When you think of food allergies, you might picture severe reactions to foods like shellfish and peanuts. However, food allergies of this nature are relatively rare. Moderate food allergies are much more common, and their symptoms may be harder to diagnose.
Signs to look for
Many people have allergies to foods such as soy, wheat, and eggs. Because these are ingredients often seen on food labels, you may eat them so often that you do not make the connection to a specific food allergy. Here is a closer look at the symptoms that might actually be the result of food allergies.
• Consistent stomach upset: Inflammation and digestive discomfort can result when you eat foods that trigger an allergic reaction. If you do not know that you have an allergy, you might eat trigger foods regularly enough to suffer constant digestive issues that could easily be misdiagnosed.
• Unexplained weight gain: Undiagnosed food allergies can cause more than bloating. Regularly eating trigger foods leads to an over-response of the immune system that creates inflammation throughout the body. In this environment, the body stores more fat, which is hard to lose without dramatic dietary changes (that you may not know you need).
• Anxiety and fatigue: Patients with hidden food allergies often report anxiety, depression, or untreatable fatigue to their physicians. Once you change your diet, these secondary symptoms may be easily resolved.
What you can do
You might pinpoint a food allergy by spending a few weeks without certain foods in your diet. Lactose and gluten are two of the most common food allergens, so these may be the best foods to cut out. For a more certain diagnosis, you should have a blood test to learn which, if any, common allergens are bothering you. Once you know which foods to avoid, you can plan out smarter meals and learn to properly read food labels so that you live more comfortably.
How do you cope with food allergies? Share your strategies in the comments section below and check back in with the MeMD blog for more health tips each week.