Do I have a Food Sensitivity or an Allergy?

How our bodies interact with food is such a complicated and fascinating topic!

There is so much info “out there ” on what are the right foods to eat or not eat, or what is the right kind of diet” that we should all consume for good health, so we can be a healthy weight and symptom free.”

Last week a long time friend asked me what I thought of the Keto Diet…  Here is what I said….. It depends…

All “Diets” have a deficiecncy component that needs to be addressed. Some diets have a quality problem also.
The same friend asked me just recently what I thought of the Carnivore Diet?  I said the same thing it depends…
The word “diet” suggests a quick fix, however most of our population struggle to maintain the lifestyle/habits required for health. This is due to high levels of cortisol, which leads to impaired digestion of protein, carbs and fat. Which can then lead to blood sugar swings and you could become  Insulin Resistance over time.  The roller coaster then continues toward the chronic conditions I see everyday in clinic. 


In my office I spend the time with each patient to discuss the foundations of health that include nutrition, genetics and lifestyle. It is truly a lesson in Chemistry and Biology. 

I’m so thankful that my path led me to Functional Medicine where I can spend the time to uncover the root cause and go deeper with food. Now, nutrition is one of the most important topics I discuss with every patient. Nutrition is everything we take in and a lesson in Chemistry and Biology. 

This process of being a Nutrition detective to discover how to create a unique Functional Medicine plan for each patient that leads to lowering inflammation and a healthier gut! Symptoms throughout the entire body can subside simply by adjusting what we eat, when we eat and how much we eat. FOOD AS MEDICINE

There is a lot of confusion around food allergies. Often, terms are interchanged or misused. In this article, I go over definitions, examples and provide action steps you can take right away.


Food allergies are what we typically think of when someone has a reaction to a food, such as a child being allergic to peanuts. The body produces IgE antibodies, and symptoms can be immediate and often severe.

Symptoms can include:

  • • Swelling of the tongue, mouth and throat
  • • Mouth itching or tingling
  • • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • • Hives, itching and rashes
  • • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • • Low blood pressure or fainting

In more extreme cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening. Because of this, food allergies are taken very seriously. You likely know someone who carries around an epi (epinephrine) pen in case their immune system over-responds to a food.

Food allergies affect around 8% of children and up to 5% of adults. It’s possible to have food allergies as a kid and then outgrow them or to have adult-onset allergies.

The 8 most common foods someone can be allergic to include:

• Cow’s milk (all animal dairy)
• Eggs
• Tree nuts
• Peanuts
• Fish
• Shellfish
• Soy
• Wheat (gluten)


Food sensitivities are a little more nuanced than food allergies and likely affect a greater percentage of people. One reason that I think the prevalence of food sensitivities is increasing is due to the toxins we are exposed to daily that impact our gut health, detoxification and immune system.

It’s possible to be sensitive to the foods listed above, or any food, but a blood test for IgE antibodies will be negative. Food sensitivities can show up as other antibodies, including IgG antibodies, or may be a result of an inflammatory response that doesn’t involve antibodies at all. Food sensitivities are often delayed, instead of immediate, making symptoms more challenging to connect to a specific food.

Although food sensitivity testing provides some clues to which foods you could be sensitive to, the gold standard at the moment is still determined through an elimination diet.  The most inflammatory foods are eliminated for a period of time and then reintroduced systematically while monitoring for a reaction. We do however offer Comprehensive Food Sensitivity Testing at my cost for those that prefer to go that route. Contact me if you want to learn more.


Food sensitivities can affect all body systems. Possible symptoms include:

• Headaches and migraines
• Joint pain and stiffness, muscle aches
• Fatigue
• Mood swings, irritability
• Cravings
• Brain fog
• Runny nose, sneezing
• Circles under the eyes, red or watery eyes
• Itchy skin, rosy cheeks
• Bladder pain or increased urination
• Burping and throat clearing
• Gas, bloating, constipation and other digestive symptoms


As you can see, it isn’t just digestive symptoms that reveal food sensitivities. Often I see these sensitivities as a sign that something deeper is going on in the body. In the case of leaky gut, where the small intestine becomes permeable, large food proteins enter the body causing an immune response. Or in the case where someone has chronic high stress ( real or perceived ) they will  typically have low stomach acid (HCL) and they struggle to break down protein and signal the pancreas and liver gallbladder to release enzymes needed to break down foods. 

By finding the root cause of the imbalance using Functional Medicine approaches, symptoms decrease, you feel better overall, lose weight and can begin to reintroduce a wider variety of foods you can enjoy. Yeah !!!


The first step along with Diet changes is downregulatiing Stress and improving Digestion.

To Modulate Stress:  Ashwagandha Forte, Ashwagandha Complex, Drenamin, Nevaton

To Support Digestion: Zypan, Enzycore, Multizyme, AF Betafood, Betacol, Choline, Enzymix Pro, Digest Forte

All these whole food and herbals can be found HERE.

Doing some simple things lowers the inflammation set point so healing can begin.

The fastest way to healing is to go slow until good habits become a lifestyle that lasts.

I am here to walk beside you in your healing journey. If you would like that you can BOOK online.

Have a healthy week and if you got a slow start to 2024 then I hope this post motivates you toward your very own Fresh Start…

Dr Pia