Tips Regarding a Hypoallergenic Diet
A hypoallergenic diet is often recommended for food allergies or insensitivities. Many people can’t tolerate specific food ingredients and will react to that food. Reactions vary depending on the type of sensitivity or allergy. Many people confuse allergies and intolerance, but the difference is important.
True food allergies are an immune response to a food ingredient. Food allergies will cause reactions such as hives, wheezing, swelling, and anaphylactic shock. If a person has a food allergy, that food has to be completely eliminated from the diet for the person’s safety. Examples of common food allergens are strawberries, peanuts, shellfish, and milk. The more often a person with allergies is exposed to the offending food, the more antibodies the body produces and the worse the reaction becomes.
Food allergies, for unknown reasons, are becoming more prevalent, especially in children. Some children outgrow their allergies, or at least become less sensitive and life-threatening reactions subside. Some people are so allergic that they cannot even have food that was prepared in a kitchen where the allergen has been. Many schools are now “peanut free” for this reason.
Food sensitivities are more difficult to figure out. First, the reaction is not quite so immediate and severe, which at least helps the person identify the food that caused it. Second, there are many more foods that can cause sensitivity than there are that most commonly cause allergies. Also, the reaction to food sensitivity varies from person to person and may not even be recognized as being related to diet.
Some examples problems that may be associated with food sensitivity include dizziness, migraine, recurrent ear infection, asthma, and migraine. Some people also believe that certain foods can cause or aggravate ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The foods that cause allergies, especially dairy, may be the culprits here, but additional foods to be aware of include eggs, soy, yeast, gluten, and artificial colorings.
Unfortunately, many physicians are either not aware of the effects of food sensitivities, or do not believe in the theories. This leads to many people taking unnecessary medications for chronic symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, or just don’t feel well, a hypoallergenic diet may be worth trying. The key is to try to find out which food, or foods, are causing the problems. Really the only way to do this is by process of elimination. That is why a hypoallergenic diet is often called an elimination diet.
Eliminate one potential offending food at a time. Start with common allergens such as dairy or gluten. If your symptoms are still present after eliminating a food from your diet for two weeks, then try another food, such as yeast. With luck and persistence, the food allergen will be discovered and your symptoms will subside.
The trick to staying well, is maintaining strict avoidance of that food. There are plenty of resources available for avoidance of common allergens. Knowing the various names for the allergen is important. A milk allergy, for example, not only means avoiding obvious foods such as ice cream, cheese, and yoghurt. If your problem is a true allergy, then the milk protein, casein, is the likely problem. Casein, and various forms of caseinate, is an ingredient and is listed on food labels of things like bologna and chewing gum.
Non-dairy does not mean dairy free. It is important to read the label of every product you buy. Yes, grocery shopping will take some time, but it will be worth it. Vegan on the label or Kosher will often mean that the item is dairy free, but there are no federal standards regarding these labels, so you still need to read the ingredient list. Also, if a certain brand of food was free of an allergen the last time you bought it, don’t assume that the ingredients have stayed the same the next time.