Fatigue. Bloating. Constipation. Aren’t those common occurrences? Gas. Stomach pain. Skin irritation. Is that your “normal?” You may be dealing with food intolerances and not even know it. You may think that frequent headaches happen to everyone, but the truth is: Everyone is entitled to a life free of excessive fatigue, inflammation, pain, and gastrointestinal upset! Not convinced that this is possible? If you are suffering from a food intolerance, a better life with less annoying and stressful symptoms can be possible with proper treatment.

How Do I know if I have a food intolerance?

Food intolerances may be hard to pinpoint since the symptoms may be mild, infrequent, or resemble other common conditions like seasonal allergies or a cold. Food intolerances differ from food allergies. The symptoms of a food allergy are often immediate after consumption of the food allergen. The symptoms of a food intolerance can present well after consumption of a certain food and may not cause a severe reaction.

How can you tell if you have a food intolerance? Unless you’re keeping a close eye on how your diet affects your unpleasant symptoms, figuring out your food intolerances may seem impossible. Have no fear! Your local registered dietitian can help guide you through understanding your specific food-related symptoms. Along with your registered dietitian, you can look into a food intolerance test and determine if it is appropriate for you. While some of these tests may not yet be valid, you can use the results as a starting point in pinpointing the cause of your discomfort.

What should I look for in a food intolerance test?

If you Google “food intolerance test,” hundreds of sites pop up within seconds. You may be discouraged, but we have some tips. Here are the key things you should look for in a food intolerance test:

1. It measures IgG reactions: IgG is a type of antibody that our body produces. Food intolerances may be indicated via the IgG reaction that occurs when we eat troublesome foods. Some tests may not explicitly say that they look at your IgG response, so you may need to shop around so that you know you are getting a test that measures what you are looking for.

2. It requires bodily fluid: While that may be gross or invasive, the IgG antibody is found in bodily fluid like blood. Some intolerance tests ask for a blood, hair sample, fecal sample, or saliva. Make sure you buy a test that analyzes bodily fluid.

3. It helps you deal with your food intolerances beyond the results: Some tests may not offer support after you read the results (and some may not offer the right support). After you receive the results of your food intolerance test, make sure you visit a registered dietitian who can help make sense of it all. Registered dietitians (or RD for short) know how to pinpoint what specific foods are causing issues.

4. It doesn’t offer “quick fixes” or “too-good-to-be-true” methods to fix your food intolerance: Chances are if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Food intolerances are typically handled via elimination diets. Elimination diets eliminate the foods you think are causing problems. These foods are not consumed at all for weeks or months. The point of elimination diets is to temporarily “clear your system” of those seemingly problematic foods. After a period of avoiding that food, people with food intolerances may be able to slowly reintegrate that food back into the diet. Elimination diets focus on slow reintroduction of troublesome food and close monitoring of symptoms to determine which foods and how much can be tolerated.

While food intolerance tests may claim they offer comprehensive, detailed results, food intolerance tests should just be one component of a personalize nutrition program. Always consult a registered dietitian if you have concerns about your diet.