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Food for Thought: How Hidden Food Allergies Can Cause Weight Gain

by Stephanie Small 

Tags: weight loss, lose weight, weight loss tips, easy diets, weight gain, gluten, gluten-free, food for thought, 9 weight loss, three sisters nutrition, holistic weight loss, stephanie small, diets,

Stephanie Small

Stephanie Small is founder of Three Sisters Nutrition, a phone-based practice helping women improve their relationship with food, and blogs for holistic weight loss site 9 Weight Loss. 

A client came to me about a year ago suffering from headaches, anxiety and low energy. She wanted to learn which foods were right for her body.

I had her keep a three-day diet journal. When we reviewed it, I discovered she was eating gluten—the protein in wheat (along with barley, rye and a few other grains)—on a daily basis. Gluten is irritating for many people, and I had an intuitive hit that it wasn’t doing her any favors. I suggested she follow an elimination diet for two weeks. She could have all the rice, quinoa, and millet she wanted—just no gluten.

At the next session she reported her migraines were gone, her anxiety had diminished, and she had, without trying, dropped 5 pounds.

Tip #3: Identifying a food allergy can create radical changes

If you’re one of those people who's “just had a pooch all your life,” it may be an issue of bloating due to irritation. Test this out by paying close attention to what your stomach does after each meal. Does it puff out after you eat certain things, and remain relatively flat after others? Weight gain often results from food allergies because when you ingest something toxic, your body has a number of protective reactions. One is to swell up with water in order to form a protective barrier.

If you’re nodding your head with recognition, there are a few steps you can take to start to identify the possible source of your puffiness. The most common allergenic foods are wheat, soy, pasteurized cow dairy, eggs and nuts. I find that some particularly sensitive people have a gut feeling about which foods might be causing their bloat. Identify the culprit, try eliminating it from your diet for at least two weeks and see if you notice any changes—not just to your body, but to your energy level, skin, digestion and mood.

However, food allergies shouldn’t be all about restriction. Allergies are often a result of an impaired digestive system, so it’s crucial to heal that too. One protocol I’ve found helpful was developed at the Alternative Naturopathic Center in Littleton, Colorado. It involves supplementation to strengthen bile and increase its flow. Most of my clients, some of my friends and I take this regimen. Some of us have observed better digestion, improved energy, clearer skin and stabilized mood. You can find more information about this regimen online.

A final word: many of the “edible foodlike substances” (thanks, Michael Pollan!) we eat today are truly indigestible. Your body does not know what to do with multicolored cereals full of preservatives, fast foods, or basically any product with ingredients you can’t pronounce and don’t understand. Ingesting these sorts of products can cause some of us to bloat. Check back to my first tip: a diet of whole, unprocessed, organic foods is most healing to the body—and most effective for weight loss.

Be sure to visit us again next Monday for May Weight Loss Tip #4. Until then, enjoy your week, and stay healthy!

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