Question: What is the difference between food intolerance and food allergy?

The key difference is in the symptoms. When someone is allergic to certain food, skin rashes, hives, itchiness or swelling happen in the matter of minutes. Allergies are caused by the immune system not being able to ingest the food.

Food intolerance on the other hand gives less drastic immediate effects. Instead, it manifests itself anywhere from 30min to 3 days (some even longer than that). Symptoms can be bloating, indigestion, skin problems (acne, eczema), frequent colds and sinus issues, candida and yeast infections, stubborn weight that just won’t go away, thyroid malfunction, etc.

Question: What is the difference between food intolerance and food sensitivity?

They are the exact same thing.

Question: Can food intolerances be healed?

No. There are attempts now in healing allergies like the life-threatening peanut allergy but no significant cure is available at this point. Cutting out the food you are allergic or intolerant of is the best cure.

Question: What is gluten?

Gluten is a form of protein that is found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, kamut and spelt. It is a big part of our lives as it is found in most types of cereals and in most breads. Not all grains however, contain gluten. Examples of grains that do NOT have gluten are wild rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, teff, oats and soybeans.

The popularity of gluten-based grains and flours are largely due to gluten’s binding properties (The bread sticks.), elasticity (It’s chewy.) and air trapping ability (so that the air bubbles from fermentation stay in the dough and make it nice and soft).

Question: Can I get tested for food intolerance by getting a blood test or a prickly test?

There are a number of different tests available from allergy doctors. Some doctors prefer one method (e.g. blood test) over another (e.g. prickly test), but both methods have a history of inaccuracy as in some sensitivities get picked up and others do not. It is therefore recommended to do an elimination diet (like the 3-Step Quick Heal Plan) to be certain; because when you reintroduce the food in the Challenge Step, your body won’t lie!

Question: I read/heard about different elimination diets, what are the differences?

Yes, there are a few ways to eliminate and challenge. One method called the restrictive diet will ask you to remove all major allergens right at the beginning; this means no gluten (some do even no grains of any sort), no dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt), no eggs, no soy, no fructose, no yeast, no nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants) and no citrus fruit. I personally found three issues with this technique:

1: It’s not very easy or practical if you are a busy person who travels and eats out a fair share and doesn’t always have the time to cook and pre-plan the meals.

2: It creates a real shock to the body to be suddenly deprived of so many things and nutrients; some people get nausea, acne, headaches and mood swings. I’m a fan of a gradual change as it is more sustainable.

3: Many people find themselves getting very emotionally unstable; it’s connected to point 2 above. The point should be to find out what is making you sick and not to get you emotional and vulnerable.

Question: How do I live without my favorite foods?

Yes, this is a big one. Here is the big news though: the food you LOVE and cannot live without today is probably what is making you so sick. Here is the good news! Most people after getting weaned off the food they are sensitive to STOP LOVING it. This probably sounds unreal to you at this point but you have to just trust me on this one for a little while and try it yourself to believe it.

Question: Are there any side-effects of the elimination diet?

None. From a nutritional point of view, you will be getting same if not more nutrients by substituting less common foods like quinoa, brown rice, almond milk etc. If you worry that, say, the elimination of dairy products will result in you not getting enough calcium – do not. There are cultures that have thrived on no dairy, like China, Korea and Japan by getting calcium from other sources. We have been conditioned by food marketing to form many beliefs (like, that we need dairy). Many of those beliefs are not right, and this is why we are sicker today than ever before.

Question: Why is food intolerance happening to me?

This is the million dollar question! There are many speculations. One theory states that today’s food is so highly processed and treated with chemical components (when grown, picked, stored and distributed) that our body is just rejecting it. Do you see people in Borneo getting pimples, women having thyroid malfunctions and chronic candida? The answer is: NO. One of the main differences between us and them is the quality of food we eat.

Question: How will I socially deal with my food intolerance, among family and friends?

It’s completely understandable to worry about fitting in, not fussing around and being seen as the difficult person at the table, or being a celebrity groupie. Here is the thing:

  1. Share with your family and friends what you are doing, why you are doing it, and why it’s important to you. If you have positive results, rave about them! It will make them wonder about their own health.
  2. Take charge and make suggestions on restaurants rather than wait for someone to pick one, especially if they’re likely to pick a pizza joint with no options.
  3. Be brave; if you work at a company that provides no healthy options, voice it out, request salads or rice-based food. Food intolerance is all over the main stream media, time to catch up!
  4. Pre-plan; at times you will have no choice but to plan ahead and get your own food or cook the night before.

Remember, people who ostracize you for your food choices will make strong judgments on many other things too, like relationships, career, money, etc. Perhaps it is your opportunity to re-examine your relationships with these people.