Last week I talked about food sensitivities and some common clues If you missed it, you can access the whole post by clicking here.
If you weren’t totally convinced that you need to address any potential sensitivities now…I have one more piece of news for you that may grab your attention. Perhaps it isn’t worth it to you to give up dairy just because it makes you run to the bathroom. But what if I gave you some extra incentive for addressing these troublesome foods?
What if I told you that your food sensitivities may be making you fat!
Because, as I always say, weight gain isn’t all about calories. It very often has to do with how the foods you choose are interacting with your body.
Let me quickly explain how a food sensitivity can translate to extra pounds. When the body reacts negatively to a food, there will be some type of immune response that will lead to internal inflammation. In short bursts, inflammation is a wonderful, protective mechanism to defend the body against infection or injury. It helps localize and eliminate bodily threats. Yet when you have a food sensitivity, the body becomes inflamed over and over as it reacts repeatedly to certain foods.
Ok, so now I’m going to get to the REALLY interesting part.
It might seem a no-brainer that having the body in a constant state of inflammation can’t be a good thing. But what might not be quite so obvious is how it affects weight.
Inflammatory markers (released during times of inflammation) directly interact with other hormones and chemicals in the body to not only slow the metabolism, but program the body to store more fat. Remember, in per-historic times, people died easily from infections commonly cured today and were also very vulnerable to starvation. Storing fat to get through a bodily stress helped the body sustain the energy to fight to survive.
What this means today is that when you have constant inflammation, you are prone to immediately store your calories as fat. This makes it really difficult to lose weight long term, no matter how strict you are on your diet.
Ok, so do I have your attention?
If you think there is any chance you are experiencing a food sensitivity, it is imperative that you address this. As a reminder, food sensitivities can’t be identified by a blood test as I mentioned last week. The best way to identify a food sensitivity is through an elimination diet.
If you forget how to do an elimination diet, I will briefly describe it again.
You will eliminate all foods that you think may be causing you problems for three full weeks. You must eliminate 100% of the problematic foods. If there are even traces of the food in your diet, you may still be experiencing a reaction which will confuse the results. If you have no clue what foods may be causing you troubles, eliminate soy, gluten, eggs, dairy, corn and peanuts as these foods tend to frequently cause problems. During elimination, you are looking to see if any physical or mental symptoms frequently experienced go away. This can be anything from brain fog, to season allergies, to skin problems and digestive disruption and so on.
Then, when the three weeks is up, you will start re-introducing the foods one by one.
You must consume only a small amount of the introduced food in complete isolation of the other foods you have omitted during the elimination diet. Then you wait 72 hours to see if any reaction occurs. If any symptoms come back, you may be reacting to this food. That food should be eliminated again. Then you re-introduce it a second time to see if the symptoms come back again. You introduce all the eliminated foods this way. Make sure to wait at least 72 hours apart until all eliminated foods have been tested.
Foods that have been found to be problem foods will need to be eliminated for a period of time, but there is a good chance you will be able to tolerate them in small amounts someday. You will know you can tolerate the food again when you re-introduce it after a period of elimination and there is no reaction.
So what are you waiting for!
Food sensitivities are really a hidden epidemic. While it may seem overwhelming to avoid a loved food for any period of time, the long term health rewards make it worth it. As we age, imbalances that were once very much under control can become raging monsters. So even if the symptoms aren’t overwhelming now, it is important to address them as they may become worse with time. Heal your health for a vibrant, healthy future.
Beth Niebuhr says
Thank you for your good info on food sensitivities. You gave us a great plan for determining which foods we are sensitive to. I don’t think I am but I will keep this guide for later.
I’m glad you don’t think you have any sensitivities Beth. Surely not everyone does. You can always use this as a reference if symptoms start to appear.
Donna Janke says
Great information on food sensitivities and weight gain. I hadn’t thought much about how reaction to a food sensitivity might affect weight gain, but it makes sense. I think I may have some sensitivities and will need to look more into that.
Hi Donna. Yes, there is very little information about this out there. You are definitely not alone in not knowing about food sensitivities and weight gain. If you suspect you may have a sensitivity, you should definitely try the elimination diet. You can really gain from eliminating foods that are causing you problems.
Marquita Herald says
Well yes, you certain grabbed my attention Erica. This is so interesting and I have never read such a thorough explanation about food allergies before. Thanks for the great advice!
Your welcome Marquita. I hope this was helpful in some way!
Sabrina Q. says
Great post! Not many people know about food sensitivities. I know when I stay away from dairy, I feel lighter and less bloated. There is something to this elimination diet. I wish more people would try it. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, dairy is such a problem for so many people. The difficult thing about dairy is that people often think they are avoiding it, without realizing that dairy is added to absolutely everything. If you start reading labels, it is really shocking to see how much dairy most of us consume.
I have decided I am sensitive to your favorite beverage; yep, coffee. I rarely drink it but when I do I no longer feel myself. I feel uncomfortable and full. I don’t have to eliminate other foods as I think coffee is the culprit however if I am wrong I will use the method you laid out.
Oh no Tim…you can’t be sensitive to coffee! How horrible. The good news, as I said previously, is often after you eliminate something for a period of time, you can tolerate it in small amounts in the future. I’ll think positive thoughts that works for you!
Ken Dowell says
An elimination diet does indeed seem overwhelming to me. Fortunately I don’t think I show any signs of a food sensitivity. But I will stay tuned to these pages for more information.
