Do you have a food intolerance? Take The Athlete’s Fix Symptoms Quiz to get started.
Food intolerances can produce a wide array of symptoms in different individuals, which can sometimes make them hard to pick up on. The timing can also be confusing. While it might be easy to relate to a reaction that occurs immediately after eating a food and that after several occurrences you clearly get the picture that that food is linked to your symptoms, in most cases symptoms are delayed. In other words you may not see any effects from a food intolerance for many hours or perhaps even days from ingesting that particular food. Further confusing the matter is that some intolerances are to specific proteins or carbohydrates, such as lactose in dairy foods or gluten found in wheat, barley, rye and various other grains.
Symptoms of food intolerances can range from mild to severe and especially on the mild end can be either easy for an individual to ignore or easy for a health professional to dismiss. Frustratingly too there are no clear and definitive tests for most food intolerances so it really does come down to individual perception as well as personal involvement in an elimination style diet to try and ‘weed’ out the food culprits. While this is not necessarily an easy process it is one that is definitely worthwhile and also one in which you have the power.
To figure out if you might have a food intolerance first consider the symptoms below. These are really only a snapshot—you may well experience something not on this list. Many of these are quite generalized and cross over with many, many other conditions. Discuss with your doctor whether there could be anything more serious you need to investigate, but otherwise you can start the process of trying to figure out if your reactions could be related to the food you are eating. Tracking food eaten and symptoms is critical for this process.
Symptoms of food intolerances may include:
- Body weight: Unexplained weight gain/loss or inability to lose weight
- Cravings: Constant hunger, excessive thirst, food cravings
- Headaches and migraines, dizziness
- Itchiness and rashes: Itchy skin, hives, or rashes; eczema; acne; mouth ulcers; sore, itchy, puffy, watering, or burning eyes
- Daily or common GI issues: Stomach pain or upset stomach, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, constipation
- Race day GI distress
- Body composition: Difficulty adding lean muscle or developing power and strength
- Race performance not meeting expectations
- Training: Do you plan bathroom breaks into your workouts and training routes?
- Recovery: Slower recovery times from workouts
- Illness/Injury: Do you often miss workouts due to frequent illness or nagging injuries?
- Respiratory: Asthma, breathing difficulties, persistent cough
- Trouble resting: Fatigue, lethargy, insomnia, sleep disturbances
- Aches/pains: Aching muscles and joints
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Low mood: Depression, anxiety, poor self-image
- Bad mood: Irritability, mood swings, anger, and/or behavioral problems
- Focus: Hyperactivity, lack of focus
- Haziness: Brain fog, confusion, poor concentration
- Fear: Panic attacks and phobias
*Excerpt from Pip Taylor’s The Athlete’s Fix, published with permission from VeloPress.