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Unlike some food allergies, food sensitivities don’t always trigger an immediate reaction. There are no hives, swelling, or shortness of breath. Often, the symptoms are subtle, covering everything from bloating to fatigue. Only once the food sensitivity is identified and the food removed from your diet do you realise how debilitating it was.

That poses the question: how to identify food sensitivities?

This step-by-step guide provides a detailed explanation of how to identify a food sensitivity. We’ll cover some top tips to identify a handful of culprits and how to go about determining which one is the underlying cause.

What is a Food Sensitivity?

First off – what even is a food sensitivity? Technically, it’s not an official medical diagnosis. It refers to an immune reaction to a foodstuff that isn’t an allergic reaction. Common food sensitivity symptoms include:

  • Bloating and flatulence
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rash and itching
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and low mood
  • Headache or migraine
  • Brain fog

Often, these symptoms take up to 72 hours to appear following ingestion of the foodstuff. That makes identifying food sensitivities extremely challenging – especially if the underlying cause is a minor ingredient, e.g., lupin flour.

How to Identify Food Sensitivities

How to identify food sensitivities? The answer requires a bit of detective work. Only you can know your body and feel the difference a particular food makes; nevertheless, some trial and error are inevitable.

Follow these five steps to determine the culprit behind your symptoms:

Step 1. Keep a Food Diary

Start by documenting everything you eat and drink, along with any symptoms you experience. Be as detailed as possible, noting the time of day, portion sizes, and how you feel after eating each food.

Use the 72-hour timeframe as an extended limit of a food’s effect, eliminating any foodstuffs that fall outside these windows. Look for patterns when your symptoms worsen and highlight any foods that become repeat offenders.

Inspect ingredients lists if you’re having trouble finding potential culprits. Lupin flour, for example, is a common allergen and is found in gluten-free foods. Meanwhile, lots of processed foods contain ingredients like sulphites or milk powder.

Step 2. Look for Common Symptoms

Not all food sensitivities present the same way – and you should always consider the possibility more than one sensitivity is present.

Common symptoms include bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes, and mood changes. Remember, these symptoms can be subtle. And, if you consume the foodstuff on a regular basis, the symptoms may become a normal part of daily life. Perhaps you’re not tired all the time; maybe it’s something you eat.5 Steps To Identifying A Food Sensitivity

Step 3. Take a Food Sensitivity Test

Feeling daunted by the challenge? The more you delve into the diet, the more potential culprits you’ll find. What you need is an initial list to go through.

That’s where a food sensitivity test can help. Our food sensitivity tests provide a percentage score based on the likelihood that a particular foodstuff will cause a sensitivity. We’ll list the foodstuffs that score over 80% – our standard cut-off range.

You can then use this list to narrow down the cause of your sensitivity, saving yourself weeks of eliminating obscure ingredients.

Step 4. Eliminate Suspect Foods

Based on your food diary and test results, identify foods you suspect might be causing your symptoms. Eliminate these foods from your diet for a period of time, usually 2-4 weeks. This is called an elimination diet.

Ensure you keep your diet nutritionally balanced and healthy during this period. Nor should you introduce any new foods that could confuse your results.

Step 5. Reintroduce Foods Gradually

After the elimination phase, start reintroducing the eliminated foods one at a time every 3-4 days. Keep a close eye on how you feel and if any symptoms reappear. Do you feel sluggish? Do your headaches return? Are your joints beginning to ache? Continue your food diary to keep track of these changes.

Identify Your Food Sensitivity with Sensitivity Check UK

How to identify food sensitivities. A food diary is one solution. However, we always advise beginning the process with a sensitivity test to narrow down the potential candidate.

The Individual Sensitivity Test, for instance, screens 625 food and non-food sensitivity items, from common culprits like milk to obscure ingredients like bulgar wheat,

Using the test kit, provide a hair sample, fill out the form, and return the package to us. You’ll receive your results within 3-5 working days. Don’t live with an undiagnosed food sensitivity. Take the Individual Sensitivity Test today!

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This article was written by Joseph, our Health and Science Copywriter and Qualified Doctor

You can read more about them on their page.