Many people wonder if the symptoms they have such as skin problems, headaches, nausea, stomach bloating or pain, constipation or diarrhoea are caused by food.  Additionally, many Parents often wonder if their child’s behaviour is due to a reaction to certain ingredients in foods.

Often these problems can be related to food. To figure out your situation, it is firstly important to understand the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance.A food allergy is usually an immune system problem.  When you eat or are exposed to an allergen, your immune system reacts to produce a response. Often the response is immediate and severe such as lips swelling or breathing problems.  An immunologist can do some blood testing and skin testing to determine if you have a true food allergy.

A food intolerance does not affect your immune system, is usually more of a slow onset problem and often difficult to pinpoint what food is causing it. There is no blood or skin test for an intolerance.  You often have a level where you can actually tolerate a small amount of a food.

There are many different foods that can cause an allergy or intolerance. These include:

  • Wheat and Wheat products
  • Yeast
  • Milk and Dairy Products
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Nuts
  • Natural Chemicals like salicylates, amines and glutamates
  • Additives like colours and preservatives
  • Poorly absorbed sugars known as FODMAPs (fermentable, oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides and polyols)

Importantly, the symptoms related to food allergy and intolerances are common for many other medical conditions.  Therefore, if you suspect you have an allergy or intolerance, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your GP to rule out other conditions first.

How Can A Dietitian Help?
A Dietitian can help in 2 ways:

  1. If you have a food allergy, they can help you to avoid all foods with that ingredient but still maintain your health and wellbeing
  2. If you have an intolerance, they can help you determine what foods might be linked with your symptoms and establish a safe level that you can tolerate of these foods daily.

Need help with your food allergy or intolerance?
Search for a Dietitian in your area to discuss your situation further.

Irritable Bowel Information and Support Association of Australia Inc
IBIS Australia offer membership to their organisation.  Membership includes access to relevant book lists, newsletters and information on strategies to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Allergy Unit, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH)
The Allergy unit at RPAH has been leading the way in the research of allergies and intolerances for many years. Their website offers factsheets and details on books and resources you can order from them.