For a good part of a year, I had the worst cold known to man. Okay, so maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it was pretty bad. Each day as I’d get ready for work, I’d feel pressure in my nose and face, couldn’t think straight, had weird aches and pains, dark circles under my eyes, and was so sleepy I’d want to take a nap (even when I’d gotten a solid 8 hours the night before).
The weird thing was that I didn’t have these symptoms all the time.
Sometimes, I felt energized, clear-headed and dark-circle free. Other times, I wanted to crawl under my covers and lie in the fetal position clutching a blanky.
So, what was it? Black mold in the house? A serious dislike for getting dressed? At the recommendation of a friend, and after realizing that my symptoms seemed to appear shortly after eating, I started keeping a food journal.
That’s when I had my big A-HA moment.
I was eating eggs for breakfast every day. And shortly after eating breakfast, I’d start getting ready for work — and feel those symptoms. And then, most days I’d have a yogurt for a snack and something with cheese for lunch (I was already gluten-free at the time). Again, the symptoms would pop up.
It became pretty obvious that I was having a reaction to food,
specifically dairy and eggs.
I had been eating those things for years. So why did I start having symptoms now? There are lots of reasons — and most of them revolve around gut dysfunction (more on that in a later blog post), but how could I be sure my symptoms were related to what I was eating?
Two words: elimination diet.
If you’ve ever been on an elimination diet, you know it’s not necessarily fun, but it does give you the answers you’re looking for. An elimination diet is basically where you eliminate certain foods for a period of time and then add them back in one at a time to find the culprit(s). Read this for more info on how to do one.
So, I took eggs and all dairy out of my diet. No yogurt, no cheese, no ice cream, no whey protein, no milk. I felt miraculously better. After two weeks, I tried eggs. My stomach curdled — a sure sign eggs were not welcomed back. Later on I tried milk. The results weren’t as obvious, but I could tell I felt better without it. A few years later, I got a full allergy blood panel done and guess what… eggs and dairy were on the list, in addition to soy and garlic.
You don’t have to have an allergy to experience a reaction though; you could have a sensitivity or intolerance. The main difference is that an allergy is a reaction by your body’s immune system to the food’s protein. A sensitivity could be a reaction to any part of the food. Regardless, an elimination diet works great for sensitivities too. Read more about the difference between food allergies and sensitivities here.
These are some common symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities. If you have any of these, you might want to consider an elimination diet. Headache
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
- Puffy eyes
- Dark circles under eyes
- Mood swings
- Inability to lose or gain weight
Here’s the good news.
Eliminating these symptoms is as easy as eliminating the foods that are causing them. And if you only have a sensitivity (not an allergy), there’s a chance you can successfully reintroduce those foods later.
But since changing how you eat isn’t always easy, you have to decide if removing certain foods, even temporarily, is worth it to you. For me, not having debilitating congestion, brain fog and fatigue every day is absolutely 100% worth it.