Warning: This article contains some… less than pretty images. Digestive allergies just aren’t pretty.
I grew up thinking it was normal to feel bloated and phlegmy after eating. I figured gas, diarrhea, and constipation just happened, that everyone felt like that – and we all do, but not after every meal. It wasn’t until I was nearly thirty that I visited with a naturopath who suggested my digestive upset might be due to allergies to gluten and dairy.
Think you might have an allergy to dairy or some other food? Check the list below to see if you suffer from any of the common symptoms of food allergies:
Gas (especially particularly smelly gas)
Breakouts and acne
Other allergies, like hayfever
Hives and itching
Rashes, commonly on the arms
Poor weight gain or chronically overweight
Phlegm and coughing after eating, especially foods like bread, cheese, and ice cream
Dizziness after eating
Tender breasts not associated with PMS
You may notice these symptoms after eating one kind of food; pay attention to what you eat and how you feel for several days. If you suffer from any or many of these symptoms, try cutting out a few common allergens like gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley); dairy products; soy products; corn; chocolate; nuts; and tomatoes. Eliminate these foods for three weeks, then introduce them one at a time to see if your symptoms return. I suggest having one trial week while you get the hang of reading ingredients and substituting or eliminating in recipes, then three weeks of no dairy or wheat, and then a week between reintroducing the foods. I cut out only gluten and dairy, but if your symptoms don’t go away, try some of the other allergens. If they still don’t go away after a month or more, contact an allergist or naturopath for help.
So what do you eat in that time? Well, you’d be surprised how easy it is to cut out diary once the cravings subside. After a week or so you may not even like the taste of cheese. I recommend almond milk and rice milk as good substitutes for cow milk, and high quality sorbet for dessert. To cut out gluten, try other whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and of course rice. There are many varieties of rice, including long grains, wild, short grains, red, brown, and white, to name a few. Be sure to read ingredient lists on prepared foods: For example, whey is a dairy product, and barley malt, which contains gluten, is frequently used as a natural sweetener.
Give it a try – you may be amazed at how great you feel, and pleased at how healthy and trim your body naturally becomes. I lost almost thirty pounds when I totally cut out all wheat and dairy. The body can’t eliminate or properly store what it can’t digest well, so it’s stored as fat. Also, there is a tendency to crave what we are intollerant of to avoid withdrawal symptoms, so we eat more than we need to. A weight problem can often be a sign of an allergy, especially to something like dairy that is so high in fat. Furthermore, dairy contains casein, a protein that we can actually develop an addiction to. So even if you don’t have a full-blown allergy or intollerance, cutting down on the dairy can really improve your overall health.