Signs You May Have A Food Intolerance

by Erica Florentine

Some of us might chalk up a sour stomach to nerves or thinking that we’ve eaten something rotten, but if your body is regularly having strange symptoms that you think might be triggers by certain foods or beverages, you should consider some of these signs you have a food intolerance.

What exactly is a food intolerance? According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), a food intolerance — or a food sensitivity — “occurs when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food.” The AAAAI says this can lead to symptoms including intestinal gas, abdominal pain or diarrhea.

Before we get into it, let’s first acknowledge that a food intolerance is different than a food allergy. Intolerance involves the digestive system, while an allergy involves the immune system. That said, if someone is intolerant of to a certain food, their body would have a difficult time digesting it. However, if someone is allergic to that same food, it could be life-threatening due to a reaction called anaphylaxis. While you’re not going to die from a food intolerance, it can certainly make eating and drinking certain things a complete nightmare for you body. By realizing the signs, pinpointing the particular food culprit and making the necessary changes to your diet, you could soon find yourself feeling a lot better (and healthier!).

Here are six signs you might have a food intolerance. If any of these seem all-too-familiar to you, you might consider keeping a journal to access what foods you believe to be causing the problem and then visit your doctor ASAP to get it checked out once and for all.

1. You’re Always Rushing To The Bathroom

Are you someone who has to plan out where you’re going each day based on the accessibility and quality of bathrooms? If you’ve ever skipped an outing with friends because you know the restaurant they’re going to doesn’t have the right kind of bathroom, I’m talking to you. You’re always on the hunt for the restroom, and then after you reach it, you experience gas and/or diarrhea, just to name a few. According to Allergy UK, these symptoms could mean you're suffering from a food intolerance. Why? Gas and diarrhea are primary symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), according to WebMD, and IBS is known to flair when certain foods are consumed.

2. You Regularly Break Out In Rashes

A lot of times when we think about rashes caused by food, we immediately associate them with food allergies. However, rashes apply to food intolerances as well, specifically gluten intolerance, according to The most common skin condition you might notice with an intolerance is dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), which causes a rash and itching on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, and buttocks. It is particularly common amongst those who test positive for celiac disease — or gluten intolerance.

While rashes might be more immediate when they’re due to food allergies, they tend to show up later when caused by a food intolerance. When we’re intolerant to a certain food, our bodies can handle a certain amount of it. However, if we eat too much of it and/or eat it too often, we might soon see a problem.

3. You Have Widespread And Chronic Muscle And Joint Pain

I was actually shocked to learn that eating foods we’re intolerant to can cause something like a muscle or joint pain, but it’s true. Do you notice that you’ve been experiencing muscle or joint pain that is actually negatively affecting your daily routine? It could be possible you’re suffering from fibromyalgia, a condition that is roughly 50 percent of the time made worse by eating certain foods. According to Everyday Health, trigger foods and substances that could make the condition flair up are sugar, caffeine, gluten and dairy, amongst others.

4. The Stomach Cramps You Endure Sometimes Are Unbearable

As previously mentioned, if you have a food allergy, symptoms are likely to appear right away. However, if you’ve been eating or drinking something in large quantities or often, it will begin to appear. That said, food intolerance is often dose related, according to Cleveland Clinic. That said, if you notice your stomach cramps up horrible a few hours after eating, it could be a sure sign the type of food you consumed is not digesting well in your body. According to WebMD, a certain type of fructose — a certain type of sugar found naturally in fruits and honeys and the main ingredient in high-fructose corn syrup — could be responsible for stomach cramping and bloating for some people.

5. You’re Prone To Migraines After Certain Meals

Around the same time each night you begin to feel a throbbing migraine coming on. Come to think of it, it’s usually a few hours after you’ve eaten dinner. Take this as a sign that something in your dinner each night could possibly be the trigger. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a food-related trigger for headaches and migraines, according to Mayo Clinic. MSG is a flavor enhancer and is often found in Chinese food, canned soups and processed foods.

6. Dairy Is Your Worst Enemy

If every time you consume dairy you experience some sort of digestive problem… stop! Lactose intolerance is very, very common, and it’s likely you’re suffering from it if your stomach acts up each time you consume dairy. In fact, it is estimated that between 30 and 50 million Americans have some sort of lactose intolerance. Basically what this means — according to Everyday Health — is the body is not capable of digesting lactose, the sugar found in milk and milk products. When those suffering from lactose intolerance eat or drink dairy products, they might experience diarrhea, bloating, gas and more, according to Mayo Clinic.

If any of the above signs seem familiar to you, the first step is to try to pinpoint the food(s) causing the problem. A food dairy, including notes on when your symptoms flair, is very helpful in narrowing it down. Then, as with any other medical condition, seek guidance from your doctor even if you aren't completely certain it's a food intolerance. When it comes to your body, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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