Allergic or Intolerant?
Learn More About Allergies and Intolerances

What is Allergic or Intolerant?

Have you ever had a stomachache after eating and wondered if you were allergic to something you ate? With food allergies seeming to be on the rise, it’s easy to make this assumption. However, there’s a misconception about food allergies versus having a food intolerance.

According to Food Allergy Research and Education, 15 million Americans have food allergies. We’re not sure how many Americans have food intolerances; however, the United States National Library of Medicine estimates that 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.

Food allergies and food intolerances are very different. Food allergies is the immune system overreacting to specific food proteins even in tiny amounts. For example, if a person is allergic to milk, IgE specific antibodies attach to the milk protein treating is as a dangerous invader. The symptoms vary from mild to severe depending on the immune system’s response. However, if a person has an intolerance to milk (lactose intolerance) they will have an inability to digest it due to a lack of enzyme to break down the milk protein. This can be uncomfortable but rarely if ever is fatal. Both food allergies and food intolerances end up with the same response, namely avoidance.

Keeping a Food Journal for Food Intolerance

Have you been noticed uncomfortable symptoms after eating certain foods? Make an appointment with doctor and leading up to the appointment, keep a food journal. In your food journal, write down everything you eat and estimated quantities. Don’t leave anything out! The more information you have, the better at figuring out which foods you are intolerant to and how much you can consume of a food you have an intolerance.

You can use our food journal worksheets to get started or use a notebook. If you are helping your child track their food a fun worksheet will be more enticing to fill out and collect.

Bring your food journal with to your doctor’s appointment. This information will help your doctor diagnose and give you guidance on what you should and shouldn’t eat. If you have an ingredient list from a packaged food item that can be very helpful as well.

Meet With Your Doctor

If you think you have a food allergy or intolerance, it’s important to meet with your doctor for confirmation and medical advice. You can research on the Internet and keep a food journal, but only a doctor can make sure you are truly allergic or intolerant and help you come up with a plan. You don’t want to miss out on nutrients by avoiding foods or misdiagnose yourself.

After meeting with your doctor, you should have a clear plan on how to move forward. Which food(s) to avoid, treatments (if necessary), and information to help you learn more about your allergy or intolerance.

After being diagnosed with your doctor, it’s time to do some research. Research different foods you can eat as substitutes, meet with a dietitian to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition, and learn what you can do if you do accidentally consume a food you are allergic or intolerant.

Take the time to educate yourself and join any support groups. There may be local groups in your area or you can start with the Food Allergy Research and Education support group finder.

Having an intolerance or allergy shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your life!