How to Live With a Food Intolerance

You hope it never happens to you, but there could come a point in your life when you’re diagnosed with a food intolerance (also known as food sensitivity).

While it’s far from the most serious ailment, it’ll put a strain on your life. 

On the plus side, there are many steps you can take to make it easier to live with a food intolerance.

Before we go any further, remember this: you’re not alone. Many people struggle with a food intolerance or allergy.

Here’s an excerpt from Harvard Medical School explaining in greater detail:

The prevalence of food allergies — or at least diagnosed food allergies — has increased steadily since the early 1990s; an estimated 5% of children and 4% of teens and adults are now affected. Food intolerance is harder to track, but estimates of its prevalence range from 2% to 20%.

Even at the lower end of two percent, it’s easy to see just how common food intolerance has become.

Steps for Living a Better Life

Yes, a food intolerance will alter your life, primarily by forcing you to adjust your diet. However, once you know what you’re up against and how to make changes for the better, you can then formulate a strategy.

Here are a handful of things you need to do:

Identify the Problem

Until you do this, you’ll never know which foods to avoid and which ones you can keep in your diet.

While you may be able to do this on your own, to a certain degree, it’s best to work with your  medical team to pinpoint your exact problem.

For example, you may assume that you have a food intolerance, but in all actuality, it’s an allergy. In this case, you could be putting your health in serious jeopardy.

Use an Elimination Diet

This is a simple process that can help you pin down exactly what’s wrong. Here’s how Harvard Medical School suggests proceeding:

The best approach to manage food sensitivity is to adopt a short-term elimination diet. It works like this: You eliminate a particular food for about two to four weeks to see if your symptoms recede. Then you reintroduce the food gradually, according to your tolerance, to see if your symptoms reappear.

By taking these steps, you should gain a better understanding of the foods that are causing you trouble. You can then avoid them in the future, all while paying close attention to ensure that your symptoms don’t come back.

Consider Other Factors

When it comes to a food intolerance, it’s natural to turn your immediate attention toward the foods that you digest. However, you don’t want to stop there, as there are additional factors that could be causing you trouble.

For example, pay close attention to the size of your portions, when you eat, and how fast you eat. All of these things could play a role in your intolerance.

Questions to Address with Your Doctor

Should you suspect a food intolerance, consult with your doctor or a registered dietician. Either way, your goal is to obtain professional feedback so that you can create a better diet for the future.

While there’s no shortage of questions—and you should feel comfortable asking any that are on your mind—here are some to guide you:

  • What is the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy? 
  • Are there any tests you can run to better understand what’s happening?
  • What’s the best treatment option for my type of food intolerance?
  • Are there any health studies that can lend insight into the problem?
  • What will happen if I continue to ignore my food intolerance?

As you receive answers, you may come to find that you have even more questions. 

Final Thoughts

In a perfect world, you’d be able to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. But if you have a food intolerance, that’s not likely to hold true. You need to be much more cautious. 

As frustrating as it may be, a food intolerance doesn’t have to hold you back. Once you know which foods to avoid and how to manage your diet, it’s easier to stay the course to maintain your health. 

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