You may think that your headache, fatigue and nausea might be due to your stressful work schedule. However, this is not always the case. In some instances, you may have to dig deeper to determine the cause. There’s one factor that often gets overlooked (and we don’t want you to suffer too much longer). Here’s our tip: If you have chronic symptoms that plague you from day to day, check to see if you have a food intolerance.

What are the major symptoms of a food intolerance? 

When someone has a food intolerance, they may have a wide array of symptoms that don’t necessarily point to the food they’re eating. These symptoms can vary from digestive upset, respiratory problems and even acne. Conditions like chronic anxiety, depression, headache, fatigue, high blood pressure, asthma, joint pain and/or weight problems can all be indicative of an intolerance.

Food intolerances often show up as long term inflammation which are difficult to diagnose. Regardless of the symptoms, your distress may be indicative that your body is having trouble breaking down certain foods. A common food intolerance is a lactose intolerance. In this case, someone has trouble breaking down the lactase in dairy products. However, you can develop intolerances to almost any food!

In recent times, it is estimated that food intolerances now plague about 20% of the world’s population, making this a very common occurrence. Do you think you suffer from a food-related issue? Take our quick quiz. If you suffer from a food intolerance, you may find it difficult to digest certain foods and experience unpleasant symptoms after eating those foods. Also, it is important to know that you can develop an intolerance during any point of your life. So, even if you had no adverse reaction to gluten as a child, maybe your recent uptick in bloating is due to a new gluten intolerance.

Timing is Key: The Difference Between a Food Allergy and a Food Intolerance

If you are trying to find out if you have a food intolerance, make sure you understand the timing of your symptoms. Typically, food intolerance symptoms occur several hours after consumption of a trigger food. This can make it hard to determine exactly which food is causing you trouble. If your symptoms are severe and/or occur almost immediately after consumption of a certain food, you may have a food allergy and need immediate medical attention. Make sure you know the difference!

Managing Your Food-Related Symptoms

As with any health concerns, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor and/or registered dietitian. Under their guidance, you may need to keep a food diary. This tool can help identify patterns between your food intake and symptoms.

Your healthcare team may also recommend a food intolerance test. Such tests can help identify your tolerance to hundreds of food items. Oftentimes these tests can detect intolerances to common food triggers and not-so-common triggers that are unique to you. Although these tests may not be 100% accurate, they can give your healthcare team useful information for your care.

As part of a complete and personalized nutrition program, food intolerance tests can springboard the road to your recovery. Once you identify your trigger foods, your healthcare team can create an effective treatment plan for you. Contact your doctor and/or registered dietitian if you have concerns about a food intolerance.