Food Intolerance: Establishing Your Baseline Frequency and Severity of Symptoms With a Diet Diary

by Dr. Scot Lewey - Date: 2007-01-08 - Word Count: 502 Share This!

Food intolerance is associated with a number of both digestive and non-digestive symptoms: Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and other food intolerance may be associated with numerous digestive and non-digestive symptoms. Some of the most common non-digestive symptoms reported by people include fatigue or sense of being overly tired, headaches, bone, joint and/or muscle pain, mental fogginess or impaired attention, nerve pain (neuropathy), skin rashes. The most common digestive symptoms include feeling of excess fullness with meals or afterwards, bloating or distended abdomen, diarrhea, excess or foul gas, constipation, heartburn, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

It is important to rate the severity and frequency of common symptoms before and after starting an elimination diet:

A good place to start when determining if foods are causing your symptoms is to keep a symptom diet diary along with your own "Top Ten Symptoms" list. The initial symptom list should include a baseline rating of the frequency and severity of your symptoms before making any change in your diet or eating pattern.

The key to success with an elimination diet is an adequate trial with accurate diary: When trying to determine if certain foods are contributing to how you feel and the kinds of symptoms you are experiencing, it is important to complete an adequate trial of elimination combined with accurate recording of what you eat and how you feel. A commitment to 4 weeks to try strictly eliminating the foods recommended according to your specific assessment while recording accurately what you are eating and how you feel will help you identify patterns. It will also help you stay motivated to eliminate, restrict or rotate regularly any problem foods when you see patterns revealed.

A minimum of a month of elimination diet is recommended:

It is recommended that you try a month of initial elimination diet because of the time it requires for the intestinal lining cells to repair and your body to eliminate any ongoing immune stimulation or inflammation. It also takes some time for individuals to identify hidden sources of possible problem foods and adjust to the new eating pattern.

Be prepared for the possibility that you may experience withdrawal symptoms:

Be aware that some individuals will experience classic withdrawal like symptoms in the first 3-7 days of eliminating certain foods, in particular grains and dairy products. Gluten in products made from wheat and casein in products containing cow's milk, contain morphine like substances. Gluten exorphines and casomorphin are produced from the digestion of gluten and casein respectively with morphine like effects. The term "comfort food" has a physiologic and biochemical basis. Many people have unconsciously or consciously developed a life-long pattern of self-medicating with food. A few are even addicted to certain foods. Furthermore, we all have very strong cultural, social and psychologically ties to eating and meals.

These guidelines should help you determine if foods are causing you symptoms and employing a diet diary followed by elimination diet. For more help see the Food Allergies Specialist - the Food Doc. An online symptom assessment tool and diet diary is coming soon.

Related Tags: gas, food allergies, abdominal pain, bloating, food intolerance, food sensivity, elimination diet

Dr. Scot Lewey, a food allergy expert-the food doc, is a medical doctor specializing in diseases of the digestive tract (gastroenterologist). For over two decades he has been practicing medicine, writing articles, and participating in research. A practicing physician who diagnoses and treats Celiac disease, food intolerance, food allergies, colitis, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers and acid reflux he is also personally is gluten and casein sensitive. He shares his unique and timely insights on his website at that is dedicated to helping people choose the "right foods to feel right".

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