Some people can eat what they want without worry — but for many others, especially those of us with autoimmune diseases, chronic illnesses, and/or other inflammatory conditions, certain foods can trigger different reactions and symptoms. Some of those reactions and symptoms could be mild to the point where you might not associate them with what you’re eating, while others could be more severe and require medical attention.

What foods tend to be the root of common sensitivities? Take a look below and think about what you eat. If you’ve had any symptoms like diarrhea, rashes, headaches, bloating, fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, acid reflux, runny nose, skin flushing or acne after eating something, you might be sensitive to one of these foods or ingredients. The best way to find out if you are sensitive to one or more of these is by doing an elimination diet to see what’s causing it and then getting with a  doctor or coach to help you sort it out. 

You also can look into a variety of food sensitivity tests like this one from EverlyWell or work with a functional medicine practitioner who can order one and help you sort through your results.

Here is a list of the more common food allergies and/or sensitivities that you can use to start sorting through your own symptoms.

1. Dairy

One common dairy sensitivity is known as lactose intolerance. It happens when you have a shortage of lactase enzymes that prevent you from digesting milk and dairy products. Luckily, it’s very simple to find dairy alternatives these days, so ditching dairy from your diet isn’t as difficult as it once was.

I first learned of my own lactose intolerance and whey (milk) allergy in 2009. This completely redesigned the way I was eating and had me researching alternatives and supplements that can help make up for the lack of these enzymes in my body. Now, my son (who is 10 at the time of this post) is starting to have his own challenges with lactose so do not be surprised if you see this problem run in families.

2. Gluten

So many people are going gluten-free these days though the most important group that must are those with Celiac Disease. Gluten is what the proteins in wheat, rye, triticale, and barley are called. Those with a wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should avoid items with gluten.  Again, it’s so easy to find gluten-free items that you shouldn’t have a problem going gluten-free without missing out on much. However, please do still remember to read the labels of gluten-free products just like you would with any other food product. Unfortunately, some companies will create “gluten-free” products using alternative ingredients that are still inflammatory for your body. Sometimes, ingredients like corn, corn flours, cornmeal, highly-processed soy, soy flours, and so on can be worse for your body than actual gluten. 

3. Caffeine

While caffeine is safe for most, some people are very sensitive to caffeine. You’ll know it if you react to consuming it even if it is just a small amount. Notice how you feel after you drink a cup of black coffee. Leave out the dairy and sugar, if you usually use it, so that you know you aren’t reacting to one of those ingredients and can instead, evaluate the coffee for the caffeine.  If you drink black coffee and have symptoms, you may just be sensitive to caffeine or the type of coffee you are brewing.

Speaking of coffee, if you need an organic and non-contaminated version, you can check out Purity Coffee here.

4. FODMAPs

Representing “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols,” these are short-chain carbs found in natural contents of foods. They can be poorly absorbed in your small intestine and then go to your large intestine. It’s here that they ferment which can create gas, bloating and discomfort. Apples, soft cheeses, honey, milk, fructose, bread, and beans are some of the most common FODMAPs out there.

5. Eggs

If you aren’t allergic to eggs but have trouble digesting them, you may have a sensitivity. If diarrhea and abdominal pain arise when you eat them, try avoiding eggs and see if your symptoms dissipate. 

Histamine is also one of the most common associated food sensitivities. For those with no problems, this chemical in your body works as it should for your immune, digestive, and nervous systems. If you have a sensitivity, though, it builds up in the body and has no way to escape. Foods to avoid this problem include fermented foods, cured meat, citrus, aged cheese, smoked fish, vinegar, and avocados, to name a few. 

Others may find aspartame, MSG, food colorings, yeast, and sugar alcohols to cause the symptoms that are consistent with food sensitivities. If you notice a pattern when you eat the things you eat, try keeping a food journal so you can start to eliminate these common sensitivity-causing foods to help you (hopefully) feel better faster. 

The best bet is to stick with organic whole foods, ditching the processed, packaged foods as much as possible.  

If you decide to look into allergy and/or sensitivity testing, please remember to keep your medical team updated and aware. Please also do not be afraid to reach out to them or another specialist, dietician, nutritionist, or coach to help support you as you look into these foods (and others, as well).

Do you think you have a sensitivity to any foods?

Reach out and let me know.

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