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How to Know Which Foods You Might Be Sensitive To

Updated on March 14, 2012

Are you sensitive or intolerant to certain foods? Not to be confused with having a food allergy, a food intolerance or sensitivity is a reaction to a certain food that does not involve the immune system.

How do you know if you are allergic or sensitive to certain foods? If you are unsure, then it’s important to first visit an allergist to get tested. It’s important to first distinguish if you are experiencing allergic or hyper-sensitive reactions before understanding how you can properly manage the effects of the problem.

Food sensitivity or intolerance can sometimes occur when there is a lack of particular enzymes or chemical to properly digest the food, for example “fructose malabsorption” is a term used to describe when fructose cannot be absorbed correctly by the body. Naturally occurring chemicals in certain foods can also trigger a skin rash and itching of the skin. Any other non-immune reactions could be the possible sign of a food intolerance or sensitivity.

How to Test for Food Intolerance

It is thought that approximately 10% of the population experiences adverse reactions to at least one type of food.

Because food sensitivities vary from one person to another and so it is tricky to give a definitive list of foods you might be sensitive to. However if you are suffering from skin reactions such as itching and rash then it is possible that you are experiencing an adverse reaction to a food that you may have eaten during the past 20 hours.

Determining the source of the problem can be easier said than done. We consume such a variety of food and drink products on a daily basis that trying to narrow down the cause of an adverse reaction can be very frustrating. If you need to really get to the root of your food sensitivities then I highly recommend keeping a daily log of everything you eat and drink, together with notes of possible reactions that you may be experiencing during the course of each day.

As a starting point, you could consider any food or drink you have consumed that contains the following:

Caffeine

Examples: Tea, coffee, cola, chocolate, energy drinks

Histamine

Examples: Alcohol, bananas, chocolate, eggs, fish, milk, papayas, pineapple, shellfish, strawberries, tomatoes

Salicylates

Examples: Some fruits and vegetables, herbs, coffee, tea, wine, orange juice, apple cider, rum, sherry, licorice, mint-flavored gum, ice cream, gelatin

Amines

Examples: Ripe cheeses, fermented meats, wine, dry sausage, sauerkraut, mushrooms, miso and soy sauce, chocolate and yeast

Sulphites

Examples: wine, canned, bottled, or frozen fruit and juices, jams and jellies, vinegar, some salads, yogurt and other processed dairy goods, packaged pasta or rice

I recently followed this advice myself to discover that I have a heightened sensitivity to strawberries. Strawberries release a lot of histamine, a hormone that can provoke skin irritation and inflammation. Sure enough, every time I eat a few strawberries my face and neck gets red and itchy within 1-2 hours of consuming them.

I then found out that being hyper-sensitive to strawberries is actually quite common, particularly in young children. A reaction to strawberries is usually felt by mild to moderate itching of the skin, together with contact dermatitis and sometimes hives. If you experience such a reaction after eating strawberries then try not to scratch the affected area. Use an over the counter anti-histamine cream to help reduce swelling or itching.

Once you’ve discovered the food or foods that you could are sensitive to, watch your future intake and monitor your reaction closely. If you find that your reaction is too severe to handle then you may want to consider eliminating the foods from your diet altogether.

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    • profile image

      Shirley 

      7 years ago

      Thankyou for such enlightening information! I now know that I am intolerant to strawberries, raspberries, chocolate and mushrooms, each one of which I ate to the point of gluttony at times.

      now, if I eat just a small amount of any of them it makes me feel quite ill for up to three weeks all the time having a metallic taste in my mouth and feeling bloated.

    • Cloverleaf profile imageAUTHOR

      Cloverleaf 

      10 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi Josh, I'm glad you figured out what foods you were sensitive to. Thanks for the vote up!

    • profile image

      .josh. 

      10 years ago

      Good, informative hub here, Cloverleaf. It took me years to figure out I had sensitivities to certain foods, and I cannot tell you (though I'm sure you can relate) what a relief it was to finally figure out what was going on.

      Voted up and useful. Well done.

    • Cloverleaf profile imageAUTHOR

      Cloverleaf 

      10 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi Denise, you are keeping up very well with my hubs - I am impressed! Thanks for giving me your vote of confidence :-)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Beautiful hub--lots of useful info here. You are doing great!

    • Cloverleaf profile imageAUTHOR

      Cloverleaf 

      10 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      prasetio30, you are right, our bodies have a great way of telling us what we should and shouldn't eat. I appreciate all your fine comments today.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      10 years ago from malang-indonesia

      We should give attention for everything we ate, including with something on your list. Maybe some of us has allergic problem. Useful information from you. Thank you very much for share this hub. Take care!

    • Cloverleaf profile imageAUTHOR

      Cloverleaf 

      10 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      carrie, being allergic to dust must be very annoying! Being in interior design you must be subjected to dust quite regularly?

    • carriethomson profile image

      carriethomson 

      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      good list!! thank god m not allergic to food, only dust!! i can eat to my hearts content anything that tickles my taste buds, only need to keep a weight check :-)

      carrie

    • Cloverleaf profile imageAUTHOR

      Cloverleaf 

      10 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hyph, sounds like you're listening to what your body tells you, that always helps. Thanks for the comment!

    • Cloverleaf profile imageAUTHOR

      Cloverleaf 

      10 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      b.Malin, that's a great point about moderation (or you could always just have twice as much ice cream to make up for the yogurt?!)

      Even though I break out in a rash I still love strawberries (I'm a bit of a glutton for punishment) but if I just have one or two then it's not as bad.

      Thanks for the great comment and see you again soon.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 

      10 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      I have found certain foods that do not make me ill or break out. I just feel kind of icky after I eat them even the following day. So I avoid those. Very interesting and informative Hub. Thanks.

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      10 years ago

      i can't eat Yogurt...yet I can tolerate Ice Cream. I think Moderation for Me is the key, as I'm sure it must be for most people. Thanks for a timely and Informative Hub Cloverleaf.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      10 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Good old scallopes thank you.

    • Cloverleaf profile imageAUTHOR

      Cloverleaf 

      10 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      writer20, I'm sorry to hear that. Were you able to find something else to enjoy in their place?

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      10 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Shrimp are my food enemy, I used to eat whenever we went outto dinner. Now I can't touch them, sniff sniff.

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