My (previous) roommate, who works in the health industry, always says “you don’t know how bad you feel until you feel better.” Most people aren’t feeling their best as a repercussion of something they’re eating causing a food sensitivity reaction. Sensitivity is commonly confused with allergy, which aren’t one and the same.
I initially became interested in this concept after my last bodybuilding show. Being so lean, I became way more clued into what made my body look (and thus react) in a different way. I noticed yogurt gave me small, pink raised bumps on my triceps and whey protein made me look puffy. I later discovered this was a casein sensitivity.
Sensitivities prompt a less urgent response and instead cause side effects that are more subtle and delayed, but impact quality of life just the same; things like mild skin reactions, fatigue, headaches, congestion, digestive issues, stomach aches, bloating, and so on. Many people never get tested for their sensitivities (it’s a pretty pricey exam), and end up medicating to alleviate symptoms, live with them or don’t realize how much they’re being affected throughout their entire life. For example, waking up congested each morning may not be something that’s just “normal for you”, or needs to be treated with a morning dose of over the counter allergy medicine. Rather, it could be the spoonful of peanut butter you eat each night or the glass of nonfat milk at dinner.
When people eliminate foods that trigger sensitivity reactions, they will often think clearer than they realized was even possible. Similarly, physical changes may become apparent, such as a huge decrease in water-retention or bloating by removing whichever food was causing you trouble from your diet.
When I got my CrossFit Level 1 certificate, we spent a solid amount of time discussing nutrition and how it impacts how you feel, both in and outside of the gym. The suggestion given by the host of that session, Nuno Costa (such a great speaker!), was to eliminate all possible ingredients that would cause a food sensitivity from your diet, and then add them back in slowly one at a time (that’s key for this to work) to see if any of them are effecting you at all. Like I said, there is a blood test you can have done by a local lab to find this information out as well, but this method is a little easier on the wallet (and a rather cool experiment, don’t you think?).
Here are things you should eliminate from your diet to perform this test yourself:
- cow’s milk
- soy foods
- wheat and/or gluten
- tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.)
- preservatives or additives
Take these things out of your regular diet and once you’ve done it for a week or so, you can add your favorite products back in slowly for a more powerful look at if or how it’s impacting you. Cheers to feeling good!