Is it a food allergy?


Have you ever eaten a meal and felt really, really ill afterwards and have no idea why? You are not alone.

Thousands of people suffer from food allergies or intolerances and may not even know that they have them as they remain either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as IBS for example. The main food allergies can be divided very basically into the following categories:

Gluten: Sufferers are called ‘Coeliac’. This is a disease in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food. Any foods containing wheat, rye, barley or any food made with these grains are considered to contain gluten. Common foods include pasta, bread, cereal and crackers. There are many gluten-free product options that sufferers opt for instead.

Wheat: Wheat intolerance differs from coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is a lifelong intolerance to gliaden, part of the gluten proteins that are a large part of the grain of wheat, rye and barley. Strict adherence to a gluten-free diet brings complete resolution of symptoms. Those with wheat intolerance will still experience adverse symptoms from gluten-free products, as the remaining part of the wheat will be affecting them. They may, or may not, be able to eat rye, barley and oats, that are part of the wheat family. As with many other food intolerances, they may be able to reintroduce wheat back into the diet after a period of elimination. Foods likely to contain wheat include meat, fish, sauces, desserts and flour/pasta. This may sound like you cannot eat anything at all! But there are wheat-free versions of practically every product you might want to eat. And the good news is that you can eat meats and fish without coating, and jellies and sorbets as dessert.

Dairy: Known often as ‘Lactose Intolerant’. Dairy products such as milk, cream and cheese are likely to cause you to feel unwell. There are many Soya alternatives to Dairy which taste just as good (trust me, as a victim to this – I know!) If calcium deficiency is a worry for you then invest in regularly taking calcium supplements to keep your joints healthy.

It may well be the case that one of these food groups do not agree with you and may cause one or more of many distressing symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or migraines. It is not normal to feel like this and if you keep a record of which meals have triggered this, a pattern will soon emerge as to what could be causing it.

You should visit your doctor in order to be sent for a professional, thorough allergy test, which is more than likely to confirm your suspicions. Don’t forget hidden ingredients can fall under your radar, when eating a cake for example, it could well be the egg or the milk or the cream causing your ailments. Sadly it can sometimes feel like a process of elimination.

Everybody is different and reacts differently to different things, you may be able to eat cream but not handle milk and so on – there is an unlimited variety of allergens out there. If you think your doctor may have misdiagnosed your symptoms, or you hadn’t considered food allergy before – think about what it is in particular within your diet that tends to cause you illness and most importantly do not suffer in silence.