A big diet change is always scary. The good news about an elimination diet is that it only lasts 3 weeks. It is difficult at first to build a diet around a newly found food sensitivity. With time, it becomes clear that there are many ways to work around any food to create a diet you enjoy. If it were to ever come to that.
Erica, what a wonderfully detailed post – put into language everyone can understand. I don’t have an excess weight problem, if anything I’m underweight but that doesn’t mean I can’t use this information either. Peanut allergies have been around for some time but the other ones – gluten, dairy, soy and corn are ‘modern’ allergies and becoming more common. Good idea to see which one gives you the most trouble and remove it completely from your diet.
Yes, there are many modern food sensitivities. I believe it is all the processed food that we are eating. Almost everything we eat has added dairy, gluten and soy. For that reason, we are eating these foods in excess of any other time in history. Additionally, we are consuming tons of antibiotics through our food and for self treatments and taking birth control pills which all compromise the gut lining and increase the chance of reacting to a food. I think all this is here to stay, so it is interesting to see how society will continue to react to food as we go forward.
Jacqueline Gum says
This is so timely Erica and I agree that for now, elimination tests are the only way to really determine sensitivities. When they figure out a way to test them that is solid, there will also be more treatments. There must be a reason why this seems so much more prevalent these days than in the past. Actually, there are probably several reasons and likely things that mankind has done to itself!
It would be really wonderful if they could come up with any easy test for food sensitivities. I hear so many people complain that they think they might be reacting to a food, only to dismiss it when they learn they don’t have an allergy. It would be nice to have another test so people may eventually get more accurate information about whether or not they are having problems with a food.
William Rusho says
Another great post. I am going to get the material about food sensitivity. Thank you for sharing this vital information with us.
Thank you William. I hope the material is helpful to you in some way!
Meredith @ The Palette Muse says
It cracks me up that health problems galore may not get someone’s attention, but you tell them that solving those problems may help them lose weight, and suddenly they’re on the edge of their chair. (Myself included!) All kidding aside, I’m looking forward to checking out your worksheets…
Meredith, that is exactly why, after earning a Master’s in nutrition, I decided to go into weight loss. I figured, what better way to convince people to get healthy than to lure them with weight loss! I think it is hard to envision a vague health benefit, but weight loss is certainly very tangible.
When during last post, I mentioned about my acne problem. I tried your technique to know more about my body.
I started eliminating food and even lost 1 kg. in 5 days. Yesterday I eat couple of spoons of rice and I was amazed to see that my weight increased back to same number over the night that I reduced in 5 days.
I did not get much idea about this situation and still thinking. I am feeling now that after eating rice my body swell??? Am I right??? Am I allergic to rice? But being Kashmiri, I am eating rice from my childhood, everyday. By leaving for 5 days reduced 1 kg and then overnight shoot up back again.
What this is indicating, any idea?
Thank you so much for a great post.
Andleeb, was weight loss the only side effect you experienced from giving up rice? I will say this – while you can be sensitive to any food, rice is not a food that is considered high risk for sensitivities. That doesn’t mean you aren’t sensitive, but it doesn’t cause problems in a large number of people. There may be other reasons for the overnight weight gain, as we naturally go up and down small amounts for many reasons. And as women, we may gain weight during certain times of the month. When I talk about food sensitivities and weight gain, it usually isn’t immediate weight gain, but an imbalance that eventually leads to inflammation and increased pounds.
Having said that, if you feel you reacted to the rice, you should eliminate it for 3 weeks. Keep a diary during that time of what happens to your body during elimination including how you feel. After 3 weeks, reintroduce the rice and compare how feel after eating rice to how you felt during the time of elimination. If again, you notice a reaction, you will want to eliminate it for a few months and try again. Even if you react to a food, it doesn’t always mean you need to avoid it forever unless it is a true allergy. Many times you just need to give your body a rest from it for some months and then consume it in smaller amounts and not everyday. I hope this helps. Let me know if it doesn’t.
Pamela Chollet says
I’ve been hit hard by allergies this year and the mornings are very difficult. Now I’m wondering if it’s something I’m eating that’s exacerbating the problem. I’ve signed up for your worksheets maybe I’ll discover a new food sensitivity.
Hi Pamela. Yes, it definitely sounds like you could be reacting to a food. If an elimination diet doesn’t provide any relief, I would at a least try eating more whole foods and less processed foods (which maybe you do already). Processed diets can definitely exacerbate allergies.
I know my best friend would agree with your 100%. She swears her body goes through hell when she has lunch duty and has to eat school lunch for a week since she’s usually very mindful about her diet.
Susan Coopet says
What great information this is regarding food sensitivities and it’s possible effect on weight gain. As others have said, I too hadn’t thought about how a reaction to food could affect weight gain. I can see how that might be the case. I’m not aware of any food sensitivities I may have. I have a dr.’s appointment next week. I think it would worth a bit of conversation. 🙂
I think that there is a connection between food sensitivities and all the food manipulation going on with GMO’s. It can be difficult to identify some sensitivities when appropriate labeling is not required. Yes. I will stop here, but you get my point. Blame Lenie for starting this conversation. LOL
I’m fairly sure my sensitivity is to dairy! So, sadly, no macaroni and cheese for me. Once upon a time that was my favorite food. I’ve tried giving up wheat, but I don’t seem to have the reaction that some people have (sluggishness and fatigue on wheat, more energy without).