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Food sensitivities.

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The problem is finding the offending food(s).

Once you've found the sensitivity eliminating the offending food is easy.

Food sensitivities can show up in the strangest ways. Somebody can have a full-body rash for years on end, another has joint aches and pains, a third has recurrent coughs, a fourth has alopecia, and a fifth has ongoing explosive diarrhoea.

If you have strange troubles and the docs simply can't find a cause, try one or the other elimination diet.

If you have Crohn's, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and/or ulcerative colitis: do the elimination diets before things progress so far that parts of your guts rot (go necrotic) and have to be removed. Do this before you're cursed with a belly bag, because you don't have a colon anymore.

Honest. Severe sensitivities to foods are the cause of severe gut troubles, nevermind what docs believe (and tell you).

The three most common culprits

  • Gluten. That's no gluten-containing products at all. So it's absolutely no wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Oats might be OK once things have calmed down. Spelt is wheat, and yes, it contains gluten. You'll find barley (as malt) in all beers, and you'll find rye in whiskey. Other alcohols are iffy: you don't know what that vodka is made of, nor do you have any idea what the herbal tincture base is. Wine is OK, though. Spaghetti is right out, as are most breads and cookies. Read labels, they put wheat flour into the strangest places.
    And note, you can be severely sensitive to wheat without having celiac disease.
  • Milk. That's no milk products at all - so it's absolutely no butter, cream, milk, cheeses, yogurts, sourcreams, and so on. Read labels, they put milk powder and/or lactose (= milk sugar) into the strangest things - for instance, prescription meds. If you have to have milk in your morning coffee, go for rice or oat milk, that doesn't come from cows. Lactose-free products aren't all that helpful, either, as about half of those sensitive to milk are sensitive to milk protein, not milk sugar.
  • Solanaceous plants. That's no foods at all from the nightshade family: potatoes, tomatoes, chili (cayenne), sweet peppers (paprika), aubergines (eggplant), husk tomato, tomatillo and similar (various species of Physalis). There's a few others, but those are the most common solanaceous foods. Read labels, they put potato starch, cayenne, powdered sweet pepper, and tomatoes into the weirdest things.

There are others, of course, like citrus fruit, and eggs, and artificial colors (especially red), and so on. The three above are, however, unique in that we ingest something or other from these groups almost every day. That means that we don't notice that we get ill from them, and it also means that we are hooked on them, and want to eat them every day: a food sensitivity, if severe, gives the metabolism a good kick, without which we feel rundown. Luckily, that wears off after the first 10 days or so of absolutely and completely no severely sensitising food.

Which should you start with?

If you have joint pains and similar you should start with the solanaceous foods.

If your ancestry is weak on traditional milk drinkers (Germans, Danes, Swedes, Dutch, northern Swiss, Norwegians, Maasai, etc.) you should start with the milk products.

The elimination diets

The skin-prick tests of docs are generally a waste of time, for dietary sensitivities. No, what you should do is this:

For two full weeks, leave out all and any foods from one or the other of the most common food sensitivity groups.
Then, eat your normal diet for one week.

Did you feel better than you've felt for years during the last few days of the special diet? Did you feel lousy when going back on your normal diet? Right, you should stay off that particular food group for at least 6 months, totally and completely, to give your gut a chance to heal, totally and completely.
Then you can try to reintroduce parts of the food group - perhaps you can take tomatoes but not potatoes, perhaps you can do hard cheeses even if milk is out of the question, perhaps you can eat oats where wheat is a complete no-no.

Or was there no change in your general well-being at all? Right, it's on to the next food group then, and do 2 weeks totally without that particular group, then 1 week on a normal diet.

Then the next.

If these were all negative, next up is a test of both gluten and milk in one go: they might cross-react, and if you eat one while your gut is raw from the other you could have trouble with that one, too.

If that didn't help either you'll need to do a food diary, and try to track the offending foods down. That's very tricky. Honest, these three total eliminations are easier than keeping a food diary.

