Have you ever been in a bad mood, for no reason, that you just can’t shake? Or had your thoughts become so cloudy it’s like your brain is stuck in a thick, muggy fog? Or been so tired that all you want to do is sleep, even if all you’ve done so far that day is wake up in the morning?
You could have a lot of things going on; you could have had a bad day at work or stayed up too late watching 24 re-runs before your free-streaming runs out. You could be rundown or just plain crabby. Or you could have a food sensitivity.
It may seem like a quantum leap to jump from a bad mood and trouble concentrating to a food sensitivity, but it’s really not that far outside of the realm of possibilities. While more people would likely connect stomach upset and dry, itchy skin to food sensitivities, the possible symptoms are actually much broader.
I had so much trouble concentrating after my son was born — long after we got past the horrible lack of sleep issues — that I literally thought I’d permanently destroyed my ability to think by having a child. Turns out, I was having trouble processing certain foods, namely dairy, soy, and gluten. I never would have made the connection myself if I hadn’t had to go on an elimination diet while breastfeeding my son. It wasn’t until after I started eating some of those foods again that the fog came crashing back, the fatigue knocked me onto my knees, and my mood took a serious nose-dive.
I’ve always been in the camp that food can be medicine, but now more than ever I realize what a big impact it can play on our health. Food doesn’t affect just our physical health, like weight, but all aspects of health. Food sensitivities, or food intolerances, are similar to food allergies but are not the same thing. A food sensitivity means a certain food or component of food causes ill effects on the body, but they aren’t an immediate health risk (such as anaphylaxis caused by peanuts — which would be a food allergy). Some of the most common food intolerances include: dairy, gluten, soy, corn, eggs, and FODMAPs, a group of foods known as short-chain carbohydrates.
Here are 5 other surprising signs that you too could be dealing with a food sensitivity. Of course, there could be many other causes as well, so consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
1. Food Cravings
It’s a common theory that if you crave a certain food, it’s your body telling you that you’re missing something. It makes sense in some situations, but not across the board. Raise your hand if you crave sugary snacks? That’s not your body saying it needs sugar, sorry. Sometimes things we strongly crave are the exact things that are causing us trouble. For example, some people that end up being gluten-intolerant craved bread before learning of their sensitivity. Some foods can actually act like opiates in the body, as if they were truly a drug. When it’s not in your system, you physically crave it to get your “fix.” Common “opiate-like” foods include dairy, gluten, and sugar.
Sometimes it’s hormones. Sometimes it’s genes or just bad luck. But more frequently than you’d think, acne can be caused by your diet, most notably sensitivity to dairy. Even if I can manage to trick my stomach into handling some dairy, my face always gives me away.
3. Inability to lose weight
OK, you have to promise me you won’t use this one as a cop out. Just because you’re not losing weight doesn’t mean you have to go on some weird restricted diet, blaming gluten or soy or any other food group. But if you really, truly have given it all you’ve got and you’re still not seeing the scale budge or the waistband on your pants relax, it could be a sign you have a food sensitivity. Continuing to eat a food that causes problems in your body can interfere with weight loss by causing inflammation and disrupting the natural balance of your digestive system.
4. Depression, brain fog, fatigue
This is the one that got me. If you had told me beforehand there was a link, I would’ve laughed in your face. Eating foods your body can’t process can cause inflammation, which can exacerbate depression, cause chronic fatigue, and cloud your thinking.
Once again, blame inflammation. Chronic inflammation can cause hidden health problems but it can also cause physical pain. Years ago I suffered from chronic, debilitating pain. As a last-ditch effort, I removed dairy from my diet to see if it would help. It didn’t cure me, but I definitely noticed the flares whenever I tried to sneak in some cheese.
Have you experienced any of these symptoms? Do you struggle with food intolerance?
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