Cats, Ragweed, Sunlight....but what about food?
I find so many people come into my office claiming to have a food allergy and the reality is most of them don't actually have an allergy.
First, we need to define two things: Allergy vs. Intolerance
Intolerance: is negative reaction, often delayed, to a food, beverage, food additive or compound found in foods. It produces symptoms in one or more organ or body system, but it is not a true allergy. Intolerance can result from the absence of specific chemicals or enzymes needed to digest a food substance like in fructose intolerance. Symptoms might include mild skin rash, congestion, gas, bloating and abdominal pain.
Allergy: is an adverse immune reaction to a food protein (usually immediate). They are distinct from other negative reactions to food, such as food intolerance or drug side effects. Symptoms might include hives, vomiting, coughing or closing of the throat.
So while the two are similar in symptoms, they are actually quite different.
The reason I bring this up is I find people restrict the most bizarre collection of things from their diet thinking they have an allergy. Many people think they have a gluten allergy (often thanks to a naturopath or nutrition expert who stuck their fingers in some milk or some other form of 'natural science'), but the symptoms of a gluten allergy are getting easier to diagnose and most doctors can provide a test to determine if this is the case.
More often people just have a food sensitivity or irritable stomach. In fact, a very large proportion of the population suffers from this. In those cases, you just need to monitor your eating habits and make sure to avoid foods or eat less of foods that trigger your symptoms.
An intolerance can often be handled in small amounts. An allergy would require total avoidance because the reaction could be life threatening. Over restricting your diet when it's not needed can result in poor intake of necessary vitamins.
If you think you have an allergy to something, go see your doctor and get tested. There is no sense restricting something if it's not actually helping you. Your condition may be more complex then that. Stomach problems can not only be caused by food, but also stress, lack of sleep, medications and the substances you drink.