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{Note from Jessica: Today’s post is shared by my good friend, Lauren, author of Lauren Fowler. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and yoga teacher who promotes a non-diet approach to nutrition and health. She wants everyone to connect to their bodies intuitive wisdom rather than following diets. She encourages the tools of intuitive eating and health at every size. Stop by LaurenFlower.co to read more about nutrition, intuitive eating, heart-based health, and yoga.}

Food sensitivities are a hot and controversial topic these days. Conventional medicine barely recognizes the idea that food sensitivities exist and may play a role in chronic health conditions. While gluten sensitivity is now recognized as a real health condition, there are still many health care professionals that don't believe food plays a role in many chronic health conditions, like autoimmune diseases, migraines, or fibromyalgia.

One of my favorite quotes is:

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” -Ann Wigmore

Food has the power to cause inflammation within our body, which over time can lead to chronic health conditions. It also has the power to heal the body and help you re-discover the vibrant health you deserve.

If you think food may be leading to your symptoms, check out these 5 signs that you may have hidden food sensitivities. Head to this previous post to learn all about food sensitivities and their impact on the body as well.

1. You have a chronic health condition or many different symptoms.

This is a big one. If you have IBS, migraines, fibromyalgia, arthritis, eczema, or another chronic health condition, there is inflammation within your body. You could take medications to get rid of the pain, but that doesn't heal the inflammation or get to the root cause of your symptoms. The truth is food sensitivities could be leading to inflammation and your daily migraines or aches and pains. Identifying these foods and removing them from your diet removes the inflammatory trigger and can allow your body to heal.

2. You already eat real food, exercise, manage your stress, and live a healthy lifestyle…but you can't figure out why you still have symptoms.

Many people with IBS, poor digestion, arthritis, fatigue, or other chronic symptoms already have played around with their diet and may have tried an elimination diet but only found moderate relief. Some people even feel worse on an traditional elimination diet!

Why? While many people are sensitive to common foods like gluten or dairy, you can be sensitive to ANY food, even “healthy” foods. For example, my sister’s most reactive food is honeydew melon! Each person is unique, and each food is unique. While standard elimination diets may be extremely helpful in identifying some inflammatory foods for you, they may not be able to identify all of them.

If you've gone from doctor to doctor, or spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on tests, supplements, and medications, I understand how frustrated you may be. A new approach is needed, which is why I would recommend looking beyond conventional medicine and taking a functional medicine approach. A new approach helps you identify the root causes of the problems and create a whole-body healing plan rather than trying to fix each symptom one at a time.

3. You eat the same thing everyday.

Eating the same foods everyday can set you up to develop food sensitivities.

Here's a personal example. Back in college, I ate oatmeal nearly everyday single day for a few years in a row. I took a break from it for a month or so, then the next time I ate it, my throat felt itchy and tight, I had a headache all day, and I had sharp stomach pains and poor digestion. At first, I didn't relate it to the oatmeal, but when it happened again after eating oatmeal a few days later, I stopped oats. To this day, I still can't tolerate any oats (gluten-free or not). If you are eating the same exact thing everyday, mix it up.

Eat seasonally and vary your foods, so you get a variety of foods, as well as different nutrients. By avoiding your most reactive foods and allowing your body to heal, inflammation decreases, and over time (months to years), you may be able to tolerate your reactive foods again.

 4. You feel inflamed.

You may not feel “sick” but you don't feel well. If you wake up feeling blah – with a puffy face, dark circles under your eyes, stuffy nose and sinuses, fatigue, acne or skin rashes, muscle aches or pains, or even mood swings – it’s a sign from your body. Your body is letting you know loud and clear that inflammation is overwhelming it, and it can’t keep up. Inflammation is a normal response to stress in the body, but when it becomes chronic, symptoms begin to show up. Over time, new symptoms may pop up, or the intensity of symptoms may increase. Figuring out what foods are leading to symptoms can help stop symptoms in their track and allow your body to heal from the damage.

 5. You can’t remember the last time you felt healthy.

Think about the last time you felt well – energized, healthy, and happy. It may have been months or even years. Taking medications, or going on short-term detoxes may help for a while, but it’s a quick fix. Identifying your individual food sensitivities can help you feel significantly better in a few weeks, so you have the energy and health to do the things you want to do in your life.

This is your life. You shouldn't have to spend it tired and achy all day long and avoiding social events, taking walks with your family, or doing all the things you used to love to do. You should be out in the world living life with all the energy and vibrant health you deserve to have.

I recommend food sensitivity testing (Mediator Release Testing) to help you identify your individual sensitivities and get started with a personalized elimination and reintroduction diet immediately. Elimination diets can be helpful, but if you've been suffering for years and tried countless things, testing and working with a practitioner will save you time and be the best money you spend. After all, health is your best investment.

Do you have any food sensitivities? How did you figure it out?

*Note: Food sensitivities are not the only thing that causes inflammation in the body, but they may play a role in many inflammatory and chronic health conditions. Any healing plan requires looking at your whole body and self-care, including food, exercise, stress, sleep, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and more.

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About Jessica Espinoza

Jessica is a real food wellness educator and the founder of the Delicious Obsessions website. She has had a life-long passion for food and being in the kitchen is where she is the happiest. She began helping her mother cook and bake around the age of three and she's been in the kitchen ever since, including working in a restaurant in her hometown for almost a decade, where she worked every position before finally becoming the lead chef. Jessica started Delicious Obsessions in 2010 as a way to help share her love for food and cooking. Since then, it has grown into a trusted online resource with a vibrant community of people learning to live healthy, happy lives through real food and natural living.

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