Delicious Living Blog

Is food making you sick?

Learn how to uncover whether food is a culprit behind your or your kids' digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, migraines, and more.

One of my worst times as a mom was six years ago when my away-at-college son started experiencing mysterious health problems. Because Sam’s symptoms (nausea, digestive pain, fatigue, brain fog) increased so gradually, I figured it was simply stress or recurrent flu. But eventually, while home for the summer after his sophomore year, he became so ill that we knew something must be systemically wrong.

Given that he had never shown any signs of food intolerance while growing up—this is a kid whose favorite food to this day is mac ’n’ cheese—it never occurred to me that his body might be reacting to something in his diet. But after numerous expensive tests all came up negative, I finally said, “That’s it: We’re going to a nutritionist.” Long story short: Within three days of giving up gluten (and, at first, dairy), he started feeling good again for the first time in 18 months. He’s been strictly gluten free ever since. (And by the way: Don't miss our brand-new Guide to Gluten-Free Living; it's amazing!)

You’d think the answer would have dawned on me sooner. But back then I didn’t know that food intolerances can stay latent for years, developing over time and finally surfacing (triggered, some experts believe, by stress or trauma). That’s why I’m particularly grateful for our new story, “3 steps to uncovering a food intolerance or allergy” (appearing in the May issue as "Stop Feeling Sick!"). In it, you’ll learn how to work with a health provider to identify and manage possible dietary causes of unexplained maladies, whether low-grade or severe. In addition, many natural foods retailers can recommend practitioners in your area who can answer your questions and point out suitable foods for your needs.

After this editorial appeared in our May issue, I got an email from reader Ewa Z., who told her similar story:

Reading [your May letter], I felt exactly how you felt with your son! Last November my 20-year-old daughter was complaining about having no energy, brain fog, pains and aches in every joint, and extreme lethargy. ...Finally over Thanksgiving break i took her to my doctor for a checkup. Thank God my doc is holistically oriented! Turns out, after blood tests, my daughter had such severe inflammation processes going in her body, that slowly the body started to shut down its own systems. Her B12 and D levels were critically low, her thyroid hormones were low, in addition, she's got a celiac gene and lactose intolerance! She's been advised to take multivitamins, fish oil for inflammation, ... no gluten and no milk products. I also took her blood results to the nutritionist and naturopath at New Vitality Health Foods in Orland Park, IL, who advised us on supplements and foods. Needless to say, it is May, my daughter is doing her finals of her junior year and she said she "feels like a million dollars." She said that if not for all these supplement and a gluten-free diet she would have never survived her junior year. [The naturopath] said that the MD did wonderful job with the diagnosis; she said many kids are diagnosed with depression and placed on antipsychotic drugs which make the matter worse. Thanks for bringing up the issue!

I absolutely love Ewa's description of the combined effort between a young person, a parent, a doctor, and a naturopathic physician to regain full health. If you’ve got a similar story (or one that’s just getting started), we’d love to hear about it on Facebook—our shared experiences could truly help others with comparable struggles.


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