Do You Have a Food Sensitivity?

February 28, 2012
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Surprising symptoms related to common foods that masquerade as your friend.

A while back, Dr. Oz featured a segment on food sensitivities which turned out to be the highest rated show of the season! This is a much bigger issue than you may realize, so even if you don’t think you have a food sensitivity, take a quick moment to answer this easy questionnaire—you may be surprised. Answering “yes” can indicate the strong probability that you suffer from a food intolerance:

  • Do you have itchy skin, chronic skin rashes, or eczema?
  • Do you  have puffy eyes, dark circles, or swelling beneath your eyes?
  • Do you suffer from unexplained headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, joint pain, muscle aches, arthritis, or extreme tiredness after eating?
  • Do you eat the same foods every day?
  • Are you frequently the victim of food cravings?
  • Are you a compulsive eater?
  • Has your metabolism slowed down?
  • Do you suffer from a lot of water retention?
  • Do you engage in binge eating?
  • Do you often feel bloated?
  • Does your weight yo-yo up and down every day by as much as five pounds?


Ninety percent of food allergies and sensitivities stem from the most common reaction-producing foods: wheat, milk, corn, unfermented soy, and peanuts. In some cases (like peanuts for example), a true allergy can lead to anaphylactic shock, a deadly allergic response in which the body releases histamines, causing tissues to swell, which inhibits breathing, interferes with blood flow, and sometimes leads to heart failure.

Delayed food sensitivities can sometimes manifest two days after the toxic food was ingested. So, who would ever know that symptoms were tied to food? Therefore, some detective work is in order to find the guilty suspects.

These same delayed food responses are strongly linked with complications like food cravings, food addictions, bingeing, increased appetite, and a decreased metabolism that are not obviously the result of just an allergy.

For most of us, sensitivities seem to cluster around a few ordinary foods and ingredients—mostly wheat, milk, corn, yeast, sugar and MSG (often referred to as hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or “natural flavorings”). By the way, black pepper is also a frequent culprit, according to food sensitivity testing, as are many herbs and spices that you enjoy on a daily basis.

To help tip the balance of health in your favor, try the following first line protocol:

1)      Practice an elimination diet. Choose a food that you routinely eat and eliminate it first. Cut out all dishes made with this item from your meals at home. When shopping, read labels to see if any undesirable ingredient is listed. In restaurants always consult with your server about the preparation of your food. You can’t always tell from the menu exactly what is in a dish. Continue to avoid the suspected food or item for three weeks. Keep a simple log to help you notice if your symptoms ease. If the symptoms disappear, briefly reintroduce the food and see if they return. If they do reappear, you know you need to permanently drop that food from your diet. For extra verification, consider an at-home Gluten Intolerance Test or an Expanded GI Panel which tests allergies to gluten, cow’s milk, eggs, and soy.

2)      Engage antioxidant power. Antioxidants help the body cope with any aftereffects of reactions and fight oxidative stress. I would recommend a formula like Oxi-Key which contains well-researched immune boosters and enzymes like catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and vitamins B, C, and E. Read what Deb D. has to say about the positive changes she’s seen after taking Oxi-Key:

“I have been taking Oxi-Key for about 2 weeks now and do feel a difference and improvement in my well-being. My skin and hair seem more vibrant. My skin particularly has taken on a luminous sheen, which my husband has made comments about. I am thrilled and plan to continue to take this amazing product along with the other UNI KEY supplements I regularly take.”


Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta

    Interesting article, but from an editorial / fact-checking point of view, I’d like to point out thaMSG is monosodium glutamate, not any kind of soy protein, as suggested above. I think maybe you accidentally left out a repeat of “unfermented soy” before the list in parentheses that you have following MSG (which only would qualify as a seasoning agent).

  2. Candy J

    Beware, Food Sensitivites are sneaky! Goji berries, sadly, are not perfect and may trigger a reaction in those of us sensitive to nightshade due to the presence of atropine, also in the deadly nightshade belladonna plant,

  3. administrator

    Maxine: Thank you for your post but the article stands correct. When soy proteins are hydrolyzed or autolyzed, MSG is formed. The list that was provided in the article contains a list of the most common ingredients on lables which translate into MSG because of their method of manufacture.

  4. Susie

    I was just wondering, can the Expanded GI Panel test and similiar ones be done from overseas? eg Australia.

  5. administrator

    Hi Susie: If you email [email protected], we are sure you will get the answer. We believe that you can do these tests no matter where you live as they are tests that are done in the privacy of your own home and then sent to the lab with which Dr. ALG is affiliated. Good luck 🙂

  6. Sandy Halliday

    Another way that works well for some to work out if they are sensitive to a certain food is to do the pulse test. Searching online for the Coca Pulse test will bring up the instructions.

  7. administrator

    Sandy: Excellent suggestion – one that Dr. ALG uses herself with hard-to-detect intolerances 🙂

  8. Ella

    It really irritates me authors casually recommend an elimination diet.

    When you’re juggling multiple responsibilities an elimination diet is practically impossible.

    I don’t know anyone who’s been on one – because they are too difficult.

    • Team ALG

      We do know many people who have solved their mysterious symptoms by finding their food sensitives. An elimination diet is an effective way to find those sensitivities. It depends on how motivated one is based on their symptoms to do something that helps find the cause.


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