If you'd asked me four years ago if I had food allergies, my answer would have been "definitely not." I considered myself to be a health nut. I had a smoothie (with yogurt and protein powder) for breakfast, I didn't drink coffee or soda and I practiced yoga on a regular basis. I was a vegetarian and followed the advice of much of the mainstream media, which says to include soy in your diet for healthy protein.
When I teamed up with my friend, Jo Schaalman to create the Conscious Cleanse, I found myself going with the flow in terms of her convictions about food allergies, and decided to "play along," as we were being our own guinea pigs.
What happened after two weeks of eliminating a list of top allergens from my diet — the heavy hitters for me being dairy, soy and gluten — was nothing short of shocking.
Years of dealing with adult acne — gone!
Years of dealing with regular (stinky!) gas — gone!
Years of severe mood swings with bouts of crying — gone!
I also lost puffiness in my face, and over a period of a few months of maintaining this allergen-free way of eating, I dropped about 10 pounds, which made me feel more comfortable and confident in my own skin.
Most of us think of allergies in the traditional sense — hives, rashes, dry eyes, congestion, runny nose.
What most people don’t realize is that sensitivities to food can also surface in the form of anxiety, depression, joint pain, asthma, acne, bad breath, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, brain fog, hyperactivity, puffy eyes and face, and even stubborn weight loss.
According to Theron Randolph, known as the father of environmental medicine and clinical ecology, approximately 90% of people have some kind of allergy or sensitivity. And 9 out of 10 of those people don't realize that their symptoms are related to the food they're eating on a daily basis.
From my view, the only effective method for allergy testing is to eliminate them from your diet completely for at least two weeks. Once you have a clean slate, you can reintroduce certain foods into your diet to see if your symptoms return. The problem with standard allergy tests is that they aren’t precise enough to detect the lower levels of food substances that could be causing your symptoms.
Only you know what it feels like to be in your body, so you are your own best healer. Use the list below to determine the not-so-obvious ways to identify an allergy or sensitivity.
1. You say, “I can’t live without my (fill in the blank).”
Feeling “addicted” to any food is a red flag. It's also the way in which we can develop a sensitivity to a food. Too much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing.
2. You’ve tried several diets, eat “pretty healthy,” exercise regularly and still can’t seem to lose weight.
When you’re eating foods that don’t work in your body, you become inflamed. Inflammation causes you to hold on to weight no matter how few calories you’re consuming or how much exercise you’re doing.
3. You feel “puffy.”
Do you ever feel like you puffed up like a blowfish overnight? Your pants are too tight, your face is more round and your fingers are swollen. This puffiness is your body’s response to allergens. When you’re inflamed, you retain water, resulting in what I refer to as the “puffy factor.”
4. Your health isn’t what you want it to be.
Despite your best efforts, you still deal with some annoying health issues. Things like acne, bags under your eyes, low energy, constipation, anxiety, insomnia, infertility and migraines.
5. Seasonal hay fever seems to last all year long.
Runny nose, dry eyes and sinus congestion are all signs of seasonal hay fever, but if you find that you have these symptoms most of the year, you could be dealing with a hidden food sensitivity.