Why Self-Test for Food Allergies?
While there are many tests for allergies , none of them are not 100% accurate. You may get false-positives. This means you will be needlessly eliminating food from your diet that you could very well eat. Who needs the extra stress and inconvenience?
You may get false negatives. This is far worse: it means that you will eat foods that you think are OK, but are not. It is much harder to realize that an allergen is a problem if a test wrongly “proved” that the food is safe for you.
Keep in mind that few people have just one allergy. Most people have several allergies to food and air-born substances. Eliminating just one of these items could make a huge difference, but then again, maybe not. You need to find all of the major allergens that are bothering you, eliminate every last one, then see you feel.
Let’s say that you get tested, and test positive for corn and negative to wheat. Corn is in a lot of food – it is a major filler and additive. It is a major hassle to eliminate. On the other hand, so is wheat – you will be glad you can keep eating that one! Now if the testing turns out to be inaccurate (and it really can be that inaccurate), you may find that you feel no better, and are having all this hassle eliminating all this food from your life, so you will eventually go back to your original diet.
Now lets say that you don’t get tested, but eliminate some of the most common food allergens from your diet. After a while you start to feel better. It is likely that some of the foods you eliminated are causing the problem. Congratulations, you are on your way to finding out exactly what to eliminate and what to keep on eating! Here’s how:
How to Self-Test for Allergies
The following procedure must be followed without cheating, or you will have a lot of inconvenience, but without useful information. This method only works if, when you eliminate foods, you eliminate all traces of the food all the time for the full duration of the test.
The following procedure refers to the list of foods to avoid. This is the list of foods you will be eliminating from your diet. Initially, it will include all of the foods you are testing. As you re-introduce foods into your diet, you can refine the list of foods to avoid, striking off those foods which do not cause problems, and leaving on foods that do.
- Eliminate all traces of every food listed in the most common food allergens list. Initially, this will be your list of foods to avoid.
You must eliminate these foods for at least one full month for a truly valid test.
- Note how you feel over this period of time. Keep a daily journal of your symptoms and energy level to track your progress (or lack there of).
- If you are allergic to any of the foods on the list of foods to avoid, you should feel better by the time one month has passed.
- Introduce just one of the foods from the list of foods to avoid. We will call it the test food, the single food you are testing for allergy symptoms.
Eat a very small amount of the food – about one tenth of what you would normally consider a serving.
- Wait up to three full days to see if there is a reaction. If you get any symptoms, you should highly suspect this test food food.
Keep in mind that other factors may cause symptoms, such as allergens that are not on your list of foods to avoid, or even fear that this food will cause problems. If you experience symptoms, put the test food on your tentative list of foods to avoid.
- If you do not experience symptoms, eat more of the test food: double your intake from the previous test amount.
- If you find you have fully reintroduced the test food into your diet, and you still feel fine, you can consider it to be OK (at least for now). Add it to your tentative list of allowed foods.
- If you experienced symptoms from the food you just tested, allow your body to recover. Wait several weeks (it may take a month) for your body to feel good and relatively symptom free, before moving on to the next test food.
- Test the next food on the list of foods to avoid. This becomes your new test food.
- Repeat steps 4 through 7 for each food on the list of foods to avoid.
You now have a tentative list of allowed foods and a tentative list of foods to avoid. If you feel fine and have been eating all the foods listed on your list of allowed foods, chances are you now know what foods are OK, and what foods are not. It is now time to retest the items listed on your list of foods to avoid.
- Start the test over again for any items on your list of foods to avoid about which you are unsure.
The test outlined above is pretty accurate if you are careful to eliminate all traces of the test food from your diet, and if the symptoms caused by an allergy to a food are fairly clear. Sometimes it is not that easy. You may have allergies to other foods besides the common ones. It is also likely that you also have non-food allergies, for example molds, dust, pets etc. This muddies the waters as far as deciding if you feel OK or not.
You may have to wait longer than suggested for your body to recover between testing foods. The key is to feel good, before you can tell if a particular food makes you feel bad.
Cheating the Allergy Test
This test can be accurate over time, but it is not easy. You may be tempted to eat food on your list of foods to avoid, for example when you are a dinner guest. This may be unavoidable, in which case you must allow your body to recover by eliminating the allergenic food from your diet until you feel fine again. This could set you back for up to a month, so it is much better to do everything possible to avoid eating the food on your avoid list.
Another problem is that you may think you are eliminating all traces of a particular food, but it may be an ingredient in something you are eating without your realizing it.
Check ingredients of everything you eat carefully. If in doubt, leave it out!
What is your experience with discovering your allergies? Have you tried using the above method, or something similar? Did it help you or not? Share your experience and point of view, leave a comment!