Is your sandwich making you cranky?

I know this sounds like a huge generalization, but most of us truly do have food allergies that affect our health, moods, energy levels, and more. Most people tend to be allergic to some of the foods eaten on a regular basis, including gluten (in the form of wheat, oats, rye, barely, malt,), dairy products, chocolate, tomatoes, oranges, and other common foods.

So what can you do?

The first step is detection. To detect which foods may be affecting you, pick one you eat frequently and eliminate it from your diet for one to two months. If you feel better, you are probably allergic to it. If you don’t notice any improvement, pick another food and cut that from your diet.

It could also be that a particular combination of foods is causing your symptoms, in which case you would need to stop several foods at a time to determine that. I guarantee that however long and difficult this investigation may seem to take, the end result will be worth it!

Here’s Where to Start:

Some of the most common foods to try to avoid are cold or frozen foods, raw foods, gluten containing foods, refined carbohydrates (such as white flour products), overly processed foods, artificial ingredients, food additives, coloring agents, chocolate and sugar containing foods, caffeine and cow’s dairy foods.

The most common foods causing most people digestive upset are gluten containing foods (wheat, rye, barley, oat, malt,) cow’s milk derived dairy products, refined carbohydrates (white flour products primarily,) and sugar in any form.

You can find many gluten-free foods and dairy free foods at any health food store. Stevia is a good sugar substitute.

Stick to complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains and beans.

NOTE: Symptoms that might occur when you are withdrawing from a food you are allergic to include nausea, blood sugar swings, irritability, fatigue, headaches, nervousness, insecurity feelings, blurred vision, and digestive problems. These symptoms will pass! And once the food has cleared from your system, you can usually add it back into your diet. Just be sure to add it in on a rotational basis, eating it only every 3-5 days, or once per week, rather than daily.

Basic Principles of Food Combining:

Many people already know all or at least some of these basic eating principles. But sitting with one of my long-term patients last week, and discussing her digestive problems, I realized that this is important information that we all often forget, due to our stressful lifestyles, and that it doesn’t hurt being reminded now and then.

Even if you don’t have any digestive problems, eating by these principles will often be very helpful in boosting your body’s ability to assimilate and digest the foods you’re eating. And by the way, if your digestion is working well, your immune system will also function much better, and your intellectual/mental processes will work better as well.

Separate all fruits from other foods by an hour or more. This is because fruit digests in a different part of the digestive tract than other foods, and needs it’s own time to break down and assimilate.

Actually, each type of food we eat digests a little differently; so that the less varied the foods you eat in any one setting, the better.

At any one meal, only eat one protein at a time. Don’t mix your proteins. In other words, if you are eating fish, then only eat fish, and don’t mix it with chicken or red meat. Each digests a little differently, and will make problems for the other, in terms of breaking them down fully.

The same goes for your complex carbohydrates and starches. Try to limit them to only one or two types in any given meal. Beans, rice and potatoes all break down a little differently.

Vegetables generally go well with any other food, including protein or carbohydrates and starches. But cook them well, because the fiber in vegetables is very hard for most people to digest. Also the raw food people have a good point about the enzymes in raw foods being good for you, the problem is that most people do not have digestive tracts that are strong enough to adequately break down and make use of the raw foods diet.

Any frozen foods are to be avoided like the plague, especially frozen dairy products. These give you two of the hardest foods to digest: frozen and dairy. They will weaken the digestive system and are to be avoided like the plague.

Don’t drink liquids with your meals, unless it is hot tea, or hot water with lemon, or lime, or hot water with apple cider vinegar and a little honey. Water dilutes the stomach acids and makes it almost impossible to completely break down your protein foods.

Hot tea, especially Ponay, mint or bancha twig tea, make foods digest more easily, encouraging the breakdown of foods.

If your digestion is very weak, then consider separating your proteins from your carbohydrates, and eating them at a different time.

When we are young kids, we can eat anything, because we have uncompromised digestive systems, with plenty of digestive enzymes. But as we age, after age 30 or so, most of us do not have the stomach acids and pancreatic enzymes we need to break all this stuff down. Also, stress compromises our digestive abilities. So the simpler you eat, the better.

If you are going to eat a raw salad, it’ll digest better at the end of the meal, as the Europeans do. But stay away from creamy dressings. Instead, use good quality apple cider vinegar and good quality oil. Beginning the meal with hot soup, like miso, is a good idea to get the digestive juices flowing.

Don’t end the meal with sugar, as it will weaken the digestive process, and weaken your immunity and energy, even though it feels good for about 20 minutes after eating it, your energy will take a big dip about 1-2 hours latter, increasing your cravings for more sugar or caffeine.

Healing your food allergies
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