Food Allergy or Diet Fad?

Food in summer to not binge

The diet industry finds sneaky ways to convince people to change their lifestyles. Most recently it has touted the need to adjust one’s diet based on food allergies.

So when should someone really consider adjusting their diet due to an allergy, and when is it all diet-culture nonsense?

Changing Your Diet for a Food Allergy

There are scenarios where a food allergy or intolerance means a significant change in diet.

Celiac Disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition affecting one in 100 Americans where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine [1]. As such, those with CD cannot ingest gluten in any form [1].

Individuals with CD may also be lactose or soy intolerant, due to the impact ingesting gluten has had on their intestines. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, CD onset can be marked by abdominal bloating/pain, constipation, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, and failure to thrive, to name a few.

Another disorder that involves a change in diet is Gastroparesis, “a disorder that slows or stops the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine [2].” Symptoms include acid reflux, stomach pain, abdominal bloating and lack of appetite.

Gastroparesis treatment often involves adjusting one’s diet to small and more frequent meals throughout the day and avoiding high-fat and fibrous foods [2].

If you are concerned you may have an allergy or intolerance to any food group, the first and most important step is to see your doctor. It is important to know why you may be having these symptoms and to discuss how to treat them. Drastically changing your diet without medical advice is never a wise decision.

Additionally, if your doctor finds you do have an allergy that calls for an adjustment in diet, do so with the help of a registered dietician to ensure you are still obtaining the proper daily nutrition.

Staying Away from Diet Fads

Many people are “trying out” a gluten-free diet or cutting out lactose or soy in an attempt to lose weight.

Pseudo-scientific articles may suggest this will help; however, there is no data supporting the presumption that a gluten-free diet has any health benefits whatsoever [3]. Quite the contrary, it can actually cause more harm to engage in an unnecessarily restrictive diet. For example, a gluten-free diet can lead to deficiencies in B vitamins, folate, and iron [3].

If the scientifically proven ineffectiveness of a fad isn’t convincing enough, consider the negative impacts engaging in such a fad will have your lifestyle.

Cutting out gluten or fibrous foods is not easy, or fun. I’m sure those with CD or Gastroparesis can attest to the fact that finding yummy food that they can eat became much more difficult after their diagnosis.

The goal is to love yourself and your body regardless of how it looks, and to have a positive relationship with food. This simply cannot be done by restricting entire food groups that you do not medically need to restrict.

 


Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth. As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


References:

[1]: Celiac disease Symptoms (2017). Retrieved from: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/celiacdiseasesymptoms/Celiac Disease Foundation
[2]: Gatroparesis (2012). Retrieved from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gastroparesis
[3]: Reilley, N. R. (2016). The gluten-free diet: recognizing fact, fiction, and fad. The Journal of Pediatrics, 175, 206-210.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.


Published April 26, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on
April 26, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com