Food intolerance is defined as a reaction that some people have to different types of foods. Food intolerance should not be confused with food allergy. The two are different. The difference is that an allergy occurs when the body reacts and rejects food. Also, an allergy reaction to food occurs only minutes after the food is taken.
On the other hand, food intolerance happens when the body fails to digest the food properly. In addition, unlike food allergy, the symptoms of food intolerance appear some hours after the food is taken. Another difference between the two is that some food allergy reactions can be fatal whilst this is rarely the case with food intolerance.
Keep a Food Diary
It is no easy thing to pinpoint the exact cause when the body reacts some hours after food is taken. Meals usually consist of several different dishes or types of foods. Keeping a detailed diary helps. For each meal taken a list should be made of all the different dishes making up the menu; beef, lettuce, tomatoes, eggs and so on. Then if any adverse reactions are experienced, these should be noted down in detail. If possible, the severity of the symptoms should be graded on a scale of say, one to five. This should be useful in pinpointing particular symptoms to particular to particular types of food.
Eliminate the Food
Once particular symptoms have been linked to particular food types, these foods should be eliminated from the diet. After some days, the suspected food is reintroduced into the diet. If the symptoms recur, the causative food has been discovered and is then eliminated permanently from the diet. Eliminating the food is probably the easiest route to take, though not the only one. There are other alternatives.
Seek Professional Medical Advice
It is not always easy to determine whether reactions to food are intolerance or allergies. To learn more, it is therefore a good idea to seek the advice of qualified medical practitioners. The doctors or dieticians also usually advise patients to maintain diaries of which foods are taken and what symptoms resulted. From this data the medical practitioner is able to determine which foods are causing the reaction. The adverse reactions from such results are then able to give advice to the patient on which steps to take.
Seeking medical advice has the big advantage over self diagnosis in that a qualified and experienced doctor can tell the difference between the two reactions whereas a layman is not able to do this.
Skin Prick Test
This is a test that is carried on the recommendation of a medical doctor. A convenient part of the body, (for example the forearm or back) is cut with a clean razor blade or pricked with a needle. A tiny sample of the suspected food is placed on the incism. This allows some of the food molecules to enter the internal body tissues. If the reaction is caused by food intolerance there will be no noticeable physical change on the area around the cut. If a small raised bump appears then the reaction is most probably an allergy. The skin prick test is a satisfactory way of determining whether or not the reaction is an intolerance or an allergy. If the condition is an intolerance then appropriate action is taken.
Limit Portions of Food Served
Food intolerance has yet another difference from food allergy. Whereas with the latter, even tiny amounts of food can produce an adverse reaction, with food intolerance, this is not always the case. Reactions caused by food intolerance require substantial quantities of food to be taken before any reactions start to occur. This fact can be used in management of the condition. Once a particular type of food has been identified as the cause the following is done. That particular type of food is completely removed from the diet for a bit, starting with very tiny portions and gradually increasing its proportion in the diet. In this way, a certain limit can be determined which the sufferer should not exceed in the portions of that particular food to take at meal times.
Find a Substitute Food
It may happen that the particular food in which the sufferer has intolerance forms an intrinsic part of his/her balanced diet. It then becomes imperative to replace it with another food that has the same nutrients as that removed from the diet.
These are just some of the ways in managing and treating food intolerance, but you can learn more from your experiences. In children, it is not advisable to exclude a particular food (for example milk) from the diet without seeking the advice of medical professionals like a dietician or a pediatrician.