Happy Sunday! Sundays are a day of rest, a way to reset for the week,…and a way to learn more about food allergies and sensitivities! In my first post, I mentioned that there is a difference between food allergies and sensitivities, and so I thought I would share more about this topic in today’s Sensitive Sunday post. To start, I am going to clarify that I am NOT a doctor (just a master in education! :p), and my thoughts, opinions, and tangents are all based on my own experiences and personal conversations about my health with my doctor.
To help better understand the difference between food allergies and sensitivities, I’ve decided to share the results of the last food allergy test I took in November 2017. I have never shared my results publicly, so this is a new thing for me. The food allergy test I took is broken down into 7 main sections:
Each food in the section is then tested individually to see if my blood reacts in a certain way to then determine if I have a food allergy or food sensitivity. Below are the results of my testing from November 2017:
Photo A.Photo B.Photo C.
Luckily, I don’t have to interpret all of the science-y stuff that goes on behind the scenes to understand my results because they come all nice and color-coded and easy to read. And they tell me exactly what’s going to cause my body to have a reaction or not. Even before knowing the differences between these photos, it is easy to see that in Photos A and B, there is something to be said for whey; egg whites/yolks; sugar cane; both baker’s and brewer’s yeast; amaranth; kidney/string beans; wheat; sesame seed; spelt; and mushrooms. But what do they mean?
Located at the bottom of each set of results is an easy-to-read guide as to how severe a food sensitivity or allergy may be. The guide looks like this:
Clearly the guide is pretty straightforward, with the lowest level being “No Reaction” to the highest level being “Extremely High.” When speaking to my doctor about food allergies/sensitivities, he consistently says to disregard the 0 and 1 reactions, as they are not significant enough to cause a large reaction in the body. And so, he always starts with 2 (“Low” reaction) when looking at how foods react in the body. So now, let’s go back to the significant foods that came up in my results and see where the stand on the guide:
- Whey (1)
- Chicken whites/eggs (1/2)
- Sugar cane (1)
- Baker’s/Brewer’s yeast (2/3)
- Amaranth (2)
- Kidney/String beans (1)
- Wheat (1/2)
- Sesame seed (1)
- Spelt (1)
- Mushroom (3)
Luckily for me, most of my food sensitivities are between 1-3, ranging from non-significant to moderate reactions. The most significant for me in this current testing were yeast and mushrooms, although I do avoid eggs, dairy, and wheat based on the high results of my previous test (i.e. eggs were a 6 on that test and whey/milk/wheat were 2/3). Based on my current results, my reactions can be anything from an immediate stomachache to stomach issues lasting up to 72 hours later.
So, you’ll notice at this point that I have not yet referenced Photo C. Why? Because those were the results of my actual food allergies, which are all 0’s. Now, you may be thinking “whoah, Meagan, your blog is called Food Allergy Logic, so where are the food allergies?!” And, you’re right. I don’t have any actual food allergies. My life is not threatened by food.
The main difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity is the reaction that the food causes on the body. For someone like me who has food sensitivities, I may feel strong discomfort when I eat a food I am sensitive to, which often results in digestive problems, strong mood swings, bloating, and even acne (which could literally be it’s own post, but SPOILER ALERT: for me it’s caused by ingesting yeast). For someone who has an actual food allergy, their body completely rejects the food that it is allergic too, often times being severe enough for that person to need to carry around an epipen, although some may be able to function without one. Food allergies are also triggered not only by the food itself, but also by remnants of the food on cooking equipment, called cross-contamination. This is why if you go into a dining hall on a college campus, there will be a special area for students who have food allergies to cook their food, as anything prepared on the mainline may be exposed to the food they are allergic to, such as gluten.
Often, people around me do not take the time to understand the difference between food allergies and sensitivities. Because there is not often a distinction made, I will choose to call my food sensitivities ‘food allergies’ when I eat out because I can sometimes get a reaction from cross-contamination. If the chef/cook does not take my food sensitivity seriously, i.e. they assume it’s a preference, there is a chance that I could eat something that I am sensitive to and have a small reaction. Although my reactions are not life threatening, even eating something as small as a tablespoon of butter will have me feeling miserable for the rest of the day and up to 72 hours later.
This is a super brief synopsis of my test results and the distinction between food allergies and sensitivities, so if you have any questions or experiences in your own life, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email through my blog! And look for my Sensitive Sunday posts every week; let’s keep living our best and most delicious lives. ❤