Trouble can show up for up to 10 days after you ingested an offending food, which is why the 14 day test. Also, you need to be consistent. One cookie can give you a 10-day flareup. One bit of milk in your morning coffee can give you 10 days of problems. It's also wise to use a dedicated cutting board for your bread for the gluten-free time; that way, you don't get bread crumbs from other breads. Yes, you really can be that sensitive.


Related entries: Dietary problems - Chronic gut upset - Gut upset - quick tests


So, if it should fall out that you have a milk product sensitivity (or a food-dye problem), and one of those medications you checked was milk-riddled or coloured, a compounding pharmacist can fill that script for you in a non-food-sensitivity-offending fashion. Here in the US, we can duplicate available meds if it's for a specific purpose, such as patient wishing to avoid an excipient.

I'd put corn on the "others" list, too. Darn if I don't get an inner-elbow rash when I have it these days. Over here in the states, corn starch is in the weirdest places, sometimes just as "modified food starch". And for dairy reactors, once they've healed the gut, fermented dairy might sit better than unfermented (as it does for me).

Oh how cool... this is all written up (and so nicely) in one place and now I don't have to keep re-writing it myself (one cannot possibly guess why I never remembered to SAVE what I wrote). Now I can just send people a link to get here, it makes me so happy (skipping around like Snoopy)...

Thanks persimmon, jim.

There's another problem with severe food sensitivities: getting people with severe colitis (and/or their docs) to believe that gut troubles stem from diet.

/cynical mode/ 'course, telling people to change their diet doesn't sell any pills, so chances of docs being taught this simple connection within the next 10 years are rather slim /end cynical mode/.

Well, I can now report that the elimination diets do not work very well for folks with long-term chronic gut sensitivities. The problem is, long-term inflammation just doesn't heal up in 2 weeks...or even 2 months. So eliminate all you want, the person just doesn't feel better, and then when the offending food is reintroduced, the person doesn't necessarily feel any worse either (because they never felt better in the first place!).

This is from trying it myself a number of times over the past few years, and also working with several clients who had similar problems and similar lack of response. A client and I have now both tested positive for gluten and milk sensitivity through (nci), so now we know what's going on. So I recommend testing if elimination diets are inconclusive. Unless the person just wants to permanently eliminate the food group...go for it! But most people want to "know."

Thanks for that, Susan.

It takes about 6 months for long-term gut trouble to heal up completely.
One problem with gluten and/or milk is, they cross-react. You're sensitive to one, your gut is all raw, you react to the other.
Ditch both of them, completely, and report how you feel after two weeks on that.

To the people who want to "know": it's amazing just how many uncomfortable problems stem from the diet, starting with mild to extreme gut troubles over skin troubles, acid reflux, asthma, joint pains, muscle pains, mental fogginess, sleepiness, listlessness, sleep apnea, and going all the way to hypothyroid problems.

While difficult to do, going completely off the allergen(s) is well worth the trouble.

I have heard that ergot, a nasty fungy thing that grows on/in rye and wheat (and other grains) may be the culprit of the wheat sensitivity issue. Anyone want to comment on this?

Ergot is not a problem in commercial cultivation.

Over five months ago I started a food elimination diet due to a list of 28 foods (IgG test).
After all this time I'm still unable to reintroduce foods on list??? Could my food sensitivities be connected with the nervous "break down" Adrenal fatique I experienced before the testing??? At this point I have spent way to much money on a ND who seems to have no idea if my health issues are linked together. Thanks for your time and help....

Find an alternative practitioner close to you. Somebody other than this ND who just wants your money.

Thanks for this post. It makes it seem doable, although I fit the criteria for all of the groups to 'try first'. Ah well. I need an online support group, it is really hard for me to do this elimination thing. Anyone know of one? Or any interest in starting one? I will host it if there is any interest. laurel -at- dittany -dot- com.

Also, the FDA is targeting compounding pharmacies, and I encourage anyone to check this site and perhaps write your congressperson:
Welcome to, the online home of Patients and Professionals for Customized Care (P2C2). P2C2 is bringing together people who know first-hand that compounded medicines are a critical part of modern, individualized healthcare and gives them the necessary tools to win the fight to keep their access to compounded medicines.

Thanks again