How to Find Out If You Have a Food Allergy

Severe food allergy symptoms include: hives, swollen tongue, stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing and vomiting. But milder food allergy symptoms can show up as much more subtly. So subtle in fact, that they are rarely linked to a food allergy at all. Symptoms like puffy eyes, swollen hands and feet, gas, bloating, fatigue and emotional irritability have all been linked to certain food allergies.

A food allergy is like any other allergy in the body. The most common, typical example that most people are familiar with is an allergy to pollen. Pollen itself is not a harmful substance to the body. It won’t hurt you or damage you in any way. But for some reason, if you are allergic to pollen, your immune system misinterprets the pollen as a dangerous foreign invader. Your body’s response is your nose runs, your eyes water, you sneeze and cough – these are all mechanisms your body uses to get that pollen out of your body. It tries to flush out, sneeze it out, and cough it out.

Now your immune system can misinterpret any substance in the same way. It happens with pollen, pet dander, dust, bee stings, medications and it can also happen with foods. But instead of the sneezing, coughing and swelling, your body reacts with gas and bloating, constipation, fatigue, irritability, brain fog and many other subtle cues from your body.

Refer back to the food journaling exercise from the section about noticing how you feel after you eat. This tool can be used to learn about how portion sizes and meal timing affects you and it can be used to find food allergies as well. Track your foods and see if your bloating or your low energy can be linked to a certain food.

One of the most common food allergies or food sensitivities nowadays is to gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in most wheat and grain products. It is what gives those foods its cohesive, doughy consistency. The two most common symptoms that gluten sensitivity produces are:

  1. Gas and bloating
  2. Energy crashes after meals

People that are gluten intolerant are diagnosed with Celiac disease. For these people, any exposure to wheat or food with gluten in it, even in trace amounts, will make them sick for days.

Gluten sensitivity is on the rise. You may have started to notice the “gluten free” labeling in grocery stores because it has become more of a problem for more and more people. Gluten sensitivities are now being linked to not just digestive discomfort and fatigue, but behavioral and learning difficulties such as ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, and Autism.

There are nutritional protocols that have completely reversed some children’s autistic symptoms when they eliminated gluten from their diet. Many other autistic children benefit greatly when they stop eating wheat as well.

The cause of this increase in gluten allergies is still unknown but the fact is, today’s highly processed refined white flour has become more and more difficult for our bodies to handle. We don’t digest it well and our immune systems have begun to react to it.

Pay attention to how you feel after you eat your meals. If you have not been feeling energetic, satisfied and happy after eating, you may be eating a food that doesn’t agree with your system. Eliminating this food may give you your health back.


*Exerpted from the Being Well Lifestyles Home Study Course by Dr. Jay Warren.

Drawing on over two decades of experience as a hands-on holistic practitioner, Dr. Jay Warren is a primary healthcare provider and licensed chiropractor in the San Diego area. He has spent tens of thousands of clinical hours helping his patients achieve their optimal health potential through holistic approaches bolstered by years of personal experimentation, education and research. Dr. Jay creates customized plans integrating exercise, nutrition and stress management strategies to overcome a myriad of health challenges. For more information, email or visit

About the Author

Dr. Jay Warren has been a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor for 17 years. He is also the Wellness Care Coordinator at the CAP Wellness Center in San Diego, CA where 90% of his practice is pregnant or postpartum women and babies under one year old. Dr. Jay is a proud member of the ICPA and APPPAH (the Association or Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health) and the host of the podcast “Healthy Births, Happy Babies” in iTunes. His online program, “Connecting with Baby” guides pregnant women through processes to strengthen maternal bonding for a happier pregnancy, gentler birth and easier post-partum experience. Dr. Jay is also the proud father of his 3 year old son, Niko who keeps him very busy (and happy) outside of the office.