As many of you know, over the next 10 days, I’m leading Level 1 of the Spark! Wellness + Choosing Raw January Detox.  The primary goals of my level is to discover hidden food allergies and reduce chronic, low level inflammation. Since I’ve been thinking a lot about food sensitivities a lot over the past few weeks, I thought I’d share a primer on what they are and why they’re not so great for our health.

So what is a food sensitivity? Put simply, it’s a food that your body doesn’t like.  You might like (or even LOVE) it, but your body doesn’t love it back.  While we can be allergic or sensitive to any foods, the most common allergens are wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and eggs.

So how do you know if you have a food sensitivity? Common symptoms are digestive issues (oftentimes diagnosed as IBS), water retention, inability to lose weight, strong food cravings, and sometimes binge eating.  Sound familiar? Keep reading.

Most people think food allergies aren’t a big deal, but let’s talk a little about their effect on the body. First off, they create persistent, low-level internal inflammation that is toxic and can lead to a number of serious health problems.  (Time Magazine even called chronic inflammation the silent killer). Food allergies also cause more immediate problems. Your body’s reaction to the presence of an allergen is to retain fluids in an attempt to dilute or flush out the offending substance. This causes bloating, which we all know, is annoying. But there’s more:  food allergens can actually inhibit your metabolism and reduce your body’s ability to burn fat stores.  This is particularly bad because all the environmental toxins that we ingest on a daily basis are stored in our fat cells. The longer we hold onto that fat, the longer we’re holding onto the toxicity.  Lastly, food allergens can cause all sorts of crazy cravings and compulsive eating, the combination of which we usually think of as emotional eating. Ironically, the foods we crave the most are likely the foods to which we’re allergic. Once we eat them, all we want is more. So if you’re allergic to gluten and you have a cookie — you’re going to want a lot more. For binge eaters, often the trigger food or foods relate back to food sensitivities.

So, just to recap, food sensitivies can lead to toxic inflammation, fluid retention, a slower metabolism, the inability to efficiently burn off fat, cravings, and possibly even compulsive eating.

Which means that if we eliminate common food allergens, we’ll reduce inflammation, decrease water weight, reboot our metabolism, and curb cravings.

While you can go to an allergist and get tested for food allergies, I think the best way is to do a simple elimination diet for 2-3 weeks: eliminate all common allergens and see how you feel. I’ve done it and it’s VERY apparent which foods were the problem once they’re out of your system.  The 25 people doing Level 1 are going to be doing just this over the next 10 days and I look forward to posting their results so we can all see how they feel before versus after.

Have a great Monday night, all!