel rubbish after just one or two drinks depending on the severity of your intolerance/allergy.
The good news is that once you know what’s making you feel bad, you can start planning how to change your diet so that you’re soon feeling healthy and full of vitality again.It’s easy to find out if you’re intolerant to any foods. Lots of places offer allergy testing. Once you have your results you have the knowledge you need to start making the changes that will help bring you back to feeling healthy and well again. You might be surprised at how alive and energetic you feel once you give your body a rest from the foods that have been making you feel lethargic and out of sorts all the time.