Posted on: December 23, 2015 at 1:27 pm
Last updated: September 22, 2017 at 3:51 pm

This amazing post was written by Jenn Ryan, a freelance writer and editor who’s passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. You can read more of her work at


It’s amazing how many of us accept how we feel every day without questioning it. Acne on the reg? Taking a snooze after lunch? How about having to run to the toilet after a meal, either to let one go or chuck one up?

Gross. I know. Sorry.


But really, our bodies are not meant to function this way. With the proper nutrients, we can have oodles of energy, clear glowing skin, and a happy tummy. I’m assuming this isn’t your norm otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this article.

The Difference Between Allergy and Intolerance

First, let’s talk about the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance. A food allergy is when your body has a (sometimes life-threatening) allergic reaction to the food soon after you eat it. Your lip could swell up, you may have diarrhea, an itchy mouth, hives, or trouble breathing. A food intolerance is when your body may not have an immediate reaction, but a severe one nonetheless.

For instance, I have a gluten intolerance. By the time I was diagnosed, I couldn’t walk, I had an irregular heartbeat, and my body had a weird rash all over it that looked like sunburn. Oh, yeah, and everything hurt. These were not symptoms of an allergy but rather an intolerance that happened over time. A food intolerance is when your body can’t process a certain food and you start having weird symptoms. A food allergy will happen within minutes or hours of eating the food. Food intolerances can take some time to manifest symptoms.

With a food intolerance, you can still eat the food, but you won’t feel great. With an allergy, eating even just a little bit of the food can be life-threatening. This is the reason why many people who have food intolerances tell their servers at restaurants that they have a food allergy. Servers may not understand “intolerance”, but “allergy” is something everyone gets. Aka don’t serve me that gluten!


The Warning Signs

So real talk. What are some common warning signs that you have a food intolerance? Some of these signs are things you thought were normal because everyone else has them. Others may be specific to you. Check out these “everyday” signs that your body is not loving what you’re feeding it.

1. Stomach Trouble

This is a very common warning sign of a food intolerance, but not everyone will experience this. I’ve never experienced any stomach problems with my gluten intolerance. Which is funny because gluten is notorious for causing stomach problems.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, or just have to run to the toilet all the time, you likely have a food intolerance. Your body is trying to get out what’s in there. If you have bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or frequent flatulence, your body could be trying to tell you something. If you have digestive problems frequently, you could have a food intolerance to dairy or gluten (two of the most common food intolerances out there).

2. Skin Problems

Don’t have that glowing skin you always dreamed of? Well stop using those weird products on it for one. Secondly, you could have a food intolerance. Acne, eczema, dry skin, itchy skin, or weird skin rashes could all be indicative of a food intolerance. Dermatitis has been proven to be caused by a gluten intolerance.

Acne is also infamously caused by milk and other dairy products. The hormones found in the milk can make your skin go haywire. If you have acne in combination with digestive problems, you likely have a dairy intolerance. Having acne from time to time can be normal depending on your skin and its environment (as well as the products you use on it), but if you have acne all the time even into adulthood, it’s likely your body is not liking something you’re eating.

3. Mental Health Disorders

If you have trouble concentrating, struggle with mood swings, bipolar, or schizophrenia, you could actually have a food intolerance. You are what you eat, and if your body can’t process what you’re eating, you could have a variety of symptoms akin to mental health disorders.

If you feel drowsy, depressed, or have “brain fog” (trouble concentrating, confusion, etc.), it’s possible that your body can’t process something you’re eating. When this happens, any part of your body could be affected, including your brain chemistry.

4. Migraines or Headaches

Migraines suck. If you’ve ever had one, you know how terrible they are. Even if you only get migraines occasionally, this isn’t normal. Your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. Frequent migraines or headaches could mean that your body isn’t responding well to something you’re eating. Gluten intolerance is a common problem among those who suffer from migraines.

5. Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain is awful. Pain in your spine, joints, or muscles can put a damper on your life and make everything you do seem like a daunting task. People who have food intolerances experience inflammation in these areas as well as other areas. This can cause pain that doesn’t really go away. If you live with chronic pain, I strongly encourage you to take an objective look at your diet. Are you eating some of the top food allergens?

The top food allergens include dairy, gluten, corn, soy, eggs, nuts, and shellfish. However, your body could be intolerant to nearly any food out there. For instance, nightshades, which include potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes, are another category of food many people have reactions to.

You can find out if you have a food intolerance by getting a food allergen and intolerance panel run by your doctor. This will include bloodwork and possibly a stool sample. If you’re not really into seeing the doc or having him or her look at your poo (totally understandable), you can take a look at your diet and try to eliminate the problem foods to see if you notice a difference. I noticed a difference in just a few days after going gluten-free. It could take up to two months though. Everyone’s body is different.

If you struggle with any of these symptoms, consider if you have a food intolerance. You’ve no idea how great you can feel without these foods! Eating a diet that’s rich in healthy fats and plenty of veggies and plant-based proteins can make you feel amazing. Love and nourish your body!

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Jenn Ryan
Freelance Health & Wellness Writer
Jenn Ryan is a freelance writer and editor who's passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. She loves running, reading, and playing with her four rescued rabbits.

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