My Food Sensitivities: A Dietitian’s Personal Perspective
When I was 40 years old, I became very ill-so ill I headed to the emergency room. The doctors said something was going around and I should go home to rest. And rest I did! In fact, for at least a week I was barely able to move. I followed up with my primary care physician who proceeded to do a complete medical evaluation. All tests came back negative. So, I rested some more and tried to pretend that I felt normal. Never did I imagine that my extreme fatigue was due to food sensitivities.
As time progressed, I mentioned my fatigue issues to every physician I saw, and the responses ranged from “You have medical conditions that cause fatigue- IBS, fibromyalgia, asthma”, to “You seem OK, you aren’t acting tired now”, to “You are the healthiest patient I’ve seen today!” My energy levels continued to wax and wane. Sometimes I was near normal and other times I needed to drag myself to bed. Fatigue was my partner in life, and although rest didn’t solve everything, I was often tired enough that I simply could not move. My goal became to get through the day as a functioning person and carry on with my commitments as best I could.
Later in life, food sensitivities uncovered
During the second 50 years of my life, it seemed that my energy levels were worsening. I figured at this point I was functioning at less than 50% of normal. Then, last year, a college friend asked me about food sensitivity testing as she was considering going that route due to ongoing headaches and IBS symptoms. I told her I had mixed feelings about it, but said that maybe we could go down that path together. I am so grateful that I took that path as my life has actually changed course.
Food sensitivity testing is controversial
Some medical “experts” question accuracy of any food sensitivity testing process and the clinical relevance to a patient. For those practitioners that feel it may help a patient, there is controversy as to the best test to use. I used the Alcat test which evaluates how your white blood cells react in contact with various foods, chemicals, and food additives. Based on your white cell response, your reaction to various foods, additives, and chemicals is assessed on a scale of non-reactive to severe.
It’s important to keep in mind that food sensitivity testing is different from allergy testing. With an allergy, there may be an immediate response. With a food sensitivity, the response in terms of symptoms may be delayed by days so it does become difficult to determine what foods may be problematic. In my case, I would never have been able to succeed by just eliminating foods speculated as often problematic because one of my severe responses was to fluoride. Turn on the tap water and there is fluoride. Grab coffee at a restaurant, there is fluoride. Grab that toothpaste, there is fluoride. That is just one example of how the testing can help you come up with a customized eating plan just for you. I would never have been able to determine that something found in my water was a contributing factor in causing my fatigue, muscle, and joint pain.
Life now that I know my food sensitivities
Today, I still look OK but I also feel pretty good! I am now able to work with a trainer, and regularly work out on a treadmill and elliptical. I even have competitions with my active grandchildren to see who can get the most steps in a day! My energy level is far more consistent, and when I’m tired, that’s all it is tired. I’m not fatigued to the point of being unable to move. I have come a long way from the fatigue that has haunted me for the last 25 years. I am so thankful that I was able to access testing. It can be very challenging to make the necessary dietary changes but, it’s worth the effort if your life changes! My only regret is waiting so long.
Do you have a personal story to share about your food sensitivity testing experience and outcome?
Use this information at your own risk. Although I am a licensed IL dietitian/nutritionist, I am not your dietitian. The information in my blog Chew on This located at www.mydietmatters.com is for educational and informational purposes only. It is also my own opinion and subject to change in the future. Please consult with your own medical professionals for individual treatment.